The Wowza Media Server is gradually becoming the main platform for video streaming. Combining the shrewdness and experience of Wowza co-founder and CEO, David Stubenvoll, with the fact that online video streaming of live and on demand content is becoming more and more popular, puts Wowza in an ideal position for greatness.
Wowza is the fifth new business Stubenvoll has developed, “If you’re in business just to make money you’re probably not going to be successful. There has to be some ‘why?’ behind it”.
Wowza is a unified server software that was developed by Wowza Media Systems and is used for streaming live and on-demand video, audio and RIAs (rich internet applications) over public and private IP networks to computers, mobile devices, internet-connected TV sets and other network-connected devices. The server is a Java application which has the ability to be used on Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, Unix and Windows platforms.
Wowza is capable of streaming to multiple types of playback clients and devices simultaneously, including the Adobe Flash player, Microsoft Silverlight player, Apple QuickTime Player and iOS devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch), 3GPP mobile phones (Android, BlackBerry OS, Symbian, etc.)
According to Stubenvoll, Wowza is very unique in its simplicity: “To find out what business you should be in, you need to be in business. So that left a problem, we weren’t in business. So quite literally the original plan was that we were going to start a business arbitrarily, didn’t matter where it was, and see where it led us. And so we started video blogging.”
The first version of the server was released on February 19, 2007, and was originally planned to be an alternative to the Adobe Flash Media Server, which supported streamed video, audio and RIA’s for the Flash Player client playback and interaction based on the Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) using content encoded with Spark and VP6 codecs.
Released in May 2008, version 1.5 contained the added support for H.264 video and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) audio. Also included in this version was ingest support for Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP), MPEG transport stream (MPEG-TS), and ICY (SHOUTcast/Icecast) sources for re-streaming to the Flash Player client.
With the release of version 2.0 in December of 2009, the product name was changed to Wowza Media Server 2, along with the addition of outbound H.264 streaming support for Apple HTTP Live Streaming protocol for iOS devices, Microsoft HTTP smooth streaming for Silverlight player, RTSP/RTP for QuickTime Player and 3GPP mobile devices based on Android, BlackBerry (RIM), Symbian, Palm webOS and TV set-top boxes and video game consoles.
Released in October of 2011, version 3.0 added DVR, Live transcoding and DRM plug-in functionality.
This version, released in November 2012, added Closed Captioning and Silverlight Multicast Player. The previously additional features that were external to the software like Live Stream Record and Media Security were incorporated into the server software, including Media Security DRM plugins with Verimatrix VCAS, Microsoft PlayReady, BuyDRM KeyOS, EZDRM Hosted DRM, and AuthenTec DRM Fusion. Wowza also released Wowza StreamLock free AddOn which provides 256-bit SSL for RTMPS and HTTPS. The release included enhancements to Wowza Transcoder AddOn; transcoder overlays that can be used for advertising, tilting, watermarks and tickers. Other new features included B-frame support, Dolby Digital Plus (EAC3) pass-through for HLS, MPEG-DASH, HTTP Origin.
This most recent update, released in June 2013, added basic support for Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). Expanded support for closed captioning formats for live and video on-demand streams, it also allows mobile encoding with GoCoder.
In November, Wowza Media Systems won the 2013 Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award in the Media Server category. Also, in June, Wowza took home the Streaming Media European Readers’ Choice Award in the Server Hardware/Software category.
“We’re thrilled to accept this award which comes on the heels of our European win in June”, said Stubenvoll. “This award is particularly meaningful as it is determined by streaming industry experts. We’re honored to receive this recognition for Wowza Media Server because it shows we are addressing industry needs.”
Joining forces with Google
This past December Wowza Media Systems announced that it will be joining the Google Cloud Platform Partner Program and will be offering Wowza Media Server on the now generally available Google Compute Engine. This integration will enable fast installation, flexible billing and high quality audio and video streaming for Wowza Media Server customers.
Google Compute Engine provides infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) computing that will enable Wowza customers to run high-demand media streaming using Linux virtual machines hosted on Google infrastructure. Compute Engine allows for fast computing, major scalability and sub-hour billing to deliver excellent quality, multi-screen reach without the high ownership costs of in-house infrastructure.
“Google Compute Engine provides the rock-solid cloud platform and outstanding network performance you would expect from Google,” said Charlie Good, CTO and Co-Founder of Wowza Media Systems. “We’re proud to offer media streaming for Google Compute Engine. For Wowza customers that need to get up and running quickly, Google Compute Engine is a great option for consistent, global streaming of content to any device.”
Wowza Collaboration with DivX
Just this year, at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas, Wowza Media Systems announced that it is collaborating with DivX to demonstrate real-time encoding and decoding of DivX Live streaming in up to HD 720p resolution using the HEVC/H.265 codec over MPEG-DASH.
This new solution is designed to allow broadcasters and content providers to take advantage of the new compression standard to deliver high-quality entertainment experiences at as little as half the bitrate of the current H.264 technology.
“This integration creates a path towards supporting 4K for live events without overtaxing current bandwidth capacity, as well as enabling higher quality and more bandwidth-efficient viewing experiences across multiple,” said Dr. Kanaan Jemili, senior vice president, product management at Rovi. “As an industry leader, Wowza is well positioned to help enhance our next-generation DivX Live offering. It allows us to provide a turnkey adaptive streaming solution that enables high quality over the top (OTT) live streaming for service providers.”
The Wowza-enabled solution is designed to automatically transcode a single MPEG-TS H.264720p stream that is incoming in real time to a set of DivX Live H.265-over-DASH adaptive streams. This advanced HEVC-based technology allows the delivery of richer video content over the current infrastructure and supports the high-velocity requirements of live streaming to a wide range of devices, including mobile phones, tablets, set-top boxes and smart TVs.
“The powerful combination of DivX with HEVC and the live streaming capability of Wowza Media Server can allow content providers to deliver almost twice the performance at the same bandwidth consumption, to meet or exceed viewers’ expectations for quality and speed,” said Chris Knowlton, vice president and streaming industry evangelist at Wowza. “It also provides a future-ready solution designed to support the next generation of devices and technologies.”
Since 2005, Wowza has grown from a team made up of just Stubenvoll and co-founder Charlie Good to a company made up of 55 employees from around the world, from New Zealand to Berlin. As the company grows, Stubenvoll faces a new challenge: growing the company without compromising the core values that have made Wowza such a success with its customer base.
Stubenvoll claims his philosophy is quite simple “not to teach it but to hire it. Hire people with your values, with that same DNA; we call it the Wowza.” Stubenvoll said “The Wowza Way thinks less in terms of profit and more in terms of customer success.”
Wowza’s future is certainly promising. However, Stubenvoll is well aware that there is no shortage of work to be done. Wowza is currently building up its marketing and sales departments in an effort to expand its market reach.
“We have a long way to go in terms of maturing as a business,” he said. “We’re at the tail end of the geek stage.”
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