Streaming Media

 

Tutorial: Wowza Media Server Pro
Wowza Media Server Pro offers a cost-effective alternative to the Flash Media Server, and this tutorial can help you get started using it.
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As Streaming Media’s editors pointed out when they picked it as one of the top products of 2008, "Wowza Media Server Pro flat-out exploded in 2007." This was no understatement—Wowza has firmly established its streaming server’s market presence in just over a year, garnering more than 7,000 licensees globally and racking up multiple awards. Wowza has attracted a broad industry following, from single-server licensees to CDNs and well-known enterprise and media companies.

At $995 for an unlimited-connection fully interactive edition server, Wowza Pro is not only an economical alternative to Adobe’s Flash Media Interactive Server (FMIS) but a major player in the hot Flash Video streaming space. It is now also the preferred choice for demanding developers who require the reliable performance, scalability, and extensible open architecture of Wowza’s Java implementation.

Getting Started
Because Wowza Media Server Pro is a pure Java server, it can be installed easily and quickly on most operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Solaris, and even Mac OS. Java 5 (aka 1.5) or newer is required, and the company recommends the latest Java Virtual Machine to achieve better performance. For evaluation or development, you can download Wowza Pro10, a free edition of the server limited to 10 connections, or request a 30-day free trial of Wowza Media Server Pro Unlimited edition, which is the same as its paid edition. Both are available through the company’s website.

The server’s download package includes a very useful one-page quick start guide, a comprehensive user guide (which I highly recommend reading), and server-side API Java docs.

After reading the guides and other documentation, a developer’s best ongoing resource is the Wowza Forums (www.wowzamedia.com/forums), a candy store of code snips, generously stocked by Charlie Good, Wowza’s co-founder and chief architect, and a growing community of dedicated Wowza fans. Wowza clearly pays close attention to the forums, which has paid off in customer and developer appreciation and in a high-quality knowledge-base. It’s a developer forum for any level.

Trying Wowza Pro Out of the Box
Wowza Pro comes with over a dozen fully functional examples that you can try right out of the box. All include Flash client applications with source code and server-side source files for the examples that require it. (The Flash client applications are Flash 8/AS2, and there are Flash CS3 and Flex versions to be found on the company’s forums.)

These examples cover everything from simple video-on-demand applications to live streaming, chat, recording, and demand-based load-balancing. There are examples that demonstrate techniques for securing content (SecureToken) and bandwidth-checking, and there are examples that demonstrate some of the unique features of the server such as SHOUTcast audio restreaming. Instructions on how to install and launch examples are included in the Quick Start Guide and in each example’s README file.

Wowza Pro and Adobe FMIS
Wowza Media Server Pro and Flash Media Interactive Server are both fully interactive servers with extensive capabilities. They provide the same core API for a Flash player client to interact with a streaming server and to play, publish, and record streaming video, audio, and text.

But beyond the identical core API, the servers take a different approach to the server-side programming. FMIS uses ActonScript. As such, FMIS is a proprietary server that uses asynchronous methods to interact with other resources, such as a database—a methodology similar to what a Flash or Flex application uses to interact with a remote server.

In comparison, Wowza uses Java and can take advantage of many readily available Java tools. Java developers will find this capability a welcome relief. For example, a developer can drop an off-the-shelf Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) driver into the Wowza Pro lib folder, restart Wowza server, and connect directly to a database. As a stable Java application with an enterprise-friendly architecture, Wowza Pro opens up new possibilities to developers, enterprise IT managers, and integrators.