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Goodbye Wowza Media Server, Hello Wowza Streaming Engine

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For the first time, Wowza Media is getting in touch with its GUI self. Wowza Streaming Engine—the new name for Wowza Media Server—was announced today, transforming the popular media server from a command-line-only tool in to one with a graphical user interface (GUI).

“If you wanted to do iOS streaming in Wowza 3 you had to hand code in three locations, but now, in Wowza Streaming Engine, it’s a radio button,” says David Stubenvoll, CEO of Wowza.

The idea of the GUI, which Wowza calls the Wowza Streaming Engine Manager, is to make the engine that powers multiple media sites simpler to operate.

“Our intent is to get Wowza into the hands of many more than before, and for people not just to use Streaming Engine but to understand it directly through the UI rather than needing to always refer to the support documents,” says Stubenvoll.

While Wowza Streaming Engine is the next generation of Wowza Media Server, Stubenvoll says the name change reflects what the product does.

“Wowza Streaming Engine is the fourth-generation of Wowza Media Server,” Stubenvoll says. “The first two versions were about making the media server work well, while version three—with the addition of AddOns—gave us a new architecture. Wowza Streaming Engine and the GUI are about helping us make the next change in the world of streaming.

“The idea around the name change is to recognize what it is: a powerful engine that powers CDNs and major sites,” Stubenvoll says. “The Manager makes it more accessible to those that are new to streaming.”

Wowza has been criticized for not having a graphical user interface, effectively limiting the use of Wowza Media Server to those who know command-line or XML programming.

“The bigger issue is how to solve more pieces of the streaming puzzle than before,” Stubenvoll says. “We want to help both those who make video a business and those who use video to do their business be successful.”

“This is the biggest release we’ve done to date,” Stubenvoll adds, noting that the February 11 release date is a soft launch and that the push will come closer to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in April.

Wowza has grown in both revenue and employees over the past year. Mike Talvensaari, newly promoted to vice president of product management at Wowza, is directly responsible for the user interface and experience delivered in Wowza Manager.

“We’ve tried UI/UX a few times before, but none of the approaches worked to give the right balance between power users and ease-of-use,” Stubenvoll says. “We finally hired the team to do it right, including Mike, whom we’d worked with before.

“We wanted to get it right by allowing UI use, but also acknowledging that—if you want to use it—we didn’t want to limit the power user from getting under the hood,” Stubenvoll adds.

When asked about the paid and free modules, called AddOns, that were introduced in Media Server 3, Stubenvoll explains that many of the free ones will be subsumed into Streaming Engine.

“We still have AddOns,” Stubenvoll says, “While some of the free ones will be part of Wowza Streaming Engine the others—including the paid ones such as Transcoder or nDVR—will work just as before.”

StreamingMedia.com will provide the first review of Wowza Streaming Engine later this week.

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