Qumu Releases Open-Source Silverlight Mutlicast Plug-In
Microsoft's Silverlight runtime has seen substantial adoption in the two years since it was released, but it's seen resistance in one traditional Windows Media stronghold: the enterprise. That could soon change with the introduction today of the new Multicast Plug-in for Silverlight, a joint effort from Qumu, inc. and Microsoft that will be available as open source from Microsoft's Codeplex, the company's open source hosting web site.
While the UK and several other countries have a public multicast network, for the most part multicast is limited to controlled, enterprise environments. Those environments have traditionally been the domain of Windows Media Server and Player for online delivery, and the lack of multicast for Silverlight meant that most enterprises have not added Silverlight to their list of supported tools. According to Steve Sklepowich, group manager for Silverlight Media at Microsoft, support for multicast was the last major hurdle for Silverlight to clear to gain widespread enterprise adoption, the others being H.264 support, which it added last year, and cross-platform support, which it's had from the beginning but which Windows Media didn't always offer in a simple configuration.
"In the last year or so, the number one request from enterprise customers who take Windows Media Services on the backend and deliver to Windows Media Player and wanted to move to Silverlight, but couldn't because it wouldn't support multicast," says Sklepowich. "The entire enterprise toolset can now take advantage of Silverlight."
The 100kb plug-in—which also offers failover for both client- and server-side playlists—offers a simple value proposition: Once a user requests a video stream, the plug-in will detect whether multicast is available, meaning that after plug-in installation, everything is transparent to the end user, says Qumu VP of product strategy and marketing Scott Safe. Safe says that, while enterprise IT staff will be able to create their own adaptation of the plug-in, it's really targeted at other vendors who actually might compete with Qumu.
"We responded to an overwhelming number of requests from our own customer base to make sure that Silverlight was multicast-enabled," says Safe, "and so we collaborated with Microsoft and with them determined that it would be better for the whole industry if the plug-in was available as open source rather than keeping it proprietary."
"The enterprise is a very heterogenous market," says Sklepowich, "and so the goal was to help provide multicast in as many enterprise environments as possible."