Adobe announced the latest version of its Flash Media Server (FMS) today, with new features aimed squarely at making it the streaming server of choice for enterprise webcasts and other communications.
Previous updates to Adobe’s Flash Media Server — like FMS 3.5, which introduced HTTP streaming — were focused mainly on making streaming servers better suited for use by media companies. But the latest update is aimed at attracting potential new customers on the enterprise side of things.
The biggest additions to FMS 4 are the availability of IP multicast as well as Adobe’s proprietary Real Time Media Flow Protocol (RTMFP) peer-to-peer technology. With IP multicast, Adobe is enabling enterprises to deliver live events behind the corporate firewall with a single stream, rather than delivering a separate stream for each user or connection. With its P2P-based RTMFP technology, enterprises can dramatically reduce bandwidth costs for large-scale events.
Not all versions of the new Flash Media Server will have these new features. In fact, with the launch of FMS 4, Adobe is breaking out its streaming server into three different products, each with different capabilities. The Flash Media Streaming Server 4 is Adobe’s basic offering, with live and on-demand streaming, as well as RTMPE content protection, priced at $995.
The Flash Media Interactive Server 4, which costs $4,500, takes that one step further, with support for HTTP streaming, IP multicast and multi-user capabilities. The Flash Media Enterprise Server 4, meanwhile, offers all of those features plus RTMFP, enabling enterprises to blend its IP multicast and peer-to-peer delivery capabilities to increase the efficiency of video delivery behind the firewall and across the broader Internet. (Adobe didn’t provide a price for the Flash Media Enterprise Server.)
Adding IP multicast will allow Adobe Flash to finally compete with Microsoft’s Windows Media for enterprise webcasting behind the firewall. Before this announcement, Windows Media (and to a lesser extent, Real Player) acted as a de facto solution for webcasting, because it had multicast capabilities behind the firewall that Adobe didn’t.
The addition also gives Adobe a new addressable market in the enterprise, which becomes important as media companies and content delivery networks that once relied on FMS for streaming services have transitioned to more scalable and less pricey commodity implementations of HTTP-based Flash streaming. Akamai, for instance, rolled out Flash streaming without Adobe FMS servers with the introduction of its HTTP-based Akamai HD Network last September.
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