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Adobe Unleashes Three New Versions of Flash Media Server

Adobe's new Flash Media Enterprise Server leverages peer-to-peer technology to provide a software-only solution for video delivery.


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Adobe Systems released the Adobe Flash Media Server 4 family of software products Thursday, including a new version that uses peer-assisted Real Time Media flow Protocol (RTMFP) technology to slash bandwidth requirements.

Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) said it plans to publicly debut the latest version of the software family Friday at the IBC 2010 show in Amsterdam that focuses on digital media. [login]

Flash Media Server powers the delivery of 70 percent of all worldwide online video content, according to Ashley Still, group product manager at Adobe. It is responsible for delivering video on sites like YouTube and Hulu. But Still said Flash Media Server is about much more than just playing back content.



"If distributing video online was just about being able to playback the content, we would have been done five years ago," Still told InternetNews.com.

The new range of offerings in the Flash Media Server family targets customers of all sizes, from small businesses interested in basic streaming to large enterprises that want to distribute content to millions.

"The release of Flash Media Server 4 software changes the game for the delivery of rich interactive media," David Wadhwani, senior vice president of Creative and Interactive Solutions at Adobe , said in a statement. "By introducing a new enterprise server with peer-assisted networking and our RTMFP, we are transforming the way enterprise organizations and social media companies deliver rich interactive content by reducing the bandwidth costs associated with media delivery."

The latest version of the Flash Media Server 4 software was built with 64-bit operating systems in mind and leverages their full potential, according to Adobe, including a near unlimited memory range, which increases caching capacity.

The software comes in three flavors aimed at different audiences: Flash Media Streaming Server 4, Flash Media Interactive Server 4 and Flash Media Enterprise Server 4.

Flash Media Streaming Server 4 pricing starts at $995. It is intended for small- to mid-sized businesses with basic streaming needs. It enables live and on-demand streaming to a variety of platforms and devices. It also features Encrypted Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMPE), a DRM (define) protocol created by Macromedia that allows for secure transfer of data without SSL (define).

Flash Media Interactive Server 4 pricing starts at $4,500. It is intended for mid- to large-sized businesses with more extensive streaming needs. It features HTTP Dynamic Streaming and IP Multicast.

HTTP Dynamic Streaming is a technology Adobe unveiled in June. It uses adaptive bitrate technology to automatically switch to a higher or lower bitrate video stream as needed, depending on the connection speed and the computer's processor.

"HTTP Dynamic streaming enables you to take advantage of downstream HTTP caches to deliver your content," Still said. "This lets you manage not only the Flash Media Server itself, but also the ability to hash Flash content within these HTTP servers in order to increase availability of your video."

IP Multicast is a technology that lets the content provider send just one stream through the router infrastructure, and then when it reaches the local level it splits into individual streams for each viewer.

"Instead of sending out one stream per viewer, you actually send out just one stream," Still said. "It allows IT to bring to fruition this promise of video as a collaboration tool within the enterprise without bringing down the network."

Massive social media applications

Finally, the newest addition to the family is Flash Media Enterprise Server 4, geared for "massive social media applications," according to Adobe. Adobe said it doesn't offer standard pricing on this version, as it depends upon the unique implementation within a particular company. Flash Media Enterprise Server is a software-only solution for video delivery that uses the RTMFP peer-to-peer technology to leverage connected Adobe Flash Player clients to deliver video communication and collaboration.

"It is a secure and managed peer-to-peer model that IT can configure and make sure it's optimized for their network," Still said. "You're not sending out your data via servers, you're sending out your data via client."

Still emphasized that the peer-to-peer aspect of the release is important because distributing video is bandwidth intensive. "With video chat you're doubling bandwidth inherently. Peer-to-peer drastically reduces this because the data can go between the clients rather than between the servers."

The Enterprise Server also features IP Multicast. In addition, the IP Multicast capabilities can be combined with RTMFP into a technology called Multicast Fusion, which Adobe said will further increase capacity and quality within both private and public networks.

TAGS: Adobe, Flash, Online Video, Peer-to-peer, Streaming



   
Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.
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