Adobe Gives Details On FMS 3 Benchmarks, Live Streaming and DRM

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Last week Adobe gave some public info on the benchmarks for the new Flash Media Server 3 and also
addressed the topic of live Flash and DRM. Here are some excerpts on the info they gave out.

Flash Media Server 3 Benchmarks

"The benchmarks for Flash Media Server will be out shortly. I can leak
that the numbers will show a staggering difference from the version 2
of the product. We are seeing 200% on Windows 2003 (SP1; Standard)
increase in both VOD and Live capacity given the same hardware. In
Linux, the numbers are over 300%. The key factor for streaming servers
is the threshold of how much CPU usage someone will run. Similar to
how high you rev the engine to get your speed. We’re seeing a 1Gbps
network card saturated with just 20% CPU on Linux. Given this is our
lab, which we use as a baseline for testing.  RTMPE (the new real-time
Encryption protocol) only adds an addition 10% to the CPU usage."

Flash Player Adoption

"We all know that Flash Player is ubiquitous across both the consumer and enterprise markets. This is the core runtime required to render a video, and connect via RTMP or encrypted RTMPE protocol to FMS. We just published the December 2007 census and Flash Player 9 now enjoys a 97% penetration in mature markets."

Flash Live Quality

"Live video in Flash can be done in 3 ways."
1) Using the Flash player’s live capture feature (SPARK/Nellymoser Codecs); (webcam quality)
2) Using Flash Media Encoder (On2/MP3 Codecs); (good quality at higher bitrates)
3) Using 3rd party partners such as ViewCast, Kulabyte, Digital Rapids and many of the ones that support Ben’s initiatives.   You can see a list of them on the Adobe website.

"Adobe will also be releasing an update to the Flash Media Encoder to support H.264 live streaming in a couple months. This should put aside many of the “quality” concerns you may have. H.264 is higher quality video at much less bitrate."

Addressing Digital Rights Management (DRM) With Flash

"You will be hearing a lot more about this from Adobe over the next few months, but from a streaming point of view, DRM is built on top of 2 key requirements; Encryption of content and Access Control. When you break it down, to protect content from mis-use, you need to protect the bits as they leave the server and before you get the bits, you need to protect the access (i.e. creating a policy)."

"Streaming to Flash resolves both of these requirements WITHOUT a DRM server and WITHOUT any disruption in the playback to download a key. To set the stage, RTMPE and RTMPS (SSL version) encrypts the video bits in real time as they leave the server, and render on the player. There is no client cache (as there would be with a HTTP delivery) so you don’t need to worry about people stealing the bits after they have arrived. There is also a very advanced set of APIs that let you build out your own policy rules for accessing the content. Out of the box, you can protect access to the server using SWF Verification or Domain white listing or even restrict by version of the player. You can build time-out tokens, or anything else you need to protect the delivery channel, and the playback. Because your user is always connected to the server, you have full control over policies for content access."

Experience Does Matter

"Flash / Flex are just one part of the experience process. It’s not just the adoption of the run time that makes Flash Player / AIR the best choice to deliver these experiences. Often times we all focus so much on the adoption rate of Flash player. There is a reason why the proliferation of Flash is so ubiquitous, and there is a reason why Adobe is seeing the fastest adoption of new players then ever before in its history. The reason is from planning to playback – from the person shooting video, or designing the video player experience to the person consuming the video."

"By understanding the workflow of the creative designers and developers and ensuring that their workflow are made as easy as possible using the tools they use every day (Photoshop/Illustrator/Premiere/AfterEffects/Soundbooth….) When you make life easy for people making content, more content will be produced on the platform – it’s really that simple. All the other pieces are in place to ensure content protection, quality and reach so all that effort can be monetized and protected."

Sounds like we will be hearing a lot more news from Adobe about these topics very soon.