Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wowza Media Systems, "Any Screen Done Right" - Dave Stubenvoll, CEO and Co-founder, Wowza Media Systems

When Wowza Media Systems first was conceived, Dave Stubenvoll says he and his co-founder, Charlie Good, saw a market need for a better media delivery solution which incumbent media server providers (Adobe, Microsoft and Apple) could not address. When Wowza Media Server 1.0 first came to market in February 2007 it was originally offered as a low-cost alternative to Adobe's Flash Media Server and had great success. But when Wowza Media Server Pro 1.5 was released in May 2008, it expanded its abilities by introducing H.264 video and AAC audio streaming support.

Today, Wowza Media Systems provides a flexible multi-platform media software for streaming of live and on-demand video, audio, and RIAs (rich Internet applications) over public and private IP networks to desktop, laptop, and tablet computers, mobile devices, IPTV set-top boxes, internet-connected TV sets, and other network-connected device, with some 70,000 licensees all shapes and sizes worldwide.

Wowza Media Systems premiered its "any screen done right" delivery at the 2011 NAB Show, intoducing the third generation of its streaming system, Wowza Media Server 3, which will implement Adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming, time-shifted playback and integrated rights management. The full release will be presented at IBC 2011 in September. (Read more: New streaming systems from Wowza - Broadcast Engineering)

Wowza Media Systems was founded in 2005 by Stubenvoll and Good, both former Adobe employees, and they knew back then their boot strapped startup could be more than just a competitor to the big guns of online video. At that time, Flash and Windows Media video ruled the web as the dominant players in live and on-demand video. But as the video delivery formats changed over time and as AVC/H.264 video workflows began to extend to extend to the web and beyond, Wowza Media Systems re-engineered its product to offer Microsoft Smooth Streaming support aimed at Microsoft Silverlight clients and Windows Phone 7 devices; Apple QuickTime player and iOS platform (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch); 3GPP mobile devices (Android, BlackBerry OS, Symbian, etc), and IPTV set-top boxes and game consoles.

I caught up with Stubenvoll earlier this year at OTT Con in San Jose, to talk with him about the company's first product release and how the company has grown since then.
"When we started… we had a great position in the market. We architected it from the ground up to be an industrial strength server. We saw the need to have something that was really rock solid, high performance, high reliability, but also super super extensible." 
After finding great success with the first media server release the company embarked on a H.264 strategy, which Stubenvoll says all the pieces fell right into place when Adobe announced that it would support H.264 playback within Flash Player 9. Wowza began to work with every H.264 encoder so it could ingest all the various flavors of H.264, which he says was a lot of work, because things tat normally wouldn't go to Flash could go to Flash and customers loved it. The next logical step beyond taking in all these flavors or H.264, was to deliver all those flavors of live and on-demand H.264, and did that with the December 2009 release of Wowza Media Server 2.
"As a result, Wowza as a company has grown dramatically. We were actually a boot strapped startup, and while I had an office in a venture capitalist firm, we decided not to go with that. But now, we have over 70,000 licenses worldwide; 40% of content delivery networks base their media delivery on Wowza; we just have a fantastic reputation and a fantastic footprint worldwide."
Wowza Media Server is highly regarded within the online video community and has received numerous awards, including multiple Streaming Media Readers' Choice Awards, Streaming Media Editors' Pick and 2010 and most recently, the best AV Over IP Distribution System by AV Technology Magazine

Another important thing to note, says Stubenvoll, is that Wowza is extraordinarily architected and Wowza Media Server itself with all its features and functionalities is 2.5 MB in size.
"So we can literally fit on your phone. But at the other side, with off the shelf hardware, we can get out 10 Gbps and that's a lot of performance."
Stubenvoll says that Wowza Systems is looking to the future beyond the mere media server at what else is required to deliver content in the very robust fashion. With the new features available in Wowza Media Server 3, the company is focusing on value-added components for "any screen done right".
"What else can we do in terms of content transformation to make sure that it's properly adapting to all the relevant bit rates. Other things we can do around enhancing the consumer experience and giving them better features that they can rely on; and the key thing here is, not just having it for the desktop and not just for certain mobile devices, but have it work across. So what you're seeing is that this 'any screen done right' is really what Wowza is about and we're building a very rich platform for a number of services that will allow you to do any screen done right, and that's Wowza Media Server."
About Wowza Media Systems 
Wowza Media Systems® is the premier media server software company delivering an industrial-strength infrastructure for live video, video-on-demand, live recording, and video chat. Wowza® has a singular focus on delivering high-performance media server software to service providers, media properties, enterprises, and other organizations serious about delivering video to any digital screen — computer, mobile phone, or home TV. More than 70,000 global licensees in entertainment, social media, advertising, enterprise, education, government, and Internet commerce have deployed Wowza’s media server software to date. Wowza Media Systems is privately held with headquarters in Evergreen, Colo. More information is available at, or follow Wowza Media Systems (wowzamedia) on Twitter