Online video provider Movideo has signed a four-year contract (sorry, “strategic agreement”) with Microsoft Windows Azure to move its Java-based platform into the cloud as it attempts to grow its business in the Asia Pacific region. It’s a huge Java transition, and the fact that Movideo tapped Windows Azure for this project speaks volumes about the strides Microsoft has made in embracing open source in the cloud.
Hong Kong-based Movideo describes its business as “delivering positive business outcomes via an end-to-end video solution, encoding, storing, managing, syndicating and delivering audiovisual content to multiple end-user devices, and featuring powerful business intelligence tools for detailed analysis.”
With Windows Azure, it hopes to take advantage of scalable cloud infrastructure to optimize and manage its video delivery to customers. AccuStream Research predicts that online video services will account for fully 50% of a $10 billion video value chain by 2014, and Movideo wants to strike while the iron is hot.
Movideo’s built its platform on a Linux/MySQL/Java stack, but teams at the Microsoft China Cloud Innovation Center, Microsoft Hong Kong and Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters are all helping the company make the transition into a Windows Azure/Microsoft SQL Server/Java stack, following a lengthy auditing period. Once the deployment is finished in May, Movideo CTO Cameron Moore says he can stop worrying about infrastructure and start worrying about adding value.
“By migrating to Windows Azure, we can now take advantage of the added services that Windows Azure provides beyond just being infrastructure and accelerating our development road map of product features for our media customers with assurances that the scalability, redundancy and robustness of the back-end infrastructure are taken care of,” he said in a statement.
In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Moore elaborated, saying that Google App Engine was considered but there’s no precedent for an online video service on the search giant’s platform-as-a-service. Amazon Web Services was also considered, but Microsoft made a better offer in terms of services, so Azure got the nod. Furthermore, Moore says that a major value for Movideo is the simple fact that moving its databases from MySQL to SQL Azure cuts down on management costs, while enabling it to continue scaling out without investing in more infrastructure.
In a Q&A intended for members of the press, Moore explained in more depth what it was like for his open source-friendly company to adopt a Microsoft – which is to say, heavily proprietary – platform:
We have seen the Windows Azure vision, where Microsoft wants to make Java what we call a ‘first class citizen’. For every API that they have for a .NET project, one exists for Java as well. We are helping Microsoft with processes such as findings bugs and presenting them back to the community of developers to fix. Microsoft has been very open and from our perspective embracing, the open source community. We come from a Java/Linux background and use a typical Java stack inside our IT environment. It was a big step for us to migrate to a Microsoft technology.
Obviously, this partnership means that Movideo wouldn’t say otherwise about Microsoft. But between Node.js support, a preview of Apache Hadoop, and the addition of Linux instances, it seems that Microsoft is really getting on board with the notion that opening the doors to open source will attract a developer community, in turn earning more business. There’s definitely some skepticism in the marketplace to overcome, and Microsoft is still seen in some quarters as the evil empire. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Now, if the Windows Azure team could only work on the platform’s reliability.