Wowza Media Server Pro On Amazon EC2
The unpredictable nature of the demand for rich media files, coupled with the amount of bandwidth needed to deal with a video that suddenly “goes viral” combine to create the circumstances for an event that I sometimes refer to as a “success disaster.” This happens when you create something cool and hope that it will catch on (bringing with it at least a modicum of fame and fortune), but when it does catch on you are faced with a wall of traffic that you cannot hope to satisfy. It is expensive and impractical to have spare servers standing by in the off chance that you are faced with a sudden demand for one of your media products.
An on-demand, web-scale solution can help you to sidestep this particular problem. The Wowza Media Server Pro can be purchased in two ways. You can buy a traditional, fixed-price license and use it to stream as much media as you’d like for a single server. This is probably the way to go if you have access to a dedicated server and if you have a good handle on the demand for your media files. The server supports the RTMP protocol (and the RTMPT and RTMPS variants) used to stream Flash media files.
Alternatively, you can run the same server on one or more Amazon EC2, paying a very modest monthly fee (currently $5) and then per-hour and bandwidth-based charges a bit above and beyond what’s charged for EC2 itself. If you don’t have servers of your own, if you are faced with unpredictable demand, then this is a great way to go. You could keep a single server running at all times and then add additional instances when traffic surges. The product is available in a 32-bit version suitable for Small EC2 instances and in a 64-bit version for Large and Extra Large instances.
You can learn more about how to run the product on EC2 by reading the User Guide (That’s a PDF). After a quick reading it looks like this would be pretty easy to set up. The AMIs are generic, with customization information supplied via an external startup package. The package enumerates the set of application packages to be installed, specifies the folder structure for the server, initiates downloads of content (Amazon S3 would be a good place to keep it, of course) and provides a mechanism to call startup or tuning scripts. The AMI also includes a password-protected FTP server and an interface to the Java Management Extensions (JMX).
This is all very cool stuff, and another way that Web-Scale Computing is changing the economics of doing business online.