Streaming Video Servers
A streaming media or streaming video server is a specialized application which runs on an Internet server. This is often referred to as "true streaming", since other methods only simulate streaming. True streaming has advantages such as:
- The ability to handle much larger traffic loads.
- The ability to detect users' connection speeds and supply appropriate files automatically.
- The ability to broadcast live events.
There are two ways to have access to a streaming server:
- Operate you own server (by purchasing or leasing)
- Sign up for a hosted streaming plan with an ISP (Internet Service Provider)
Operate your own server
Note: This is a serious step and is well beyond the needs of most websites.
To run your own streaming server, you can either purchase a standalone server machine or purchase a streaming server software package and install it on an existing web server. Streaming software is available for all common server platforms such as Linux, Windows, etc.
Some examples of streaming media software:
- Helix Universal Server from RealNetworks. This server supports a variety of formats, including RealMedia, Windows Media, Quicktime and MPEG-4.
- Apple Quicktime Streaming Server, supporting a few formats including MPEG-4 and 3GPP.
- Macromedia Communication Server, specializing in Flash-based video and interactive multimedia.
Sign up for a hosted streaming plan
In much the same way that you sign up for a website hosting plan, you can get yourself a hosting plan which specializes in streaming media. This is a far more realistic option for most people.
Some examples of hosted streaming media plans:
- RealNetworks Managed Application Services (MAS)
- Apple Quicktime Streaming Services
- Macromedia Communication Server Hosts
Be warned: True video streaming in any form can be an expensive business. Unless you really have a need for it, you are probably better off starting with basic HTTP streaming...
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