Yep, Bob said it right. Any web server can be used to stream videos, using what is commonly called Pseudo-Streaming. For a more detailed answer lets first take a look at Video streaming in general.
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What is Video Streaming?
Video streaming is a method by which the viewers can start watching a video online without the need to first download the complete video file. The video is “streamed” as a continuous flow of data from the server to the clients browser, thus allowing them to start viewing the video almost immediately. With video streaming, the provider of the video has more control over the way the visitors view the video, also allowing the video to be embedded in the site itself.
Types of Video Streaming
There are mainly two methods of employing Video streaming:
- True streaming: Using dedicated streaming servers
- HTTP Streaming: either normal downloads, or progressive downloads which is also called Pseudo Streaming.
True streaming usually employs a special service dedicated to the streaming of videos. With a dedicated streaming service it is possible to stream “live” videos, allowing customers to connect at any point and start viewing the videos. It can also detect the visitors connection speed and then determine which file to stream, so it can stream lower quality videos for visitors with slower connections. Dedicated streaming servers usually requires higher spec servers to handle the processing and streaming, thus they generally provide a more reliable streaming experience when compared to other alternatives.
There are many streaming servers available, choosing one will depend on the format of the videos your customers wish to host. The most common streaming formats in use today are Flash, RealMedia, Windows Media and QuickTime. Flash is the most popular format in use today, and is the format of choice for YouTube. (They are now slowing moving to HTML5)
Some common flash video streaming servers in use today are:
Pseudo streaming requires no dedicated service and employs the same HTTP service as used for handling site traffic. Thus avoiding the need for high spec servers and the licensing costs of proprietary video streaming software. Since it depends on the HTTP service, high traffic to the server will result in slow/intermittent streaming of videos. So if your customers are expecting high traffic to their site, it would be best if they go for a dedicated streaming server.
To setup Pseudo-streaming of Flash videos on any website, all one requires is a server side script (written in PHP, ASP etc) and a Flash player.(Lighttpd supports HTTP streaming out-of-the-box, so it doesn’t need a server side script, just the Flash Player)
Many CMSs come with these server side scripts built-in and have flash players that can be installed as modules/plugins. Here are a few for the most common CMSs in use today:
If your customers are not using any of these CMSs, they will have to install the server side script and Flash player manually. For the server side script, they could go for another open source alternative, Xmoov-php. For the Flash players they could use JW Player, Flowplayer or Xmoov’s own player
I hope that with this information you will be able to better answer your customers queries and know what is required if you wish to support video streaming on your servers.
About the Author:
Hamish works as a Senior Software Engineer in Bobcares. He joined Bobcares in July 2004, and is an expert in Control panels and Operating systems used in the Web Hosting industry. He is highly passionate about Linux and is a great evangelist of open-source. When he is not on his xbox, he is an avid movie lover and critic.