ZAO Russian Media Group (RMG) is a major media holding in Russia that includes five radio stations: Russkoe Radio, HIT FM, Radio MAXIMUM, DFM, and Radio Monte Carlo, as well as RU.TV music channel. Among the holding's most popular show projects is the Golden
Gramophone awards ceremony held at the State Kremlin Palace. The award was established in 1996 and is granted to the best song of the year as chosen by the public. TV version of the ceremony is available since 2003 on ORT and over the Internet.
Golden Gramophone awards ceremony is a gala show loved by millions both in Russia and abroad. The organizers strive to make the ceremony, the discussion, and the voting procedure accessible in real time for everyone. However people outside Russia who want
to get accustomed with the modern Russian culture often have only one option: live Internet broadcast available atwww.rusradio.ru since 2008.
Prior to that the broadcasting was enabled with the standard Windows Media Services. The communication channels were provided by Quantum Art, a RMG partner. Since 2002 the company is responsible for implementing all Internet projects of the group including
broadcasting of its annual events. In 2011 RMG decided to use an extra channel to improve the total user experience.
"Certainly, we knew about cloud technology but did not fully realize the benefits it could offer us. Quantum Art experts outlined benefits of Windows Azure platform which was made available in Russia this
year. They suggested using the solution to rent extra communication channels during the coming Golden Gramophone ceremony broadcasting. First of all, we needed to test the technology in order to get a better understanding of how it could help us in the future",—Natalia
Chegodaeva, Head of the Internet Projects Dept., RMG.
Golden Gramophone awards ceremony was held November 26, 2011. For that time Quantum Art had established two virtual machines within its Windows Azure environment to support the Web application which performed video broadcasting. Each VM was providing 1 Mb
data transfer rate. The event was also broadcast over the legacy communication channels using the reserved bandwidth.
By default Golden Gramophone website visitors were prompted to use Windows Azure-based channels. Should it fail (due to limited client-side bandwidth) they could switch to 512 Kb channels enabled with Quantum Art equipment.
When the channel reached its full capacity buffering was performed thanks to Silverlight and Smooth Streaming technologies. Broadcasting then resumed. So you could never miss a single moment of the show.
According to RMG, Windows Azure-enabled channels served 2,000 users during the ceremony. 77,500 people from 20 countries watched it over the Web, approximately 47,000 used the cloud service . This means, the new technology helped easily double the audience.
"If necessary we were ready to provide RMG with extra channels on our equipment since we have redundant capacity. However we really wanted to try Windows Azure in real life. Microsoft granted us its non-commercial
account with limited bandwidth for testing so we could rest reassured the new platform is sustainable and convenient. Thanks to Windows Azure we can offer our customers almost unlimited capacity while being able to adjust the bandwidth with a few clicks of
the mouse", — Kyrill Vasiliyev, IT Director, Quantum Art.
Windows Azure cloud services guarantee fast deployment, flexibility (you can adjust the aggregate capacity easily), stability, and high image quality.
If not using Windows Azure RMG would have to make an application for additional capacity to get an extra channel. This would have required the partner to invest heavily into the hardware, and after the broadcasting is over the equipment would have to stand
idle. Thanks to Windows Azure you can get an extra channel "on the fly". Simply change your service plan, and when this extra capacity is no longer in use, you do not have to pay for it.
Windows Azure helped the customer to expand its network capacity easily. The company managed to double its bit rate (from 512 Kb to 1 Mb) and the image quality was equal to that of a TV signal.
Prior to that total reboot had to be done periodically when the channel bandwidth was reaching its limit. This means all active users were cut off from time to time. They had to connect manually then. Windows Azure services allowed RMG to perform an hours-long
broadcast without a single glitch or reboot.
"Our first broadcasts were in fact slide shows, then we switched to full video. We have worked hard to improve the picture quality for years. Thanks to Windows Azure we have made a major step forward. The
picture quality was really impressive. For the first time ever our Internet users could see the stars' attires and makeups down to the last detail, and truly feel the spirit". "We are glad we can help all Russian music lovers enjoy this spectacular ceremony
like never before", — Natalia Chegodaeva.
"Cloud services proved to be a perfect solution for big scale projects that require allocating significant capacity for a short time. Any other approach would be too complicated and expensive. We are happy
with our first Windows Azure experience, and we are looking forward to offer Microsoft cloud services — including various hybrid applications — to other customers",—Kyrill Vasiliyev.
About Quantum Art
Quantum Art is a leading Internet software company which provides a range of business applications to be used throughout the globe.
The company has over 60 full-time employees: developers, programmers, designers, and managers. Quantum Art is based in New York, our branch offices are located in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, San Francisco, and Bombay.