MediaCorp based in Singapore is the leading national broadcaster and has been providing live telecasts of Singapore’s National Day Parade (NDP) for over 45 years. In recent years, the organization has expanded its scope to a larger audience by offering online services. With the NDP now being held over several locations within Singapore, MediaCorp required a highly-scalable and robust solution that could deliver high quality video streams of the event. In addition, the company wanted to provide users with a rich user experience by incorporating interactive applications. Having reviewed the options available, MediaCorp selected the Windows Azure platform to meet its infrastructure needs. By deploying Windows Azure, MediaCorp have reduced their costs by 50 percent. The broadcaster now has an infrastructure capable of delivering rich user experiences for years to come.Situation
The Singapore National Day Parade (NDP) is an annual event commemorating the anniversary of Singapore’s independence on 9 August 1965. As a pioneer in the development of Singapore’s broadcasting industry as well as the country’s leading media company, MediaCorp has been delivering the live telecast of NDP to television screens in Singapore for the past 45 years. MediaCorp has become recognized through its many initiatives in digital space, including online classifieds, Internet TV-on-demand and High Definition TV broadcasts.
Over the last few years, MediaCorp began streaming NDP online to provide local and overseas viewers with the ability to watch events on their computers and mobile devices. As time has progressed, so have the expectations and requirements of the events. Last year the NDP was held at the Singapore Padang along with five other locations around the country. Given the spread of events, MediaCorp needed a highly-scalable and robust infrastructure that could deliver live video streams of the event.
Goh Kim Soon, Vice President, Interactive Media Solutions, MediaCorp, comments, “We were looking at more than 20,000 users logging in to our site to view the live telecast over the three-hour event, and the infrastructure had to be able to support this amount of traffic.” Traditionally, MediaCorp would have had to approach their Web hosting provider and request to set up the infrastructure with sufficient servers and bandwidth resources for live streaming.
Goh comments, “It really did not make sense to invest in changes to our hosting environment for a one-day event. So we started to look at alternative options.”
In addition to live streaming, MediaCorp also wanted to deliver a richer user experience for users by incorporating interactive applications, to further engage visitors. For this to happen, the company needed an infrastructure that would support the development and delivery of these applications efficiently and cost-effectively. Solution
After a careful review of available solutions, the MediaCorp interactive media solutions team chose to standardize on Microsoft technologies for the live telecast and NDP-related online services. This strategic decision would allow the organization to build on its existing collaboration with Microsoft on xinmsn.com, which already allows viewers to watch MediaCorp television programs online.
MediaCorp worked with Microsoft Gold-Certified partner, NCS, who provided a team of professionals to provide consultancy services and developed relevant applications and support services to enable live viewing of the nationwide celebrations.
One of the key technologies that MediaCorp was looking at was the Microsoft Windows Azure platform, a cloud computing service that delivers computing resources on a pay-as-you-go basis. Using this model MediaCorp would be able to deliver services on-demand to support the high volume of online traffic expected for NDP.
To deliver the video-streaming capabilities and interactive applications on the NDP Web site, NCS developed a solution for NDP on the Windows Azure platform, utilizing and integrating Microsoft advanced technologies such as Windows Azure, Bing Maps, Microsoft Live Labs PhotoSynth as well as Microsoft Silverlight technologies.
As the Windows Azure platform hosted the Silverlight client, which users downloaded to access the live streaming and applications. Once the Silverlight application loaded, viewers were able to view live video feeds from MediaCorp cameras located at the various event locations. It is estimated that three terabytes of video downloads took place over the three-hour period the NDP was telecasted.
On the xinmsn.com/ndp2010 Web site, viewers were able to take part in the Singapore ShakeUp. When users placed their mouse over a map of Singapore on the Web site and “shook” their mouse, they scored points that contributed to the total tally for the region they were in – North, South, East or West. Facebook users visiting the Web site were able to log in and chat with other viewers. Aside from the Web site, users with mobile devices could shake their devices to chalk up points in this friendly competition.
All these “ShakeUps” were communicated to the Microsoft SQL Azure database to compute the total number of points scored by each region and display the information in real time. Throughout the three-hour period parade, there were an estimated five million points accumulated.
Before the live streaming of the actual parade, users were already able to check out the different event sites using Microsoft Live Labs PhotoSynth technology, which constructed a 360-degree virtual reality space from pictures taken at various angles.
Bing Maps provided complete visibility into geographic information through the Web, allowing users to “travel” to the different venues and zoom in up to 50 feet to get a closer view. A number of iconic landmarks were built into the map, specifically for the NDP parade so users could easily identify the venues, allowing users to access the specific areas with just one click of their mouse. Benefits
The use of the Windows Azure platform and cloud computing services along with other Microsoft technologies provided MediaCorp with a highly-scalable, flexible, cost-effective and secure platform to deliver an interactive and engaging online viewing experience.
Thanks to the scalability of cloud computing solutions, MediaCorp was able to deliver online services to meet the needs of its viewers. Goh comments,
||The scalability of the Windows Azure platform provided us with the processing power and bandwidth to meet a large demand. We had up to 18,000 unique visitors to the site during the peak hours, which was a fantastic result.
||Goh Kim Soon
Vice President, Interactive Media Solutions
Due to the scalability of the Windows Azure platform the NDP team was able to deliver the Singapore ShakeUp. There were approximately 500,000 IOs (input-outputs) to the SQL Azure database to compute the total number of user points and push out the information to the Web site in real time. “Our existing infrastructure would not have been able to meet these requirements. Windows Azure is what made this possible,” says Goh.
In contrast to the Web-hosting model in which servers and other resources have to be pre-provisioned and rented for a minimum period, the Windows Azure platform model gave the NDP team the flexibility to provision resources on-demand to meet the changing needs of the applications. For example, five servers were activated to support user downloads of the Silverlight client, and another eight to do the backend computation for the Singapore ShakeUp.
Chen Chee Sing, Director, NCS, and the NCS Program Manager for the NDP streaming project, comments, “The process is simple. Our clients do not have to deal with the data center. All they have to do is log in to their account and request for the servers.” The process only takes a few minutes, compared with a request for resources from a third-party Web-hosting provider which might take a few hours or even a day to process.
Reduces costs by 50 percent
Compared to a hosting solution in which hardware and software resources have to be accounted for cost for a minimum period regardless of usage, the Windows Azure platform model allows resources to be paid for as they are required. The flexibility of this costing model has resulted in cost savings of over 50 percent compared to the delivery of similar services using a Web-hosting provider.
Differing from the traditional Web-hosting model which depends fully on individual service providers, the Windows Azure platform provides real-time protection and applies the latest cyber-security technologies to prevent hacking or intrusion. Goh comments, “Working with Microsoft we have the peace of mind that our data is protected.”Windows Azure Platform
The Windows Azure platform provides an excellent foundation for expanding online product and service offerings. The main components include:
Windows Azure. Windows Azure is the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. It provides developers with on-demand compute, storage, and bandwidth, and a content delivery network to host, scale, and manage web applications through Microsoft data centers.
Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft SQL Azure offers the first cloud-based relational and self-managed database service built on Microsoft SQL Server technologies.
Windows Azure AppFabric. With Windows Azure AppFabric, developers can build and manage applications more easily both on-premises and in the cloud.
− AppFabric Service Bus connects services and applications across network boundaries to help developers build distributed applications.
− AppFabric Access Control provides federated, claims-based access control for REST web services.
Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket. Developers and information workers can use the new service DataMarket to easily discover, purchase, and manage premium data subscriptions in the Windows Azure platform.
To learn more, visit: www.microsoft.com/windowsazure For More Information
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For more information about NCS products and services, visit the website at: www.ncs.com.sg
For more information about MediaCorp products and services, call +65 6333 3888 or visit the website at: www.mediacorp.sg This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.