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Adaptive streaming or bitrate switching allows clients to automatically switch between different video streams during playback, to ensure the highest possible video quality with minimum buffering and startup time. This way, clients can adapt dynamically to changing bandwidth conditions and available CPU resources, which makes this delivery method especially well suited for mobile devices. Moreover, by using HTTP as the stream transfer protocol, firewall issues are being avoided. For information about the available protocols and their inner workings, see this edition from our 'State of Play' series.
Rambla's streaming services support adaptive streaming for Flash, iDevices and Silverlight in a highly transparent manner. This means that a single set up can be used for Apple HTTP Adaptive Streaming, Microsoft Smooth Streaming as well as Adobe's Dynamic Streaming. It suffices to change the last part of the URL path in order to use another protocol. See our Adaptive Streaming Guide for more info on how to set up adaptive streaming yourself.
With the latest upgrade of the Rambla framework, we've gone a step further and automated the whole workflow process of getting your on-demand video ready for adaptive streaming. This includes encoding your source file into multiple files (with different bitrates and/or resolutions, suitable for bitrate switching) and publishing these on the CDN, together with the SMIL configuration files which provide the necessary information to the Wowza streaming server. Instead of having to do this preparation yourself, you can now simply upload your source file to a Rambla 'hotfolder' and wait for the notification that will contain the URL's for all streaming protocols (adaptive and otherwise).
We provide a default hotfolder for every user account, free of charge*. Inside this hotfolder, which is a private FTP directory, you can create sub-directories that will be mirrored on the CDN. You can customize the default hotfolder settings to support different bitrates and/or resolutions. You can even enhance your hotfolder with other types of transcoding functionality, like letting it generate a .webm file (for HTML5 support) or letting it take snapshots at a given interval. It is also possible to purchase additional hotfolders or let us customize and test your whole set-up for adaptive streaming. Developers can use the RATS API, which includes the same functionality and more.
As soon as you receive your user credentials, you can start uploading files to your default hotfolder**. By default, your hotfolder is configured to produce high quality content for adaptive streaming, optimized for a screen with 480x360 dimensions. To try it out, just upload a file and wait for the notification mail. This mail also contains URL's that allow you to immediately test each type of adaptive streaming via our Media Player. First make sure that you are logged in to the Rambla control panel with your user credentials, then direct your browser to one of these URL's and start streaming. For more details, see our Default Hotfolder Guide.
(*) Please note that, while the set up of the hotfolder is free, file transfer and transcoding which results from files being uploaded to the hotfolder will of course be charged at our normal rates.
(**) If your user account was created before May 2011, please contact Rambla support first, so we can make sure that HTTP streaming is enabled (free of charge)