Hosting conference calls and live webcasts to announce earnings is one of the most important services that an investor relations department provides to company shareholders. Companies who host the live webcast and offer replay sessions on-premises might experience heavy network loading at peak times, especially during the days after the conference date. In some cases, the network traffic might completely consume the company’s bandwidth and impact daily business. By shifting conferences, live webcasts, and replay sessions to Windows Azure Media Services and Microsoft Office 365 with Lync Online conference calls for VIP investors, companies can deliver content to multiple devices with flexibility, scalability, and reliability.
Windows Azure solution for webcast replaySome companies already host their investor conference replay sessions on-premises. These companies can keep their existing solution for meeting videos and shift the replay service to Windows Azure by following these steps, illustrated in Figure 1:
1. Create a Windows Azure Media Services account 2. Upload videos 3. Encode videos 4. Publish videos
Figure1. Manual steps for hosting replay videos by using Windows Azure Media Services
In this example, we encode the playback videos via HTML5 to ensure that content can be delivered on multiple devices. Investors can then follow the published URL to see the latest investor conference replay on their mobile devices.
To simplify the operation efforts, we can create an application in Windows Azure Media Services to perform the steps (upload-encode-publish) automatically. Check out this video to see the benefits of automation.
Online webcast vs. replayAnother integrated end-to-end solution is to use Office 365 along with Windows Azure to provide webcast and replay sessions.
Our approach to this solution is as follows:
Preparation stageArrange a Lync Online meeting for public users to join. The conference call URL for the live webcast can be announced on the company’s public site.
Meeting stageIn the live webcast meeting, it’s easy to share the presentation file with audiences and record the meeting from the Lync client. Audience members can easily join by using the meeting URL without installing the Lync client. For worldwide dial-in audio conferences, there are third-party services that work with Office 365 to provide that feature.
Replay stageAfter the meeting, the recorded meeting video can be uploaded to Windows Azure Media Services to provide the replay feature.
The detailed flow for this solution is illustrated in Figure 2:
Figure 2. Lync Online and Windows Azure solution for online webcast and replay
The benefits include:
Please note that Lync Online can currently only support up to 250 attendees. If you need to support more online meeting attendees, you may choose to host Microsoft Lync Server on-premises to provide the same services.
Cost and performance comparisonBefore choosing a cloud-based solution, let’s review a cost evaluation of Windows Azure Media Services. According to the analysis report from the Lync Team Blog, the quality of 720-pixel resolution from a Lync recording is sufficient for information sharing. For a one-hour meeting recording that is fewer than 720 pixels, the file size will be about 250 megabytes (MB).
Table 1. The resolution, bitrate, frame rate, and file size of meeting recording files
Based on the analysis, let’s assume a company has four one-hour replay sessions with a total video size of 1 gigabyte (GB) (about 250 MB each).
The pricing for Windows Azure Media Services will include the following fees:(1) Encoding fee: US$1.99 per GB(2) Storage fee: First 1 TB: $0.07 per GB(3) Data transferred fee: First 5 GB: free; 5 GB–10 TB: $0.12 per GB
If there are 1,000 investors who visit the site during a month to watch the video, the estimated monthly Windows Azure service cost will be $121.46 (formula explained in table2). If we compare that cost with on-premises webcast replay hosting and other solutions, Windows Azure is a more cost-effective solution that is highly productive and reliable.
Table 2. The estimated monthly cost of 1 GB video files with 1,000 views hosted on Windows Azure Media Services
By leveraging Windows Azure and Office 365, Microsoft provides a competitive cloud solution that investor relations departments can use to host earnings announcements. Companies also benefit from offering content across devices with flexibility, scalability, and reliability.
Cheryl Hsu is a Technical Architect at the Microsoft Technology Center in Taipei. She specializes in Business Productivity and Office 365 solutions.
Great! This blog article simply introduce how Windows Azure works and how it costing, very easy to understand and hands-on, good job!!