Today marks a great step forward for Office 365: the launch of Office 365 Video. Years ago Microsoft promised a more rapid release of products and features. Since then, we've seen new features such as Delve, the simple toolbar and Groups. Office 365 Video, which was announced at SharePoint Conference 2014, is the latest example of Microsoft's accelerated pace of innovation.
What is Office 365 Video?
Office 365 Video is an intranet solution that allows users within your organization to easily share videos. The video portal contains channels where content can be uploaded and shared with internal users. The video portal is ready to go on day one as it requires no additional configuration or customization. Office 365 Video will enable users within your organization to easily create, share and consume video content within a secure and easily manageable solution.
How it works
Office 365 Video is presented within SharePoint Online and powered by Azure Media Services. This partnership between these two Microsoft clouds allows the customer to leverage the best of both technologies. At a high level, Office 365 manages storage of the content while Azure Media Services manages the media itself. The table below shows at a high level how the two technologies are dividing the elements of the solution:
||Azure Media Services
| Content Store
|| Adaptive Streaming
| Records Management and Policies
|| Secure Delivery
| High Availability
| Disaster Recovery
Office 365 Video consists of two major components: the video portal and the channels. The portal is the high-level view of all channels and videos. Channels organize video content and are created from the portal.
Very little configuration is required. You simply create channels and upload your video into the channels.
Behind the scenes, SharePoint Online and Azure Media Services work together to create a complete experience. When a new video is uploaded to a portal, a timer job runs behind the scenes that passes the video content to Azure Media Services. Once Azure Media Services has processed the video, it sends a pointer and video thumbnail back to SharePoint Online and the video becomes available for access from the portal. The time required to render and process the video is, not surprisingly, proportional to the size of the video file. Once the video has been processed, internal users can use their Office 365 organizational accounts to access the video.
Users can access videos easily from any device that supports authentication to their Office 365 tenant. Office 365 Video is responsive, so whether you are working on your iPad, your computer or your phone, you will have a quality experience. In addition to a great mobile browser experience, Microsoft will, over time, release apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phones, which will allow you to easily add content from your phone to the video portal.
By default, the Home page of the video portal displays the most popular videos across the organization as well as the selected spotlight channels that are chosen by the Portal Administrator. In addition to the spotlight channels, the Home page can highlight up to five specific videos. This concept carries into each channel, where channel administrators can choose videos to spotlight within the channel.
The Portal Administrator can easily configure permissions so that selected users have rights to configure the main portal page and they can choose users to have control of each channel. This permissions model allows for flexible and granular video management within an organization.
What does it cost me?
Office 365 Video is included, at no extra cost, for many existing Office 365 Plans, including E1, E3 and E4 as well as A2, A3 and A4. The feature won't be available on day one for the government plans, but Microsoft plans to extend the feature to other plans in the future. Also, any external users, kiosk users or SharePoint Online Only (Plan 1 and Plan 2) users will not have access to Office 365 Video.
You will be able to upload content to Office 365 Video based on your quota for SharePoint Online. Whenever a video is uploaded, it counts against the storage that is available to your tenant.
There is no additional cost for any of the Azure Media Services components—these are included in the price you pay for your Office 365 plan. If you find that you don't have enough storage space to support your organization's video needs, you can always purchase additional storage for your tenant.
Getting started with Office 365 Video
Office 365 Video will roll out over coming weeks, starting with tenants that have opted in to First Release. But even if you sign up for First Release, you may not see features such as Office 365 Video on the first day of a feature's launch. Features are deployed, or “flighted” in phases.
After First Release tenants have been enabled, Microsoft will proceed towards general availability.
Once Office 365 Video has been deployed to your tenant, getting started is pretty easy. You simply need to:
- Map out a high-level video strategy
- Create some channels
- Upload some videos
- Share the site with your users
Office 365 Video is what Microsoft calls a “railed experience.” It is designed for you to be able to quickly get started with a working solution. This is different than many features in the past where we were given building blocks then had to construct our own solutions.
If you spend a bit of time thinking about your users and how they think about video content, you will be on your way toward planning the channels you might want on day one.
And don't worry if you don't see all the bells and whistles that you expect in a corporate video strategy. This is only the first release and many more updates are already on the roadmap.
This release will give you enough to get started and it will give you a chance to give feedback to Microsoft about things you might want to see in future releases. You can provide feedback through several channels, including the Office 365 Yammer Network or the Office 365 Video UserVoice site.
As new features are made available, keep your eye on IT Unity to get the latest details and information.