Amazon adds media streaming to content delivery service

Amazon Web Services has added support for audio and video streaming to the beta version of CloudFront, its Web service for content delivery, the company said on Wednesday.

The support for streaming is based on Adobe's Flash Media Server. Today, the service supports on-demand streaming, but Amazon plans to add support from live streaming next year, it said.

To stream content customers must first store the original copies of their movies and songs on Amazon's S3 (Simple Storage Service), and then enable streaming of the content using the AWS Management Console or Amazon's APIs (application programming interfaces) for CloudFront, according to Amazon.

CloudFront can stream content from 14 locations in the U.S., Europe, Hong Kong and Japan. Users are automatically sent to the best location, Amazon said.

Customers pay for the data transfer and the number of requests users make. The data transfer costs between US$0.17 and $0.05 per gigabyte -- the price per gigabyte falls as volume rises -- and requests are $0.01 per 10,000 in the U.S. Japan is the most expensive location to stream from: between $0.221 and $0.095 per gigabyte and $0.013 for 10,000 requests.

Customers also have to pay for the storage on S3.

In the last two weeks, Amazon has stepped up development of its web services platform. It has added support for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server Standard 2008 and opened up the beta testing of Virtual Private Cloud, which aims to connect a company's existing computing resources and Amazon's cloud as if they were part of one data center.

Amazon has also lowered the price of S3 and announced EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) Spot Instances, which lets companies bid on unused capacity in Amazon's cloud.

Amazon provided no details on when CloudFront would exit beta testing.

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