A streaming media or
streaming video server is a specialized application which
runs on an Internet server. This is often referred to as "true
streaming", since other methods only simulate streaming. True
streaming has advantages such as:
- The ability to handle much larger traffic
- The ability to detect users' connection
speeds and supply appropriate files automatically.
- The ability to broadcast live events.
There are two ways to have access
to a streaming server:
- Operate you own server (by purchasing or
- Sign up for a hosted streaming plan with
an ISP (Internet Service Provider)
Operate your own server
This is a serious step and is well beyond the needs of most
To run your own streaming server,
you can either purchase a standalone server machine or purchase
a streaming server software package and install it on an
existing web server. Streaming software is available for all
common server platforms such as Linux, Windows, etc.
Some examples of streaming media
- Helix Universal Server from RealNetworks.
This server supports a variety of formats, including
RealMedia, Windows Media, Quicktime and MPEG-4.
- Apple Quicktime Streaming Server,
supporting a few formats including MPEG-4 and 3GPP.
- Macromedia Communication Server,
specializing in Flash-based video and interactive
Sign up for a hosted streaming plan
In much the same way that you
sign up for a website hosting plan, you can get yourself a
hosting plan which specializes in streaming media. This is a far
more realistic option for most people.
Some examples of hosted streaming
- RealNetworks Managed Application Services
- Apple Quicktime Streaming Services
- Macromedia Communication Server Hosts
True video streaming in any form can be an expensive business.
Unless you really have a need for it, you are probably better
off starting with basic HTTP streaming...