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Microsoft’s Inspire event

At Microsoft’s Inspire event in Las Vegas, they made sure that everyone could see the most popular sessions by streaming low-latency video to overflow rooms and online.

Challenge

The Microsoft Inspire 2018 conference in Las Vegas is one of its biggest partner events, attracting more than 18,000 visitors from around the world. Keynote sessions, and other breakout information and training presentations are very popular. In many cases, the demand for those sessions can outweigh the capacity of the rooms in which they are held.

To meet the increased demand, Microsoft set up overflow rooms in four different venues in Las Vegas, where those who could either not make it to the other locations, or were unable to be seated in the main venues, would be able to view the content they were most interested in seeing.

What Microsoft needed was a platform to distribute live streams throughout the facility, to other adjacent hotels, and back to Redmond for live delivery to and over Microsoft Azure. They needed to select and set up the streams quickly and easily, and make sure their digital event team run by Evia, a leading event services company, could quickly learn and use the technology.

“We’re dealing with infrastructure that can be unreliable, and so using Haivision along with SRT, we get a much more robust feed, ensuring high-quality low-latency feeds for viewers in any location. The setup and implementation is simple, and training content operators takes all of two minutes.”

Jeff TylerDigital Media Experience Lead - Microsoft


A simple solution to a complex network problem

Past Inspire events required Microsoft to use a dedicated fiber-based video network to support multiple streaming technologies and workflows. The event streaming and capture has been labor-intensive and expensive, with a new installation of a high-speed data network, and also separate baseband video network that could cost up to $250,000 in dedicated fiber for each event.

The solution was to use Haivision technology in conjunction with the SRT protocol – an open-source video streaming protocol developed by Haivision – allowing better live coverage, tighter content security, and greater control over the quality of the content.

Adaptability to different distribution requirements

Using the Haivision Media Platform  in conjunction with Makito X encoders, the Haivision Media Platform, and Haivision Play 2000 set top boxes, Microsoft was able to stream and record 30 channels of conference presentations simultaneously, throughout each day of the event. Each of the overflow rooms displayed two versions of produced content—one with captions, and one without, all managed by an Evia operator. As a result, over 1,400 hours of content was streamed and recorded using the Makito X’s storage functionality as a backup.

In addition, Haivision played a part in helping to distribute the keynote address by Microsoft CEO Satya Narayana Nadella, which took place at the T-Mobile Arena, using a slightly different setup than the conference sessions.

The primary feed was sent via satellite to Redmond, and a Makito X with SRT was provisioned as backup. Once received in Redmond and final production had been applied, the stream was sent using SRT to Azure Media Services for delivery to Microsoft’s virtual attendees viewing from around the world. At the same time, more Makito X encoders with storage fueled the on-site Haivision Media Platform deployment to engage all attendees in each of the Vegas locations.

Results


Deployment and training took minutes

According to Microsoft, training on the system took “all of two minutes.” The main benefit for Microsoft was that they were able to install the Makito X encoders and decoders, and have them in working order almost immediately. They deploy fewer on-site technicians, and are getting much higher-quality encoding than they have in the past. In the future, they’ll be able to lower costs and have much more interactive video workflows, giving them much higher value for every dollar spent.

A solution for the future

Microsoft will expand their use of this workflow at their Ignite event in autumn, 2018. The plan is to have a video wall in a main atrium, in addition to other overflow rooms, where anyone will be able to watch live feeds from remote sessions and sync audio through a smartphone app. With both redundancy and diversity comprising the most important factors of their signal paths, Microsoft is able to take advantage of high-quality, low-latency encoders and decoders in conjunction with SRT technology and the powerful Haivision Media Platform, allowing them to distribute and deliver the best-quality video, regardless of the network being used.

About Microsoft Inspire

Microsoft Inspire is where partners and Microsoft meet to connect, learn, and collaborate to accelerate the digital transformation and success of our customers. At Microsoft Inspire, we will:

  • Inspire with a sales kickoff for the fiscal year to accelerate growth and opportunities for our Microsoft Partner Community.
  • Create opportunities that enable meaningful connections between partners and Microsoft employees.
  • Optimize experiences that nurture connection and belonging of the partner-to-partner and partner-to-Microsoft communities.
  • Prepare partners to scale customers through digital transformation.

With past attendance exceeding 18,000 people from around the globe, it is an incredible opportunity to strengthen partnerships with Microsoft and other partners while finding new opportunities to build and grow.