What is Video?
Office 365 Video is a new service in Office 365 designed to store and play your organization’s video content. Think of Video as an enterprise version of YouTube. Video is built on top of SharePoint Online and Azure Media Services (AMS), with an assist from Yammer. All Office 365 tenants in either the “E” (enterprise) or “A” (academic) SKUs have Video available with no additional licensing costs.
Video play back works on Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone devices as well as within all major web browsers. There are no plug-ins required, so the play back experience is easy to use for all users no matter what device they are on.
The Video page is divided into the Spotlight section at the top, and a listing of individual channels. Channels are created by your team to organize your organization’s content. The Spotlight section is automatically populated with content that Delve and Office Graph identify as being relevant to you personally.
How does Video work?
Under the hood, each channel is a SharePoint Online site collection. These site collections are all organized under a primary site collection for the video portal hub. When someone within your organization uploads a video into a channel, that video is copied into AMS where it is processed and encoded before being added back into the channel for use. SharePoint Online provides the content storage, metadata, security and compliance, and search functionality in Video.
AMS provides the video transcoding, adaptive streaming, secure delivery, and thumbnails for Video. AMS has a lot more functionality that is exposed though Video, but for this article we are going to stick to the functionality available in Video.
One of the main benefits that AMS brings to Video is adaptive streaming. That means that when you upload a video into the service, that video is placed in content storage for your SharePoint Online. It does count against your SharePoint storage quota. From there, SharePoint runs a job that moves your original video into AMS for processing. Once AMS gets the video, it is then transcoded into multiple formats and resolutions. This is the point where the thumbnail for the video is created as well. These additional copies of your video do not count against your SharePoint storage quota. You are only charged for the original video.
AMS also encrypts the video content for secure delivery. This means you get secure upload and storage, dynamic encryption for content streaming, token based authentication, and integration with Azure Active Directory. The secure delivery workflow starts with the content key. There is a key authorization policy that grants access to that key. SharePoint Online controls that key authorization policy. There is also an asset delivery policy that covers how to deliver the content. When the player tries to play back the content it presents a request to AMS key delivery which is responsible for verifying the token.
What’s in development for Office 365 Video?
A couple of new features being devolved for Office 365 video include
Embedding – videos will be embeddable into all kinds of portals, pages, and even email and Yammer messages in the near future.
Event Recording – Skype for Business’ live meeting broadcast feature will be recordable within Office 365 Video. Besides a recording of the event, you’ll also get several reports showing attendance information.
Cache Proxy – Microsoft is working with specific customers to figure out a way for Office 365 Video content to be cached within their network so that users do not need to leave the cooperate networks to view video content. They are also exploring P to P video delivery.
Choose your own Thumbnail
Analytics for videos and channels
Yammer settings – The ability to disable Yammer in Office 365 Video will be a welcome addition to some (I’m looking at you, @expta)
Multiple audio tracks
Integration with Office 365 Groups
Here is my opinion of how Office 365 video stacks up as an Enterprise Social feature of Office 365.
Dividing your content into channels should allow you enough granularity so that users have a pretty good idea where to find the content they are looking for. I’m not completely convinced that Delve will do the job of picking content individual users are interested in, but users are not forced to watch the videos that Delve thinks they should be interested in.
Videos do show up on your individual Delve page, but that is something we’ll talk about in the Delve article.
Access Control: Good
Controlling permissions for individual channels is currently a bit simplistic. Currently there are 3 levels of permissions with in a channel; Owners, Editors, and Viewers. Owners have complete control over that channel, Editors can add remove and change channels, Viewers can view videos in that channel. You can grant permissions to user or groups from your tenant Azure AD. You can also designate Spotlight videos for each channel.
At the Video portal level, you can designate Video admins and Channel admins. Video admins can manage the Home page and change permissions while Channel admins can create new channels. Spotlight at the portal level allows you to Spotlight channels portal wide.
Currently Video does not support external sharing. This is an added bit of functionality I would like to see.
Ease of use: Excellent
I’m given to understand that SharePoint 2013 included functionality that helps you build your own video portal. I am not a SharePoint admin, but from what I can see that process is pretty complex and includes a lot of work. Video takes all the work out of that process and gives you a fully functional video portal that anyone smart enough to login to the Office 365 portal can start using.
I saw a demo at Ignite where Microsoft employees took a completely empty Video portal and created 4 different channels and upload about 40 different videos with detailed metadata and everything was fully functional and user ready in less than 30 minutes.
While Video is obviously limited to video content, I think the flexibility that Office 365 is delivering for that content is excellent. Videos just work in whatever browser you choose to use to access them, and that is fantastic.
One additional bit of functionality we have not touched on anywhere else is Office Mix. Mix is a plug in for PowerPoint that lets you create video content from your presentations. Office Mix includes the ability to publish your newly created content straight into office 365 Video.
Targeted audience: Excellent
The ability to control permissions at the channel level gives you all the control you should need. The only addition I would ask for is the ability to share videos externally.
Time sensitivity: Good
I assume that some users will be a little frustrated by the slight delay between when a video is uploaded and when it is available for use. Considering the amount of work that happens after a video is uploaded, I think it runs amazingly fast.
Hybrid functionality: non-existent
This is a cloud only feature. There is no hybrid functionality right now, but it does seem to be on Microsoft’s radar to create some sort of hybrid Video links to on-premises SharePoint 2016 sites.
I can imagine this is going to be a problem for some organizations, but I’m not really sure there is a way (outside of strictly limiting who can upload videos) to achieve much in the way of compliance controls.
Some organization will end up learning the hard way that allowing anyone to upload anything they want is not always a great idea.
When I first heard about Video it rated little more than a shrug of my shoulders. After having researched it a bit, it ends up being a pretty useful feature that will add some considerable value to many organizations Office 365 tenants.
Continue this series in Part 4