Azure Media Services or Azure Communication Services? How do we decide?

GenixPRO 36 Reputation points


  1. We need some guidance in choosing between ACS vs. Media Services. For our native ios & android app.
  2. Use case is online, live video+ audio rooms/classes (could be running tutorials, brainstorming sessions with whiteboarding etc.)
  3. Each room may typically have 20-30 members attending at any given time. However, there may be instances where we'll need some rooms/classes to scale to over 2-3k pupils joining live (broadcast). Normal session could be run on Standard video quality and Premium video quality for scale/bigger session
  4. Need interactivity. In-room/in-class group chat, 1:1 member chat, mute/unmute, real-time translations, coach/facilitator should be able to view all participant/member camera feed (other members can't see each other, can only see the coach)
  5. How do we decide which of the 2 options will serve our needs better. Also what is the size of Azure Media Services library for Android & iOS.


Azure Media Services
Azure Media Services
A group of Azure services that includes encoding, format conversion, on-demand streaming, content protection, and live streaming services.
307 questions
Azure Communication Services
Azure Communication Services
An Azure communication platform for deploying applications across devices and platforms.
708 questions
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  1. Anton Kucer 81 Reputation points

    There is no simple / easy answer for your questions at this time. While most of your requirements can be met by ACS (e.g., interactivity, chat, 1:1, real time video (i.e., 200- 300 ms range for latency) etc.) Other capabilities can be met by Azure Media Services (AMS) - (e.g., Premium video quality, scale to very large audiences, etc.). ACS uses the WebRTC protocol for video delivery which prioritizes conversational video quality vs broadcast video quality. AMS leverages adaptive bitrate (ABR) protocols (HLS, DASH, etc.) which focuses on broadcast video quality and typically has had glass-to-glass latencies of 15 or more seconds. Recent improvements in HLS and DASH protocols (LL-HLS and LL-DASH) allow for much lower latencies in the 2-6 second range. These improvements will be available later this year for AMS.

    Overall, the streaming industry is working towards an inflection point in the future where real time video becomes indistinguishable from broadcast video. Until this is achieved, solutions that need real time / interactive capabilities as well as large scale and broadcast video quality capabilities are typically taking a hybrid approach of using a combination of WebRTC and ABR solutions. Cost is also a driving factor to a hybrid approach as delivery costs for WebRTC products are typically an order of magnitude larger vs ABR products. Teams is an example of this hybrid approach where WebRTC is used up to a specific audience size and then ABR path is taken (leveraging AMS) for very large audiences.

    With regard to AMS library for Android & iOS one would just use the default player frameworks for each of these. For building a native app for iOS one would just use AVPlayer framework. To build a native app for Android one would use ExoPlayer framework. One can then just point an HLS URL to either of these for playback.

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