Amazon CloudFront
Developer Guide (API Version 2016-09-29)

Overview of Live Smooth Streaming with Amazon Web Services

Smooth Streaming is the Microsoft implementation of adaptive streaming technology, which is a form of web-based media content delivery that uses standard HTTP. An extension of IIS Media Services, Smooth Streaming enables adaptive streaming of live events to Smooth Streaming clients such as Microsoft Silverlight. When you configure Smooth Streaming to use CloudFront, you benefit from the scale of CloudFront's global HTTP network and from latency-based routing of viewers to edge nodes on the network. To learn more about CloudFront, go to the CloudFront product page.

Smooth Streaming content is delivered to clients as a series of MPEG-4 (MP4) fragments that can be cached at the CloudFront edge servers. Smooth Streaming–compatible clients use special heuristics to dynamically monitor current network and local PC conditions, and seamlessly switch the video quality of the Smooth Streaming presentation that the clients receive. As clients play the fragments, network conditions may change (for example, bandwidth may decrease) or video processing may be affected by other applications that are running on the client. Clients can immediately request that the next fragment come from a stream that is encoded at a different bit rate to accommodate the changing conditions. This enables clients to play the media without stuttering, buffering, or freezing. As a result, users experience the highest-quality playback available without interruptions in the stream.

To encode a live broadcast to Smooth Streaming format, you use Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 Pro. To serve the encoded Smooth Stream, you can then use an Amazon EC2 Amazon Machine Image (AMI) that is running Windows IIS Media Services. CloudFront caches the live video and audio content, and viewers connect to the CloudFront edge servers to play the stream using a Smooth Streaming-compatible client such as Microsoft Silverlight. This tutorial walks you through the entire setup process.


Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 Pro with Service Pack 2 is not included in the Amazon EC2 Amazon Machine Image (AMI) that is running Windows IIS Media Services, and it is not a free download. For information about features and pricing, go to the Expression Encoder 4 Pro page on the Microsoft Store website. You can also use a third-party encoding tool to encode your video for Live Smooth Streaming. For a list of Microsoft partners that provide encoding software, see the Partners tab on the IIS Media Services page on the Microsoft website.


This tutorial provides an overview of how to integrate CloudFront with Microsoft Live Smooth Streaming running on an Amazon EC2 instance. For more information about how to manage and secure your Amazon EC2 instance, refer to the Amazon EC2 documentation. For more information about Microsoft Live Smooth Streaming options not covered in this tutorial, see Microsoft Documentation.

To set up Live Smooth Streaming with Amazon Web Services (AWS), review the system requirements for IIS Smooth Streaming in the Smooth Streaming Deployment Guide. Then perform the procedures in the following sections:

  1. Creating an Amazon Web Services Account

  2. Creating an Amazon EC2 Key Pair

  3. Creating an AWS CloudFormation Stack for Live Smooth Streaming

  4. Verifying that Your Amazon EC2 Windows Server Instance Is Running

  5. Getting Your Windows Password

  6. Encoding Your Live Stream

  7. Viewing Your Live Smooth Stream

  8. Deleting Your AWS CloudFormation Live Smooth Streaming Stack

For frequently asked questions, see Frequently Asked Questions.

For links to additional Microsoft and AWS documentation, see Additional Documentation.