Entertainment industry startup Media.net this week will redefine the term one-stop shop when it officially launches its MyMedia portal application for digital video collaboration.
The El Segundo, Calif., company is racing its high-speed, network-based application to market by relying on a single vendor to provide not only the networking equipment, network design and implementation services, but also network operations support, a help desk and hosting for its suite of digital video collaboration applications.
As vendors move to add higher-margin services to their commodity hardware, the pendulum is starting to swing back to one-stop shopping and away from vendor independence.
"Vendors are educating users that its a good idea—you only have one bill, things work together, so you wont have one proprietary system not working with another proprietary system, and you dont have to have the manpower and knowledge in-house to know who all the best vendors are," said LouAnn Newman, a consultant at TeleChoice Inc., in Tulsa, Okla.
Media.nets vendor, Marconi plc., has steadily built up its professional services and hosting organization to augment its networking equipment business.
It hopes to become, from a networking perspective, what IBM and its Global Services behemoth are to the computing industry: a credible source of objective outsourcing services and technology selection advice.
For Media.net, the $100 million decision to go with a single source was a simple one, said Guy Botham, director of marketing.
"As a startup business, it was a lot more straightforward and less time-consuming than dealing with 20 vendors. Marconi offered an integrated approach that we thought could scale a lot faster than if we dealt with several different vendors," Botham said.
Although many enterprises pick and choose among best-of-breed infrastructure and services suppliers for their IT infrastructure, that approach doesnt always work when time to market is an issue, said Richard Dean, program manager for International Data Corp.s network support and integration services program, in Framingham, Mass.
"The concept of best of breed makes a lot of sense for companies that have the time to be selective," Dean said. "Many companies need to be providing a service or delivering products to customers more quickly to remain competitive today.
"On top of that, there are interoperability issues. For example, if [Media.net] is a Marconi shop to begin with, issues regarding integration are less than if its a Cisco or Nortel shop."
Time to market was an issue for Media.net, which chose to build a high-speed network around Los Angeles to deliver its application to television and movie production houses, post-production companies and other entertainment industry customers.
Although competitors offer digital video collaboration tools, Media.nets high-speed network is unique, Botham said.
"Its the digital dailies, Avid [digital editing machine] file transfers and collaborative applications were layering on top of the network that allows producers and network executives to have access to that content," Botham said.
The high-speed asynchronous transfer mode network uses dark fiber leased by Media.net that connects to the post-production companies and others in the Los Angeles area.
The network, based on dual OC-48 rings, will also expand to provide high-speed OC-3 links to New York, London, Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Being able to scale its services quickly to more customers and locations outweighs concerns about being locked into a single vendor, Botham said.
In addition to its network design and implementation services, Marconi will provide the network operations center and network support for Media.net. And it will field a help desk for Media.net customers as the applications first-line support.
"They will set up the help desk to answer obvious questions," Botham said. "We provided them with all the information they need to answer problems. If theres a problem with the application, that call can be handled through us."
Marconi has already gone live in hosting the application from its Brea, Calif., data center. Although Marconi only bought the hosting provider—Systems Management Specialists—last April, Media.net was confident its hosting operation was solid.
"They were proven, worthy partners," Botham said. "We talked to British Telecom [plc.] in [the reference-checking phase of selection], and they came back very positive in their hosting services."
To ensure that customers using the MyMedia application see the service quality levels that Media.net expects, Marconi will be measured against several SLAs (service-level agreements).
"Well measure SLAs against the network core, the network edge, hosting, servers and storage," said Darren Policella, the director of project management at Marconi, in Warrendale, Pa.