IBM Extends Its Cloud Video Reach at NAB Show

IBM announced a series of new deals for its Cloud Video unit along with new product innovations that simplify the live-streaming of video.

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IBM has extended the reach of its new Cloud Video unit with a series of new customer wins and product innovations, including snagging entertainment giant Lionsgate and introducing new Aspera software for streaming broadcast-quality video.

Big Blue made these announcements at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas on Monday. Launched in January, IBM's Cloud Video group has been moving quickly to solidify its offerings and reach out to enterprise customers with solutions that deliver consumer-quality video in the cloud.

IBM pieced its Cloud Video unit together out of organic solutions and acquisitions, including Ustream, Clearleap, Aspera and Cleversafe. The IBM Cloud Video Services unit combines assets from Ustream, as well as Clearleap. It is also creating solutions that integrate technologies from other IBM investments, including Aspera and Cleversafe, as well as IBM R&D innovations.

Braxton Jarratt, general manager of the IBM Cloud Video unit and former CEO of Clearleap, said one of the things that impressed him about IBM even before Big Blue acquired his company was its "machine" that takes acquired companies and make them productive with IBM as quickly as possible.

"So we're moving very quickly in terms of becoming part of IBM," he said. "And as far as the business unit itself, what's really interesting about IBM is it's one of the few giant tech companies that's been in video for about 10 years in some form or another, but usually by partnering or building custom implementations."

At the NAB show, IBM announced that Comic-Con HQ, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., AOL, Mazda and Broadway Video are tapping the company's Cloud Video unit to do everything from launching new channels for millions of consumers to dramatically improving their video management and distribution.

"We're using the NAB show to showcase the vision we have for the IBM Cloud Video business as we bring the different units together under one roof," Jarratt said.

Indeed, these announcements help to tell the bigger story of what IBM is doing in video. In companies where video is their core business they're doing more and going direct to the consumer more. They're looking for global scale and they're taking more and more of their brand and business and going to the cloud. And in enterprises, video has become more prevalent for communications, marketing and training activities. IBM hopes to tap into that growing demand at all levels—small and medium-sized businesses as well as large enterprises.

"IBM is at the forefront of the industry at a time when video is the driving influence in how organizations communicate, share information and entertain," Jarratt said in a statement. "Today's announcements will be viewed as a significant milestone in the company's cloud video strategy, as IBM makes the sharing, distribution and management of video increasingly simple across any device."

Jarratt said Comic-Con HQ, a partnership between Comic-Con International and Lionsgate, chose IBM Cloud Video's Clearleap.

"We're the platform provider for that new Comic-Con service and this could be the beginning of a long-term relationship with that studio as they bring more of their assets and their brands directly to the consumer," Jarratt told eWEEK. "This is a strong proof point for the new division, especially with a company where video is their business."

IBM also announced that Canadian broadcasting provider CBC is using the IBM Clearleap platform to bring its ad-supported streaming video service to provide Canadians with access to CBC programming across Web, iOS and Android devices. The video service features a library of more than 600 CBC titles.

"We knew we needed a video platform to support our strategy of building an audience in an aggressively competitive environment. We worked with IBM Cloud Video because they know what it means for a broadcaster to be digital," said Lauris Apse, director of Digital Products at CBC, in a statement.

Meanwhile, IBM also announced that AOL is using a suite of high-speed transfer and automation software from IBM's Aspera as the backbone for its new media management platform, to support high-performance transfers between bicoastal production facilities and to and from its cloud-based media asset management system.