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.”
“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.
IBM Extends Its Cloud Video Reach at NAB Show
AOL is using Aspera technology for production of all of its video content, Jarratt said. The media company has two studios, one in New York and one in Los Angeles, where it produces high-quality video content for its Huffington Post, TechCrunch and other brands. The company was having issues in delivering content between the coasts in real time because of the enormous size of the uncompressed video files. Rather than build dedicated networks or use satellite transmission, AOL opted to use the Aspera software to do high-speed transfer and keep both studios in sync at the same time.
AOL’s in-house video production through AOL Studios generates between 2TB and 4TB of video each day, IBM said.
Also at the NAB show, IBM announced that Mazda used IBM’s video services to stream the launch of its MX-5 Miata RF live from the New York International Auto Show on March 22. Mazda used IBM’s Ustream technology for that event and plans to use it for other announcements, according to IBM.
“One of the good things about the products we have in the cloud video unit is that some of them are as simple as self-service. Mazda is probably the closest to that,” Jarratt said. “With Lionsgate they chose a vendor to do the look and feel of the site.”
Moreover, among the things that attracted Lionsgate to IBM’s Clearleap platform was its ability to offer APIs that provide all the necessary display data and enable third parties to develop a look and feel on top of those APIs, Jarratt said.
Together, these new announcements demonstrate IBM is continuing to grow its roster of global cloud video customers, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. The new customers join other high-profile IBM Cloud Video unit clients, A+E Networks, BBC America, HBO, Scripps Networks Interactive and Verizon.
“IBM is betting heavily on this area with significant acquisitions and development efforts,” King said. “That isn’t surprising given estimates of the market for cloud-based video growing to $100 billion within three years. The size of IBM’s investments and its global network of cloud data centers should put the company in a good position to profit as demand for cloud-served media grows.”
In addition to the new deals, IBM announced Aspera FASPStream, a new application software line that enables live streaming of broadcast-quality video over commodity Internet networks. Jarratt said the software uses Aspera’s FASP bulk data protocol to transport any live video source and provides timely arrival of live video and data independent of network round-trip delay and packet loss. At NAB, Aspera demonstrated the FASPStream solution transporting three live camera streams from South Africa, China and New York to the Aspera booth on the show floor.
The feed from New York was sourced from Broadway Video, an entertainment and media company.
“Broadway Video is pioneering in the point-to-point video delivery space creating new workflows that eliminate costly satellite and fiber circuit backhauls and distribution infrastructures,” said Rob Weigand, COO of Broadway Video, in a statement. “Application of FASPStream to these novel workflows ensures critical uptime and reliability, making point-to-point Internet delivery of video possible and practical.”
Additionally, IBM announced new software that enables organizations to live-stream events such as town hall meetings, training sessions and all-hands meetings over enterprise networks while maintaining optimal network performance. The eCDN software resides within an enterprise’s firewall and helps clients manage and minimize the impact of video traffic on the network, reducing local network strain and eliminating the need for network capacity upgrades, Jarratt said.
“Every single business out there has the desire to use video to communicate and to market and to train their people,” he said. “If they’re not using it now they’re thinking hard about it. What they want is a system that’s as easy to use and has quality as good as Netflix. That was what we set out to provide: The ability to bring high-quality, consumer-grade video streaming, capture, management [and] measurement for both live and on-demand to any business.”