IBM today announced its acquisition of Clearleap, a provider of cloud-based video services, to boost its cloud computing initiatives.
Big Blue’s play here in acquiring Clearleap is to accelerate the delivery of video service as a strategic source of data for business. The move is aimed at empowering users to access video from any device at any time and use it for business purposes.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Clearleap will be integrated into the IBM Cloud platform to provide enterprises with a fast and easy way to manage, monetize and grow user video experiences and deliver them securely over the Web and mobile devices.
The news is part of IBM’s broader strategy to help clients unlock the value of video as it grows in importance in business. IBM is advancing its cloud strategy to improve the performance and management of video and help clients extract insight from it.
“Clearleap joins IBM at a tipping point in the industry when visual information and visual communication are not just important to consumers, but are exploding across every industry,” Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of IBM Cloud, said in a statement. “This comes together for a client when any content can be delivered quickly and economically to any device in the most natural way.”
IBM said increasingly connected consumers want video delivered, when they want it, and to the multiple devices they use for entertainment and information. In business, video has become a staple of communications across all industries as a primary method to engage with customers and employees for CEO webcasts, conference keynotes, training and education, customer care, how-to videos and more.
Thus, IBM customers in different industries are demanding a secure, scalable and open cloud-based solution to manage their video services. This is particularly important, given that researchers estimate that 80 percent of the world’s data is unstructured and dark to computer systems that cannot effectively manage or exploit it. Video makes up a significant portion of that data.
The Clearleap video platform is optimized for massive scalability, which enables organizations to ramp up and support millions of concurrent users within seconds to support special events. The platform boasts among its users leading brands such as HBO, A+E Networks, the NFL, BBC America, Sony Movie Channel, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications.
“The IBM acquisition of Clearleap is the second punch of a one-two combination initiated by the purchase of Cleversafe in October, with Clearleap providing the service framework and Cleversafe the storage platform for next-generation video delivery,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “As such, both companies reflect IBM’s belief that video will grow in importance among the company’s enterprise customers and become a core form of business content/communication.”
The Clearleap platform, which has been tested and proven by leading media and entertainment brands with millions of subscribers, will provide a strong foundation for enterprise, education, and government customers as well.
“IBM plans to imbue Clearleap’s services with tools that allow organizations to securely and seamlessly create, distribute and manage video files as they would any other form of enterprise content,” King said. “Clearleap will continue to focus on services for entertainment players, like current customers Verizon, TWC and HBO, but over time, the company’s technologies will also support video services and development environments for IBM’s enterprise clientele.”
IBM Buys Clearleap for Cloud Video Services
Clearleap’s open API framework enables organizations to easily build video into applications and to adapt to specific business needs such as custom workflows and advanced analytics. The framework also enables access to key third-party applications that customers may already have in their environments.
In addition, the Clearleap platform includes subscription and monetization services, and data centers from which to host digital video assets. Clearleap’s video services will be offered through IBM Cloud data centers around the world. Users will be able to securely share data and content across geographies and across hybrid clouds. IBM will offer the Clearleap APIs on IBM Bluemix in 2016 to enable clients to build new video offerings quickly and easily.
“With consumer demand for video growing exponentially, the business of creating compelling and personalized video experiences is booming. This makes the acquisition by IBM, a global leader in technology, a perfect fit,” said Braxton Jarratt, CEO of Clearleap, in a statement. “As a part of IBM, we can extend the capabilities and global reach of the Clearleap innovations to grow and scale like never before.”
Today’s news is the latest in a series of organic and external investments IBM has made in recent years in the areas of video and large data file management. In 2014, IBM acquired Aspera, which develops a technology to speed large data transfers over broadband networks. In November, IBM completed the acquisition of Cleversafe, a developer of object-based storage software and appliances that enable organizations to quickly store, manage and retrieve unstructured data. Also integrated into the IBM Cloud, the Cleversafe and Aspera technologies will be leveraged for use with Clearleap to help clients more quickly store, index and retrieve video content through the cloud.
“My biggest take away from this is that while IBM will continue to nurture the relationships Clearleap has in media and entertainment, its biggest long term goal of this acquisition is to bring these capabilities at scale into other industries, education and healthcare especially as the primary targets for this moving forward,” said Cassandra Mooshian, an analyst at Technology Business Research. “In both industries, there is a growing desire to collaborate via video and streaming content – we’ve already seen this with Watson from IBM, with its ability to use images and videos to analyze and make diagnoses.”
IBM itself has been a long-time developer of video and digital media innovations and has been awarded more than 1,000 patents in the field since 1995, and has won four Emmy Awards for video related innovations.
“IBM is focused on being an essential partner to the rapidly changing M&E [media and entertainment] industry by helping our clients deliver personalized content to the right customer in real time anywhere in the world,” said Steven Canepa, general manager for the Global Media & Entertainment Industry sector at IBM. “The combination of Clearleap with our proven analytics and hybrid cloud capabilities will deliver exciting new video solutions that will fundamentally change communications across every industry.”