IBM Gets Lead Role in Online Movies

Big Blue is providing the underlying technology and hosting services to support Movielink's online movie rental business.

Movielink LLC today announced that IBM is providing the underlying technology and hosting services to support its forthcoming online movie rental business.

The joint venture formed by five major movie studios will launch its service in December through IBM hosting centers on the East and West coasts. IBM will provide managed services for the online rental of recently released movies. The service will operate over broadband links into consumers homes, providing the secure download of feature-length films to consumer PCs.

"When [consumers] sign on to the Web site to view Movielink and they decide to download content, it will be hosted on IBM infrastructure," said Steve Canepa, vice president of IBMs global media and entertainment industry group in Glendale, Calif. "When content gets prepared and moved through the infrastructure to create the transaction with the consumer, all that will flow through this infrastructure as well. It becomes the foundation that this new digital network is built on."

According to the terms of the three-year contract, IBM will manage all the servers involved in distributing movies to consumers as well as the network, including security, firewalls and links to different distribution points. "Well be managing all the software and hardware for the user interface and transactions around the content. Well also manage the digital rights technology they choose to deploy," said Canepa.

IBMs managed services for Movielink will include problem tracking, usage reports, workload balancing, "everything it takes to manage a complex infrastructure," Canepa said.

The growing number of consumers connected to the Internet via faster broadband links, along with a series of technology advances, makes the service viable. Some 35 million computers are connected via broadband, according to IBM. At the same time, advances in codec technology have reduced the amount of bandwidth required to transmit digitized movies.

"We are seeing an increase in the availability of broadband to the home, which increases the amount of data that can be sent to the home. And were seeing improvements in efficiencies to digitize the content. Working together, these two forces give a better representation of the original content that takes up less space and download time," said Canepa. "Over time well continue to see network speeds increasing because of improvements in provisioning, and well continue to see a reduction in the amount of bits necessary," he added.

Movielink, in Santa Monica, Calif., would not reveal the value of the contract with IBM.

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