Post-NAB Coverage — Omneon Intros Reflect Strategy to Stretch
April 23, 2008
Omneon's expansion plan was revealed Saturday night in a nondescript room at The Palms Resort. Chief of Marketing Geoff Stedman confirmed that the Sunnyvale, Calif., server concern is setting its sights beyond the broadcast sector.
"We're looking at the post market," and any sector moving video, he said. (Mention "Google," and Stedman's eyes light up before lamenting that YouTube's parent company uses its own proprietary servers.) Elemental factors drive the strategy. Omneon filed a $US115 million initial public offering plan with the Securities and Exchange Commission 15 months ago, but since then the market has taken a nosedive and purse strings tightened. Growth of sales of the company's flagship Spectrum servers didn't meet expectations, and Omneon posted a net loss of $US2.1 million for 2007, after having logged increasing net income for three years running. The company attributed the net loss to weaker than expected server sales for the period and additions of staff. Though Omneon remains healthy, the company needs to grow. SERVERS WISE UP Ten years ago, when Omneon launched, there were no YouTubes. There were TV networks and stations migrating to file-based digital workflows. Omneon caught that wave and established itself in the broadcast market with its Spectrum static video server line. Last year’s appearance of MediaGrid represented the move into a type of cognizant storage that can dynamically allocate its own processing power and bandwidth. ProXchange transcoding was added to move files between applications. One European customer deployed a 267 TB MediaGrid system and ran 360 streams of DV video through Final Cut Pro via Ethernet at 25 Mbps, according to Stedman. Another in Asia had 22 users simultaneously pulling 100 Mbps streams. Then Omneon added global file transport capability last year with its $US6.3 million stock purchase of Castify Networks, a software company based near Nice, France. TRANSPORT SMACKDOWN Castify’s product, now renamed ProCast, significantly improves on file transport protocol, or ftp, for global file transport, according to Stedman; where ftp slows over long distances, ProCast maintains velocity. The refrain is Omneon’s pièce de résistance for the post market, though clearly there are broadcast applications as well. “Think of a news organization with multiple bureaus that want to push files in real time, or a national broadcaster with regions,” Stedman said. Or, perhaps, a national broadcaster covering the Olympics in Beijing, where NBC will deploy a complement of Omneon MediaDecks — essentially mini Spectrums — to briefly store low- and high-resolution video for transfer to a MediaGrid. The MediaGrid in Beijing will move the low-res video via ProCast to another MediaGrid in the United States, where NBC producers will use it to request only the high-res clips they want. The deployment portends a twofold opportunity: the high-profile use of Omneon’s systems and a substantial debut in the Chinese market. ©2008 NAB
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