Turnkey services make multi-platform content delivery easy and affordable

For content owners looking to develop new types of third-party and direct-to-the-consumer file delivery services (e.g., Amazon, Netflix, and Google) but not know exactly how to do it, a number of companies want to hold your hand and show you the way.

At the recent NAB Show, companies like Dell, GlobeCast, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft and Signiant (to name a few) all showed their versions of a “plug and play” architecture that, leveraging cloud-based equipment and file transfer/management software, could get an over-the-top (OTT), content delivery network (CDN) up and running within a matter of days. Other services allow broadcasters to distribute content created for TV to alternative platforms in order to expand their audience and (someday) generate new revenue. OTT services use packet-based Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructures already deployed to simultaneously deliver thousands of on-demand audio and video clips while cloud-based technology keep OpEx costs low and flexibility to expand and contract as required, high.

Dell introduced Dell Deliver, a Content Delivery Platform (CDP) (opens in new tab) that allows content providers to sell CDN services as well as manage the on-demand delivery of any video to any screen quickly, efficiently and at low cost. The new service is built on Dell’s 12th Generation PowerEdge servers (opens in new tab) and software from EdgeCast Networks and Elemental Technologies.

“Managing and maintaining a healthy IT infrastructure is getting more and more complicated for network operators as their infrastructures are not designed to support today’s growing demand for IP-based, bandwidth-hogging content,” said Laurie Hutto-Hill, general manager of Dell’s Global Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment organization. “Until now, few content delivery models have been optimized for rich media, and it is hard to find existing technologies equipped to analyze and deliver content efficiently based on the requirements of a multitude of end-user devices.”

Dell Deliver is available with a number of deployment models and built with software from EdgeCast Networks, the CDN that delivers a substantial portion of the world’s Internet traffic on behalf of more than 4,000 content providers and Elemental Technologies, a supplier of video processing solutions for multi-screen content delivery. Dell said that the solution includes video processing software from Elemental Technologies that add additional cost and performance benefits to the customer. Elemental’s software leverages many-core NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs) and Intel processors to offer an extremely dense and highly cost effective transcoding solution.

GlobeCast launched MyGlobeTV, a new OTT platform for international broadcasters in the Americas. The company describes it as a B-2-C (business-to-consumer) television bouquet that brings international and genre-based content directly to subscribers, including linear TV and VOD. It is scheduled to launch in the U.S. on July 1 and then expand to the rest of the Americas.

The initial channel line-up will consist of Indonesian, Japanese, Malayalam (South Asian), and Romanian programming, but will rapidly expand to include a wider variety of African, Asian, Australian, and European content. This broadband TV offering is a separate service to the company’s existing WorldTV, DTH satellite offering, which provides global broadcasters with a more traditional route into American homes.

“With MyGlobeTV, subscribers will be able to enjoy their favorite international channels using their existing broadband connection,” explains Emma Brackett, vice president of Consumer Products and Services at GlobeCast. “At launch, content will be available via the MyGlobeTV set-top box. The deployment of a MyGlobeTV app will follow soon after to enable anytime-anywhere viewing on any connected device.”

For broadcasters, MyGlobeTV offers an end-to-end solution that includes: content ingestion, delivery and management; signal transport and encoding; multiplatform distribution; marketing; retail distribution; and customer care. They can use the service to develop new revenue streams and expand their viewer base by reaching markets not easily accessed via DTH satellite. GlobeCast will use its global satellite/fiber infrastructure to carry content from anywhere in the world to its technical operations centre in the U.S., from where it is delivered to broadband homes via the Internet.

GlobeCast is using a Netgem hybrid DVR set-top box for the new service. This device that supports adaptive bit rate streaming (ABR) for the IP content and a receiver for local broadcast signals. It includes a 320 GB hard drive with 450 hours of DVR capacity. The service supports VOD.

[For more on how Pay TV operators and broadcasters can extend their reach via broadband, check out “Extending Pay TV reach with OTT.”]

Hewlett Packard (HP) (opens in new tab) offers its SpeedVideo CDN and WebCaching services (opens in new tab), which can help manage and delivery content worldwide. Using a global network of servers from HP and Akamai, HP Cloud CDN services accurately distribute content to the closest local servers. It provides fault-tolerant content replication and distribution; easy integration with third-party telecommunications networks; a highly scalable and cost-effective cloud computing architecture; and built-in redundancy for uninterrupted service.

The SpeedVideo CDN (and its WebCaching component) also offers transparent and web caching, encoding/transcoding, OTT portals, Content management portals and inline advertisement solutions. It runs on standard HP ProLiant servers and, according to the company, is the only solution able to squeeze 1.5 Gbps of throughput from a single server.

Microsoft showed its new Windows Azure Media Services, a new collection of services that sit on top of the company’s Windows Azure community (now home to some 10,000 users worldwide). The company said Windows Azure Media Services simplifies the creation, management, and delivery of media to almost any device including Microsoft Xbox, Windows Phone handsets and Windows PCs, as well as non-Microsoft platforms such as smart TVs, set-top boxes, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Content providers and media partners can take advantage of the cost benefits and cloud capacity found with Windows Azure, and provide customers massive amounts of digital media in the variety of formats they require, when they require it.

According to Taras Bugir, Windows Azure Media Services’ “ready-to-use” services allow customers to simplify the creation of complex media workflows built on the Microsoft Media Platform and third-party technologies. They also enable a media organization to accurately develop cost analysis models for how much it would cost to deliver a piece of content.

“Not only can we help get a CDN online quickly, prior to a service launch, we can also help customs accurately plan a new service, much like an automobile company can detail the cost of every part on a new car, in order to determine the cost of the entire car,” Bugir said. “The way to attack the new business models is to measure the cost so that you can determine the best technology to put in place.”

Signiant, a provider of file transfer software for the media and entertainment industry, announced Media Shuttle, a “hybrid cloud offering ” that gives media workgroups and enterprise project teams the convenience, flexibility and ease of use of public cloud-based file-sharing services, but without file size limits or sacrificing the level of security and tracking required to protect high-value assets in the cloud.

Unlike services that store content in the public cloud, Signiant Media Shuttle is provides a simple and easy-to-use interface in the cloud but maintains content within the secure control of the enterprise network. The company said it can be installed within minutes (by trained media professionals). They can set up and brand their own file- sharing site with themed color schemes and graphics, allocate storage, invite users and become instantly productive. IT professionals are freed from the task of user administration and enterprise software installation, yet they have the peace of mind that the organization’s content is safe and secure.

Media Shuttle is based on the same security and acceleration protocols for high-speed file transfers as the company’s core infrastructure products. And, unlike many public cloud-based services, Media Shuttle provides centralized visibility of transfers, including job status, bandwidth usage and active users.

What’s clear is that the ability for a start-up content delivery service to launch new services that compete with traditional broadcast stations without having to make huge investments in equipment and bandwidth is getting more ubiquitous and easier to afford. In order to grow their business, companies that traditionally sold computer hardware and software are looking to support these nascent service providers in any way they can.