Imagine, HP Expand Partnership to Transition M&E to IT

DALLAS & PALO ALTO, CALIF.Imagine Communications has announced that it is partnering with Hewlett Packard Enterprises to align Imagine’s software with HPE’s hardware systems. The agreement expands on a partnership announced in 2015 for the two companies to collaborate on providing IT-based systems for communications service providers and the M&E (media and entertainment) sector, covering video production, playout and distribution. The new agreement is expected to extend into government, sports venues, corporate and houses of worship markets and will utilize HPE’s Communications & Media Solutions (CMS) organization, which provides systems integration services worldwide. HPE was formed in late 2015 when Hewlett Packard split the company into two divisions to focus separately on consumer and enterprise markets.

Steve Reynolds

The two companies characterize the partnership as a “first-of-its-kind” collaboration that is being driven by dramatic shifts in video consumption habits that require operators to transition to more flexible, versatile and agile production and distribution environments, and in particular, a move towards running specialized software on commodity, off-the-shelf hardware, according to Steve Reynolds, Imagine CTO.

“For the past couple of years we’ve been very vocal about our belief that the broadcast and content distribution ecosystems will eventually move entirely to an all IP-based platform, moving away from baseband and migrating toward packets, moving away from proprietary monolithic hardware systems and moving towards open computing platforms,” he said. “[This means that] ultimately everything will run in kind of a commodity off-the-shelf environment where you’re using common compute, and standards-based networking and storage.”

The agreement expansion calls for HPE to resell products from Imagine Communications’ playout, networking, distribution and ad management solutions portfolios, as well as products and intellectual property from HPE Software and CMS businesses. HPE’s CMS organization and channel partners will represent Imagine Communications’ entire product portfolio, including Platinum routers, Nexio servers and Versio, the company’s IP playout solution that helps media companies relocate playout, master control and channel origination operations to cloud and other virtualized environments.

It’s also intended to include Imagine Communications’ CloudXtream portfolio, comprised of cloud-based solutions that allow service providers to introduce new and highly personalized services. The Imagine Communications portfolio includes capabilities for live, linear, on-demand, and cloud DVR (cDVR) video delivery models, and enables dynamic ad insertion (DAI) capabilities for any of those models. CloudXtream, paired with HPE storage and compute resources, helps service providers generate new revenue, extend reach to new consumers and devices, and offers operational savings and substantial storage optimization improvements.

Imagine says the collaboration will provide media companies with a single source for all hardware, software, service and support needs. Products and solutions delivered through the collaboration are backed by HPE’s world-class support and services operations.

The scope of the relationship also includes the migration of Imagine Communications’ core products to HPE hardware platforms. Does this mean that Imagine is getting out of the hardware business altogether? That’s a bit of an “overstatement” Reynolds said, for the time being, at least.

“We really do believe that the infrastructure for television ultimately moves to a virtualized and maybe even cloud-based infrastructure,” he said. “And you don’t have to look much further like the projectwe’re doing with Disney to see that’s a real future; they’re running their broadcast operations out of a data center, 1,000 miles away from New York. And there are projects like that going on around the planet where the ‘platform’ that television is running on top of is shifting towards the cloud. And as that happens, companies like Imagine have to evolve to a model where we’re selling software and selling services but we’re not selling hardware.”

But Reynolds contends that Imagine will continue selling hardware. “We will probably always offer appliances,” he said. “That’s a model that the industry likes. But the hardware we offer will be commodity off-the-shelf hardware.”

Reynolds declined to indicate whether HPE hardware is being deployed as part of Imagine’s high-profile agreement to transition Disney to an IT-based cloud infrastructure. 

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.