How badly Imagine wants to build its business in the MVPD market is evidenced by the role of Steve Reynolds, the former senior vice president for premises technology at Comcast who earlier this year became CTO of Imagine.
And, given Reynolds' stature as a leading cable strategist, it's also a good testimony as to Imagine's potential on that front.
"What the new management team looked at was how to expand business out beyond the traditional broadcast market," Reynolds
creates an underlying architecture of modular, IP-based services, fundamentally improving the way media companies manage their workflows and monetize their media assets, Reynolds
Media and playout solutions such as ad sales, traffic, scheduling and automation are provided in distinct, separate and often premises-based platforms that can be orchestrated from the cloud.
The universal workflow solution Imagine supplies to exploit the MediaCentral framework was acquired last year, along with software-based transcoding and other solutions, with the purchase of Digital Rapids
The Digital Rapids Kayak workflow platform, renamed Xenio by Imagine
, is "incredibly innovative," Reynolds
"In place of what used to be deterministic workflows dedicated to various operations and operating over separate cable links, Xenio makes software abstractions of all the functionalities - signaling, insertion, metadata, transcodes and other manipulations - running on a workflow manager that allows you to stitch them together," he
As things stand now, Reynolds
sees operators relying on the software-based transcoding platform in early iterations of multiscreen service distribution and moving to the high-density SelenioNext platform when the load increases.
"Our customers are looking for an optimized model where they can balance capital costs with the costs of operations while launching services and innovations much faster than before," he
"If you're streaming one network with eight profiles, the software solution is the way to go.
When you get to 20 networks with eight profiles, you're going to want to move to hardware, where you're working with ten times the density of software-only solutions."
acknowledges that the calculations weighing one type of solution against another are constantly changing as advances are made in both the commodity and proprietary hardware domains.
"We'll take advantage of new technologies," he
"We don't build monolithic systems.
We use modules with enough abstraction at the software level to enable migration to new options as they emerge."
For example, in the case of advances made by Intel
with its Haswell architecture and Core i7 processors, Reynolds
says, "If the next generation of the Intel
SDK gives me a better density on Haswell, that's the way we'll go.
When customers are ready to move to HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), which requires ten times the processing power used with H.264, they want to make the transition without having to "rip and replace old encoders," he adds.
"It may mean adding a new version of acceleration to our [PCI] board.
It may mean going with acceleration from a commodity supplier."
Another critical piece in Imagine's
cloud initiative is a new version of its widely deployed traffic and billing system, LandmarkOSI, which with V 8.0 has been enhanced with new cloud capabilities to enable operations across multiple locations from a centralized information hub and database.
As described by Reynolds
, operations groups across a large organization's locations can work together to optimize inventory utilization and sales resources, as well as eliminate duplicate data entry in content management, sales, traffic and scheduling tasks.
As with all the solutions in the Imagine portfolio, this is a modular component, but its compatibility with the cloud strategy should strengthen the case for its use in the MediaCentral framework environment, Reynolds
"LandmarkOSI in the cloud enables our customers to focus on what they do best," he