The world of enterprise streaming video is changing right before our eyes.
As an analyst tracking this tiny little hamlet of the technology landscape for more than a decade, I can readily admit that change is not always a word that has been closely associated with purveyors of business streaming solutions.
Leaders in this segment historically have made their way selling on-premises gear deployed behind the corporate firewall to large companies seeking to broadcast all-hands executive presentations and employee training sessions to the workforce. Effective, yes. Productive, yes. Dynamic, not quite.
Well, it’s time to wake up, sleepyheads. Technology giants are starting to make bets on streaming like never before, introducing new approaches that promise to change how enterprise streaming solutions are developed, sold, and implemented.
And the change agent driving this transformation? It’s the rise of platform-as-a-service options from market leaders that make it possible for a broader array of vendors to create streaming solutions without necessarily having to get into the messy business of making sure that the online video actually works.
Vendors ranging from Microsoft and IBM (News - Alert) to Wowza and Kaltura all are putting their best foot forward in efforts to develop broader hosted platforms that serve as the video infrastructure supporting streaming solutions developed by others.
Take the case of IBM, which earlier this year acquired hosted live video services provider Ustream (News - Alert) on the heels of its prior acquisition of on-demand streaming specialist ClearLeap. At the time of the Ustream deal, IBM said it plans to integrate the Ustream solution with its Bluemix cloud platform. While it’s still too soon to determine how quickly or thoroughly IBM will execute on this integration, IBM’s stated intentions here may have significant, far-reaching implications on the future course and trajectory of the entire enterprise streaming video market.
Big Blue clearly is firing a starting gun for competing in the platform-as-a-service market for enterprise streaming. Bluemix is a hosted platform that makes it easier to combine features of several hosted services into an integrated solution. In theory, the process of baking Ustream’s scalable live video service into the Bluemix ecosystem will make it possible for other vendors to use Bluemix as hosted video infrastructure that software developers can integrate with their own software solutions.
Should this video vision for Bluemix come to pass, it sets the stage for a battle of technology titans vying to position themselves as the engines driving streaming video communications in the enterprise. For more than a year, Microsoft quietly has been working to integrate more streaming video features into its Azure hosted platform and is widely expected to make a bigger public splash in the enterprise streaming market at some point later this year.
But the big guys are not the only ones vying for a role in offering platform capabilities. Wowza (News - Alert) last year launched its own Wowza Cloud service, offering hosted solutions that can handle the transcoding and digital packaging of video content used in other vendors’ offerings. And just this past May, streaming industry stalwart Kaltura announced its own video-platform-as-a-service offering.
The proliferation of streaming video platforms sets the stage for new flowers to bloom in the enterprise streaming segment. For years, the primary barrier to innovation has been the daunting level of development required to simply ensure that a solution delivers online video reliably and securely.
The emerging set of platforms minimizes the need for application developers to sweat the details of video encoding and distribution, potentially opening the door for a new breed of streaming solution vendors to develop more user-centric software solutions that stand on the shoulders of the streaming infrastructure supplied by the platform providers.
As a result, the next streaming startup doesn’t have to focus on making video work per se. It can succeed in thinking about the most creative ways to put video to work in real estate, retail, financial services, or any other vertical segment where video can be better packaged to deliver greater business value.
It’s still far too early to handicap the looming battle in the enterprise streaming platform-as-a-service realm. About the only thing I can promise is that it’s going to be a slugfest that pushes streaming to center stage of enterprise communications.
Steve Vonder Haar is a senior analyst with Wainhouse (News - Alert) Research (www.wainhouse.com)who can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or followed @StreamingSteve on Twitter (News - Alert).
Edited by Alicia Young