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CES '18: Cloud DVRs Are Now Table Stakes, Announces Cisco
Netflix and Amazon have invested enormous budgets creating online video services. With its Infinite Video Platform, Cisco helps other services compete.

Well, that happened quickly. Not long ago, no streaming video service offered a cloud DVR. Now it's an essential – "table stakes," in the words of Simone Sassoli, senior director of product management and video cloud services for Cisco.

At CES, Cisco is taking meetings about to promote its Infinite Video Platform and the fact that it now provides cloud DVR services for over 20 customers. This is the first time the company has talked cloud DVRs and how it can provide multi-cloud services to help any provider offer this new must-have.

Multi-cloud services combine public cloud storage (such as Amazon, where the provider hosts back office management services, metadata, and more) with an on-premises cloud (where the content catalog and DVR capture data is stored). Structuring the cloud DVR system this way lets the content sit closer to the customer, which provides better delivery and is often a requirement in content licensing agreements.

Cisco can provide the on-premises hardware and manage the cloud DVR service, or simply provide the management if the customer has its own in-house storage. In that case, Cisco proactively monitors the system and fixes problems before they become an issue.

The actual storage of the recorded content can be handled in three ways, depending on legal requirements: The operator either stores a unique and private copy for every customer, stores one copy per file and makes a unique version on-the-fly when needed, or stores one copy that is used by everyone with access to that file. In North America, most customers use the unique copy system, because of legal requirements. In Europe, most use the shared copy system, which is the most efficient and requires the least storage.

With the Infinite Video Platform, Cisco is announcing that video is now part of the in-house IT storage system. While operators used to need to deploy video in standard video center installations, they can now treat it like any other in-house data. And cloud DVRs aren't just a way to attract new customers; they're also an upsell opportunity: Don't want to delete some of those saved recordings? Just sign on to get more cloud storage.

"Think of the Infinite Video Platform as a Salesforce.com for video," Sassoli says.

Besides enabling cloud DVRs, the Infinite Video Platform helps operators create and market new streamed offerings sooner. Every two weeks it offers software updates, giving customers the ability to compete with major services in a timely way. The idea is to match the services that Netflix and Amazon have created in-house, services that require a multi-billion dollar investment and would otherwise be out of reach for most operators.

Cisco is one of the vendors supplying cloud DVR services for Comcast, and works with Israel's Yes to provide the cloud DVR for its recently launched Sting TV service. Cisco can't name its other customers yet, but says it will be able to talk about more of them later this month. Thanks to the many beta tests going on, Cisco currently has hundreds of thousands of people already using its cloud DVR service, so it's confident the area will see a lot of traction.

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