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IBM’s Open Framework Announcement Highlights Streaming Media West 2004

Collaboration was the buzzword at this year’s Streaming Media West, held October 26-28 in Santa Clara, CA. More than 1,400 attendees checked out the latest and greatest from 33 exhibitors and dozens of sessions focusing on business and technology, and all roads converged on collaboration: How can streaming users in the enterprise best implement solutions that bring together multiple technologies and providers to accomplish their goals?

"For rich media to really take off, we need interoperability and ease of use," says Rod Bacon, CEO and cofounder of Media Publisher Inc. (MPI). "People are tired of negotiating through different applications that really need to come together and work together."

Toward that end, MPI was one of nearly three dozen partners that joined with IBM to create the company’s Open Framework for Digital Media, which was announced at a chilly but well-attended outdoor reception at the end of the show’s second day. As the name suggests, the Open Framework initiative means open standards, and while nobody from Big Blue would say as much, it’s clearly meant as a challenge to Microsoft Windows Media’s current market dominance. Supporting Java, J2EE, ISMA, MPEG, XML, OMA, 3GPP, Linux, H.264, and other standards, the framework is an "end-to-end architecture that lets people treat codecs as just another component," according to IBM Digital Media Group marketing executive Keith Myer. "People are tied to their codecs because they’re part of a fixed structure. If you componentize the infrastructure and use open standards, you don’t have to rely on a specific codec to drive all the rest of the components."

The framework’s Adaptive Rich Media Streaming (ARMS) technology adapts delivery to maximize streaming media quality over client, server, and network resources. "We consistently hear that enterprises want to deliver streaming, but insist that it not interfere with other mission-critical data delivery," Myers says. "ARMS dynamically adapts to a network’s other loads."

IBM’s partners have been involved in the development of the framework from the ground up, Myers says. For instance Apple’s support for H.264/AVC in QuickTime integrates authoring and playback tools with IBM’s DB2 Content Manager, while Cisco’s Application and Content Networking System 5.2 provides the network infrastructure. And though Microsoft isn’t a partner, IBM’s framework is designed to work with a variety of platforms including Microsoft’s Media Server and Streaming Server to include Windows Media support.

In conjunction with the IBM announcement, MPI introduced a new version of its Media Publisher software that integrates its platform with IBM’s WebSphere Portal. Via the portal, users navigate to a video library that is dynamically updated each time an enterprise publisher or curriculum developer adds a new item, with user access controlled by adminstrator-set access rights. "It’s all about content and delivery these days," says Bacon. "Users are looking for portals that give them easy access to what they need, whether that’s live Webcasts, archived content, or Web conferencing."

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