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Rumrunning, Web 2.0 Style

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Problems and Solutions
The first challenge the team encountered regarded the project’s required fonts, which were available for Macintosh computers only. Racing against the deadline, NetStairs contacted the font manufacturer. At first, the font maker was hesitant, and the creative team became gravely concerned about how to solve the problem. A new font setting was suggested, but this was unacceptable, as visual text had to match throughout the campaign.

After days of negotiation with the manufacturer, the team was able to obtain the required fonts with no compromise on the delivery date. During this time, servers had to be ordered and installed at the co-location site. IV~8 was installed and tested while measuring for delivery of the required bandwidth settings supporting the mission-critical structure. Meanwhile, the team was integrating applications to support the graphical user interface.

The next challenge dealt with video-delivery formats. TV ads were shipped on VHS tapes; they were copies of copies. The rest of the world had been embracing the digital age with technologies such as Blu-ray and HDTV, so dealing with VHS tape was not the most desirable option. However, compromises had to be made, and requests to seek a replacement format were rejected. NetStairs’ team was told that attempting to switch to the Beta SP format or another format of similar quality would require a procedure that would delay the entire process. Because of this, NetStairs had to do its best to utilize the VHS tapes or exclude media from the online presence.

While the graphical team was working on the creative side, the back-end servers had to be provisioned and built. Since the project was completely removed from corporate IT intervention, everything from soup to nuts had to be constructed from scratch. The Malibu coupon site was meant to be an event-driven project, meaning that after a successful campaign, the back-end servers would be turned to what is known as a "dark state" until the next hosted event.

NetStairs’ media team tackled the video and its optimal conversion. Understanding the poor quality of VHS, NetStairs resorted to its IV~8 FlexiView technology. The conversion and viewing optimization had to support Flash, Windows, MPEG, QuickTime, and RealNetworks over various popular browsers, media formats, bitrates, network settings, bandwidth speeds, and more, and IV~8 was engineered to make it possible. IV~8 middleware was also built to address convergence dealing with the above intricacies.

Malibu’s media content was hosted on the IV~8 platform because the company wished to push the boundaries. Dealing with many standards addressing past, present, and future media technologies while forging ahead into the mobile market, the brand wanted to maintain its visionary advantage while mitigating the shift of the technological paradigm for its online media presence. NetStairs’ conversion servers and IV~8 media servers were the foundation that allowed Malibu’s online media to overcome the poor quality of VHS tapes while embracing the HD quality that visitors want from the internet.

As mentioned, one of the goals was to learn online visitors’ geographic locations, broken down by state and city of residence. Without violating users’ privacy, it was necessary to obtain demographics information on those viewing and printing the mail-in-rebate coupon page. A custom 3D online tracking dashboard system was built in order to provide a greater level of investment monetization. The NetStairs programming team resorted to its NS Coupon Management System, a modular web-based application designed for this specific objective.

Wrapping It Up
Working closely with managed hosting solution server partners, Malibu was able to provide a fluid experience that delivers content with sufficient servers and bandwidth availability. Today, the challenges of multiple computing-server settings are mitigated by the integration of IV~8 middleware into the Akamai CDN and soon-to-be-released Limelight Networks.

Combined with sheer determination and technological advances orchestrated by third-party alliance suppliers, Malibu remains a case study in the book of media streaming.

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