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Video: Ustream Offers Full VOD Capabilities as Part of IBM Cloud Video

Tim Siglin: Hi my name is Tim Siglin. I'm a contributing editor for Streaming Media Magazine and streamingmedia.com. We're here at the beginnings of the 2016 Streaming Media West show in Huntington Beach. I've got with me Alden Fertig from Ustream, which is now part of IBM Video Cloud. Alden, tell me what's gone on with the company since the acquisition.

Alden Fertig: Sure. It was announced at the beginning of this year. Ustream was acquired by IBM. We formed part of the IBM Cloud Video unit. The IBM Cloud Video unit is powering experiences for premium content distribution as well as also powering experiences for enterprise, live, and on-demand video.

Tim Siglin: Does that tie you in with, say, IBM Global Services on the professional services side, where they may bring your expertise in to help them launch enterprise types of products? How does that work?

Alden Fertig: Yes, there are many complementary technologies that are part of IBM. Aspera is one of the very well-known ones. They're a leader in high-speed file transfer, and a lot of that is video, of course. IBM cloud object storage is also here. Again, big data is oftentimes video. It's some of the biggest sources of data on the internet. So, we're collaborating with different parts of IBM.

The final one that everyone's most excited about is IBM Watson. We're using the cognitive insights of IBM Watson to do things like extract metadata from videos. That might be speech-to-text to do automated captioning, or it could be things like image recognition to do contextual advertising.

Tim Siglin: Ustream itself has primarily been live-focused as opposed to asset-based or on-demand. What does Ustream bring to the total video cloud that IBM maybe didn't have prior to that?

Alden Fertig: Great question. When Ustream started, we were pretty much solely focused on live streaming. Over the years we've expanded, though. Now, we're live streaming and full on-demand video capabilities, as well. What we've been able to contribute to the IBM Cloud Video overall ecosystem is yes, that live streaming expertise, as well as we're bundling with our offering cloud-based transcoding and a multi CDN offering. A lot of this is all coming together so that we're able to use it for live streaming, but we're also able to use it for on-demand, and we're able to use it for enterprise use cases as well as media entertainment use cases.

Tim Siglin: In reality, you bring a holistic approach to the ecosystem as opposed to just live?

Alden Fertig: Yeah. One of the things a lot of times people are, "Oh, so it's going to be all enterprise 'cause it's IBM now." IBM plays in a lot of spaces. It's not just a company that sells enterprise solutions. Again, you look at, say, Aspera, and it's being used by all the major movie studios. Those aren't your typical thought of enterprise, but IBM has quite a bit of footprint in media entertainment. We're continuing to develop that front, as well as offer enterprise video-focused solutions.

Tim Siglin: What do you hope to learn at the show, and what are some of the trends that you think you'll see across the show here?

Alden Fertig: I come here every year. One of the things I love to learn about is, what are the latest trends with codecs and formats? Everyone's always keeping a close eye on that because we need to make sure that we can deliver to every screen efficiently. It's always a changing landscape. It's one of the things I love about online video in general.

Another trend--maybe a few years ago, video was just hard to actually get it from one place to another. Now, everyone takes it for granted. There are lots of vendors here, there's lots of solutions. Now, it's about how can I really optimize the ROI on that video?

Maybe if I'm doing a subscription VOD model, it's how can I prevent my subscribers from churning? If I'm doing an advertising-based model, it's how can I maximize my advertising dollars? If I'm doing enterprise video, it's about how can I make sure that my employees are really watching those videos and I'm getting the most out of my investment?

Tim Siglin: Very good. Again, this is Almost Live here at Streammedia.com. We really appreciate your time and bringing us up to speed on what Ustream is doing, now that it's part of IBM Video Cloud.

Alden Fertig: Thanks for having me. I'm really glad to be part of the show.

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