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Blackwave's New Chorus Harmonizes High-Output Delivery

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a funding round for Blackwave, a company that makes high-performance video storage and streaming devices. I mentioned briefly that the company was looking to use that money to do more than grow their Asian channel, as it hoped to combine its hardware and software solutions into a resilient high-performance streaming platform.

The company is on its seventh revision of the software platform, Chorus, and it's renaming Chorus R7 to Blackwave Chorus Software to reflect the change.

The previous version of the software, R6, had Windows Media Services and Wowza streaming capability. With this new solution, Flash Media Interactive Server (FMIS) version 3.5 is being added, based on customer demand and a desire to push content from the Blackwave platform to as many end-user devices as possible.

"We are providing the highest bandwidth-per-server in the market," said Michael Kilian, Blackwave's CTO, "with upwards of 3 gigabits-per-second throughput for MP4 content."

One of the reasons Blackwave is able to generate this type of throughput is the fact that the Chorus Platform uses a minimum of two servers for resiliency, a step up from the R6 and previous models of Chorus.

"There's been a trend of moving from enterprise-class storage to white-box storage," said Bob Rizika, Blackwave's CEO in a recent interview. "White-box storage is good from a price standpoint, but it's not beneficial for resiliency. R7 allows our customers to use white-box storage while also using a quorum-based system to having at least three instances running on at least through groups of servers."

Rizika dubbed the storage resiliency as "EMC type at better price point" as optimal throughput uses 4 storage boxes and 16 server devices. In addition, Chorus now has disk self-healing where content-based repair individual titles is done automatically when bad blocks are detected. If an entire disk fails, the quorum-based resiliency allows repair to be done using "slack capacity" or temporary extra storage on other drives.

The EMC reference is somewhat by design, as CTO K Mike ilian joined Blackwave after spending 11 years at EMC, during which he led the acquisition, integration and growth of EMC's Centera division.

"Historically we've been going up against Isilon or NetApp," said Rizika. "The whole value add we bring is the significant performance over what you'd typically build yourself."

Kilian added that the high-performance and redundancy actually reduce costs.

"Typically that level of performance requires 5 to 10 servers from other vendors," said Kilian. "As a result, content providers using the Blackwave Chorus system stand to greatly lower their server licensing costs and achieve a 3-5x improvement in their server rack utilization."

When asked about customer size, Rizika said he feels the new Chorus Software fits enterprise and entertainment clients who have origin and edge servers but want relay functionality and significant redundancy.

"Chorus now has dual physical paths to every title, on dual servers," said Rizika. "Content providers that do mirroring now have eight independent paths to a piece of content. We've added relay functionality to Chorus to allow a consumer to hit edge device and then - if the content grows in popularity - the system will grab the content from the core or mid-tier server storage bundle."

Finally, according to Rizika, customers asked that Chorus Platform (R7) include multiple ways to get content to the servers.

"Customers said 'don't lock us in HTTP or FTP' for file uploads," said Rizika. "Some of our customers need to upload tens to hundreds of thousands of streams and want to use CIFS, NFS or FTP for those tasks. As a platform that's being built to scale, we're cognizant of the need for IPTV and multiple head ends (MSO) build-outs, and want to allow customers to start small but to scale significantly."

Blackwave Chorus Software is currently available direct from Blackwave at www.blackwave.tv.

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