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Enterprise Encoding Solutions

Content providers are faced with the task of encoding their content in all the popular formats, at multiple bit-rates which is an expensive and time-consuming process. Anystream (www.anystream.com), an Internet infrastructure software company, presented a new model for content encoding at Streaming Media West on Tuesday. In a press conference, Geoff Allen, CEO of Anystream, introduced Agility Edge, targeted at edge network service providers. Based on the model of current distribution networks for television, Anystream believes that encoding should occur at the last mile.

In the model Anystream laid out, content owners create a single high-quality version and then distribute it via satellite or terrestrial content delivery networks to the edge of the Internet. Agility Edge, located at local broadband network points of presence (PoPs), then receives this interim stream and dynamically creates finished encoded streams in the optimal formats and at bit rates for that location.

The company believes that if broadband ISPs take on the encoding role, a significantly higher quality streaming experience can be delivered to a substantially broader range of consumers. The solution is not currently available, and no customers have been announced.

Agility Edge is based on its existing product, Agility Enterprise, an enterprise software platform for encoding, which was introduced in June 2000. The software is capable of taking a single stream and automatically encoding it into multiple formats (supporting all the major formats) and multiple bit rates with programmatic insertion of metadata and real-time pre-processing and pre-filtering. The solution is based on open standards and is entirely customizable and scalable. Major content providers, such as CNN Interactive, can integrate the system into its existing production workflow and reduce encoding costs.

Earlier this month, Digital Island, a provider of managed Internet infrastructure for enterprises, announced that it was implementing the Agility Enterprise encoding platform. A spokesperson from Digital Island indicated that after implementing Anystreams' solution in its New York office, it was able to reduce the encoding staff per project from 15 to 2; increasing efficiency and reducing margins.

A competitor has recently entered the scene in the form of Telestreams' Flipfactory. Flipfactory was introduced earlier this month and Tech TV announced it would use Flipfactory to automate the process of re-purposing its cable channel programming for its Web site, www.techtv.com.

"What used to take us hours with several desktop PCs running single-seat software is now done in a matter of minutes with more reliability and consistency," commented David Seedall, vice president, Engineering, TechTV, in a statement. "FlipFactory allows us to set up the parameters for each streaming format once, and then feed media through it many times a day."

Both companies have deals with Virage to integrate its Internet Video Application Platform, which indexes and maintains video files for easy access, with its encoding software, to provide complete video storage, retrieval and encoding solutions.

In related news, Anystream and Excalibur Technologies Corporation, a provider of content management solutions for indexing and retrieving text, video and images, announced a partnership to integrate the Anystream Agility Enterprise encoding platform into Excalibur's Screening Room technology.

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