Avid Internet Solutions (AIS) has efforts underway to get its content creation tools to Mac OS X, according to Mike Rockwell,
chief technology officer and vice president/general manager.
“We’re definitely committed to the Mac in doing cross-platform development,” Rockwell told MacCentral. “It’s what our customers want and what we’re going to give it to them.”
AIS is the division of Avid that focuses solely on helping streaming service providers, content delivery networks and corporate enterprises store, deliver, manage and “monetize” rich media on the Web.
In June of 2000, AIS entered the Internet infrastructure marketplace. One of the challenges the new division decided to tackle: the unique requirements of high-bandwidth content, which often exceed the capacity of existing server and storage systems designed for handling rapid, but small, data transactions, not the lengthy (e.g., full-length feature films), large object transactions presented by digital media. AIS’ solution: the Trilligent Cluster, a turnkey streaming media system created specifically to deliver dynamic content, such as movies, trailers, games and videos, to broadband-connected personal computers.
Though it uses Windows servers, the client end of AIS’ service is platform independent. In fact, Rockwell said the Macintosh offers an excellent platform for the services that AIS provides.
“The nice thing about all Macs is that Apple has done a good job of putting high bandwidth connections in all its machines,” he explained. “They all have built-in Ethernet, so they’re good machines for consuming digital content. The AltiVec processor is very efficient at decompressing video streams. And the Mac’s video subset is great for viewing media.”
The aforementioned Trilligent Cluster allows streaming service and VOD (video on demand) providers to distribute content over the Internet via a turnkey, standards-based server platform that scales linearly to meet demand. A fully configured Trilligent Cluster can store nearly 20,000 hours of video and other content online, and deliver more than 10,000 unique broadband streams to users regardless of access pattern, according to Avid.
The cluster delivers streaming media through a single, integrated, and optimized system of industry-standard media servers, load balancers and shared storage. It delivers sustained streaming from 250 Mbps up to 5 Gbps. It offers linear scalability as shared storage grows from 80GB to 7.3TB. And the Trilligent Cluster remains easy-to-manage as a single, logical system, regardless of size, claims Avid. The company will be introducing monitoring later this quarter that will allow “aggravated remote monitoring” of a cluster of Trilligent Cluster components.
AIS’ high performance streaming servers deliver in three formats — QuickTime, RealPlayer, and Windows Media Player — that are Mac compatible. As time goes by, Rockwood thinks streaming servers will play an increasingly important role in media, although he doesn’t think the long awaited (or is it feared?) convergence will hurt the personal computer industry.
“If you look at the direction of what’s going on with cable TV, the broadcast area, and broadband, they are kind of converging,” he said. “Cable TVB folks are beginning to use digital cable as opposed to analog cable, which gives access to a larger number of channels and better interconnectivity.”
However, there are two kinds of entertainment experiences: “lean back” and “lean forward.” The former are mostly spectator events, such as watching TV, that are often done in a group and have limited interactivity with the medium of entertainment. “Lean forward” activities are those in which people interact with the entertainment media, such as browsing the Web and playing computer or video games.
“Over time there may be more of a combination of these two experiences, but, in my opinion, most ‘lean back’ activities will be done in an entertainment viewing room, such as the living room, with some sort of set-top box,” Rockwood said. “Still, most interactivity will still be done with a computer. That’s really how that kind of experience works best.”
As far as how streaming media plays into that, there’ll be a growing desire and demand to be able to watch TV programs when you want. Rockwood said you can expect to see more “TiVo” like services and video-on-demand with IP streaming coming into an Internet box on the aforementioned set-top box. However, streamed information and some kinds of entertainment will be consumed more on either a computer or game console, he said.