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April 18, 2016
IBM and Comic-Con HQ Make for Strange Bedfellows
Posted by KMontgomery

IBM and Comic-Con HQ Make for Strange Bedfellows

Big Blue claims brand-name customers for its cloud.

When you think Comic-Con , you probably focus on comic-book heroes and movies based on them, not IBM. Still, Big Blue on Monday announced a deal with Hollywood producer Lionsgate in which IBM’s cloud will backstop a new Comic-Con HQ video channel.

The on-demand video subscription service is slated to debut in July at—what else?—Comic-Con San Diego, but today’s news comes out of the National Association of Broadcasting or NAB 2016 conference in Las Vegas this week, where tech providers flock to strut their stuff for Hollywood studios and associated companies.

In public cloud services IBM IBM 0.21% is playing catch-up to Amazon Web Services AMZN 0.92% , which dominates this market for renting out computing, storage, and networking services to business customers. Microsoft MSFT 0.64% Azure is the No. 2 player, with Google GOOGL 0.60% also making a big push with Google Cloud Platform.

Video is a demanding application for cloud computing. Storing and shipping massive video files, often shot in ultra-high-definition 4k format, is a useful testbed to show off cloud services. That’s why Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM are flocking to the NAB show in Las Vegas to strut their respective stuff.

IBM has been busy in video. It bought Clearleap, which processes and packages video for distribution to many devices, in December and a month later it snapped up Ustream, which started out as a sort of YouTube for live video content but has morphed into a vehicle for handling business-to-business video distribution.

Sure, IBM wants in on the glitzy Hollywood businesses but it is targeting a broader business opportunity, Braxton Jarratt, general manager of IBM Cloud Video, told Fortune.

“We’re addressing a bigger market. One important strategy is to go after obvious media and entertainment companies but also other companies and government agencies. Every aspect of business is being touched by video now and we’re focused on more than just entertainment,” he said.

IBM Cloud Video properties include Softlayer compute, storage, and networking foundations and also Aspera, another acquired company that focuses on high-speed transfer of huge video files and Cleversafe, which specializes in the storage of huge files.

The ability to ship massive files around fast is critical in the media business. A high-definition feature film can weigh in at about 5 gigabytes. Moving that massive file from Los Angeles to New York could take nearly two hours using the standard file transfer protocol (FTP). Aspera can do it in just over seven minutes, IBM said, noting that mileage can vary depending on the company’s own bandwidth and how much “packet loss” is incurred.

Also at NAB, IBM said the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. will use Clearleap for its ad-sponsored streaming service and that AOL-owned properties including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget will use IBM file transfer to ship media between its production facilities around the country.

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