Charter's Ex-CTO Boards Broadbus

Video-on-demand server vendor Broadbus Technologies Inc. has increased its cable-industry profile, hiring former Charter Communications Inc. executive Tom Jokerst as its chief technology officer.

Broadbus is one of a handful of new server vendors in the VOD space, pitching a concept in which storage and streaming are separate functions. That would allow MSOs to stream content while simultaneously ingesting large amounts it — a direction in which the Boxborough, Mass.-based company believes VOD is headed.

The addition of Jokerst, Charter's former chief technologist, should buttress Broadbus's credibility.

"The value I add is my knowledge of the business and how operators think about things — when they make buying decisions, understanding budget cycles and what it takes to get comfortable with the technology," he said.

Jokerst, an engineer, has spent time as a Broadbus technical adviser over the past year, and has helped to shape the company's focus.

Today's VOD servers are designed primarily to stream content to the end-user, and not to ingest, move and propagate television content, said company founder and CEO Jeffery Binder. Broadbus has built its technology on the proposition of separating streaming from storage, he said.

"The streaming is done from DRAM [and] we use low-cost storage," he said. "We're leveraging Moore's Law on both sides."

Broadbus's architecture is built around a proprietary system controller, memory architecture and a stream that's 256 bits wide. The architecture lets the system directly address a large amount of storage while simultaneously delivering additional video streams, Binder said.

Because content is stored in RAM, cable operators can benefit from declining memory costs. And separating storage and streaming allows for each side of that equation to be scaled separately.

Binder and Broadbus are also treading into new territory: that of the content provider. The company has made the rounds of several Hollywood studios — including their TV-production divisions — to better understand VOD economics from a producer's perspective.

Broadbus's discussions with Hollywood are designed to explore the circumstances under which studios might supply product to VOD.