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Entone, H-P Team Up on VOD Server

Entone Technologies Inc. is teaming up with Hewlett-Packard Co. on a next-generation video-on-demand server that can stream video at 100 gigabits per second, the companies said.

The combination of Entone “StreamLiner” software and H-P “Integrity” hardware is designed for large-scale cable and telco deployments, and it could handle 27,400 simultaneous MPEG-2 (Moving Picture Expert Group) video streams at 3.75 megabytes per stream and more than 50,000 MPEG-4 streams at 2 MB per stream, the companies said.

“We’ve been working the past 12-18 months to bring to market the world’s highest-performance VOD-server platform,” Entone CEO Steve McKay said. “This debunks the myth that you need specialized hardware to get large-scale streaming capacity.”

Entone has 30 VOD deployments worldwide, largely with telcos offering IPTV and using H-P “Proliant” servers. In most cases, Entone’s “Armada” software is running on those H-P servers.

The newly announced deal uses H-P’s Integrity server, a larger-scale server used by financial houses and medical organizations that is now being adapted to the video environment. The Integrity line would allow large Entone customers, like TeleWest Communications plc and PCCW in Hong Kong, to create centralized storage platforms for their VOD services.

“Operators want flexibility to choose the hardware platform they want,” McKay said. “Sometimes they want a larger centralized-server offering. With this offering, they can achieve performance that far outpaces anything available from specialized server companies.”

“This allows us a more hierarchical deployment,” he added. “You may have a large centralized-server platform and have numerous edge servers.” Video assets can be placed on several types of storage devices, depending on how often they are requested by consumers.

Although McKay said most of Entone’s traction has been with IPTV rollouts, the architecture could be used by big telco or cable players worldwide. “This positioned us for large carrier-class deployments in telco or cable,” McKay said.

H-P manager, broadband and media solutions, network and service-provider business Peggy Dau said she’s seen an increased interest among U.S. MSOs. “We have been contacted by various operators in this space,” she said, adding that operators are looking for open solutions, not proprietary solutions.

“The operators are looking to separate business-management systems from their VOD-server platforms,” McKay said. “This certainly helps Entone.”

Entone often teams up with Tandberg Television’s N2 Broadband division for its back-end-software link to billing systems. Entone’s “Armada” asset-management system helps operators to manage video assets across various VOD servers.

And even though Integrity is built for large rollouts, McKay said it can scale down to several thousands of streams, adding, “It’s a very scalable platform.”

Entone said the server can support up to 1 terabyte of random-access memory and 128 processors.