Microsoft Cuts Hardware Needed For IPTV

Microsoft has incorporated server-virtualization features into its Mediaroom software that the company claimed will reduce the hardware needed to serve a "full" suite of IPTV services by more than 80%.

"We're at the lowest footprint required to launch an IPTV service," Ben Huang, director of product management for Mediaroom, said in an interview.

AT&T is the largest telco to provide services through Microsoft Mediaroom, reporting 1.33 million video subscribers as of the end of March. In all, Microsoft counts as Mediaroom customers some 20 providers worldwide, representing more than 3 million IPTV subscribers.

With the virtualization support, an operator can deploy and operate a full Mediaroom-powered TV service -- with hundreds of linear TV channels and tens of thousands of vide-on-demand assets -- for up to 30,000 subscriber homes per market using fewer than 10 physical servers, Microsoft claimed.

The existing version of Mediaroom, by comparison, would require nearly 60 discrete servers, according to Huang.

"This opens up the platform to smaller operators," he said. For bigger operators, it provides more flexibility to "mix and match" using a combination of dedicated and virtual servers, he added.

Huang said Microsoft is engaged in trials of the virtualized Mediaroom now, and will formally release the upgrade in the next few weeks.

The virtualization in Mediaroom is based on the Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V hypervisor-based server virtualization technology. Hyper-V enables multiple virtual servers to be hosted on the same physical server. Virtual servers share the physical server's resources, such as memory, disk access and processor cycles.