Startup Floats ‘Cloud’ Tech

Comcast and Verizon Communications have
opened their checkbooks to a startup promising to let
video and broadband service providers save money —
and introduce new applications more rapidly — using a
cloud-based network approach.

The company, ConteXtream, recently raised $14 million
in second-round financing, led by Comcast and Verizon,
bringing total funding to $29 million.

Its Service Delivery Grid system is designed
to “virtualize” network applications,
including voice and video, by
routing individual subscribers to
the best application server based on
multiple factors. “By matching subscribers
to applications intelligently,
operators find it a lot easier to personalize
services and reduce capex,”
ConteXtream vice president of marketing
David Yates said.

In the cloud approach, a cable subscriber
who requested a video-on-demand
asset would be directed to the
server optimally suited to serve the
content at that given time — if, say,
the VOD servers in the local system
are at full capacity, the asset could be
fetched from another site. The ConteXtream system also
can intercept incoming Internet-based video and dynamically
reshape the traffic to eliminate congestion and optimize
the video for specific devices.

The Service Delivery Grid system maintains a global
view of all current network and application resources,
unlike other network load-balancing servers. That
eliminates the need to buy and deploy network hardware
probes, Yates said.

“The grid itself is one entity,” he said. “We make one set
of application health checks; then the grid knows what is
going on.”

ConteXtream in engaged in trials with four tier-one operators,
two of which are cable operators, Yates said. The
startup expects commercial deployments with major providers
in the first half of 2011.

“Cable operators are on the forefront of transitioning
their networks from pipes to clouds,” said Yates, who previously
was with Cisco Systems through its acquisition of
VOD startup Arroyo Video Solutions.

Each of ConteXtream’s Linux-based grid servers can
manage up to 7 million subscriber-application sessions
and up to 40 Gigabits per second. In operator trials, the
system has scaled up to 100 million sessions and “terabits
of traffic,” Yates said.

The privately held Santa Clara, Calif.-based company
was founded in 2007 by Sharon Barkai, previously founder
and CEO of Sheer Networks, a broadband management
system vendor acquired by Cisco.

ConteXtream CEO Yaron Simler, who joined in July
2009, previously was president and CEO of Scopus Video
Networks (now part of Harmonic).


Software-based systems to let service
providers virtualize network services

Investors: Comcast Interactive Capital, Verizon Investments,
Benhamou Global Ventures, Gemini Israel
Funds, Norwest Venture Partners, Sofinnova Ventures

Funding to date: $29 million in two rounds

Employees: 35

Founded: 2007

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif., with R&D in Israel

Source:Multichannel News research