Video services

Concurrent Opens Its Back Office

Video-on-demand server and software supplier Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR) is opening up its back-office systems to enable more interoperability with rival server suppliers and third-party applications.

Concurrent hinted at the strategy during its earnings call in January, when company president and CEO Gary Trimm said the company was "seriously considering" opening up its back office and enabling it to work with standard, open interfaces, "so it can operate with multiple server complexes, including those of competitors."

The company cemented that strategy late last week with the introduction of the MediaHawk On-Demand Back Office Software Suite (MHBOSS), a system built on the Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) 10g database.

Until the announcement, Concurrent had coupled its back office with its own video servers. The move to an open back office mirrors strategies already used by some of Concurrent's key competition in the VOD sector.

For example, C-COR Corp. (Nasdaq: CCBL) has used that strategy from the beginning with its nABLE platform, and, more recently, SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC), has opened up its Axiom back-office system in the wake of its expanded master agreement with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). (See Comcast Boosts SeaChange Revenues.)

Tandberg Television , meanwhile, does not make or market its own video servers, but has integrated its OpenStream system with most of the suppliers in the video-on-demand market.

Concurrent is in interoperability discussion with other server vendors but is not yet ready to announce any partnerships, according to Concurrent's director of advanced engineering, Michael Pasquinilli.

In addition to hooking in with other server vendors, Concurrent believes its use of XML and SOAP interfaces and its support of Microsoft.net will allow its back office to integrate with third-party applications with minimal customization. Those apps will cover everything from interactive television and targeted advertising to network-based digital video recorders

"It's a significant improvement of our current architecture," says Pasquinilli.

MHBOSS is also designed to plug into MSO-led projects such as the Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) Interactive Services Architecture (ISA) and the Comcast Next Generation on Demand platform.

"This new platform can adapt to either of those much easier," Pasquinilli claims.

It also will look to adapt and scale to serve massive VOD deployments with millions of subscribers and thousands of hours of content, as well as the requirements of much smaller deployments that serve a much smaller sub base and VOD content library.

Modules comprising the new software suite are at different points of completion, but Concurrent expects to make MHBOSS commercially available by the third quarter of 2007, according to Pasquinilli.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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