Video services

NDS Eyes a Piece of Cisco's Turf

NDS Ltd. is encroaching into the world of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s Videoscape with the launch of an "open" API and developer portal designed to help service providers bridge their own TV offerings to over-the-top video services and a growing number of broadband-connected smartphones, televisions and tablets.

The basis of the NDS Service Delivery Platform (SDP) is a relatively generic API, serving as an interface between applications on consumer electronics devices, the MSO's TV platform and to social networking and other Web-based apps and content from companies such as Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX).

The trick, says NDS Chief Marketing Officer Nigel Smith, is how to manage it all across a growing number of devices and to keep everything updated as the software and apps inside those devices are continually tweaked and upgraded. The aim here is to prevent service operators from having to perform a separate integration for every third-party device they want to support.

"For hundreds and hundreds of devices, it will be impossible to keep up with it," Smith says. "It [the SDP] fixes the issue of having to [separately] support hundreds of devices and maintain that support as devices come and go."

The problem NDS is trying to address may sound familiar as it's similar to what Cisco is trying to accomplish with Videoscape, a new architecture designed to help service providers blend their legacy services with Web-sourced video, apps and other content. (See Can Videoscape Save Cisco's Set-Top Business?.)

Smith argues that NDS's approach isn't as vertically integrated as Cisco's and questions whether Videoscape and its use of software clients in target devices gives operators everything they'll need to support and manage a growing number of devices that are connecting to their broadband networks. "A Cisco UI and app running on our devices is, in our mind, just a step too far," he says.

But NDS has no qualms about plugging its API into Videoscape. "We're open to discussion with Cisco on how this would all piece together," Smith says, noting that the new API will support NDS's own "Unified" headend but can also be bolted onto headends run on Cisco and Motorola Mobility LLC technology. (See CES 2011: Cisco Wants Videoscape to Play Nice.)

NDS expects to provide access to the SDP to an initial set of developers by the end of this month, and hopes to start working directly with operators by the summer, likely starting with the providers that use the NDS headend before trying to connect the SDP with other types of systems.

Why this matters
Vendors are in a sprint to help service providers marry their traditional services with the Web without major integration headaches. And the stakes are as big as the players, which, depending on the piece of the puzzle, include the likes of Cisco, Motorola, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-owned thePlatform Inc.

For NDS, the SDP gives it another potential port of entry to the domestic cable market, where it's already gained traction at Comcast, Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and Cox Communications Inc.

For more
For more on NDS's ride into the domestic cable market and how suppliers are lining up to help service providers deliver on the promise of TV Everywhere, please check out:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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