Is Cisco Tuning Into Video?

A handful of trademark applications is giving some legs to a popular rumor that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is in the process of taking a great leap forward in the video server and storage business.

Yes, Cisco already plays in several areas of the video delivery business (see Cisco Intros Digital Video Solution). It provides cable headends, servers that allow for IP video streaming for corporate applications, and all manner of optical transport and DWDM equipment as well as switching gear used to shuttle video data around networks.

But at least one Silicon Valley chatterbox close to Cisco has put forth this rumor, for which we haven't found independent confirmation: A group within Cisco has built an advanced video server that Cisco intends to sell to cable operators and other service providers to provide a high-powered video-on-demand system.

Using such servers would, theoretically, allow folks at home watching TV to buy and play hundreds of programs of all sorts across a digital cable network or an advanced DSL network. The data, when requested, would flow from a presumably Cisco-built media file server/storage server through the network to the client's set-top box.

But here's the kicker: our source says the man leading the video server push is none other than Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) founder Andy Bechtolsheim. Bechtolsheim, who has been at Cisco since his startup, Granite Systems, was acquired in 1996, holds the title VP and general manager of Cisco's Gigabit Systems Business Unit.

Our rumor-meister puts Bechtolsheim at the center of the action because he insists that Bechtolsheim once pitched the super video server idea to venture capitalists in hopes of seeding a startup company. In the end, however, Cisco convinced him to keep the idea in-house, so the rumor goes. Okay, enough with the rumors already.

Here are the facts: Between December 2002 and May 2003, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Bechtolsheim filed trademark applications seeking to protect the following words: "Streamhub," "Streamswitch," "Streamstar," "Streamstor," "Streamcast," and "Netblade." Each trademark application, incidentally, generically describes "a computer hardware and software system for use in the field of digital video and audio delivery." So, obviously, Bechtolsheim wasn't just trying to lock down a nifty name for an after-work garage band.

But do a pile of trademark applications mean as much as our rumor-monger is suggesting? Honestly, we have no idea. But we do agree that Streamstar is not a bad name for a rock band.

Bechtolstream -- er, Bechtolsheim did not respond to calls seeking comment, and Cisco declined to comment.

— Phil "Streamdude" Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Lband 12/4/2012 | 11:21:15 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? The rumor has something behind it. Mr. B. is the Pres and CEO of a company building video server technology in Silicon Valley called Kealia.
timco28 12/4/2012 | 11:21:14 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? There is a Kealia with a website and address http://www.kealia.com

Maybe you should send your man in the valley, Craig Matsumoto, to investigate.
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 11:21:12 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? The video market size is hardly $300 million with multiple vendors. Because of very late entry of Cisco in the market, it is not expected that it would capture more than 5%-to-7% of the market. The storage market is not all that great, so Cisco would not be able to make any profits from the server and storage market.
AAL5 12/4/2012 | 11:21:11 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? Boobymax,

You are an imbecile.

BackSlash 12/4/2012 | 11:21:07 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? Video on demand / IP services over cable

MSO's are going towards this at a very fast pace. IP telephony / ISP / Video over your cable line. These are currently being offered by Time/Warner / Comcast / etc.. and phone services that provide cheap local and long distance calling. They are making the move to the multi-service optical services. Cisco has been providing the capability to do the VOD and IP services. They just are ramping to provide the hardware / software for the current demand.

Just ask you cable company if they offer IP telephony.. and watch them say yes. Your phone company is going to have some competition.

rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 11:21:06 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? Another perspective.

The newly elected governor of CA is a direct product Hollywood studios. This new head of state did not come through traditional political organizations, nor did the "campaign" rely on broadcast TV political ads for brand creation. This topic event suggests tomorrow's mass media brand creation will require high quality and entertaining video while the 30 second television ad will slowly be losing favor.

Making video server plans and market forecasts accordingly seems prudent ;-)
whyiswhy 12/4/2012 | 11:21:02 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? Cisco wakes up to sad state of Telecom market...spins up video servers. The MSO equipment vendors have been offering it for a long time; Cisco is behind the curve. OTOH, with Cisco in the game, its possible the RBOCs will pick up on it, but I doubt it will take off fast.
mcgilla 12/4/2012 | 11:21:01 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? Emerging Market Factors:

Significant landscape changes between MSOs, Telcos and Sat players are emerging as...offer stuff the other guy can not offer..i.e..MSOs offering TVOD and MOD is in effect a competitive slant to compete with the Sat players that have been taking significant share away.
Because of that the VOD, MOD, TVOD space is 'heating up' in the MSO space...that coupled with storage, server and networking technologies to provide for the first time.. cost effective and scalable video at $100-150 per MPEG2 D1 stream. No one is there yet...It's an entirely different market opportunity...provide universal converged video and offer that as a service to all takers not just the MSOs...that's the huge op...the next wave
capolite 12/4/2012 | 11:21:00 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? This has to win an award for the stupidest post of the year.
mcgilla 12/4/2012 | 11:20:58 PM
re: Is Cisco Tuning Into Video? and...more than likely most of us can only speak to the market factors etc.
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