Is Cisco Tuning Into Video?
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