LOS ANGELES -- The Cable Show -- In a sign that middleware never grows old, Minerva is showcasing its Minerva10 software platform on RDK hardware at The Cable Show this week.
The platform runs on hybrid QAM/IP gateways and is designed to enable multiscreen service delivery to both managed and unmanaged devices. Minerva Networks Inc. says the RDK-compliant technology will be available to select cable operators starting this summer.
The Minerva10 platform has two primary elements: a back-office component for service management and an application and user interface framework. The back-office part of the solution can be used with a variety of access network types, and it includes features for managing advanced IP services, overall service quality, system costs, and advertising and promotions opportunities.
The UI framework includes Minerva's own HTML5 program guide along with optimized native applications for mobile devices (iOS and Android), streaming media players, and connected TVs.
Traditionally Minerva has served smaller telecom operators in North America and internationally. However, Vice President of Product Marketing Eric Freund told us that the company will start trying to engage with larger customers as it seeks to take advantage of the cable industry's transition to IP. Currently, Minerva boasts about 300 worldwide deployments, about two-thirds of which are in North America. Other customers hail from Latin America, the EMEA region, and Eastern Europe.
Freund believes the industry has reached a tipping point. "We've kind of referred to it as more the transition to TV over IP," he said. With regard to software stack solutions, Freund added that "[we're] definitely seeing and hearing from a lot of customers that in the next six to 18 months that they want to make a transition." (See Bye Bye OCAP, Hello RDK.)
When asked to list Minerva's competitors, Freund rattled off big names including Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Nagravision SA , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS). However, he noted that those companies are mainly vertically integrated and offer software platforms that are combined with headend technology, content security solutions, consumer hardware, and more. Minerva, he pointed out, is more horizontally integrated, as well as access network agnostic. That approach should theoretically provide increased flexibility for service providers.
Even beyond the companies Freund named, however, there are some lesser-known competitive brands making waves in the middleware (some call it "underware") space. Zodiac Interactive is one with two large-scale US cable customers. (See Zodiac: One Software Stack to Rule Them All.)
Espial Group Inc. is another with the added benefit of being an acknowledged leader in RDK development. Espial's RDK-compliant software stack has already been deployed by a Tier 1 North American cable operator. The company was one of the first RDK licensees, and it has already partnered extensively with chip makers (primarily Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), but also Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR), and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)) and hardware providers such as Pace plc and Samsung Corp. After two to three years of working on its RDK solution, Espial has a significant head start on Minerva and others.
The middleware market has gotten very hot again, and very fast.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading