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Akamai Bows ‘Sola Media’ Platform

5 Sep, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Services include support for UltraViolet and TV Everywhere

Akamai Technologies Sept. 5 unveiled a newly branded backend technology services portfolio that allows third-party customers to better manage, store and deliver online video streaming.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai, which cuts its teeth as an original digital content delivery network (CDN) for Netflix’s subscription video-on-demand service, said the new cloud-based Sola Media Solutions portfolio is designed to take the complexities out of transcoding and streaming content from cloud-based client servers to consumer electronics devices.

Citing research from Gartner Inc., Akamai said more than 1 billion connected devices — including smartphones, tablets and notebooks capable of consuming all forms of media — will be in the hands of consumers by 2015. Gartner found that effectively managing the backend aspect of creating, distributing and licensing cloud-based content will not only reduce operational costs from content creation, distribution and licensing in the cloud, but also reduce operational friction from many of these processes.

In addition to navigating via Sola Sphere progressive media downloading and adaptive bitrate streaming through existing and emerging industry protocols, the Sola Vision platform helps clients stream their content, provide safeguards against piracy, and connect viewers more efficiently with content providers, operators, advertisers and other participants in the online media delivery ecosystem.

Sola Vision also is rolling out upgraded DRM technologies for use by studios and media companies in the authentication, verification and protection of end users, devices and content, respectively, in the studio-backed UltraViolet content storage locker and TV Everywhere platforms.

Akamai is a member of the UltraViolet consortium.

Finally, Sola Media Analytics helps clients better understand how and when their consumers are watching content in real-time and post-event analysis. Akamai currently provides analytics to iPhone, iPad and related devices.

“We’re offering content providers an effective way to address the increasing audience demand for high-quality online video,” said Bill Wheaton, SVP of media division at Akamai. “Through our industry-leading technologies and by working closely with our partners in the ecosystem, Akamai is dedicated to providing our customers with solutions to help them succeed in the rapidly evolving world of online video.”

Eric Wold, analyst with B. Riley & Co. in Los Angeles, said Akamai is at a crossroads with growth opportunities in digital video, cloud computing, mobile, ecommerce and online advertising, among others.

Separately, Wold said an appeals court’s reversal of two lower court decisions regarding patent infringement litigation with CDN competitor Limelight Networks bodes well for Akamai as well.

“If we assume that the [CDN] traffic-related businesses are there just to cover capital expenditures (CapEx), then we get the remaining business with secular tail winds, high teens growth, 45%+ adjusted pre-tax earnings, margins and no CapEx, which deserves very high multiples, in our opinion,” the analyst wrote in a Sept. 4 note.

Akamai is showcasing Sola Media Sept. 7 to 11 at the IBC confab in Amsterdam.

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