One of the challenges we in the storage biz have is how to bring storage solutions to almost every kind of data environment. Most companies get very good at one type of solution and are pretty weak in other types. NetApp has created a wide portfolio that aims to please whatever your data challenge happens to be. The trick is to fully understand different types of people, their problems and the different types of solutions they need.
One of our sales people working with a major television network went to talk with a division of that network which was beginning to handle new branded content for TV Everywhere. The rep told the division head about the great work our company has been doing with his network and dropped a few names of broadcast VPs. The division head looked at him with a bored expression and said, “I don’t care what you are doing with them. We’re IP. They aren't.” In other words, our rep wasn't speaking his language.
It’s a distinction that we see regularly today. The world of isochronous video transport is moving to Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) with content at the edge and caching across networks and devices. That doesn't mean that isochronous video is dead; it is not and probably never will be. What it means is that the skills you need to make IP based TV work are different than what you find in traditional media.
And there’s the rub; many traditional media companies know one model, but not the other. The solutions companies that video engineers have been buying from for years, in many cases, have no experience in IP delivery models. Many of them are trying to gain those skills, but they still need to prove themselves in the real world. Another problem for these traditional media solutions companies is that time is short. Those media companies who serve the customer first with IP delivery may wind up being the industry leaders for decades to come. While that isn’t always the case, it’s where the smart money is making bets.
So where do you turn? Many customers are looking to the IT world for answers. Several enterprise IT companies have been supporting IP-based content delivery models for years for non-traditional media companies. Unfortunately, lots of IT companies either don’t understand core media workflow support or are just not interested. In my career prior to NetApp, I worked for two major IT-based companies who wanted to move aggressively into media, but subsequently abandoned their efforts after a few years into the task when they realized that media made up a very small percentage of their total business (usually less than 5%).
Some enterprise IT companies buy traditional media solution companies with the intention of becoming a player in media. However, without a true corporate focus on the media industry, they lack the understanding to continue to advance their new acquisition’s media solutions or, worse, decide to modify those solutions to become more valuable in the IT world (remember Avalon?).
So how do you get the right support for your IP and/or TV Everywhere plans? Look for a company that has well established skills in both legacy media and in IP delivery. NetApp, for example, has helped customers win innovation and Emmy awards, but also has direct storage solution experience with some of the leading IP delivery companies in the world (and we didn't have to buy a major media solutions player to do it). When you have deep roots in both sides of the business, you can share best practices and solutions across the media delivery gap (regardless of which side you, as the customer, happen to be on).
What seems like rocket science for some turns out to be innocuous stuff for others. Make sure that your media solutions partners can speak more than one language. Chao!