IBM announced this morning it has acquired San Francisco-based Ustream, a cloud-based live video streaming services provider with whom IBM has had a working relationship.

The move is a doubling down on video on IBM's part (or is that quadrupling?) following three major acquisitions the company has made in the enterprise video technology space over the past year — Clearleap, Aspera and Cleversafe — all of which reside in IBM Cloud. 

A New Cloud Video Unit

That will be Upstream's home as well, or to be more specific, it is joining a newly-formed unit called IBM Cloud Video Services, which is combining assets from IBM's R&D labs and these three other acquisitions. With the four companies under one roof, IBM's video service repertoire includes open API development, digital and visual analytics and video services management for content providers and distributors.

Clearleap, for example, will handle the latter with its Over the Top (OTT) and Video on Demand (VOD) capabilities.

Its 2014 acquisition Aspera will be used to speed large data transfers over broadband networks. Cleversafe, which IBM acquired shortly before Clearleap in 2015, develops software and appliances to store, manage and retrieve unstructured data.

What Upstream Brings to the Table

As for Ustream, it will allow IBM to offer live streaming video on any device — and that is just for starters.

The Ustream portfolio includes several video applications. It has Ustream Demand, a marketing app that collects and automates leads. Ustream Align is for secure internal employee communications and Ustream Pro Broadcasting provides live video streaming at scale.

Clearleap founder Braxton Jarratt who joined IBM with the acquisition, is heading up the new unit as General Manager of IBM Cloud Video Services. These video services will be offered through IBM cloud data centers around the world, he said in a blog post

Meanwhile, IBM will be adding its own style of value to the offerings. Cognitive computer will play a major role in the future of video, according to Jarratt.

"Take recommendation engines," he writes. "Today's basically look at what you choose to watch and what others who watch similar stuff are watching, then make recommendations to you. Okay, but they could be better. With IBM Watson technology, an entertainment provider can throw a much wider net–capturing information from reviews, news feeds, and social networking commentary."

Later down the road, he continued, he believes high-resolution, easy-to-use, cloud-based video services will also deliver such personalized government services, remote learning, business collaboration, and telemedicine.

How? He doesn't quite say, but one clue might be Ustream's development platform and what IBM plans to do with it.

Ustream + Bluemix

Ustream’s portfolio also includes a development platform to build custom video apps as well as use real-time social sentiment analytics to gauge audience reactions to the content.

What's interesting is that IBM has said it plans to integrate Ustream's development platform into Bluemix, its IoT platform

Among its uses, developers can store and access unstructured data and then compose and connect this data into their apps. And wouldn't you know it? IBM’s new video tools and components are easily adaptable to such an ecosystem.