To hear IBM tell it, it has always had a fascination with video tech. In a recent announcement, it proudly noted that it has won four Emmy Awards for video-related innovations. In addition, in the past ten years, has been awarded more than 1,000 patents in the space.
Video also plays a starring role in the future that IBM envisions, one in which visual information and visual communication dominates how companies communicate among themselves as well as with their customers and suppliers — from and through the cloud.
The Future is Now
In fact, one could argue that video future is already here.
It is routine for mobile and remote workforces to stay in touch via video and conference video calls, accessible from desktops at home offices and smartphones used while traveling to a customer site. And speaking of customers, enterprise use of video is growing, too, with video support and video "how to's" posted to the corporate YouTube channel.
In that context, IBM's year long initiative to bolster its video offerings for enterprises make sense. But recently, one gets the sense that there is more at play.
IBM is also positioning itself to help its enterprise users mine the unstructured data that resides within these videos. This is clear from the acquisition of Clearleap it announced this week.
All told, IBM has made three major acquisitions in the enterprise video technology space over the past year, all of which now reside or will reside in IBM Cloud.
In 2014, IBM acquired Aspera, which built technology to speed large data transfers over broadband networks.
In November, it closed on the acquisition of Cleversafe, a developer of object-based storage software and appliances that make it easy to manage and retrieve stored unstructured data.
And now, Clearleap joins IBM
'Strategic Source of Data'
This week, IBM announced it was acquiring Clearleap, a provider of cloud based video services. With the technology in place, IBM said, its customers could access video from any device and use it as a strategic source of data (emphasis mine).
Some hints in Clearleap's capabilities suggest how IBM plans to accomplish that.
First, Clearleap's platform has scale. Big scale. Customers such as HBO, A+E Networks, the NFL, BBC America, Sony Movie Channel, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications have leveraged it to support millions of concurrent users for special events.
Clearleap is also built on an open API framework. Companies use it to create video-based applications aimed at specific needs, such as custom workflows and advanced analytics. The framework also provides access to third-party applications.
With Clearleap's video services set to be offered through IBM Cloud data centers around the world, users will be able to share the data and content across geographies and — this part is very interesting — across hybrid clouds, according to IBM.
Most notably, IBM said it will offer the Clearleap APIs on IBM Bluemix.
That would be Bluemix, IBM's IoT platform, which admittedly the business community has not paid that much attention to its steady advances this year.
Among its uses, developers can store and access unstructured data and then compose and connect this data into their apps.
Video as a Communication Channel
This is not to say that IBM is neglecting the growth market in enterprise video products and services. Indeed, that was the main focus when it announced the Clearleap acquisition.
"Clearleap joins IBM at a tipping point in the industry when visual information and visual communication are not just important to consumers, but are exploding across every industry," said Robert LeBlanc, SVP of IBM Cloud.
"The future that IBM envisions is one where sharing video content becomes increasingly common among enterprises to the point that businesses will want and need to securely manage those files with the same kinds of applications and tools they use with other forms of enterprise content," Charles King, principal of Pund-IT, told CMSWire.
"By building the necessary infrastructure to accomplish that, IBM will enable businesses to leverage video for a wide variety of use cases, from company-focused "news" shows to employee training sessions to globally shared board and shareholder meetings to televising meetings to geographically dispersed team members," he said.