Monday, July 31, 2006

The Song Remains the Same

Running a video service over IP seems to be a relatively straightforward thing to do, but as more and more stories on delayed and aborted projects see light of day it's becoming apparent that the 'not invented here' syndrome that was so prevalent in IT departments in the late nineties the same mistakes are being made all over again as a thousand TV on IP projects are kicked off from scratch by internal development teams.

If you consider how long Microsoft and AT&T have been working on their MSTV trial, it tells you something about the complexities involved in even developing a pretty basic on demand service.

The main problem is that IT Departments have very little understanding of the TV business, so they tend to treat video over IP as an extension of their existing web knowledge. The most serious exclusions that I've encountered are in the lack of commercialization tools built into the services they develop, condemning the service to be a money pit for their organisation rather than a money spinner.

Another real issue is that the capital investment required to build even a basic content delivery network is phenomenal - before mentioning the specialist expertise required to operate the network.

Of course, I would say this wouldn't I? But I was there developing one futile bespoke content management system after another in the late nineties, so have been there and got the t-shirt myself.

I recall sitting in a meeting with a major German corporation and, on realising that there were no representatives from the IT department present, asked why. 'We do not tell the frogs when we are draining the swamp' came the response.

There is an inexorable movement towards ASP (application service provider) provisions with the rise of companies such as WebEx and Salesforce.com.

The answer for internal development department and vendors such as Narrowstep alike probably rests with web services.

These are existing functions that can be called upon by a third party application to deliver a specific service. Not surprisingly this is what I'm spending much of my time with my colleagues working on at the moment in the hope that we can stop the wheel from being re-invented a thousand times.

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