Suddenlink Communications launched VOD service last month in 23 of its markets in southwestern Texas. The deployment combines VOD components from two different vendors and is arrayed in a centralized architecture.

"This fundamentally came about as a function of an RFP process," said Gregg Grigaitis, Suddenlink vice president, advanced technology. "Through that RFP process, those two vendors rose to the top of the stack."

The first was SeaChange International. Suddenlink wanted to use its Axiom VOD management software. "Anecdotally, they have a tremendous amount of experience deploying VOD systems. Ours was relatively complex from an architectural perspective," Grigaitis said.

But Suddenlink also wanted to take advantage of Broadbus Technologies’ (now Motorola’s) innovative VOD servers. "The Broadbus DRAM-based server dramatically reduced the footprint," Grigaitis, said. "(You) went from three racks of equipment to a half a rack of equipment. (Instead of) 1,000 hard drives spinning all of the time, (there are) about 12 hard drives. They, from a technical perspective, had leapfrogged everyone from an innovation perspective."
Centralize it Aside from asking the vendors to work together to launch VOD, Suddenlink also wanted a centralized architecture. "It would have been cost prohibitive to launch 23 separate VOD systems …. Centralizing made it more cost effective. We have one VOD system instead of 23 small ones," Grigaitis said.

The companies were able to leverage Suddenlink’s backbone and propagate content across it to serve all 23 markets from one central location, saving money on hardware, software, manpower and monitoring. There are nine Broadbus (Motorola) video servers under the command of SeaChange’s platform.

"As long as both companies are working toward the same specification, (you) could work with anybody," said Sanjiv More’, senior director advanced advertising and VOD sales, SeaChange. "It’s very similar (to buying) a Sony receiver for a stereo and Harman/Kardon speakers. As long as you are working with the same interfaces, everything should work fine."

"One of the reasons (cable operators) want companies like SeaChange, Broadbus, Concurrent working towards NGOD (next generation on demand) is because it makes companies compete, and competition is always good," More’ added.

SeaChange also has begun the work of integrating its back office platform with Concurrent’s video servers for a VOD deployment for Cox, although the company was not at liberty to talk about the arrangement.

More’ said, however, that, in general, while "a lot of the hard work has been done," when a third party comes to the table, there still is a lot of testing and qualification needed. "Depending on the cable company, (since) each runs differently, we have to make sure the environment doesn’t throw any wrenches into (the situation)."

– Monta Monaco Hernon

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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