SeaChange International has an announced customer for its MediaServer Flash Memory Streamers. Cablevision Mexico (not to be confused with Cablevision Long Island or Comcast Cablevision) has become what SeaChange calls the "world’s first digital television company to enhance its video-on-demand operations" with the equipment that uses flash memory.

"The advantage of flash is that people are sick and tired of disk failures," said Sherry Zhu, director of VOD servers and storage at SeaChange. "It’s a tremendous headache and opex cost for the operators. When presented with this opportunity to go to flash memory, they jump at it."

Right now, the only announced jumping is going on down Mexico way.

"They’re the ones who will go public with us," Zhu admitted. Spinning off disks The SeaChange flash server obviates the need for spinning disks in favor of flash memory drives, "a very industry-standard component that we can get from multiple suppliers," said Zhu. The flash memory can then run on one-tenth the power that disks require.

It also fits well into the trend of delivering more on-demand HD content to combat the hundreds of channels satellite is throwing down from the skies.

"A typical HD file is about four times the storage requirement of a regular file … but you have popular content that could be 10 to 20 percent of the entire content. We put the 80 percent high streaming customer requests on the flash memory."

The remaining 20 percent, the long tail streams, can be placed in "a centralized library using very cost-effective data storage. A lot of people leverage whatever disk storage they have for centralized long tail streaming," she said.

While video on demand is the first flash platform, Zhu said SeaChange envisions using the technology for multiple applications.

"We’ll definitely get into the broadcast arenas as well as Internet downloads, wireless downloads," she said. "From a service implementation point of view, the operators start from what they’re familiar with."

And cable operators – even in Mexico – are familiar with video.

– Jim Barthold

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