Comcast subsidiary thePlatform has been around for ten years aggregating, managing and publishing online video content for Comcast and other big name providers and programmers. But the sweeping changes in video delivery have caused it to re-invent its core technology.

As a result, the company is launching mpx Beta, its next generation video and publishing system. The idea with mpx Beta is to move away from the traditional linear workflow where each file request goes through the same, fixed series of steps.

With the new platform, the first thing that is considered is a video’s destination point.

Ten years ago, almost all Web content was destined for a computer. But today it may be going to a variety of smart phones, set-top boxes, game consoles or e-readers.

Three ways, one architecture

Marty Roberts, VP of marketing with thePlatform, said after mpx Beta identifies a file’s destination, it delivers it via one of three possible routes. First, it looks for a file profile that matches the request: for example, a video with Flash encoding of high bit rate.

“If we find that, we’ll move this file out to our CDN,” Roberts said.

If there is no exact match, the system looks for a source file that’s similar to the request and encodes that for delivery.

Finally, the request may not be similar to anything currently in the system. Roberts said the first iPad requests last week fell into that category. In that case, the system looks for any video at all and then customizes that to meet the request. In the future, the iPad specs, with its particular screen dimensions, can be sent via step one.

“Under the hood this is all using a brand new architecture,” said Roberts. “Starting about two years ago, a considerable portion of engineering became dedicated to re-engineering our system.”

He said a number of thePlatform’s larger clients would be trialing mpx Beta over the next few months. There is no production release date yet.

In addition to mpx Beta’s new workflow process, the system also has a new user interface designed so that different professionals within an organization – whether they be video producers, editors, IT administrators – can more easily customize the console to meet their own needs.

thePlatform has also released mpx Dev Kit, a development tool with a library of APIs for companies to customize their own systems.

–Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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