The latest generation of portal, CM, and elearning solutions all have one thing in common: improved ease of use. Well, at least the aspiration to allow less-technical members of the digital content food chain to more easily use these previously complex systems. Undoubtedly, this evolution in interface has been prompted at the request of users faced with an increasing number of solutions designed to simplify their workflow, but that in themselves present a novel interface at every turn.
This year, Mirror Image Internet has made a series of announcements intended not only to provide improved ease of use for streaming video—often considered one of the more difficult to handle content forms—but also to pave the way for the company to provide a complete digital video content solution form. This complete solution, according to Mirror Image, will ultimately include: creation, uploading, encoding and pre-production, delivery and content management, and even post-production. Some of this will be accomplished through strategic partnerships and other components will be handled through product and service offerings.
Where the company's strength lies is in its years of experience as a content delivery network (CDN) and as a second-tier caching service. But Mirror Image has found, like many of its technology compatriots, that clients are looking for end-to-end services. Thus, the company has developed as more of a hosted video service than as a pure play CDN. According to Bob Hammond, the company's CTO, "We perfected the CDN business about a year ago and started working on the next big thing." That thing, according to Hammond, is "the distribution of appliances in a Web Services world."
In other words, programs that work together to provide clients with an outsourced streaming "storefront platform" that is tightly integrated with the CDN. While the company has not yet announced SOAP or XML underpinnings (the darlings of the Web Services camp), so far this year Mirror Image has released three new products as part of its inter-operable offerings: instaContent Stream, the second generation of streaming video product; GeoData, an intelligent geographical data solution; and RapidBuy Global e-Commerce Services suite. And they have several more announcements scheduled to follow in short order—all of which are intended to add up to a way to effectively deliver and monitize video content. The company has plans to add DRM and pay-per-view functionality early in the second quarter of the year, which should take it a step closer to its objective.
According to Hammond, "you're only as good as the weakest link in the path to content delivery." So he believes the company needs to develop to help clients at every step of the content process.
Scott Bishop, Mirror Image's director of product marketing says he sees growth in the enterprise market with "human resources, elearning, CEO ego-casts, and marketing" being the likely sectors interested in adding streaming video to their repertoire of digital communication options. And Bishop also believes that clients "want someone to deliver the whole solution," and says Mirror Image is "working on partnerships and solutions to move up the food chain" of content delivery by "removing the black magic from streaming so everyone can use it." And it will take more than magic, black or otherwise, to pave a path to video content delivery and profitability that all levels of the corporate structure can effectively use.