Macromedia providing streaming-video assist

Macromedia on Tuesday joined with VitalStream to provide outsourced on-demand video-streaming services, to lessen the load of video bandwidth on users' networks.

The Macromedia Flash Video Streaming Service, powered by VitalStream, enables companies to deliver video-enabled Flash content across VitalStream's content distribution network, Macromedia said. Content is delivered to the Flash Player distributed player.

"We are working with VitalStream to provide a service where our customers can upload Flash video files to a content delivery network for the purpose of streaming video really quickly and easily over a reliable network," said Chris Hock, Macromedia director of product marketing.

Smaller customers with lighter loads of traffic will benefit because they can send streaming Flash video without having to set up their own servers. Larger customers pushing 20TB to 30TB of video a month can benefit by having access to a reliable network, Hock said.

VitalStream's network features load-balancing and redundancy as well as a suite of tracking and reporting tools, Macromedia and VitalStream said.

As an example of how the service could work, a customer can create a Flash video, upload it onto the network via FTP or a browser, and then have it propagated across clusters of systems on VitalStream's network, said Hock. Users wishing to access the video would do so via a URL. Video can be sent for purposes such as brand marketing, learning, or entertainment, Hock said.

An analyst called Macromedia's move a logical one.

"It's a logical step for Macromedia to offer streaming services along with its video product. By combining software and serving into a one-stop solution, Macromedia is making it easier for companies to use Flash Video, and that can only help adoption of the product," said Nate Elliott, associate analyst at Jupiter Research, in an e-mail response to questions.

"At the same time -- and this may be the more important point -- this fits into Macromedia's unstated strategy of bundling services along with their software. Though they've never said as much, Macromedia clearly wants to make money from more than just software license fees," Elliott said.

"I wouldn't expect this to be a huge revenue source for Macromedia, because most of the companies who can't find their own video server will be pretty small," he added.

Available now, the Macromedia-VitalStream service will cost US$298 per month for about 60GB of video transfer. Larger packages are negotiable.

Macromedia on Tuesday also is launching Macromedia Flash Video Gallery, which provides demonstrations of video experiences from 25 companies that have adopted Flash video. The gallery is accessible at http://www.macromedia.com/go/fvg.

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