Inktomi eyes media market, acquires eScene

Inktomi on Tuesday made a major push into the media management software area with the announcement of a new infrastructure application suite and the acquisition of eScene Networks Inc.

Believing that the number of corporate users accessing "rich media" content -- namely real-time streaming audio and video -- is on the rise, Inktomi plans to release its Media Publisher by the end of the third quarter, according to company officials.

The company will integrate technology from eScene Networks into this product, designed to catalog, manage, and publish rich media content that corporations generate. Users of the product will be able to search for rich media through an online catalog of content that can be customized to fit a company's needs, officials said. They will also be able to create and store rich media themselves using Media Publisher.

The terms of Inktomi's acquisition of eScene Networks, based in San Francisco, were not disclosed.

Media Publisher will be one piece of a suite of applications, which will be integrated to work together but also sold separately. The suite will be designed to help corporations better manage rich media content across networks.

"Before, it was difficult to have to create, in many cases, your own solution for deploying rich media," said Peter Galvin, vice president and general manager of Inktomi's enterprise solutions. "Now, with this announcement, there's a complete solution that's integrated."

Galvin listed training programs, such as webcasts where executives in a company want to communicate with employees or partners and live broadcasts of product launches as some corporate uses of streaming audio and video.

While admitting that deploying rich media content is still quite new for many corporations, Galvin said that because of cost savings he expects widespread adoption.

"We've seen corporations doing training with regular video, and that gets very expensive. They're forced to do the creative process, then put it on a video (cassette) and ship it to hundreds of locations," Galvin said. "We're now seeing small pockets of companies moving to the Web; they can put audio or video online and change the way the presentation is circulated. It's much more cost effective, the cost of an audio conference is close to 10 times more expensive than to broadcast using the Web."

This may be true for some corporations with a clear need to communicate more efficiently with employees or partners, but it's too early to tell if the majority of enterprises will find this method of distributing information compelling, said one analyst.

"It's shown value in vertical applications, like in financial services or in businesses where there's lots of intensive training, but most companies don't have that need to stream information," said Galen Schreck, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. "You can't say generically that all companies need to stream lots of content to their employees that's accessed over and over."

The additional software modules announced on Tuesday include Traffic Core, which manages the flow of content from the core of the network out to its edges. The software sits on top of routing and switching hardware to add intelligence to the process of directing IP-based traffic. For example, the software will redirect traffic around failures or clogs in the network, officials said.

Inktomi's Traffic Edge, another new application, manages content as it travels to the outer perimeter of the network by storing static and streaming content close to end users to cut down on bandwidth usage, officials said. Another new software module,Traffic Controller, works with the other Traffic applications to offer users network management features. A graphical user interface presents information about bandwidth and data usage and aggregates network performance and usage information, officials said.

The company also unveiled its Search Database Module for retrieving both structured and unstructured data. This software works with databases including Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server, Oracle Corp.'s Database server, Sybase Inc.'s Adaptive Server, and IBM Corp.'s DB2, and integrates with Inktomi's centralized search management software, officials said.

Inktomi also announced a pair of partnerships. The first is a deal with eRoom Technology Inc. to let users of Inktomi Search software access content published within eRoom's "digital workplaces." The second is an alliance with Netegrity Inc. to integrate Inktomi Search Software with Netegrity SiteMinder so that users of both products can centrally manage their user identities, authentication and access on a site, officials said.

The Search Database Module is available now; all other products announced on Tuesday will be available by the end of the third quarter at the latest, company officials said.

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