RealNetworks Talks Helix Streaming for Enterprise

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If you haven't caught up with RealNetworks since you last used the RealPlayer to watch some online video, you've got a lot to learn. To help educate enterprise customers, the company led a one-hour webinar on last week. The webinar was led by Martin Schwarz, senior vice president for Helix products, and David Mallinson, technical sales director, and was moderated by's Dan Rayburn.

RealNetwork's experience in streaming media goes back to 1995 with the launch of RealAudio. The company began streaming video in 1997 and offered cable-like services three years later. Since then, Real software has been embedded in 700 million devices and the company has launched tens of thousands of enterprise deployment. With solutions like its universal Helix Media Delivery Platform, the company is completely focused on digital media.

Schwarz emphasized the company's universal streaming abilities, saying that it could serve video and audio in all popular formats, including H.264, MP4, Flash, WMV, QuickTime, MP3, and RealVideo. It's reaching out to enterprise customers with its Helix platform, which allows companies to have their own YouTube-like video library.

The webinar continued with Mallinson going in deeper on enterprise solutions. He detailed the many requirements for streaming video to mobile devices, and explained that requirements could change quickly. The average enterprise employee watches 10 hours of work-related video per month, he said. A streaming solution for enterprise needs to support multiple formats and protocols. Challenges for mobile delivery include multiple connection speeds and screen sizes.

When serving video to mobile devices, the content owner needs to decide how big a net to cast. The lower the video quality, the more phones will be supported. Smart devices can view content that gives a broadband-like experience. Every company needs to decide what balance they prefer.

Once they have their video, they'll need a delivery platform for enterprise viewers. They'll have to decide what formats to support and how to manage their content. The Helix platform, Mallinson said, can support multiple protocols for multiple devices, and can also manage files for desktop and notebook viewing.

While the area is complex, Helix is intended to help reduce complexity. Content introduced once can be repackaged on-the-fly for delivery to multiple devices.

Other considerations for enterprise mobile content include presentation, protection, and access control. Helix offers a security manager with a token authentication system, Mallinson said.

Enterprises can use Helix's media library to create their own YouTube, he continued. Why not use the real YouTube? Because then you're giving away rights to your content and opening it up to any viewer. With the Helix media library, companies can control their copyright. The library can also stream video to any portable device. Users can control video quality and viewer access.

Helix also lets enterprise create IPTV delivery solutions. By using Helix servers, enterprises can avoid overtaxing their networks when streaming multiple files long distances. Presenting a high quality DVD-like experience increases usage, Mallinson stressed. The product also offers video bookmarking, so that viewers can return to a video and pick up where they left off, even if using a different computer or device.

During the webinar's Q&A time, viewers asked about server support (Solaris, Linux Red Hat, and Windows Server) and content management systems (Helix has APIs that let it integrate a company's CMS). The presenters also hinted that companies that need 64-bit Linux support should listen in a few weeks for an announcement.

Schwarz and Mallinson wouldn't give specifics on pricing, but urged those interested to contact the company for a quote. Prices are far more competitive than they used to be, they said.

Anyone who'd like to view the entire webinar will find it archived here.

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