Blackwave Takes On Asian CDN Market, Asian Style

Bob Rizika, CEO of Blackwave, announced in September 2009 that the company had received funding of $7 million. In the last few months, the company has been using those funds to substantially increase its presence in key Asian markets, and today announced the opening of headquarter offices in Tokyo and Seoul, as well as a partnership with Shinsegae, Korea's largest retailer.

Blackwave is primarily a hardware play that offers both high-performance storage—competing with the likes of Isilon and NetApp—as well as streaming servers.

Blackwave's most recent focus has been on the Asian market, where Rizika has put together sales channels in key markets for several companies over the last decade.

"Asia is different from the U.S.," said Rizika in a recent interview. "CDNs account for a very small percentage of total content delivery. For instance, Limelight has approximately $10 million in business in the Japanese market and is ranked number 2 in the total market."

Distribution channels in Asia typically takes six to eight months to build, according to Rizika, so the company has focused on bringing on Mitsubishi and IT Frontiers (Mitsubishi's reseller) as well as N2, a smaller, highly focused reseller group, in Japan. Toshiba will act as a service provider.

Shigeyuki Sato, who was with nCube and Envivio for several years, in addition to "many years in the ISP, cable and telco space," according to Rizika, will serve as Japan Country Manager.

The IT arm of the largest retailer in Korea, Shinsegae, partnered with Blackwave to run its entire CDN operations, Blackwave announced today.

"Most companies tend to build out their own solutions rather than using a CDN," said Rizika. "There are more E-CDNs in Asia than CDNs by almost a 6:1 ratio. In fact, multiple CDNs in Asia will be resellers of Blackwave equipment."

Blackwave's Country Manager for South Korea is Shinhuei Lee, who prior to Blackwave worked for KPMG-Peat Marwick in Australia providing technical and value-added consulting services. Before that, he spent 10 years in the data storage industry, including two years at EMC and eight years at Hyosung Information Systems, a reseller of Hitachi Data Systems.

New Software Release Adds Flash Capability
Blackwave, in its R7 software release, is also adding Flash Media Interactive Server capability to Blackwave's 1U streaming server.

"We build APIs to bolt into any of the middleware solutions," said Rizika, when asked whether the company's storage and streaming server middleware is complementary to other middleware products such as Qumu.

"Our solution looks at the storage impact on serving up popular streams," he continued. "We'll move a streaming file from interior to exterior of disc, for instance, so our value-add is performance of 6x over most streaming servers.

Previously Blackwave had integrated Wowza, which Rizika used as an example of a performance boost.

"Our Wowza server runs at about 2.5Gbps versus 400-500Kpbs for the typical Wowza implementation," said Rizika. "This allows not only a lower cost of ownership but also lower operational expenses."

"Our whole value add is a 5-10x performance over what you'd typically build yourself," said Rizika. "One customer has reduced 20 racks to 2 racks, saving a cost of almost $3,000 per rack. With the reduction of 18 racks, the customer is saving almost $54,000 in recurring data center co-location costs."

The FMIS addition is purely satisfying customer requests, and Blackwave is working with the largest reseller of Adobe Flash in Japan who has also signed up to resell Blackwave. The company says all plug-ins are supported, except the File plug-in, which is used to talk to the Blackwave system, as well as Action Scripts and server-side playlists.

"We can achieve 1.5Gbps per server for MP4 content, using a minimum of 2 servers for 3Gbps throughput," the company's release details state, as well as "1Gbps per server for FLV content, with a minimum of 2 servers. We expect to increase FLV performance over time."

Rizika also said that Asia is picking up on over-the-top video and the TV Everywhere concept.

"We're seeing a great deal of interest in TV Everywhere in Korea, Japan and China," said Rizika. "In Japan, we've rolled out tests with our first IPTV infrastructure providers and we've sold solutions to ITVMG in Korea, who does all the pumps for (Korean telco) KT. We essentially allow all these video companies to run their own servers rather than relying on CDN providers."

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