What's The Next Big Channel Opportunity In Video?


The recent moves made by Cisco, Polycom, Juniper, LifeSize and a host of others have at least one thing in common: not only are they about video, but also about video content management. And further down the line from the video channel's big players is a generation of emerging vendors that offer a channel-friendly solution behind that video management question.

One is BurstPoint Networks, the Westborough, Mass.-based video streaming vendor that built its technology in part by acquiring the assets of defunct video networking company Starbak Communications. Tom Racca, BurstPoint's CEO, sees Infonetics' new video numbers as encouraging for the industry, but the growth of video endpoints is only the beginning of the conversation, he argued -- streaming and content management represent the next wave.

"Infonetics talks a lot about endpoints and not a lot about the streaming vendors, but what we're going to be talking about is the richness of my communications," Racca said. "You need a content management and distribution system. The channel partners really understand this."

Following its emergence from stealth mode in Sept. 2010, BurstPoint already boasts several of the video channel's top VARs and integrators as partners. Key to BurstPoint's appeal is its IP-based Video Communications Platform (VCP), which, using various products and services, can convert enterprise video content for seamless and flexible management and distribution.

That ability eliminates a problem. Different streaming technologies, endpoints and video codecs aren't always compatible, thus making life difficult for business users to manage and manipulate video content how they want. BurstPoint claims it can provide that flexibility regardless of which vendor's infrastructure a customer uses.

"Partners understand that if they're offering a videoconferencing solution or a telepresence solution, it's not just IP endpoints," Racca said. "These days, they're also including a streaming solution, an on-demand solution, and increasingly more often, a digital signage solution, too. [Video] has to get integrated into your whole communications strategy. There is a big, driving need and importance for this to be part of the solution, and we view it as great for the industry."

Consolidation among various types of video vendors will continue, Racca predicted. But the channel will also see more strategic alliances among vendors than straight-up acquisitions. That BurstPoint's platform isn't tied to one or even a small handful of vendors, for example, is a massive advantage for its solution providers, he said.

"Early on, you'll see tactical decisions being made, and later on, more strategic decisions," Racca said of video channel vendors. "We're trying to leapfrog beyond that. We talk to a number of these key industry players, and we see a much more strategic play where you can have a vendor-neutral or agnostic solution, and also a value-added solution. That's what we do when we walk in. I'm not threatened in a Polycom shop because I can increase the value of that system. Same with a Cisco, or a LifeSize, or an HP Halo. It's not just moving video around."