Highwinds Lands Commitment from Technicolor
Highwinds Lands Commitment from Technicolor
Highwinds RollingThunder CDN has chops, but also doesn't compete with its customers, as proven by recent deals with Castfire and Technicolor.
by Tim Siglin, July 22, 2008CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE AT STREAMINGMEDIA.COM
Some companies have overnight success that takes years and years of back-breaking work to get recognition; others catch a "lucky" break in their first year of business and rapidly rise to success.
For Highwinds, a content delivery network (CDN) based near Orlando, Florida, both are true: The company's CDN services only began operating in early 2008, but the company's multi-year heritage is one of moving large volumes of content across the web for longer any of the other major CDNs have been in business. In Highwinds' case, the company grew up as one of the primary delivery networks for the Usenet groups that generated extremely high-volume content delivery requirements for over 15 years.
Highwinds dubs its CDN as RollingThunder, consisting of three distinct hardware pieces: strategically placed data centers across the U.S., a massive peering partner roster in both the U.S. and Europe, and nearly a terabit-per-second of network capacity. The latter is mostly transit links in the U.S., allowing for streaming, but the European portion is focused heavily on peering arrangements, according to company officials.
"Into Europe we have a strong peering infrastructure," said Mark Hayes, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Highwinds. "Since we link all of our PoPs [points of presence], and about 90% of our capacity is geared to peer connections rather than just transit links, our customers get access to a significant number of POPs and pan-European transit networks." The success that Highwinds has managed in the first six months of business is impressive: Last week, Castfire announced it would be using the Highwinds CDN to deliver some of its premium content and today Technicolor announced a similar arrangement.
"For any company in the CDN business, to get a contractual committment to use your services from someone as well-known as Technicolor is in the media space is huge," said Hayes.
For all of the benefits of the transit links and PoPs and peering arrangements, though, one of the biggest selling points to both Castfire and Technicolor is the invisibility of Highwinds to its customers' customers. This is particularly evident in the extensibility of StrikeTracker, an aggregated dashboard of the key content management, delivery, and analytical information.
"Part of the beauty of our solution is that the integration is completely invisible to the customer," said Brian Walsh, founder of Castfire. "The platform is all-inclusive, managed through one hosted solution, and our integration with Highwinds is so seamless that some customers do not know that their content is being delivered over the Highwinds CDN. They do know that they get speedy, reliable delivery of their audio and video files, and of course, that's what is really important to themand to us."
Scott Dougall, senior vice president and general manager of electronic distribution services, Technicolor Home Entertainment, takes it one step further.
"Highwinds' API allows us to leverage their StrikeTracker," said Dougall in a phone interview yesterday, "integrating our infrastructure into their infrastructure in a way that looks like everything is riding on or stored in our network."
"The StrikeTracker dashboard platform can be branded as customer's own," said Highwind's Hayes. "They can set up subaccounts on their own and allocate different pricing and limits, including credit limits. Our channel partners love this level of control."
Owned by Thomson, one of the world's leading high-end media products and services companies, Technicolor has a history of creating additional value for high-end/high-value content. In a strong move in to the digital media delivery space, Thomson purchased SyncCast in September 2007, just before the IBC broadcast show in Amsterdam, and placed it under Technicolor.
With SyncCast, a CDN that has robust storage and connectivity, why did Technicolor need Highwinds?
"With SyncCast, we place very large content files at our four PoPs," said Dougall. "Since we have so few PoPs, we focus on large storage capacity and significant connectivity so that our PoPs can deliver very large downloadable files directly to consumers. As we've grown our business, though, we've had numerous requests for on-demand and live streaming services, from some very big customers. We didn't want to try to use our own specialized CDN to try to add streaming capability, so we went looking partner."
Technicolor's customers include record labels, movie studios, and other owners of high-value content that require both rapid and controlled delivery. Highwinds' StrikeTracker, according to both Dougall and Hayes, allows both rapid dissemination and retraction.
"Our customers also like the ability to rapidly populate content out to the edge devices," said Hayes. "Content can be populated within seconds once it's uploaded to a StrikeTracker folder; it can also, just as importantly, easily be removed off all the edge devices, by simply removing it from the StrikeTracker folder."
When asked about specifics surrounding reliance on one very high-profile customer, such as Technicolor, as its primary revenue stream, Hayes assured me that Technicolor would probably be one of Highwinds' largest customers, but not the sole large customer. Highwinds expects to announce several more high-profile customers in the next few months, all of which Hayes attributes to the level of integration and invisibility that Highwinds offers.
"As part of the Highwinds philosophy," said Hayes, "we give our customers complete account control. We don't want to get in their business, and as long as they're making relatively large committment, we're able to give them a good price and a platform that renders us invisible to our customers' customers."