Elemental Plays in Comcast’s Private Video Cloud

Encoding Software Powers X1’s Streaming, Cloud DVR in Some Markets
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Shedding some technical light on Comcast’s cloud streaming service for the X1 platform, Elemental Technologies said its video processing and encoding software has been tapped for the MSO’s in-home live TV streaming app and cloud DVR service, which is now accessible in or out of the customer’s home.  

In certain Comcast markets, including its system in Portland, Ore., Elemental’s Live encoding software is riding on Cisco Systems’ underlying, Intel-powered UCS (Unified Computing System) server hardware to deliver those adaptive bit rate video streams, according to Keith Wymbs, chief marketing officer of Portland-based Elemental.  

Those deployments, in data centers, are representative of Comcast’s deployment of a “private” video cloud that enables the MSO rapidly launch the service in new markets, Wymbs explained. That compares to other types of video streaming services that rely on public cloud infrastructures, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).  

The vendor didn’t announce all of the markets that use the Elemental/Cisco combo, but Comcast has launched its in-home streaming and cloud DVR products for X1 in several markets -- Boston; Philadelphia (including southern N.J. and northern Delaware); Washington, D.C. (including southern Delaware, and parts of Maryland and Virginia); San Francisco/Bay Area; Chicago; Houston; Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Connecticut; and the operator's Keystone area (western and central Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia, and the Maryland panhandle).    

Comcast’s connection with Elemental for in-home TV streaming and the cloud DVR, which uses real-time video processing and encoding, builds on the vendor’s historic support of Comcast’s VOD service for set-tops and mobile devices, which uses Elemental’s file-based transcoding engine.  

“Video infrastructure is moving rapidly to IP and to software-defined video solutions running in virtualized environments on customer’s own networks,” Dan Marshall, senior vice president of worldwide sales for Elemental, said in a statement. “As Comcast continues to expand its X1 DVR service and sets a new bar for consumer experiences, Elemental software will enable rapid market launches.”  

 “Software-defined video processing solutions from Elemental have served us very well for On Demand applications,” added Jason Press, senior vice president of software engineering and operations for Comcast. “Elemental’s use of Linux OS, REST-based APIs, and its integration with Cisco UCS hardware, has improved our ability to quickly deploy our X1 DVR cloud-based services sourced from live channel lineups.”  

 Other Elemental customers and partners include Telstra, Sky, HBO, the BBC, ESPN, ABC News, Pac-12 Networks, CBS Interactive, and DirecTV, among others.