Kasenna Gains Condos

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Video-on-demand server provider Kasenna Corp., which aims to break into the traditional cable market, picked up a key win with Total Vision, a fiber-to-the-home broadband provider serving condo units in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

Total Vision is buying Kasenna media servers that will span 100 edge sites in those three states, serving a total of 65,000 individual condominium units. It plans to offer VOD, among other services, to those homes.

Scalable

Kasenna's technology is highly scalable, with its XMP SE software system built on off-the-shelf server technology. That allows the company to scale down to VOD deployments as small as a condominium, said Kasenna chairman and CEO Mark Gray.

Total Vision will buy Kasenna's $6,000 OmniBase server system, which stores 120 hours of content. It's the same low-end product recently purchased by Mid-Hudson Cablevision, an upstate New York operator, Gray said.

Kasenna's high-end product — servers with thousands of hours of storage capacity and separate streaming solutions — are being tested by Time Warner Cable engineers for Mystro, the company's headend-based digital video recording system. And Gray promises other cable deals are forthcoming.

Kasenna has a roundabout cable history. It was born as a unit of Silicon Graphics, the same unit that developed VOD technology for Time Warner's Full Service Network in Orlando, Fla. Kasenna retooled its technology and business model after the FSN proved uneconomical to deploy.

Key features

One key attribute was separating streaming from storage, Gray said. Another was to use off-the-shelf server hardware, rather than proprietary systems, to make VOD deployments cost effective for operators.

Kasenna reentered the VOD server space in the late 1990s, serving the enterprise, education and hospitality markets, along with telco IP video. "Everything that we design for broadband is completely applicable in that market," Gray said.

Gray said 45 regional U.S. telcos have launched cable service in the past few years and 25 of those are planning VOD deployments. But most of Kasenna's telco business is beyond U.S. shores. Gray said the four major Canadian telcos — Saskatel, Bell Canada, Manitoba and Telus — are planning video services that could include VOD, and Kasenna, by extension, Gray said.

"We have 3,000 servers deployed around the world," Gray said. "We turn off-the-shelf hardware into the world's highest performance server."

"Our focus was not on cable until the year ago," Gray said, "but [Gigabit Ethernet quadrature amplitude modulation systems] have taken off like gangbusters. That is an [Internet-protocol] video deployment."

Indeed, as cable operators rollout GigE for VOD, VOD signals are delivered to QAMs via IP video, then transferred to the Moving Picture Experts Group standard for the final few miles to the home.

N2 integration

In that sense, Gray said, "the technology requirements of the cable industry moved to us. We do that better, faster cheaper than anybody on earth."

In addition to its Time Warner legacy integration, Kasenna has integrated with N2 Broadband's OpenStream to crack the U.S. cable business.

MSOs want to reduce end-to-end streaming costs from $200 to $250 per stream to less than $100 a stream, Gray said. The partial shift to IP delivery using packet switching enables leaner deployments, more flexibility and greater interoperability between applications, Gray said.

Kasenna's software allows MSOs to scale streams and titles independently using off the shelf systems and storage, Gray said.

"You can manage the collection of video servers as one entity, not islands," Gray said. "The cluster manager allows for seamless scalability."

The flexibility gives MSOs the options to mix and match distributed versus centralized storage setups, he said. "The MSOs are all very interested," Gray said.

Total Vision serves condo owners and their rental guests in a swath of properties along the Gulf Coast. "We've been offering VOD and other on-demand, pay-as-you go services at a few of our facilities for a while and it's been really well received," TotalVision CEO David Hall said in a statement.

The company chose Kasenna, it said because it could be deployed to multiple sites quickly and allowed Total Vision to "efficiently manage and distribute content," he said.

Gray said Total Vision actually contracts analog cable service from local cable operators for residents, then adds in a data and VOD package through a set-top box built by Amino Communications, based in Cambridge, England.

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