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Cisco's the new Tivo, pumps out 'DVR in the cloud' offering

TV, the Borg is in you

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Cisco wants to borg your TV: as part of a big cloud-for-service-providers announcement, it's kicked off a cloudy digital video recorder (DVR) offering under its Videoscape brand.

Videoscape itself isn't new: it was kicked off in January 2011 as a TV-over-IP platform, and since then Cisco has been rolling various acquisitions into the effort. In February, it bought transcoder outfit Inlet. Later the same year, video optimisation company BNI Video was rolled into the fold, and then in 2012, it slung $5 billion in the direction of News Corp to swallow TV software outfit NDS.

Now, the company has gone fully cloudy with Videoscape as part of a larger release it calls the Evolved Services Platform (ESP), essentially a virtualised control plane that represent's Cisco's flag in the Network Function Virtualisation territory.

ESP works with the Openstack and Open Daylight protocols, and is 3GPP and ETSI NfV MANO standards.

The cloudy Videoscape is one of two ESP service module releases that accompanied the ESP announcement (the other is Cisco Virtualised Mobile Internet).

The mobile Internet solution will get plenty attention, and not only from carriers. One of the features Cisco highlights is the ability to created “sponsored data” services. In which a content provider pays the carrier for content delivery so that their content doesn't become a drag on users' mobile download caps.

The cloudy DVR, however, is very media-outfit-friendly. It tick-boxes everything an operator would want of a cloud service: pause/rewind/replay of live TV, record programs in the cloud for replay on any customer device, and integration with customer premises equipment like set-top-boxes (STBs), so that users can switch between content on the STB and content in the cloud.

It won't be easy to be a TiVo in the future if carriers start dropping DVR capabilities into their clouds willy-nilly. One ray of hope may come from Australia's decision to kill off a cloudy DVR service on grounds it infringed a local telco's rights to exclusive distribution of live sport to mobile devices. ®

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