IBM Buys Ustream For Cloud-Based Video Push

IBM plans to expand its cloud-based services with an acquisition of Ustream, provider of live-stream videos, and with the creation of a new cloud video unit.

Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading

January 21, 2016

3 Min Read
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IBM has confirmed its acquisition of Ustream, provider of cloud-based live video streaming services. The company is also forming a new unit for housing its cloud video services.

Ustream delivers live and on-demand video to about 80 million viewers per month for a broad range of clients. Its broad customer base includes NASA, Facebook, Samsung, Nike, and Discovery Channel.

Whispers of this acquisition were first reported by Fortune on Jan. 20. Its report noted the partnership between IBM and Ustream goes back to April 2014, when the startup was the sole video provider part of IBM's cloud marketplace.

[IBM's Q4 results hold both promise and pitfalls.]

IBM did not disclose the financial terms of its transaction; however a Bloomberg report claims the deal is valued at $130 million.

The Ustream deal marks the tech giant's latest effort to succeed in the cloud-based video services and software market. Estimates from IBM indicate this space presents a $105 billion opportunity for the company.

Video is poised to grow as a valuable tool for businesses as they leverage new technologies to engage with customers and employees. Webcasts, training and education webinars, how-to videos, customer service, and conference keynotes are a few of many ways companies could use video.

As more customers begin to take advantage of the evolving medium, they will need to manage their video services through secure, open, and scalable cloud-based solutions.

These requirements are especially pressing, says IBM, since researchers estimate 80% of global data is unstructured to computer systems, which cannot effectively manage it. Much of this data is in video form, they have found.

Along with the Ustream acquisition, IBM has also announced the formation of a new Cloud Video Services Unit. The division, led by general manager Braxton Jarratt, will aim to help IBM clients across industries expand their use of video.

"Aligning our expansive video and cloud innovations into an integrated unit will create opportunities for clients to take advantage of this medium in the most strategic way possible," Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of IBM Cloud, said in a statement.

In addition to Ustream, the new unit will consist of assets from video management company ClearLeap, which IBM acquired in Dec. 2015. IBM also plans to integrate technologies from video storage tool Cleversafe and file-transfer service Aspera, two other video companies it has purchased since 2013.

Ustream will bring a few key tools to the table, such as its open Ustream Development platform. Customers can use this to create custom video apps to run on any device, or embed video into any app. They also have access to real-time social analytics to learn how audiences react to video as it streams.

Other video technologies in Ustream's portfolio include Ustream Demand, which lets marketers collect leads into marketing workflows and manage videos from a dashboard; Ustream Align, for secure internal communication; and Ustream Pro Broadcasting, for live video streaming at scale.

"Through this latest acquisition and the creation of a new cloud business unit, IBM will provide an end-to-end suite of digital video solutions for the first time under one roof," said Jarratt in a statement. He notes this will give clients the option to alter video at every stage of its lifecycle, with tools for customization, digital access, and visual analytics.

About the Author(s)

Kelly Sheridan

Staff Editor, Dark Reading

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial services. Sheridan earned her BA in English at Villanova University. You can follow her on Twitter @kellymsheridan.

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