Sun Media Advisory Board Unveils Findings Around Top Challenges Facing Digital Media Industry

LAS VEGAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq:JAVA) announced the formation of the Sun Media Advisory Board (Sun MAB) today at the 2008 NAB Show. Sun MAB is an executive advisory board guided by Sun and leading media industry executives that is focused on identifying and solving key challenges found in today’s digital media distribution industry.


The Sun MAB has initially focused on identifying and solving key challenges brought about by a major market shift from isolated, proprietary systems to an integrated file-based workflow across the media value chain. As part of its initial findings, the Sun MAB has cited media transformation, content identification and video storage optimization to be the key business challenges facing the industry today. Through the collaboration of its member companies, the Sun MAB is currently engaging in several projects aimed at meeting these challenges and aiding companies in successfully adapting to the changing digital media landscape.

The Sun MAB agenda is developed by a steering committee comprised of senior executives from MLB Advanced Media, Turner Entertainment Networks, and HBO Communications. The board offers participants a non-commercial forum to share and solve issues of common concern in building business models, technology, ecosystems and standards to enable profitable digital media distribution practices. Currently, the board is collaborating to optimize video solutions to meet requirements of major cable and TV programmers, film studios, broadcast networks and content packagers, based on Sun and innovative third-party applications.


Our customers came to us with a desire for an executive forum in which to validate shared business challenges with their peers, and work together to identify practical solutions, said Darrell Jordan-Smith, vice president for Sun Microsystems’ global communications and media practice. The Sun MAB is unique in that it works off of a customer-driven agenda, ensuring that its projects and solutions map directly to real and current business challenges. Based on our findings to date, we are already making strides to better equip our customers with the technology they need to compete effectively in the digital age.

HBO Communications is continually challenged to keep pace with the company’s new business initiatives. We’ve embraced file-based solutions and need to constantly improve throughput while maintaining HBO quality standards, said Charles Cataldo, senior vice president of broadcast and studio operations for HBO Communications. Sun’s commitment to sponsorship of the Sun MAB around our prioritized interests and concerns results in a unified ‘voice of the customer’. This has made us more effective in engaging Sun and partners to deliver optimized solutions that remove complexity and cost.

The Sun MAB findings announced today and its current projects include:

Media Transformation

A proliferation of devices, media players and other content receivers has created nearly limitless opportunities for consumers to access digital content. For content owners and providers to remain competitive, they must master the process of content transformation across a variety of formats and platforms. The Sun MAB media transformation project is focused on optimizing content transcoding in multi-operating system (OS) environments, with a goal of automating and accelerating the ingest-encode-transcode process. The ultimate outcome is to enable easy, ubiquitous consumer access to high quality content and programming across Web, phone, set-top and online retail channels.

Format proliferation is costing media organizations significantly in terms of storage, infrastructure and increasing complexity, said Joe Inzerillo, senior vice president, Multimedia & Distribution for MLB Advanced Media. Transcoding is universally a core issue for digital content providers, specifically at MLBAM where were approaching 20-30 formats per original asset with further growth a near certainty. Sun’s support of Sun MAB is essential in accelerating industry consensus around technologies and practices to remove critical bottlenecks in the transcoding process.

Video Storage Optimization

Today’s market conditions mandate that content providers offer vast libraries of easy-to-navigate, personalized programming and advertising, without passing increased operating costs and complexities onto consumers. In particular, the move to high definition (HD) while supporting standard definition (SD) programming, online retail, mobile and broadband distribution has strongly increased financial and operational pressures on content providers. The Sun MAB sees improved video storage accessibility, performance, and utilization as a key opportunity to compress steps and remove cost from the process. The video storage optimization project is currently focused on streamlining digital work-flows to improve digital video storage capabilities.

The pace of change in the industry makes it imperative that the media industry and their technology partners work together to address acute issues in digital product distribution, reducing time to market for new products, and reducing cost of implementation, said Clyde D. Smith, senior vice president, Global Broadcast Technology and Standards for Turner Broadcasting Systems. Turner, like the rest of the media industry, is addressing the key issues of how to best incorporate IT technologies with our state-of-the-art HD video workflows. Sun’s support of the Sun MAB gives us direct access to SME’s, and an ongoing forum to develop and share use cases and address common media industry concerns. Additionally, we greatly value the opportunity to network with industry peers in a non-competitive forum.

Content Identification

To avoid passing digital content costs onto the consumer, content providers are focused on offering highly relevant, personalized advertising that does not deteriorate the customer experience. With enhanced content identification, fingerprinting and watermarking capabilities, content providers can improve their abilities to deter piracy, track content usage and monetize assets. Consumer engagement can be further enhanced in the future through transformational uses of content, such as mash-ups and streamlined peer-to-peer content sharing. The Sun MAB content identification project will explore new revenue opportunities and reduced participation costs for content owners, based on content identification technologies.

Sun MAB hosts periodic roundtables and workshops throughout the year, by invitation only to executives in the content provider and content aggregator industry. For more information on Sun MAB, contact [email protected].

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