This morning IBM announced it was acquiring Clearleap, a company that gives it enterprise-grade video content management services in the cloud, and which adds another layer to its burgeoning cloud strategy.
IBM would not disclose the purchase price.
Clearleap, whose customers include HBO, The History Channel, Time Warner Cable and Verizon (the parent company of TechCrunch) provides customers with multi-screen video processing and video asset management — and perhaps most importantly the ability to expose these features and functions as open APIs on IBM’s Bluemix Platform as a Service.
IBM has been thinking about video for some time and sees it as an increasingly important content type, says Jim Comfort, general manager of cloud services at IBM. “Video will represent 65 percent of Internet traffic going forward,” he said. “[It] is becoming a first class citizen as a data type. [Customers] need ways to acquire, store, distribute, enhance and manage it,” he explained.
With this purchase, IBM is getting the manage and enhance pieces, and at least part of the distribute piece he said. Essentially Comfort explained, IBM has purchased the ability to apply enterprise content management to video content in the cloud, providing standard content management services like the ability to search, apply policy and move content through a work flow — except with an emphasis on video.
It was the second cloud purchase in two months, following the purchase of Cleversafe in October, and the two purchases are not coincidental. Cleversafe handles the storage piece for those fat video files in the cloud. It’s all linked and IBM has a plan to make this all fit together into a coherent strategy to increase revenue.
“Clearleap’s customers are big media companies, after all. IBM’s challenge is to translate the [storage] capacity these customers need into IBM cloud revenue,” John Rymer, an analyst with Forrester Research told TechCrunch by email.
IBM is betting that video moves deeper into the enterprise, far beyond the current media company customers. If video truly takes up greater chunks of enterprise content moving forward, Clearleap gives IBM the opportunity to sell video services directly, or give those companies tools to build video-centric applications.
“Clearleap will contribute media services to IBM’s Bluemix platform, which is already very rich. I’d expect those services to appeal to enterprises using video for training, sales and marketing, etc. These video applications are important already, and growing in importance,” Forrester’s Rymer said.
The company will be adding these services to Bluemix in a brand new media zone to provide a central location for customers to access these video APIs as they build video into their company’s applications — at least that’s the hope.
IBM has been opening its checkbook to make many purchases like this over the last several years with the hopes of changing the focus of the company to the cloud, analytics, security and big data. So far at least, it has struggled as it makes this transition as it has seen revenue fall for 14 straight quarters. This move is one small attempt in a larger overall plan to help the company turn this around.
Clearleap has raised just over $45 million with the most recent funding, $5 million in Series C money coming in January of this year. The high water mark for funding came in November, 2013 when it grabbed $20 million.