At the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, Sun Microsystems today unveiled a platform for offering digital video services through phone or cable lines. The Service, called the Sun Streaming System was the brainchild and project of Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim. Bechtolsheim began its development at a startup he was running called Kealia which was bought by Sun in 2004. Bechtolsheim stayed on at Sun (which he had left in 1995) to continue working on the project.
One of the challenges the Sun System is intended to address is scalability and the economics of IPTV systems which are typically expensive. A big reason for that is that there is zero-tolerance for packet (data) loss with streaming. To avoid latency spikes and other issues, most delivery platforms rely on distributed small-scale servers and lots of disk-based storage. Sun’s Streaming Switch architecture (which is further described in a white paper found here) is designed to allow the use of more powerful, centralized servers.
Sun is marketing the system for 5 areas:
- Personalized Television Services over IP
- Targeted Advertising
- Time-shifted television (nPVR)
- Video On Demand
- Broadcast Television over IP
With heavy hopes and big dreams married to improvements in video streaming technologies and platforms, Sun is hoping (as are some potential telecom and cable companies, and IPTV startups) that the system will bring some much desired improvements. If they do, it could even make Sun relevant again.