On January 21, Imagine Communications announced an expansion of a strategic relationship with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) that was first made public in April 2015. The first-of-its-kind collaboration unites leading innovators in the media and IT industries. The new partnership is underlined by a broad go-to-market plan that directly addresses the requirements of broadcasters, networks, video service providers and enterprise customers to modernize their facilities to accommodate evolving video consumption preferences and withstand new competitive pressures. In the following question and answer session, Imagine Communications CTO Steve Reynolds provides additional details about the nature of the relationship, its objectives and its potential for helping media companies accelerate the transition of their operations to more agile and flexible compute and network environments.
Q: How has your relationship with HPE evolved since you announced your collaboration with the IT giant nine months ago?
A: The initial partnership was about collaborating to help our customers advance their operations toward an open and agile environment based on IP technology and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) IT-based compute and networking platforms. The recent announcement significantly expands on the existing relationship in three areas: The first is that HPE has selected Imagine Communications as its preferred vendor and partner for solutions in the media and entertainment sector. HPE now has the ability to resell our product portfolio as part of its end-to-end solutions and to help build out next-gen broadcast and distribution facilities.
The second major component of the agreement extension is that HPE is now Imagine Communications’ preferred partner for IT integration and support services. Where we are working with customers to move operations to a datacenter model, we now have the ability to leverage one of the largest and most respected IT systems integrators in the world, HPE’s Communications & Media Solutions (CMS) organization. They bring a full suite of capabilities to the table, including CMS products, software customization, systems integration, and operations support.
Third, Imagine Communications is migrating all of its appliance-based products to HPE hardware. We’ll also be working closely with HPE’s technical and engineering experts to make sure Imagine Communications solutions running on HPE servers and storage systems are optimally tuned to deliver industry leading price/performance. We’ll be able to work with HPE to deliver the optimal configuring, for example, of memory, processing and storage — helping our customers to assemble an IP-based infrastructure that is finely tuned for their specific needs.
Q: Why is this a big deal for Imagine?
A: Close alignment with one of the largest and most experienced IT solutions providers, systems integrators, and datacenter infrastructure experts elevates us above our peers and competitors in our ability to assist media companies in the modernization of their production, playout and distribution facilities. This partnership brings Imagine Communications a global partner with unmatched experience in designing, building and supporting large-scale datacenter facilities optimized for security, high availability and performance. The company is heavily involved in the evolution of all relevant IT and datacenter technology, including SDN, NFV, and virtual machine environments.
In addition, the relationship with HPE will assist Imagine Communications in expanding our footprint, both geographically and in terms of reaching new customers.
Q: How does the expanded relationship with HPE help Imagine Communications reach new markets and regions?
A: HPE’s global reach is unmatched. It has forged relationships and established business operations in virtually every country in the world. By leveraging HPE’s global reach, we can quickly and efficiently accelerate the expansion of our existing footprint.
From an industry perspective, HPE is very strong, as its name would suggest, in the enterprise market, which is one of the fastest growing segments in the media industry. Video is replacing email as the preferred communications currency in the business world. Thousands of enterprises are building out video production operations both for internal communications and for external uses, including customer care, sales and marketing. HPE, which has a massive footprint in the enterprise space, is well positioned to help businesses evolve their video strategies by leveraging Imagine Communications products and technologies.
In addition to providing us with a critical partner in the communications service provider (CSP) sector, where HPE is a major hardware and services supplier to nearly every cable operator, satellite service provider and telecommunications company (both fixed and mobile), HPE is a trusted supplier to government entities around the world.
Q: What’s in it for HPE?
A: HPE clearly understands that its current customer base, including segments mentioned above, is increasingly moving into the video realm and will require broadcast-quality technology and products. Now that HPE can resell products from across Imagine Communications’ entire portfolio it has the ability to seize a larger portion of this emerging video infrastructure opportunity. In addition, the company needs the expertise that Imagine brings to the table to define end-to-end video workflows, to define systems that meet those workflows, and to interoperate with the existing elements of the video and broadcast ecosystems.
Q: Does HPE have a presence in the broadcast industry?
A: HPE already has a substantial practice in the media and entertainment industry, providing solutions and services to traditional broadcasters and other media companies around the world. This new partnership calls for Imagine Communications to utilize HPE’s CMS organization, a global leader in systems integration, software development, and support services.
Q: The press release says that Imagine and HPE are partnering to help accelerate the transformation of the media and entertainment industry. How so?
A: The media industry in general now recognizes that the move to more agile and versatile production, playout and distribution environments is inevitable. Reaching that destination, at the right pace and in a non-disruptive manner, will require the seamless transition of traditional media processes toward large-scale datacenters and IT-based facilities without sacrificing any of the precision and quality inherent in today’s video operations.
Imagine Communications and HPE, respective technology leaders in the media and IT realms, provide the complementary skillsets required to build out the next generation of video infrastructure facilities. Imagine Communications has been working to assist customers in adopting their operations to IP-based facilities for the past several years. Those efforts benefit significantly from tightening the relationship with an innovator that is writing the book on building out the most scalable, secure and flexible datacenter environments in the world. Imagine Communications now has access to all that expertise. Working with a partner that is world-class in the datacenter and IT disciplines has enormously accelerated our ability to help media companies evolve their operations and reach their all-IP destinations.
Q: Is this an exclusive relationship?
A: The relationship with HPE is not an exclusive arrangement. We recognize that the voice of the customer plays a big role in our technology choices, and many of our collaborations with partners are at the behest of customers. Where our customers have a preference for another hardware or technology choice, we will support it. We are not constrained in any way to support the preferences of our customers. We can honor whatever request they have in terms of hardware suppliers.
Q: How does the relationship expansion impact your existing channel partners and system integrators?
A: We believe this agreement will benefit existing partners by enhancing their ability to offer their customers expanded solutions, adapt to new business models, and grow their bottom lines. Imagine Communications’ channel partners possess a deep level of knowledge and sophistication to resolve complex workflow and other customer challenges in the video realm. This expertise greatly complements the IT-oriented systems integration capabilities offered by HPE.