Imagine Communications teams up with Microsoft

Imagine has signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft, launching Zenium for Microsoft Azure Media Services.

At Imagine’s press event at IBC, CEO Charlie Vogt said Zenium, the company’s software-defined workflow management platform, “tethers together” much of what Imagine provides for playout and channel infrastructure. Vogt said that Microsoft’s launch of Azure Media Services, a cloud-based platform to enable video service providers to create and manage media workflows, gave new opportunities to Imagine. He said the company’s portfolio of products could help it tap into a much larger market than it had hitherto accessed.

Bob DeHaven, general manager, communications and media, worldwide industry and global accounts for Microsoft, speaking at the Imagine Communications event, said that Microsoft’s entry into the broadcast infrastructure world and partnership with Imagine is “very significant” for the company. He said Zenium is a “massive” part of Microsoft’s strategy. DeHaven said that Microsoft had been struck by the speed with which broadcasters had migrated to cloud-based delivery. He said he expected a standard cloud-based way of delivering video channels would emerge.

DeHaven said that only a few companies had the scale to deliver the benefits of cloud-based delivery for broadcasters and video service providers, of which Microsoft is one.

Glenn Lebrun, VP of product marketing at Imagine, also speaking at the press event, said Zenium is like a “software supply chain”.

Imagine has also used IBC to debut new products including VersioCloud, Landmark Express and Magellan SDN Orchestrator.

Lebrun said that VersioCloud is a cloud based playout platform designed to enable broadcasters to compete with low-cost internet players. VersioCloud “levels the playing field” for today’s media companies vis-a-vis internet players and give them the benefits of the scale enjoyed by web companies operating across multiple territories, according to Lebrun.

Imagine has also announced Landmark Express, an ad sales, rights and scheduling engine that provides ad sales, campaigns, traffic, rights and scheduling in a modular way. The product uses Microsoft Azure as its cloud platform.

Magellan SDN Orchestrator is another key Imagine product. This enables broadcasters including Sky Italia to enable broadcasters to use existing controls to manage IP-based distribution.

Vogt said that the industry’s migration to IP will become more prevalent over the next two years. “Cloud and virtualisation is a hot topic and for us it’s about how to enable a virtualised world,” said Vogt. “We’re already virtualising a lot of what we’re doing…but now we’re starting with private networks and then moving to a more public network with Microsoft of Amazon.”

Vogt said ‘virtualisation’ is primarily about enabling things to be done remotely, while ‘cloud’ is about enabling broadcasters to share resources. “Once you’ve built out a cloud infrastructure and you have been able to virtualise certain functions…you can launch hundreds of channels in hours,” he said.

Vogt said Imagine is a now “completely different company” than Harris Broadcast, its predecessor. He said the company had been integrated and the product portfolio simplified. He said Imagine expected to grow its top line by over 10% this year.

The creation of Imagine Communications and GatesAir – which took over the broadcast transmission-focused product lines of the business – had enabled both companies to focus on core areas. “Imagine is squarely focused on software and media infrastructure.” said Vogt. He said that Imagine’s platforms run “about half” of all video channels in the world today.


Imagine Communications will be exhibiting at IBC on stand 7.G20. Microsoft will be exhibiting on stand 13.MS1 and 13MS2

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