IBM in Digital Media Pacts With Viacom, Openwave

By @NY Staff

Media and cable conglomerate Viacom Inc. has hired IBM Corp. to help it create new digital media products and beef up its in-house information technology.

The goal of the seven-year contract is to build a “cross-enterprise computing platform capable of supporting digital media as well as computing services delivered on demand.”

The contract is to focus on services in conjunction with MTV Networks, Showtime Networks, Paramount, CBS and Viacom Corporate. It also covers U.S. operations spanning eleven locations in four states, the companies said.

Ultimately, the arrangement is expected to help the New York based-Viacom find new sources of revenue as it takes its entertainment content and re-packages it for mobile and other digital media devices.

The contract calls for IBM to help Viacom develop new products and services such as digital asset management of its entertainment content and wireless content delivery.

In addition, IBM is expected to help Viacom position its IT network so that it can order up utility-like IT computing services from IBM. The on-demand arrangement is similar to the $4 billion contract that IBM recently signed with American Express.

At the same time, IBM announced a 10-year alliance with mobile IP software
company Openwave that will focus on building media portals for wireless carriers, built on open source architecture.

The goal is to help wireless service providers grow revenue, lower costs and reduce customer turnover, the companies said in a joint release.

The deal also means that IBM’s fast-growing WebSphere middleware is to be integrated with Openwave’s messaging and mobile software products that help wireless companies connect their customers to the Internet and intranets.

Openwave’s software includes e-mail, Mobile Instant Messaging, unified messaging, multimedia messaging, downloading, browsing, provisioning and subscriber and services management.

The IBM side of the deal would incorporate IBM’s WebSphere-related products such as Portal, Application Server, Voice Server and Everyplace Server as the two build open architecture products. Also included: Tivoli technology management software and DB2 data management software, plus IBM’s new pSeries services and Shark data storage products.

Already, the Armonk, NY-based IBM and Redwood City, Calif.-based Openwave are building wireless information portals for carriers to offer customers, and make use of their respective WebSphere Portal and Mobile Access Gateway products.

The goal is to reduce customer churn by building digital media portals for wireless devices that can handle rich media, transactions and content from different interfaces.

The two companies are committing about 200 personnel to the joint venture and plan to update the architecture on the products every three to six months.

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