HP to Color Rainbow’s Cable Content

Hewlett-Packard Tuesday said it has signed an agreement to build a massive digital content management system for a Cablevision Systems subsidiary.

The six-figure deal with New York-based Rainbow Media Holdings includes consulting and implementation through service and support. The idea is to deliver any digital content from any source to any device.

“We looked at our options, including some of the top names in media consulting and solutions, and we just decided that HP was the best choice,” Rainbow vice president, information systems David Kline said in a statement. “We’ve worked with HP in the past and valued their position as a major player in the technology industry.”

Rainbow is a 50 percent partner in Fox Sports Net and has a strategic partnership with MGM, which owns a 20 percent stake in three of Rainbow’s national networks: AMC (American Movie Classics), WE: Women’s Entertainment and The Independent Film Channel (IFC). The rest of the Rainbow family includes muchmusic usa, Mag Rack, News 12 Networks, Rainbow Sports Networks and the MetroChannels.

HP said its consultants will take a “holistic” approach and look into both short- and long-term improvements, including automation, extensive re-use of content, lower research and production overhead and consolidating existing investments.

“It used to be one type of content to one type of media,” HP director of rich media solutions Gabriele Di Piazza said. “Now it is one content to multiple platforms. Typically we look at ingestion and how it is made into digital content. Then we would work with media management in storing the data on storage systems, the processing of transcoding and how the content is distributed through the IP network, cable network and mobile network potentially.”

The cable deal is one of several that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker has scored in the past few months.

Back in March, HP said it had beaten out IBM and other vendors in a deal to provide MTV Networks with a variety of new servers and storage products. HP has also helped DreamWorks create its Shrek animation character and has closed a deal to maintain computing infrastructure to support the operation and performance of DIRECTV’s billing system.

HP said the Rainbow deal is significant considering that it was brokered through the company’s consulting arm. However, don’t expect the cable outlet to use purely HP products.

Di Piazza said it is expected that all of the newer systems would come from HP, but the company would still have to work with some proprietary servers and storage.

“We always are playing the battle of open systems,” said Di Piazza. “We support three platforms, HP-UX, Linux and Microsoft, and Rainbow has not decided which direction they will take. We will design the best system independent of the vendor. Since price it is important, selecting equipment from one vendor makes more sense and not picking one server from a company over here and one from over there.”

Whichever way Rainbow lands, Di Piazza said he expects the pot of IT gold to be a mix of Intel IA-32 and IA-64 and UNIX applications especially for backend storage.