Microsoft Interactive Media Manager Gains Traction as a Platform for Media Management

Italian broadcaster RAI to join early adopter program; new partners help expand capabilities to help simplify user experience and better utilize existing technology investments within the workflow process.

Microsoft Corp. announced a new early adopter customer and an expanded partner ecosystem for Microsoft(R) Interactive Media Manager (IMM). Italian broadcaster RAI has joined the Technology Adoption Program for IMM, which will enable RAI to manage the media workflow process as it digitizes assets for viewing over the Web through a variety of screens and devices. In addition, Microsoft is making an expanded set of capabilities available to media companies in conjunction with IMM. To deliver these capabilities, Microsoft has forged relationships with independent software vendors (ISVs) including FileCatalyst, Marquis Broadcast Ltd., Rhozet and TeleStream Inc., and system integrators (SIs) such as Accenture, Ascentium Corp., The Computer Merchant Ltd., Intellinet Corp., SpeakTECH and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.

RAI will use IMM as a media management solution for digitizing assets from tape and MXF files and outputting the digitized files into a storage area network. IMM provides RAI with the ability to search and browse assets after they have been ingested, a mechanism for streamlining the review and approval process and reporting functionality.

“Broadcasting has quickly evolved from distributing a single asset through a single medium to a well-defined audience to now needing to fully monetize that single asset over a variety of mediums. That change in the business model has a tremendous impact on how we treat content in the back office,” said Robert Cecatto, head of engineering RAI TV Production. “Microsoft has been forward- looking in trying to help organizations such as ours identify technology solutions to the new challenges we face in the digital age.”

New and expanded features enabled through these alliances, such as fast and efficient file transfer, real-time media encoding and edit decision list (EDL)/sequence transfer, will help improve and simplify the user experience and allow media companies to easily utilize existing technology investments within the workflow process. The new offerings, from many of the leading companies in the media and entertainment industry, demonstrate the important role that IMM provides as a central hub for the media workflow process and platform.

“The interest we’ve received from the media industry since our initial launch at the NAB2007 conference in April has been tremendous,” said Gabriele Di Piazza, managing director for Media & Entertainment in the Communications Sector at Microsoft. “The support that we’re announcing today is an important validation that the media industry recognizes the value IMM provides in simplifying the digital content life cycle by connecting people, processes and rich content.”

IMM is a server-based solution that provides a Web-based interface for accessing and interacting with media files. An extension of Microsoft Office SharePoint(R) Server 2007, IMM provides powerful tools for quickly building complex workflows, monitoring the performance of those workflows, and facilitating the reviews and approvals in the workflow process. For example, via a common user interface a company can utilize IMM to connect a variety of activities, starting with the ingest of content from tape to an automated, pre-defined transcode session and moving through the review and approval process. IMM automates many of the manual processes that often are the bottleneck of productivity, while helping ensure the inclusion of human-based workflow activities.

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