RealNetworks raises server iQ

Internet-server technology is designed to improve streaming operations

RealNetworks is hoping its RealSystem iQ Internet-server technology will prove a smart move for both itself and its customers. The system, available Dec. 18, will offer several improvements to its streaming servers and the networks they sit on.

"The biggest opportunity is, it allows the servers to operate as a collective," says Ben Rotholtz, RealNetworks general manager, products and systems. "If one goes down, the other can pick up and rejuggle their capacity."

RealSystem iQ will comprise Server 8, Proxy 8 and Producer 8.5. Server pricing will remain the same, with the "Gold release" RealSystem iQ available as an upgrade.

Rotholtz cites a number of advantages that the new architecture will offer, including taking in satellite-delivered content and handling content in Quicktime format. But it's the ability to establish a foundation for "content peering" that makes him most enthusiastic.

With iQ, servers will be able to backstop each other: Ones low on traffic can serve as as a release valve for those getting crunched with traffic. "It offers a level of redundancy within a network," says Rotholtz.

One customer already familiar with the new system is Tim Desai, manager, instaStream network for Mirror Image Internet, a content-delivery network that has servers around the world. He sees an advantage in Server 8's support for Quicktime, which means that Mirror Image Internet does not have to buy additional servers to handle that format. But he particularly likes its dynamic license allocation, which allows Mirror Image to pool its streams collectively as opposed to having to guess how many should be allocated to each server.

RealSystem Proxy 8, a dedicated streaming-media proxy-cache, will allow Internet service providers to rebroadcast a single live stream to multiple players. And caching the content closer to the end user can minimize transmission difficulties.