While Faultline spent probably 90% of NAB catching up with familiar faces over meeting new ones, there were a few surprise findings from the show (not counting the many impromptu party encounters).
A group of streaming media experts housed under the company moniker of Raskenlund was one of those pleasant surprises. This was a strange meeting on a number of fronts, as founder and CEO Karel Boek explained that Raskenlund’s roots are essentially as a back-end systems integration consulting business – one that is at a crucial tipping point.
If you want low latency streaming implementations, Raskenlund can do it. If you want tailor-made OTT technologies from scratch, or customization and integration of existing technologies, Raskenlund has the minerals. If you need monitoring, updates, and disaster recovery and more for QoS/QoE, Raskenlund knows the ropes better than most. This is thanks to extensive experience working with third-party video software, none more so than the Wowza Streaming Engine, which helped propel Raskenlund into business thanks to its strong and customizable APIs.
NAB is that tipping point, believes Boek, preparing Norway-based Raskenlund mentally and operationally for transitioning from an almost freelance mindset, to something resembling a “proper” organization doing large scale projects.
“A few years ago, we figured we don’t want to do 90-hour weeks anymore,” Boek confided.
Faultline has come across many such companies before, prompting the term ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ to be floated, just to test the reaction of the person on the other side of the table to this contentious label, more than anything. This is a surefire way of judging character, and Boek passes with flying colors. Rather than refuting Raskenlund’s Jack of all trades identity, he argues that when a company scales, it can be difficult to find Jacks of all trades.
“You might need a Wowza specialist for a specific problem today, then a Nanocosmos specialist the next day, and then a Zencoder specialist another day,” explains Boek.
At the same time, Raskenlund doesn’t want to be tied to specific vendors. Independence is within touching distance – Boek just hasn’t figured out yet how to grab it.
A managed services approach might be the solution, as Boek mentions that NAB has yielded some productive discussions with prospective clients. The future of the business is currently torn between chasing specific verticals or sticking with the success it has seen in streaming media, particularly for helping broadcasters and telcos enter the OTT video space.
Most companies have some idea of what they want to do – they know they need the functionality and the components to get there but lack the integration expertise. Raskenlund is the one that listens to the business and translates these requirements into an actual solution to a problem.
It has a few interesting case studies, including designing a streaming platform for Robi Axiata, the second largest MNO in Bangladesh with around 50 million subscribers. Based on the Wowza Streaming Engine, Raskenlund was selected by Robi Axiata to build the complete OTT streaming platform, called Binge, which raised a few problems unique to the Southeast Asian market.
Infrastructure management is a big problem, as a country like Bangladesh is notorious for lacking the presence of major cloud providers. Binge is therefore deployed to machines in Robi Axiata’s data centers, with Raskenlund supporting the delivery of on-demand content onto these systems by transcoding files in the cloud and then transferring these transcoded assets to the managed infrastructure. For acquisition of live TV channels, Robi Axiata uses two different providers to obtain signals from satellites and landlines.
“It’s not rocket science, or unique, but I love doing everything in streaming media,” said Boek. Once a consultant, forever a consultant?