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For all the hype surrounding the explosive growth of unstructured data, the simple truth of the matter is video accounts for as much as 70 percent of that growth. Not only are people consuming more online video content than ever, but a broad range of applications are starting to incorporate video, as well.

To get in front of that trend, IBM recently moved to acquire Ustream and ClearLeap. However, those deals are only the beginning of a much larger strategy, explained Braxton Jarratt, general manager for the IBM Cloud Video Service. IBM has unfurled an object-based storage system to house all that video based on technology it gained with the buyout of Cleversafe last year, while relying on software it gained by acquiring Aspera to more efficiently move those files.

At the same time, IBM envisions feeding video streams from one of its other acquisitions, The Weather Company, into its Bluemix platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment, where a spectrum of analytics applications, such as IBM Watson, will invoke APIs to identify patterns and trends.

All those analytics will then be incorporated in everything from e-learning applications to track how well content is being absorbed to relying on Watson to look for specific events recorded in a digital surveillance system by analyzing both the images and the metadata associated with them, Jarratt said. For example, rather than having a human analyze hours of video, IBM envisions a time when Watson will be able to do that task in a matter of seconds, he said.

To that end, at the IBM InterConnect conference late last month, the company announced that new Watson APIs for video recognition are now available in beta.

What makes much of this possible is the fact that video compression algorithms are advancing at a time when the amount of network bandwidth is expanding, Jarratt said. For that reason, it’s more feasible than ever to incorporate video into a wide range of applications. IBM views that shift in the way video is consumed as an opportunity to leap-frog both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, both of which have comparatively limited capabilities to host and search for movies on Netflix, Jarratt said.

It may take time for this IBM video strategy in the cloud to play out. However, solution providers across the channel should start asking customers how they might incorporate more video inside their processes and applications. Chances are they will be surprised to learn just how extensive those plans are about to become.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.