Well, a recent Bloomberg article about Comcast’s deal with Netflix brings to mind an equally interesting comparison between EBS and Comcast. While EBS’ application and services model presaged that of Google, its network infrastructure appears to have already incorporated, back in 1999, the features that are today motivating Netflix into a deal with Comcast.
For example, the Bloomberg article states, "By connecting Netflix content directly to Comcast’s network, the new delivery method removes a middle layer, speeding the video to the end-user."
Substitute “the EBS nework” for ”Comcast’s network” and you have what EBS was doing more than a decade ago for customers, such as Atom Films. EBS connected content providers directly to the EBS network backbone to increase the speed and quality of the video streams delivered to end customers. EBS called this “one-hop delivery.”
As another example, the Bloomberg article says, "The new connections to Comcast will take place in data centers called open Internet exchanges …"
Substitute “pooling points” for “Internet exchanges” and you have what EBS was doing, again, way back in 1999. EBS established a nationwide series of specialized data centers which facilitated its ability to offer high-speed, high-quality content delivery. And this was not a theoretical capability — it was in use by customers more than a decade ago.
As the Blogging Enron Blog has pointed out before in the post, “If Only Blockbuster Had Listened to Enron," EBS offered to Blockbuster, back in 2000, essentially the same (and more) capabilities that Comcast will now be providing to Netflix. It was an act of colossal near-sightedness on the part of Blockbuster that it blew a chance to dominate the on-demand video market, an opportunity that was handed to it, gift-wrapped, by EBS.
I wonder what the EBS engineers and executives think when they see these big announcements by Comcast and Google and others, who are doing now what EBS pioneered a decade ago. For the EBS people, as Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
[Leo Thompson is a frequent contributor to Cara Ellison’s Enron Online: The Enron Blog and will also be contributing to this blog from time to time.]