The cloud’s impact on digital signage

For the past 5 years, one of the fastest growing segments of the market has been the digital signage market.  It seems everywhere we go, there is a large LCD screen feeding us information, whether it’s advertising, menus, or simply information that helps us get from point A to point B.

Before I joined Seagate in 2006, I worked for a custom system builder called NOW Micro that was just starting to ramp up on a digital signage initiative. Five years ago, that initiative was focused on developing small form factor PCs that would mount to the back of an LCD. Like everything else, could this market be moving to the cloud?

Data Center Knowledge released a story today that talks about STRATACACHE, and their $3.25M investment in a 10,000 square foot data center. The data center is designed to scale STRATACACHE’s ability to expand it’s digital media networks to streamline the delivery of information to customers like fast food restaurants for in store menu systems.  The concept is the same as above, but in this case the servers are in the cloud, and the thin clients (the menu boards) are localized in cities across the country, even the world.

I asked Pat Finn, president of NOW Micro for his take on the cloud’s potential impact on their  digital signage efforts, and Pat is well aware of the trend, but does not see an immediate movement to the cloud for digital signage. “Like everything else, it’s going to take time. There are too many factors at play here for this to make sense for every customer. You have variables at play such as bandwidth, support, and investment. Not every customer is going to allow service providers access to their network and network bandwidth, they will not support 3rd party hardware on their network, and, they are not quick to scrap investments already made in hardware, nor the processes in place to keep signage updated.”

Finn went on to say that the content is getting richer and richer, and for many smaller customers, they simply don’t have the connectivity to rely solely on a cloud based solution.  But, with advancements in networking capabilities, and as the cloud matures, this is a threat to their business as it exists today. You can say that about nearly every aspect of their business, from desktops and laptops for the education market, to video surveillance.

I guess when it comes down to the cloud, it’s the same old story… it’s here, but we’ll just have to see where it goes.  You can bet, custom solution providers like NOW Micro will continue to adapt to such changes. That’s the true impact of the cloud.

How does the cloud threat your business?  How is it making you think about the future?

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  1. Jim Anders August 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    Interesting direction for the cloud – will be curious to see how this shapes up as technology catches up with the promise of the cloud…

  2. Tim Warrington October 17, 2010 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Interesting article, it is a case of wait and see where this takes the digitalsignage market. Things are moving so fast in this area and new concepts are popping up all the time.

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