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Download Movies With Movielink/Optaros and Reduce Risk

Online movie download service offering U.S. broadband customers an extensive selection of recently released films and classics

Movielink (www.movielink.com) is an online movie download service offering U.S. broadband customers an extensive selection of recently released films and classic movies covering every genre for rent or purchase. Movielink, LLC was founded in 2002 as a joint venture of five major studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros. Studios. Movielink content offers are drawn from the current releases and vast libraries of those studios as well as those of Walt Disney Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, and leading independent studios.

The Movielink Web site is divided into two "stores," with a common home page. At the "Rental Store" customers can browse Movielink's user-friendly site and view trailers of available titles without charge. Once they're ready to rent a title, they register with Movielink and pay for the rental by credit card. Movielink's Movies in Minutes feature lets customers begin watching titles in two-10 minutes, or store them for up to 30 days and experience unlimited viewing for any 24-hour period. Customers can also use Movielink's MultiPlay feature to re-rent titles for additional 24-hour viewing periods for up to 30 days after the initial rental.

The other storefront, the "Purchase Store," functions just like the Movielink original "Rental Store," but the license to watch a movie gotten from the "Purchase Store" allows for unlimited viewing. The movie can be permanently stored on a hard drive to create a permanent archive or burned to a disc in Windows Media format for backup or playback on up to two additional tethered computers. The movies can also be downloaded to a notebook computer for traveling. Using a Media Center Edition PC, consumers can stream their copy of the movie to a TV set connected to a Media Center extender or Xbox.

Movielink's online catalog is at the center of the consumers' movie selection and shopping process, making it a key software application for Movielink. Since the launch of the Movielink Web site in 2002, the group has used customized packaged software developed specifically to create the online catalog. However, the company wanted to ensure that its processes and systems provide optimal efficiency in keeping its catalog updated.

Conventional Approach
Movielink first explored proprietary catalog, commerce, and content management software packages. However, while there are many packages that support retailers' print and online catalogs, Movielink found they weren't capable of managing its virtual inventory, complex availability windows (when movies can be sold), and pricing models. The company then considered building another custom system.

Optaros' Approach
Optaros initially looked at finding the right content management or e-commerce system that would support the emerging needs. What it discovered was that many business requirements called for both types of systems as well as needs that neither satisfied. Heavily customizing one kind of system or another wasn't going to meet the schedule or the budget. Optaros then looked at meeting the requirements by pulling together multiple Open Source software tools and assembling them to meet the requirements. By taking well-understood and proven Open Source tools and integrating them at standard integration points, Optaros could deliver new functionality without heavy customization. Assembling the application from Open Source components provided new functionality without the kind of investment that large custom development projects require.

Optaros' Solution
Movielink hired Optaros to design and develop its new catalog management system, assembling several Open Source software components. These components included the Apache Tomcat application server on Red Hat Linux, the Spring Framework Java/J2EE application framework, the Hibernate object/relational mapping framework, and the Acegi Security authentication system.

Many of these components use the Java programming language with which Movielink's internal IT staff is familiar, making it easier to maintain internally. Further, the solution was well integrated with Movielink's ATG-Dynamo-based front-end commerce system.

By having control of this system instead of customizing a packaged application, Optaros was able to utilize the best workflow to fit the client's business. For example, by integrating data onto one input screen at the proper point in Movielink's natural workflow, a higher accuracy rate was possible, and productivity increased. This solution wouldn't have been available using packaged software.

Business Impact
The key benefit is that Movielink could use a system that exactly fit its needs and delivered high productivity to the end users. "Optaros helped us to create a system that exactly matches our business requirements. Tasks that used to take hours now take seconds and with greater accuracy," said Bryan Spaulding, Movielink's chief technology officer. He added, "We've been able to manage a greater volume of movies much faster without adding staff. Our updated system will allow us to take on the projects we have planned for the next year." (see Figure 1)

The Optaros solution complemented Movielink's existing processes and systems that rapidly release the business functionality that is its competitive differentiator. In addition, the Open Source-based systems that Optaros designed and delivered have given Movielink new features and more control in key areas. The level of performance increased, supporting more movies and titles.

Movielink has reduced its system risk - i.e., having a critical software system dependent on a single vendor whose future business viability is hard to determine. Optaros and Movielink also contributed back to the Open Source community by supplying certain improvements that they made to the underlying Open Source components.

Movielink has already recognized an added benefit of using Open Source software: the ability to reuse software and frameworks across applications. Code from the catalog management project was quickly reused in other internal application development projects without requiring those projects to purchase additional software licenses, saving time, testing, and software costs.

About Optaros
Optaros (www.optaros.com) is an international consulting and systems integration firm that provides enterprises with best-fit solutions to IT business challenges, maximizing the benefits of Open Source software. Whether your organization has had little exposure to Open Source software or has Open Source-based solutions in place, Optaros has the business- and IT problem-solving experience to advise on the areas where Open Source and open standards can be effective, and how to manage the use and benefits of Open Source software proactively.

Optaros offers a third alternative to the "build versus buy" decision with our proven assembly methodology (OptAM). In our core practice areas, Optaros ensures successful solution delivery by leveraging our pre-selected Open Source solution sets and customizing to your specific business requirements.

More Stories By Dave Gynn

Dave Gynn is the Research Services lead at Optaros, Inc. (www.optaros.com), a consulting and systems integration firm that helps large enterprises solve IT business problems by providing services and solutions that maximize the benefits of open source software.

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