Distributing audio and video signals over the IT network is an innovative approach that allows for flexible, configurable and scalable installations, which can be easily controlled and centrally managed.
AV over IP simplifies traditional AV signal distribution and in some cases is less costly to deploy, especially when taking advantage of an existing corporate network infrastructure by removing the need to run dedicated AV cabling. Even when running a dedicated AV network, the return on investment is not hard to justify, with largely unlimited scalability and very low-failure rates on the hardware.
As Marathon prepares to launch our new services for AV over IP, I wanted to share three of the key considerations we identified, for both IT resellers and AV Specialists, looking to capitalise on this growing trend.
1. Design for the Network
It sounds obvious, but the number 1 priority for successful deployments of AV over IP systems is the network infrastructure itself - Cheap and cheerful switching and cat5 cabling is not the way-forward. Selecting the right calibre of switch and installing quality CAT6 cabling infrastructure is of paramount importance, to fully realise the benefits of this technology and cope with the demands of video over the network.
Of course, before one even gets into thinking about a new AV network or using the existing infrastructure, one needs to understand what demands are likely to be put on it. Is it HD/1080p or 4K content? Is it full motion video or static Powerpoint or images? Will any latency affect how the system is used - Live presentations/lectures? What encoding algorithms are being used, H.264, JPEG2000, SDVoE? How many encoders are likely to be on a single switch - All these questions will help point to the correct network design.
Putting aside the obvious benefits of utilising the existing network infrastructure for a moment, many deployments of AV over IP use dedicated AV switch(es). This approach removes any potential conflict or resistance, away from the corporate LAN. It also provides the integrator with full-autonomy of how the system is setup and supported - of particular importance if the network support is outsourced to a 3rd party. For example, a link between the AV and Corporate LAN can be managed, to provide access to the internet for remote support and other tasks.
That said, generally all networked AV solutions on the market have been designed to meet the strict demands of the Network Manager. Offering familiar terminology, IT features and certainly at HD/1080p, will sit quite happily on the existing network, albeit on a dedicated AV-VLAN. It is therefore critical that any additional “load” on the network is identified at the outset and the existing network topography is fully understood, before trying to deploy the solution on a live network.
2. Control It – Secure it
As many in technology circles will be aware, AV and IT is becoming intrinsically linked, with more and more devices sitting on the IT network, whether this be simply for remote monitoring or control or indeed active network components capable of signal distribution. There has been some shocking real-world examples of what happens when it goes wrong, according to recent media coverage*. However, with the right-knowledge and understanding, these types of incidents can and should be avoided.
3. Work with the right people
IT resellers that identify AV over IP opportunities, often find that they don’t have enough knowledge of AV systems to design a complete solution outside of identifying the network requirements. Whereas many AV dealers who will be asked to deploy this technology, see IT networking is a dark-art and have limited, (if any), IT networking knowledge within their engineering teams. Whichever category you fall into, we, at Marathon have the AV and networking expertise to help. We provide a fully qualified support network for resellers looking to pre-configure, deploy and support a wide range of AV over IP projects.
I hope you found these insights useful. Why not talk to the team about how we can help your business take advantage of this growing market trend.