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AV and IT Convergence Realized Through AV over IP

on December 21, 2017

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As Audio Visual over Internet Protocol (AV/IP) switch systems have been developed allowing the transmission of audiovisual data over an Ethernet connection using standard network equipment, an exciting convergence of AV and IT has emerged. Leveraging this combination, technicians and integrators can use familiar and existing AV switch technology networks to help companies expand their AV capabilities. Expensive port expansions are no longer required since the technology needed for a business to adapt as it grows is already in place. This union precludes scalability and cost concerns that often accompany large scale deployments. AV/IP allows for more adaptable and economic integration and, thanks to the availability of more advanced audiovisual hardware and the ability to send AV streams over IP switches, it’s now easier than ever to deploy.

IP-Based Deployments in the Real World

Greg Aradjan and Diana Hagan of AVNetwork proclaim, “From digital signage to wayfinding, videoconferencing, overflow in large and divisible spaces, broadcasting, and numerous other applications, IP-based deployments can provide significant benefits.” To offer a real world parallel, YouTube is AV/IP incarnate. In the decade since Google acquired YouTube, users looking to consume instant streaming video have skyrocketed and the technology has followed suit.

Using Switches for AV/IP

How does it work? AV/IP preserves traditional AV, but the audio and video data moving through the series of network boxes and cables in the switch system changes from circuit-based to packet-based. While the packet retains the essential AV material from the original file, it also incorporates additional control information like source, destination, and sequence. Organizations are replacing traditional AV with AV/IP-based systems citing the principle that the switch is the foundation of network infrastructure.

Why Switch to AV/IP?

So why make the switch to AV/IP? Great question. In short, AV integrators no longer need to run dedicated cables from the control processor to each individual piece of equipment in order to manage the system from the controller. The lengthy process of pulling an indeterminate number of individual cables, terminating the connectors of those cables and subsequent testing is now, thanks to IP technology, less expensive and time-consuming. Even better, it also facilitates a farther reach from an infrastructure standpoint and is much easier to maintain. With AV/IP, a single Ethernet connection performs many jobs. Among the most important is handling much larger amounts of audio and video data than serial cables, faster and at a higher quality level. With IP control, devices can be managed centrally with fewer points of failure, which streamlines the process and troubleshooting of technical issues.

Security Via Encryption and Digital Key(s)

What about security? There is a mistaken belief that moving from hardwired AV to AV/IP increases security risks, but with today’s encryption and digital key exchange technology, there is no more risk associated with AV/IP than traditional AV. Some encryption options are purpose-built while others reduce openness during transmission. Audiovisual professionals have primarily used circuit switching for AV switching networks and IT has traditionally used packet switching for data networks. To send AV signals into a packet-switched network, the signals must pass through a dedicated encoder which converts the data to a format compatible with IP packets. To receive the AV signals, the display or speaker system must be able to decode those signals. Regardless of the security safeguards in place, integrators must always employ responsible deployment practices for securing audio and video.

Scalability

AV/IP platforms are extremely scalable and can easily be expanded by adding an off-the-shelf IP switch to the existing packet switch network. Ensuring you choose the right switch for your AV/IP system is crucial, in order to ensure the quality stability of the video. Matrix switches enable the availability of multiple sources to be used at many destinations. For example, a PowerPoint presentation originating from a personal computer could be routed from an AV transmitter box to a video matrix switcher. The switcher could be wired to numerous AV receiver boxes that simultaneously display the PowerPoint presentation in real time. AV/IP removes the input/output limitations of traditional AV. Now, companies can scale the number of ports based on their particular requirements and needs. Additionally, unlike traditional hardwired digital transmissions, AV/IP can be transmitted conveniently over copper and fiber optic cables. Most important, scalability is fundamental to cost efficiency for all businesses.

IP network proficiency from IT offers obvious benefits to the AV world. The goal of AV and IT has remained consistent: Maximize the customer’s return of audio and video assets. This shared goal along with intermingled, overlapping systems within the AV/IP network have essentially married AV and IT together. More frequently than in the past, IT departments are being held responsible for the video conferencing and audio systems connected to their networks. On the flip side, AV professionals are using IP systems’ technology, within these networks, relying on different training protocols and experience than IT staff. For a long time, there has been a need for a meeting in the middle among AV and IT providers. The time is now for that meeting to happen while the allegorical irons of synergy are hot regarding AV/IP.  For more information about AV integration services, including AV/IP, be sure to contact HB Communications today.