Top 3 Areas A/V over IP Can Have an Immediate Impact at Your Company

Are you thinking of making the shift to A/V over IP, but you aren’t quite sure where your investment will have the best payoff? Industry experts say that there are three system-wide areas where A/V over IP can have an immediate, positive impact, and they aren’t limited to any one platform: scalability, flexibility, and diversity. As you evaluate your organization’s needs and available resources, consider the advantages you could gain in these three areas to ensure you haven’t underestimated the potential rewards.

 

Scalability

Today’s requirements are important, but don’t overlook what tomorrow might bring. “It helps to have enough sufficient bandwidth long-term to accomplish not only what you want initially, but the demands that are forthcoming,” says Michael Schwartz, principal consultant at Deliberative Designs Consulting in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “There are more demands being dumped on the network all the time.” Many legacy applications have less sensitive requirements when it comes to delivery times, but supporting real-time distribution of A/V content requires a more robust network. When your infrastructure must meet increasingly demanding mission critical needs, an IP solution scales more efficiently than traditional configurations. “You’re sending out drops to IP addresses over the network in different buildings or different cities…but it’s absolutely critical that the signal arrives within a certain latency window,” Schwartz explains. “It really helps to have an IT group within a corporation that can appreciate what those demands are beyond the typical office IT demands.” An IP network’s scalability refers not only to how much A/V content it can support — it’s also an important factor when it becomes necessary to add locations, either to increase the density of access points within a static environment or to branch out to new sites. “Because IP networks have become so commonplace throughout many facilities, it enables users, and of course installers, the ability to leverage existing infrastructure to transport audio and video,” says Paul Krizan, product manager, network media products at Richardson, Texas-based AMX. Rather than investing in all the components needed to expand a classic A/V solution, an IP environment allows administrators to consolidate equipment purchases and take advantage of shared cabling, networking equipment, and other hardware.

 

 Flexibility

The ubiquitous nature of IP networks means that installers and system administrators are able to leverage existing infrastructure to support their audio and video needs, but the flexibility doesn’t stop there. “For users, it also creates the ability to store and retrieve content on-demand, and the ability to access A/V content on their Android or iPhone, purchase, and displays,” Krizan says. Remote management of A/V sources and content is enabled once everything is hooked into the wider network, and “as more A/V projects, especially in commercial environments, are brought under management of IT departments, it allows IT managers to view and manage A/V devices alongside printers or other IT devices,” Krizan says. As user needs evolve and grow, the flexibility of an IP network means that the right level of support will continue to be available, and organizations don’t need to feel limited when it comes to adding new technologies. “They may start out with video distribution,” Schwartz says, which he explains can easily operate alongside solutions that are added later, such as the delivery of real-time audio. And even though each platform may have specific requirements for “quality of service, timing issues, and packet throughput,” new components can be incorporated into the network as needed.

Diversity

One network, multiple platforms. Advances in technology have produced a wide array of options to meet end user needs, and Schwartz believes that today’s A/V demands are no longer limited to just one medium. “I would say video over IP is becoming the single largest for me,” Schwartz says, “but I know that VoIP totally eclipses that.” Because companies can use their network infrastructure to support a much larger range of A/V technologies than in the past, it’s possible to leverage as many different systems as your team needs. It’s possible for IT administrators to support whichever technologies end users need, because, as Krizan says, IP networks can “transport audio, video, and multimedia content” from multiple sources to a range of endpoints that might include remote locations and even mobile devices. And as employees travel more widely and frequently, the ability to access A/V solutions through the corporate network helps to maximize efficiency. “If a user can make the content available on-demand, they can make the content available at a time and place convenient for them and their staffers,” Krizan says.

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