AV versus IT ... why does this have to be such an “us against them” concept? It shouldn’t be and it doesn’t have to be. Take it from an AV guy who is now working for an IT company.
I’ve spent a heck of a lot of years in the AV industry. I lived in broadcasting, video post-production, and equipment manufacturing. I know what I know and I am confident about that knowledge. I am also confident that there is a lot I don’t know when it comes to networking. One thing I’ve learned along the way is to not be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
Ask for Help
Now when you do ask for help, you need to be sure you present the fact that you know about X, but are unsure about Y. What I mean is, if you are an AV professional, be confident about your AV knowledge, but don’t be afraid to ask an IT professional for some help in sorting out this new AV over IP landscape.
By the same token, the knowledgeable IT professionals must have some room for AV in their world these days, too. It is not a matter of if IT will be asked about AV over IP, it is certainly when. And the more we all understand how to approach these installations, the better the outcome will be for our end customers. Don’t forget—it is them we are trying to please and improve the experience, right?
Ok, so, here are some hints on how to work toward a more pleasant AV over IP deployment.
Recognize Each Other
In many corporate installs, the AV team has to recognize that the IT admins are reluctant to add an “unknown” switch to their network. They will tell you about broadcast storms, flooding, and other biblical plagues. And they are often right, though—you cannot just plug anything into a network.
There are a host of great switch vendors to choose from these days. Some are well known in the IT world, some are not. Very few actually make their products easy for the AV and IT teams to install and configure alongside existing infrastructure because they cater to their own, well-trained IT specialists.
It is important for the AV team to explain that they need to use switches that are certified or approved by the AV equipment vendors. This will help the IT team to realize that the AV system is designed to work together and will not require Herculean efforts to setup and install. Approved switches from companies who also sell into the IT world make it even easier, as the IT admins can rest assured there are features to help them with security and other very important aspects of deploying network systems.
The AV team also needs to do some research and reach out to the switch vendors who offer system design help to understand the best practices used in the IT world. This will ensure that when you present your system design to the IT admin involved in your project, they will understand and respect that you have taken things into consideration that mean a lot to them.
AV over IP or multicasting is something that makes many IT admins shudder. Likely because they have had an experience in the past where some AV person simply connected an encoder to the network and it flooded the network, effectively shutting down the entire network. That’s not a good way to win the confidence of an IT admin.
Realizing there is more to AV over IP than just plugging something in, as is the case with many AV installs in the past, there are many switch vendors, like Netgear, who are making things easier. Find a product that takes the pain out of initial setup, by enabling many of the protocols and settings required for proper multicasting out of the box. This means that when deploying AV over IP on a corporate network, your IT admin will be thankful for not flooding the network and you will be thankful everything works.
Finally, it is very important for both sides to understand who “owns” what part of the system. The IT team rightly deserves to monitor, upgrade, and inventory the AV network using their preferred management tools. Equally as important, the IT team must recognize that the AV team has done the research to find the best multicasting solution to accomplish the task and satisfy the customer requirements.
There. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?