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The promise of AV over IP for the pro AV market

Quick Bio

(Image credit: Netgear)

Name: John McHugh

Position: Senior Vice President and General Manager of Commercial Products

Company: Netgear

Overtime: McHugh spends his weekends woodworking, gardening, and sailing. He says, “California weather is great for growing things all year round, and the San Francisco Bay is spectacular sailing most of the year.”


What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?

JOHN MCHUGH: As the general manager of commercial networking for Netgear, I am responsible for overseeing every aspect of our Ethernet switching, wireless LAN, security, and storage product lines. This includes making sure products are available in thousands of outlets around the world, ensuring our quality is excellent, and releasing new and exciting products that are designed around key trends in the market.

How long have you been in this position?

JM: I have been overseeing commercial networking at Netgear for the last six years. I have seen us roll out Insight, which we believe is the industry’s first app-managed and cloud-connected switches; Orbi Pro, a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mesh network for small-business owners, and 10 Gbps unmanaged switches.

How has your background prepared you for your role?

JM: My fascination with and love for networking goes back to my studies in college. My first job out of school was working on a team designing one of the first network interface cards for “fat” coaxial cable Ethernet … the first Ethernet. Since then I have worked in research and development, operations, marketing, and support at various companies in the networking industry. Twenty years ago I became a general manager and had my first experience running a major organization providing networking products for the global market.

Running the business at Netgear is special because it’s a rather large company, but with a small-company feel. We ensure that our employees regularly interface with end customers, we review all customer escalations on a weekly basis in our staff meetings, and we are developing new tools—like the aforementioned Insight—to allow customers to interface with us directly 24/7.

What are your short- and long-term goals?

JM: Short-term, we are working on educating customers about the power of cloud-managed networking solutions. Buying Netgear networking that is Insight-capable allows a customer to remotely manage and monitor their network. With Insight, you don’t pay anything extra for this capability, and users can either manage the product locally (as they always have), or activate the cloud feature and enjoy all of the benefits of active monitoring.

Embracing IT innovations for AV applications

Long-term, we are expanding our horizons to new applications, especially in the pro AV market. With the emergence of SDVoE (Software-Defined Video over Ethernet), a whole new set of capabilities and applications opens up in the AV market. Netgear has always been a leader in 10 Gbps Ethernet with a wide range of platforms, from low-port-count unmanaged to highly-scalable managed solutions. We are so excited about this market space that we are reworking our roadmaps to offer even more options to our customers.

What is the greatest challenge you face?

JM: Pro AV applications are some of the most challenging in terms of performance and intelligence. Installations where we have to marry 4K video with audio protocols running through the same switching architecture showcases the amazing promise of AV over IP, but it is also the ultimate challenge. We work with many partners who are AV experts and we bring IP networking expertise, but it is really the combination of both knowledge bases that gets these solutions up and stabilized.

What you need to know about AV over IP

This exact challenge is why we created a worldwide pro AV solution design center and staffed it with our top technical experts who have been actively working on AV installations. This team of folks is available, free of charge, to integrators, installers, and solution providers from network design all the way through to shakeout and certification.

Where do you see the pro AV market heading?

JM: The AV market is exploding. There isn’t a single sector in this market that is flat or contracting—large venue, small venue, pro gaming, medical, command and control, public safety, advertising, events, outdoor, etc. The list goes on and on, but the common thread is explosive growth with higher and higher resolution and audio quality. Additionally, AV over IP is opening new capabilities and applications, especially applications that take advantage of dynamic control. With traditional video distribution, you could really only push information in one direction on each line, and those physical connections limited your sources and destinations. With IP networking, data is bidirectional to/from every connected device, and the routing of that data can instantaneously be reconfigured to provide fluid sources of content to unlimited numbers of displays.

How Netgear is supporting the AV over IP transition

Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from Netgear?

JM: In addition to the pro AV solution design center I mentioned, expect announcements from Netgear as we partner with other top pro AV suppliers to make the utilization of IP networking for AV more intuitive and integrated. Netgear moves very quickly and has released five new products in the last month alone targeted at pro AV applications—and customers should expect to see many more in the next year.

How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services you offer?

JM: AV over IP is a game-changer in terms of cost-effectiveness and flexibility. Netgear is using our pro AV solution design center resources to do training and support partners who are interested in understanding how this new technology can be applied to the solutions they are selling today. Integrators should give us a call and we can provide them with training schedules and support for their first deployments using IP networking. Once integrators realize how flexible, cost-effective, and reliable AVoIP can be, they’ll never look back.

AV over IP and other trends in 2020