Date Archives October 2011

High‐Definition Video: From Novelty to Normalcy

As David Safaii, VP of marketing and business development for AVI-SPL partner, BurstPoint Networks, offered to sit in as a guest blogger for us, we realized it was an offer we couldn’t refuse!

Based in Westborough, MA, BurstPoint was founded on the belief that video is a robust, yet underutilized, channel for sharing mission-critical information. In his role, Safaii brings over 12 years of experience in the enterprise software industry to BurstPoint, primarily in strategy development and analysis, business development, mergers and acquisitions, and financing initiatives.  

Safaii and his fellow BurstPoint colleagues recently participated with us in an AVI-SPL University webinar series, presenting “Less is More – Increasing Efficiency, Performance and ROI With Comprehensive Video Communications.” If you missed the presentation, feel free to catch the recording by clicking here

As a featured guest blogger, here’s what Safaii offers on the topic of “High-Definition Video: from Novelty to Normalcy”:

News flash: companies no longer need to settle for middle-of-the road video quality when communicating to employees, customers, partners, etc. High-definition (HD) video is now a viable alternative, supporting live streams to thousands of users, with minimal impact to network resources.

 So, why do so many enterprises think that HD video is “off limits” for day-to-day outreach? This is due in part to the vast majority of video communications providers that push video to end users in a few bandwidth-intensive ways: through a switch-based approach; a single media server approach; or via client-side peering software, where companies install software on employees’ computers in order to leverage and consume their assets (such as bandwidth and processing power) so that video may reach its end point.

All of these methods utilize valuable resources, are extremely taxing on a network, are difficult to install, and require a significant amount of time from an IT staff to bless and manage. Additionally, HD video requires greater bandwidth than standard definition, so it should be no surprise that when streaming HD video in a small or medium-sized business using any of the aforementioned methods, it can result in only a limited number of concurrent streams.

This is now a thing of the past. Today’s most forward-thinking vendors are distributing video via another option: a hierarchical distribution architecture. Companies like BurstPoint push video – both live streaming and on-demand – to end users through distributed delivery nodes, which allow video to be driven directly to end users’ computers via the delivery node closest to their locations.

This approach eliminates the need for all video to be pushed through one central server, switch, or employee cluster; ultimately, significantly freeing up network space. With a more effective utilization of network bandwidth, users no longer need to settle for standard-definition video and can use HD video for all their communications outreach – whether it’s for 10 employees or tens of thousands.

As most organizations can attest, using video as a primary means of communication requires a significant behavioral change enterprise-wide. To support this shift and promote adoption, organizations need to meet users’ expectations when it comes to video quality.

Let’s face it, we as consumers have grown accustomed to HD video and the outstanding quality it delivers. For many, anything less just isn’t acceptable. When it comes to video in the corporate world, individuals expect – and deserve – a high-definition video experience, whether it’s for executive-to-executive communications, executive-to-many communications, or many-to-many communications. And because behavioral change is typically enforced via management initiatives, HD video is ideal for executive outreach, as it reinforces the possibilities and power of using video to communicate smarter, faster, and more effectively.

HD video will soon become the standard form of video communications, and in turn, will do its part to transform video from an underutilized tool into a channel for sharing mission-critical information to thousands of people in locations across the globe.

If one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words (according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research), wouldn’t you want that communication to be as impactful as possible? If it’s not that important, just send email…

Let us know your thoughts on this post! Feel free to leave a comment, contact us at 800-282-6733, or send us a line via email at sales@avsipl.com to request a quote!

Finding Common Ground: Can AV and IT Meet in the Middle?

In our exploration of the AV/IT space, we checked in with Joe Andrulis, vice president of global marketing at AMX. His expertise is extensive, and includes over 20 years of experience in marketing and business development of image processing, communications, and monitoring and control systems. In addition, Andrulis has authored several articles on the AMX blog in which he reviews the trends and challenges of finding middle ground between the worlds audiovisual and information technology applications.

In his AMX blog article, “AV Convergence with IT,” Andrulis notes:

Managing a global enterprise of these environments requires tools that support IT expectations of scalability and extensibility.  Whether the resources are internal or outsourced, support personnel need immediate alerts to trouble nodes and direct ability to remotely initiate resolutions. 

He also adds that tools for AV/IT convergence must be built from the following baselines:

  • Network Centric – Components and tools must adhere to IT expectations
  • Open Standards – Avoid proprietary implementations and protocols
  • Scalable – Management tools must support server farms for global deployments
  • Reliable – High availability and rapid break-fix support tools
  • Centrally Managed – Tools must be accessible globally for follow-the-sun support
  • Secure – LDAP integration for access control

In chatting with Andrulis, he had the following to say on this hot industry topic…

Q: For AV professionals, what do you think is the biggest hurdle in working towards AV/IT convergence?

A: The biggest challenge for many AV professionals will be accepting that the IT world’s priorities are different than those of professional AV.  AV professionals take pride in delivering the highest performing systems that a project permitted.  In contrast, to support the enterprise-wide deployment of IT, the IT professional has had to prioritize standardization, maintainability, and cost management above performance.  To achieve the same widespread adoption IT has achieved, AV will need to shift its priorities in a similar way.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge for IT professionals?

A: IT professionals struggle with the reality that pro-AV is not currently governed by industry standards tothe extent the IT world is.  That is gradually changing, but has some way yet to go.  As a result, the inability to deploy and manage AV in ways familiar to them causes them to adopt it less aggressively than they should. 

Further, pro-AV has to account for the interaction between the AV system and the environment in which it is deployed to account for acoustics, lighting, and other environmental effects that have a tremendous impact on the quality of the deployed system.  IT has largely avoided any similar problem by standardizing the deployment environment in ways not really practical for AV.  I can control all the important parameters of my datacenters much more easily than I can for all my conference rooms and auditoriums.

Q: How can end users ultimately benefit from this joint effort?

A. Once the best aspects of IT and AV are combined, AV capabilities will be much more widely available,more uniform in their operation, and more reliable than ever before.  Ultimately, this will allow AV to become the same kind of core enterprise capability that IT is today.

Adds Andrulis: I think becoming more accepting of standards is one of the most important and difficult values for pro-AV to adopt.  For vendors this means greater cooperation and finding other ways to compete beyond unique and proprietary features.  For dealers this means moving away from full custom systems and deploying more uniform system designs, behaviors, and interfaces to permit simpler training and wider adoption.

Thank you for sharing your insight with us! Readers, please feel free to send us a line and let us know what you think about the industry’s progress towards AV/IT convergence!

Learn More at AVI-SPL’s Technology Expo Next Month

AMX’s Joe Andrulis is currently set to present on the topic of AV/IT convergence at AVI-SPL’s Technology University series in Washington, D.C. (Nov. 9) and Long Beach, California (Nov. 16). To learn more about these events and to register, please visit http://www.avispl.com/events/default.asp.

Cisco Unveils TelePresence Solutions for SMB Market

On October 25, Cisco celebrated five years of its TelePresence solutions with a 40-minute online conference call that looked back on the company’s advancements in the field of collaboration and looked forward to new offerings.

The presentation also made a point of countering the perception that telepresence is just for C-level execs of large corporations. That discussion offered a natural segueway into an introduction of Cisco’s TelePresence  MX300, a room-based system it plans to make available in Q1 of 2012.  The speakers touted its convenience and ability to be set up in less than 15 minutes, with one noting that the unit had been set up by a client in as few as five minutes.

Continuing that focus on value for SMBs,  the particpants also introduced Cisco TelePresence Callway, a hosted subscription service that starts at $99 per month and gives businesses unilimited calls to any TelePresence endpoint or standards-based video conferencing endpoint.

In addition, Cisco is offering Jabber video for TelePresence, a free software solution that would allow  users to join TelePresence conference calls from their desktop PCs, laptops and tablets. The beta version is set to be released Q1 of 2012.  

Are you using outdated systems to drive your company’s communications? Call AVI-SPL at 1-800-282-6733 or send an email to sales@avispl.com and find out how we can design a collaboration solution that fits within your budget.

Register Today for GovComm 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Join AVI-SPL next week in Washington D.C., November 1 and 2 for GovComm 11, a showcase of the latest unified communications and video conferencing solutions from leading manufacturers. In addition to seeing the latest technology, you’ll also have the opportunity to network and build new business relationships, learn about the latest application trends and take courses to earn CTS credits.

AVI-SPL will be represented at booth 271. Mike Brandofino, EVP, Video and UC, will lead a panel discussion on cloud computing from 10:30 to noon. During his talk, Mike and the panelists will examine issues related to security, the benefits and tradeoffs of working in the cloud, and the return on investment.

Register today for GovComm 11.

Read the 2011 AVI-SPL Concept Catalog Online

Cover of AVI-SPL Concept Catalog 2011AVI-SPL’s 2011 Concept Catalog has arrived, but you don’t have to wait to pick up a copy of this handsome showcase of our recent AV integrations. Access the digital version of the 2011 Concept Catalog, and start reading case studies of some noteworthy projects and learn about the latest audio video innovations across multiple industries from our manufacturer partners.

The catalog includes our successful AV integrations across corporate, education, government, healthcare, hospitality and house of worship sectors. You’ll learn about solutions for live performance audio and lighting, control of AV devices over IT networks, digital signage, video conferencing and emergency operations centers.

You can also request a hard copy of the 2011 Concept Catalog.