It’s More Than the Network

network-tjadams-1115By TJ Adams
Director of Installed Systems Products Management, QSC

Let’s be honest — there are a million ways one could describe AV and IT integration. It’s true that in this day and age, we can now control just about every device via the network, make our phone calls via the network and route our audio and video using the network (and only a few projects thus far truly accomplish all three). So what does “AV/IT convergence” really mean?

Most answers will land around IT infrastructure simply meaning “the network.” The truth is, that’s not at all what it means. It’s so much more than the network.

So, let’s start with a definition — the way IT defines it.

The term IT infrastructure is defined in a standard called Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) v3 which is a combined set of hardware, software, networks, facilities, systems, etc. (including all of the information technology), in order to develop, test, deliver, monitor, control or support IT services. Associated people, processes and documentation are not considered part of IT Infrastructure.

What’s important for an AV professional to extract from the definition is the concept of hardware, software, networks and facilities all being part of IT infrastructure.

Let’s take a look at two examples:

1. Monitoring — Centralized and Simplified

The ability to centrally manage and monitor all network assets and systems is a major concern for IT. AV solutions need to tie into standard software programs with SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) that allows for centralized managing and monitoring.

Spiceworks offers a free network monitoring tool that would allow for AV solutions with built-in SNMP to be monitored and allow IT to catch problems before the users do. No more emergencies, just real time monitoring and management. One should be proactive, and not reactive.

Other management software platforms used by IT are LANDESK, SolarWinds or HP BTO (Business Technology Optimization) software. These programs are much more robust when compared to browser-based access to a single device.

2. Contact Directory

IT professionals also need AV products to integrate with LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). LDAP can be used to store the enterprise contact directory service. Directory services allow access to information about users, systems, and applications, among others. This capability matters because it allows end users to dial by name instead of number in a conference room.

Understanding It’s More Than the Network

At QSC, we’re working to align its AV solutions with how IT works. For example, IT is accustomed to appliances that host specific software-based applications. In the IT professional’s mind, these applications should function at multiple network layers. IT does not just think about the network layers that AV focuses on. AV has a hard time thinking past the first three layers. IT really thinks a lot about layers three and above — especially the application layer.

It’s Not About the Box; It’s About the App

This is where QSC diverges from other products. Typical AV products have limited or single applications, i.e., the box is the application. The box is a telephony application or a networked audio distribution application — that’s all it does. With QSC, however, the box itself runs the applications.

The Q-SYS Platform can run a VoIP app, it can run an AEC app, or it can run a networked audio app all at the same time. Any of these apps can be assigned to various network segments. This flexibility allows the IT person to work with their AV partner to construct an operating file that accommodates their specific needs.

The QSC Q-SYS Core 110f DSP Appliance is built for the corporate AV market because it delivers true integration — workaround free — with IT systems, software, and the network.

Watch this short video with TJ Adams, QSC product manager and rAVe’s Corey Moss to learn more about the approach:

It’s not just the Core 110, it’s all of the Cores.