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AV/IT: we need to communicate

Recalling the famous words of Sun Microsystems’ John Gage – “The network is the computer” – Volker Löwer of IFB Consulting began his presentation at InfoComm’s “Interfacing between IT and AV” conference at ISE 2017 yesterday by suggesting that, today, “the network is the media system”.

However, he pointed out, there is much misunderstanding: it is, for example, too easy to assume that everything is data, so we can put it on the network. Löwer took this a step further, claiming that “not everything that looks like a network is indeed a network”.

Using HDBaseT as an example, he explained how, just because the requirement was to move an AV signal from a transmit point to a receive point didn’t mean that it could pass through the switches and routers typical of an IT network. He also noted the constraints placed on network management by protocols such as Dante.

Löwer went on to describe the differing requirements of the primary users of the network – the IT organisation – and the requirements of the AV application. Latency, for instance, is a key concern for AV, while conserving bandwidth is a preoccupation for IT.

He went on to describe how, in his view, IT organisations often appeared not to care about the specific requirements of AV devices – while AV professionals tend to be unconcerned by the demands of network management.

“So,” asked Löwer. “How do we make things better?”

His recommendation was that communication between the IT and AV teams was essential, with a full and frank exchange of requirements and preconditions.

“Both sides,” he said, “need to understand the issues facing the other side, and work together to find feasible, effective, robust solutions.”

The session then moved on to a case study of the challenges overcome by UNIDO in Vienna, followed by a highly interactive and stimulating panel discussion.