Not that long ago, audio and video components and IT systems were distinct elements of the corporate environment that intersected in only limited ways. Each had its own connectivity requirements and was administered by specialists who only understood their domain.

Those distinctions are virtually eliminated now. Audio and video conferencing systems, digital signage, and more now attach to the data network. Administrators must understand not only the requirements of Audio & Video equipment but the impact that equipment has on IT systems.

That’s a challenge for many Audio & Video professionals. Most have had relatively limited exposure to data networking requirements, making it difficult to integrate Audio & Video and IT systems. 

Audio & Video equipment still has its own, unique protocols. In terms of audio, for example, Dante is commonly used for media networking. Dante enables the distribution of uncompressed multichannel digital audio over Ethernet networks with low latency. It is relatively easy to set up and configure and is supported by many manufacturers of professional-grade audio equipment.

But just because Dante is simple from an audio perspective doesn’t mean there aren’t complexities when it comes to the data network. Dante is by default a unicast data flow, which can cause problems if Internet Group Protocol Management (IGPM) Snooping isn’t configured properly on the data network switch. 

There are other protocols to consider as well. As we discussed in a previous post, the Audio Video Bridging (AVB) standard that enables the delivery of Audio & Video streaming services over Ethernet must be supported by every network switch within that domain. The implementation of multicast networks to support audio and video conferencing and other use cases comes with its own set of network design considerations.

Someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing can cause network performance problems or in a worst-case scenario even bring down the network. We obviously want to avoid that at all costs, so we sometimes set up a separate, dedicated network infrastructure for running Audio & Video systems. If we’re able to work closely with the customer’s networking team, we can also set up a separate VLAN for Audio & Video equipment.

Increasingly, however, Audio & Video systems need to integrate with the IT infrastructure. This is primarily due to the adoption of soft codec video conferencing systems that run on a PC or Mac Mini rather than dedicated hardware. The benefit of this approach is that it’s very lightweight and less expensive. But let’s say you want to use an iPad or a touch panel to control that video conferencing system. The controller has to be on the same subnet as the PC, and it has to access the Internet because it’s a web-based service. The controller isn’t going to be bandwidth-intensive but you still have to ensure that the network is configured properly for performance and security.

That’s why working with Rahi Systems on Audio & Video projects is so beneficial. We have a team of Audio & Video specialists with extensive, hands-on experience in the latest technologies, and engineers with industry-leading expertise in the design and implementation of enterprise-class networks. These two groups collaborate as needed to deliver an end-to-end solution for our customers.

Today’s Audio & Video solutions connect to the data network, and are increasingly integrated with the IT infrastructure. Rahi Systems has the expertise to ensure that these diverse systems work well with one another.

Keith has more than 20 years of experience in the A/V industry. He began programming Creston equipment in 1998, and recently became one of about 1,000 people worldwide to receive the Crestron National Programmer certification. He has been an A/V engineer since 2015, and is planning to obtain training and certification in networking technologies.

About Rahi

Rahi is a subsidiary of Wesco Distribution, a Fortune 200 Company with operations in 50+ countries and annual revenues over USD 19B. Rahi delivers comprehensive data centre solutions for global enterprises, hyperscalers, and multi-tenant data centres. Rahi provides IOR, local currency billing, and RMA services, enabling businesses to operate efficiently anywhere.
Since being acquired in Nov. 2022, Rahi’s global presence and analytical expertise help clients achieve their business and IT requirements.

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