The buzzword of "convergence" is really happening. I'd say that for the past decade or less it meant something along the lines of, "Hey we can use Cat-5 or Cat-6 to send audio and video...and oh yeah, we can send control commands via IP." That, to me is wimpy convergence. That notion is about as converged as Congress is on the federal budget. It's nice and all, but it's not a true model of full conversion.
Fast-forward from 2003 to now and we have the tools to really do it, and do it right. We can use IGMP and standard networking protocols to send multichannel audio, control commands, power devices via POE, transmit and receive full HD audio or video right through the IDFs... or TRs per the latest BICSI terminology. (By the way, I loved saying "IDF" in meetings way more than saying, "Oh yeah it's in the TR." IDF just sounded cool.)
The trouble with true convergence is that you are now on the network, and to every business big or small, it is a mission-critical piece of their profit scheme—so you can't go and shut down the POS system when you are transmitting video from a laptop to a projector. You should address and treat any company's network as something that is not to be messed with! Look into attaining certifications or training so you are more familiar with networking schemes.
That being said, there will always be some reluctance from IT administrators about the deployment of your fancy AV equipment on their network and there is probably a right way and a wrong way to go about doing it.
The bottom line is that there are many reasons IT personnel may be hesitant to have AV-related media or protocols on their beloved network. I've run into them all over the years, and have had to use a number of methods to assuage the concerns and find enthusiasm. Here are five to run through the ole microprocessor located in between thine eardrums:
1.AV is communications. IT currently administers internet and telephony-based communication methods, so why not absorb AV into your current support infrastructure and leverage the power of networking.
2.Every single AV device will have network control and diagnostic ports on them. (If they don't, they will, as I haven't spec'd out a device with RS-232, IR, or contact closure in years.)
3.AV-related devices are inherently secure and have been scrutinized for network-related security issues for the better part of the last decade.
4.There are vast cost-related savings associated with using network switches in lieu of video matrix switching devices.
5.With the movement of basic processing and videoconferencing to the cloud, AV should be positioned as a network-centric service.
These few ideas might be a good way of garnering support for landing your AV gear on a network, and I've found that saying "like it or not, here we come" doesn't work too well. However, like it or not, we are coming!
Joey D'Angelo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a vice president at Charles M. Salter Associates.