Thanks to scalability, flexibility, and ease of deployment and management, AV over IP (opens in new tab) continues to gain popularity among integrators and tech managers in corporate environments. These solutions must meet both their present-day business requirements and accommodate their collaborative needs well into the future.
AVoIP today sits at the core of an increasing number of corporate installations. In addition to the value they offer for presentation and collaboration in meeting spaces and conference rooms, the costs of developing and deploying compression technologies has substantially decreased, as have and the costs of purchasing and implementing network technologies. This makes the timing right for integrators and the enterprise-level tech managers serving the corporate market to accelerate away from more stringent circuit-based systems.
The basics of AV over IP infrastructure (opens in new tab)
Here are several key considerations to get the most out of enterprise-level AV over IP deployments.
In new construction, one of the first questions is: will this be a 1Gb or 10Gb network? 10Gb networks are costlier, and they offer the benefit of uncompressed video transport. (Advantages of a 10Gb Ethernet network backbone (opens in new tab).) However, it’s not viable to continually expand video resolution without an eventual compression stage. Some AVoIP platforms perform very light compression—often referred to as visually lossless compression—where viewers can’t detect any artifacts in the image over less expensive 1Gb networks.
1Gb vs. 10Gb Ethernet: Which is right for your AV network? (opens in new tab)
AV over IP isn’t limited to new networks. In large facilities where the network infrastructure is already in place, AV over IP will operate over Category 5E cable, for example, eliminating the need to run Category 6 cabling. That reduces the investment both in new technology and the integration labor.
Multicasting versus Unicasting
Multicasting is nothing new in the AV over IP space, and remains the primary delivery method. With multicasting, the encoder sends a stream to a specific multicast group address that is then delivered to the IGMP querier. The decoder than requests that stream while the querier forwards that traffic to the network.
Multicasting isn’t the only solution, however. If you’re streaming to a wide area network (WAN) and multicasting isn’t an option, the best solution is to unicast to a media server, but heavier compression would be required over a WAN.
Most large-scale AV over IP deployments incorporate a digital signal processing (DSP) component for audio management. AV over IP platforms like Atlona’s OmniStream (opens in new tab) that stream AES67 audio natively from their encoders have the ability to stream audio directly out to the DSP. This means there is no need for additional third-party devices in this configuration. With AES67, routing and distribution of both video and audio is achieved seamlessly and with interoperability over the network.
One the network infrastructure is mapped and the devices present in each space are identified, it’s time to discuss control. Where control was once something of an AV over IP outlier, the technology is now a seamless part of the broader ecosystem.
With AV control moving to IP, the gateway sits on the network along with the controller. This simplifies everything from the initial configuration process to replicating room designs for new spaces. It also greatly reduces the infrastructure by eliminating larger numbers of separate processors to serve a large enterprise system.
[The Technology Manager's Guide to the State of AV Over IP (opens in new tab)]
Beyond that, some solutions have the ability to convert networking controls into an RS-232 signal to control a display. This removes the need to run a separate RS-232 cable from the processor all the way to the display; instead, the same Ethernet cable that the decoder is using can be applied. In this configuration, the RS-232 port is connected at the decoder and into the display, and the control happens via that decoder.
Moving forward with the adoption of AV over IP (opens in new tab)
For large enterprise rollouts, it’s becoming less and less a question of “will we choose to go with AV over IP?”—companies now understand that when it comes to distribution, AVoIP offers the flexibility and scalability required in order to support their conference rooms, huddle spaces, and meeting facilities, while at the same time eliminating the need for the support technologies required with other AV distribution methods. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides organizations with a reliable, future-proof solution that will stand the test of time