I think one of the lesson we learned from the evolution – revolution, if you want to call it that – of voice-over-IP that IT folks had to learn was to incorporate voice; the way to properly incorporate voice into their networks was to basically put the voice on a separate V-LAN. And I think that the AV industry is now kind of toying with whether or not video needs to be in a separate V-LAN, segregated from the rest of the network. Do you think that the idea of using a V-LAN is going to both give a feeling of comfort to the IT folks and at the same time kind of guarantee that bandwidth is there and available for the video regardless of whether it’s low bandwidth or high bandwidth? Is the idea of using a V-LAN an important concept?
Ron: I think definitely it is. It’s related to the last question for sure. I mean managing that bandwidth and, you know, maybe separating the video LAN or the AV outside of the data LAN, if you will. So having a video LAN or V-LAN and having a data – a local area network if often a way of dealing with this today. But at the same time I don’t think there’s any question that AV will cross that IT or data network line too. And to some degree it’s already been happening for some time now. If we take, for example, like I think you mentioned it, IP phones. You know, the old analog PBX is long gone and has been replaced by the network and voice-over-IP. And generally speaking that’s running on the standard data LAN these days. Additionally the use of things like WebEx or Go to Meeting and applications like that that mix live and interactive audio and video over IP as well as today’s IP-enabled video conferencing systems all show that mixed AV and IT is currently happening on the network. Both the LAN and over the Internet. So with the advance of networking and capacity of the network its branches and trunks all going an 10-gigabit and soon at 25-gigbit, there’s more room for AV and IT to live together on the same network and not interrupt each experience for the users on whatever they’re addressing whether it’s AV or just data. At the same time AV continues to grow in capacity and feature set. So we went from standard definition to full HD and obviously that implies a higher bandwidth that you’re sending AV over IT with. And then you move to what’s happening now which is the emergence of 4K and driving 4K across the network, and then in the future even driving 8K. So it’s demanding more and more bandwidth even if the network bandwidth is growing by leaps and bounds and heading to 25G and more like I mentioned before. So I really believe that we’ll see more and more mixed AV and IT networks, but there will also continue the sort of standard where you do have a separate V-LAN and that really depends on what it is, the video that you’re sending and the AV that you’re sending across the network. And you might end up with a certain limited video on the standard data network and then where you’re really pushing high-end or high-quality video maybe that goes to a V-LAN. So at the same time there’s some organizations who want to maintain a clear separation of AV and IT networks no matter what the content or capacity of the network. This is not only owing to the often-discussed topics of security and mission-critical nature of the enterprise network and the data and making sure that everybody gets their data quickly and efficiently and so on, but it’s also sometimes simple reasons that are keeping the different specialists involved without sort of subordinating one function or the other and maybe also to evolve the different networks and capabilities at different intervals or speeds. So maybe the data network is evolving at a different rate than the AV network so maybe that’s a reason to sort of keep them separated because okay, you can maintain your data network with adding 10 users relatively easy, but you can’t maintain your AV network by adding 10 streams of 1080p or even 4K uncompressed data without really updating that network. So there’s a lot of reasons to sort of keep them separate but at the same time there’s a lot of new technology that allows you to combine them and depending in the level of bandwidth that you’re consuming with the video that makes it possible to combine that AV and IT network together.
One of the things that I’ve noticed when I’ve talked to people as a guy that came over from the IT side to into the AV side when I go to tradeshows and talk to people about transporting video over IP networks, it seems to me that sometimes people forget that if I’ve got a gigabit switch that has 24 ports on it it’s not really capable of just one gigabit per second, it’s got 12 what we used to call conversation paths through the switch. And the switches today are always built to handle all 12 gigabits at the same time. So in a certain sense when you do that segregation with V-LAN’s, even though you have one physical network with one set of cabling and one set of switches, you can create three or four or five separate gigabit networks to handle various kinds of video and various kinds of data.
Ron: I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. You’re right. There’s – I mean I’m not necessarily sure that like the lower cost, lower – maybe lesser brand names I guess of switches may not have that back plane that fully supports every single port on the switch.
Ron: But honestly, yeah. Certainly the Cisco ones, the key brand names that you see out there and the prices that they used to be at, they’re all coming down and they give you exactly what you’re saying, Phil. That back plane that allows you to switch fully across all the ports.
So it becomes very much a question of good design.
Ron: Yeah. Absolutely.
Well, while we’re talking about IT-related concepts and how they’re affecting video-over-IP, how do you think people generally see the features of your coders and decoders?
Dave: I think that a lot of people that look our product still review them from the tech spec, the hardware spec point of view. But the reality is that the way that they should be looking at them, and you start to see that with the more modern people who are coming on board, they should be looking at it from the software and the control and manageability point of view. So obviously the hardware has to meet the requirements, but beyond that you have to have the right type of user experience and control software to accomplish your goal. So by basing yourself on open standards, the hardware helps to guarantee the interoperability and that’s great. But we’re also creating, for example, if our product aside from the open-standard support and all the hardware requirement story, we create a hierarchical system of software for our users so that we go from out-of-the-box with extreme ease-of-use, no customization application layers to easy-to-program API’s that are one layer under that so that you know they can start to do basic customization or even developer-grade libraries that allow them to do deeper customization. So this allows people to develop products that really, really hit square and center the type of use case that they’re going after. The IT people embrace our product because it avoids vendor lock-in by being open-standard and we are able to give them the ability to customize and reach those features and that customization that they want so they can get exactly what they need for their network. Interoperability mindset is also the foundation for our alliances with world-leading software companies who develop signage software, video management systems software, streaming media servers, collaboration solutions, distance learning and on and on, you know, through all of our software partners. And the reason why we can bring all that value is because of those API’s and the way that we expose our software. Last but not least maybe to come back a little bit to the hardware side of things we have a lot of optimization in our designs that really allow it to reach those corner case means which are extremely valuable for some people, like the guys who are seeking out the low latency where we can hit less than 50 milliseconds glass-to-glass. Where people who need most perfect quality detail over their networks at 4K, 4:4:4. We offer solutions that can do that at low bit rate and at low latency and they don’t need to require special networking knowledge or skills or equipment. They can do it all on standard gigabit Ethernet, the solutions. And so we bring all those types of solutions and IT people make it a one-stop shop with one product that fits a lot of needs from them.
I again want to thank Dave Chiappini from Matrox and Ron Berty from Matrox for spending this time with me. In our third session we’ll discuss device security, a cost cutting feature of Matrox decoders and where Matrox sees AV over IP headed in the future. I hope the discussion we’ve had is useful to our listener. Thanks very much for joining us.
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