Plan for Scalability when Implementing A/V Systems

Scalability is a critical concern in today’s IT environment. Given the accelerating pace of demand for IT services, organizations must ensure that systems can scale in terms of performance and capacity without forklift upgrades. Organizations need a well-architected environment that makes it possible to implement new solutions rapidly and integrate them with the existing infrastructure. By Marcus Doran – VP & GM at Rahi Systems Europe.

Audio/visual (A/V) technology has become an essential component of day-to-day operations in many organizations. However, it is often implemented without adequate consideration for scalability and management.

This is due in part to the hardware-centric nature of traditional A/V equipment. These devices have fixed numbers of source and destination channels per unit, meaning that you have to add an entire unit just to add one more channel.

Furthermore, legacy A/V systems are difficult to install and maintain, and require specialized cables. Traditional A/V cabling also has distance limitations — official standards call for a maximum run of 5 meters (about 16.5 feet) for Digital Visual Interface (DVI) and 15 meters (about 49 feet) for DisplayPort. Other signaling methods do not have a defined maximum distance but real-world experience dictates a maximum of 150 feet for many types of A/V cabling.

In other words, flexibility and scalability are not part of the design of traditional A/V systems. However, as more and more A/V equipment becomes IP-enabled, organizations have an opportunity to leverage IT design and architectural techniques within the A/V environment.

A/V over IP helps to overcome the limitations of legacy A/V systems. Audio, video, data and control systems are combined within the data network, enabling sources and destinations to be connected in virtually any combination and devices to be added when and where needed. You can leverage the existing network cabling plant and switches — and the in-house expertise in those technologies. Installation and maintenance are simplified.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you should take an ad hoc approach to A/V implementation. Careful planning will help ensure that the A/V infrastructure will scale as demand increases, and provide a consistent user experience across the organization.

The first step is to consider not only the immediate project but the long-term needs of your organization. As with IT planning, this entails the development of a technology roadmap that defines strategic objectives and identifies functional needs and priorities. How many conference and huddle rooms do you have today and how frequently are they occupied? How many more will you need as your organization grows? Do you anticipate the need for training facilities or a customer demo area? What about digital signage or interactive kiosks in remote locations?

Once you’re considered what you’ll need to remain competitive three to five years down the road, select A/V technologies that are scalable and interoperable. This will provide investment protection and minimize the cost of upgrades.

Rahi’s team of A/V experts can help you develop an effective A/V strategy. We have worked with some of the world’s largest organizations to define A/V standards that can be replicated across the enterprise. In some instances, the standards we helped develop during their startup phase are still used by these organizations today.

Many organizations only engage A/V experts when it comes to the design of a corporate board room, customer experience center or other high-end facility. Rahi Systems can help you plan for scalability when implementing A/V systems, saving you time and money and creating a more agile environment.

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