Will AV and IT ever converge?
Audio-over-IP (AoIP) has become the go to method for signal transport in installations, broadcast and live sound applications all over the world. The technology is ubiquitous, influencing the design of just about everything in the signal chain.
Unsurprisingly then, all of the latest research is pointing to more and more integrators choosing a networked approach to distributing audio around their projects. And can you blame them? AoIP provides compelling arguments on both the financial and technical sides of an installation. With AoIP, audio is transmitted as data packets over the network just as anything else would be, meaning that conventional off-the-shelf networking products can normally be used. It is also inherently scalable, providing a platform which can support future growth as systems expand. This stands proud as one of the cornerstones of the argument for AV/IT convergence.
However, there is a fly in the ointment. The conversations we all have about the convergence of AV and IT always highlight the benefits that can be gleaned by running things like audio signals over an existing IT network. But recent research from RH Consulting into the subject shows that this is not happening. According to this research the vast majority of projects, around 70%, still see audio run as a separate network rather than leveraging existing infrastructure.
Did people not get the memo or does it go deeper than this? An IT technician (and more often than not they are the clients nowadays) should appreciate the inherent benefits of a converged approach. But does it really help the audio integrator? I’d reason that the majority would rather their work be judged on its own merits, without having to piggyback on something for which they have no control. Likewise, do businesses actually want multiple mission-critical systems to all run over the same infrastructure? Or is having that single point of failure too much of a risk?
We’ve all been told that AV and IT are converging. It makes sense, we are in a world built on networked data. Yet the evidence suggests that this option is not being embraced as much as it could be. If we want AV/IT convergence to be a reality then we are all going to have to work on communicating the benefits better.