Rocking AV and IT, Or Should I Say Finally Merging the Two (Part Two)

By Corey Moss

Here is part one if you haven’t read it yet.

Whenever there’s talk about IT and convergence in the industry it’s mainly about the network, with subjects ranging from network transport to network security – AV on the network. That’s fine, but then other conversations begin to enter into the equation changing AV/IT to AV-IT and even IT/AV – which begins to bring a murky outlook to the whole discussion, some which for some reason don’t even include IT as part of the overall subject. With that, things will certainly tend to veer in the wrong direction as the industry wants to see AV and IT convergence truly take place after all of these years. The network discussion is for certain one, however it still doesn’t explain a merge, or should I say convergence point.

Here in part two I continue the merge discussion, focusing on QSC’s new technology announcement at ISE 2017, or as the company stated a “Glimpse into the Future of Audio, Video and Control Processing at ISE Amsterdam” – running the existing Q-SYS operating system on a standard Dell server, providing a shift from stand-alone single-purpose proprietary DSP hardware to a highly scalable, standards-based IT platform and architecture.

QSC Dell server

Remember again, from part 1 and my original conversation with TJ Adams as he stated “IT people think of more than just the network, as in ‘I just got audio from here to there,’ and the notion of can one integrate a software layer with other systems that IT cares about.”

Watch TJ Adams in this QSC video from ISE 2017:

He now goes beyond that discussion to talk about the application layer, as well as the fact that you are still talking about Intel processors. De-coupling the software from the hardware is half the message, the familiarity of the Dell server in enterprise IT organizations is the other half. The next step discussion for IT is hybrid architecture and finally, discussion of the power of the network and how devices can “hang off” of the QSC Dell server running on the network.

I reached out to TJ after ISE was over to discuss this with him as he again was the participant in those discussions that I saw at the show. I will admit that TJ is a good friend ever since that conversation in 2015, however after the “hi, how are you” this was contact pointed at this discussion of QSC’s new solution with certain thoughts and questions that I had as well. I speak with people across the world on various subjects and topics, and this was no different in terms of where I sought information. TJ then distributed my e-mail to the team, common practice in many companies, and I was told eventually that Martin Barbour, Product Manager, Installed Systems at QSC would be getting back in touch. A few days later he called, and we discussed this in terms of the questions and thoughts I had posed.

I first discussed a statement that was made in terms of QSC doing the prep work as well as having discussion with the customer as well, and secondly would AV integrators want to sell the new Dell server solution vs. the Core 110f and software – even though, again, it was stated that QSC would do prep and work along with the integrator and customer?

Barbour stated, “We see our announcement as the first phase in a multi-stage process of integrating the AV industry with the IT industry. While our Dell Server / Technology Announcement represents a fundamental milestone on the journey toward true AV/IT convergence, we are intentionally breaking that journey down into a number of small steps to help our customers make this transition. For us, it’s ‘business as usual,’ meaning we plan to sell pre-packaged Dell server running the Q-SYS-OS through our existing sales channel and will use as many of our existing workflows and systems as possible. This will be key to making it a smooth business transition for all involved. We certainly intend to provide guidance and support to those customers or end users who are interested in this technology, but we have no intention of bypassing the AV integrators in those discussions. We simply intend to support them in any way we can.”

He continued, “We embarked upon this product development effort because we noticed several customers, end users and AV integrators were ready for a solution like this. They want to leverage existing IT infrastructure and services to provide AV functions without requiring several pieces of bespoke hardware or networking technology and therefore adding unnecessary complications to their projects. This has been the bedrock of our product development efforts since the inception of Q-SYS over a decade ago. However, we fully understand that there are integrators and end users out there for whom this technology shift is less interesting. We understand that and will continue to offer AVC (audio, video and control) solutions that fit their needs, but for those AV integrators and customers who want to push the envelope, we believe firmly that embracing IT technology and adapting it to the needs of AV is the right way to go.”

Our next discussion focused on IT integrators, and if they would be more in favor of such a solution to drive and sell vs. AV integrators, in particular those who may not be in any type of IT-facing mode. His response was direct and in short very favorable to the AV integrator. “While our Q-SYS Dell technology will certainly be of interest to IT integration companies who are looking to build AV skillsets in their business, our immediate focus is on the AV integrator delivering this solution to the end customer. We believe AV integrators that are most likely to capitalize on AV/IT convergence are already investing in (or working towards) IT skillsets in house. By that, I mean more than employing an AV engineer with good network design and troubleshooting skills – they are building full IT departments that are able to design, deploy, troubleshoot and service IT infrastructure services including security, access, asset management and of course, AV.” Barbour said.

Notice Martin Barbour’s overall conversation which even includes discussion of IT skillsets to go along with convergence. It’s in these messages in this part, following up TJ Adams’ discussion from 2015 in part one, that begins to detail how AV is truly merging, or converging with IT in a much more concentrated way than may have ever been understood before.

And of course, it’s still not about the box.

This will continue to Part 3, and further conversation with Martin Barbour.

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