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SME '19: Colin Sandy Says Streaming and AV Are Converging and Clashing

Learn more about A/V and streaming at Streaming Media's next event.

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to this second day of Streaming Media East 2019. I'm Tim Siglin, contributing editor with Streaming Media Magazine, and the founding executive director of the not for profit Help Me! Stream, and today I'm very happy to have with me Colin Sandy. Colin your company's Sandy Audio Visual?

Colin Sandy: That's right.

Tim Siglin: Down in the D.C area, right?

Colin Sandy: That's right, we're in Laurel, Maryland, which is a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Tim Siglin: Okay, and before we came on air, you were talking about a number of different projects you've done both up here in New York, as well as you know down in the D.C. area. You said streaming is a fairly big component of you're business and I come out of AV integration as well so, I'm just really curious from your stand point how streaming and sort of traditional A/V in the classroom, and in the boardroom are merging together, and where you see sort of the symbioses there?

Colin Sandy: Sure, I think it's some what a merger and a clash, and the clash is really with the people because now have the IT faction and the AV faction and we have to work together and play nice.

Tim Siglin: One of my jokes, even ten years ago, was talking about packet size versus one volt peak-to-peak, and having people in the room not understanding those two different pieces. So are the IT people the streaming people or the IT people just the gateway's controllers to the network?

Colin Sandy: Well, they're really the gateway controllers to the network. You kind of have this tension between network command controls security from the IT side, and bandwidth reliability, scalability on the AV side, you want to make sure your packets aren't slowed down. There's no packet manager making things be jittery, what-have-you; you want the picture-perfect video experience. But not have to jump through the hoops of super-curious firewall configuration with any of that stuff.

Tim Siglin: NAT translations and that type of thing.

Colin Sandy: Exactly.

Tim Siglin: So it's been probably six seven years since I did heavy AV integrations. In that period of time, network administrators really weren't comfortable doing VLANs; they wanted you to put your own switches in. These days do you find that you can coexist on the same Cisco switch just as a VLAN, and have your content move that way around the local area network?

Colin Sandy: Generally not, unless you have an AV manager or an IT manager that is very savvy with AV, or that is kind of straddling--they're in charge of the AV and the IT in their facility. These days, usually, I've noticed manufacturers are starting to do this now--kind of put a firewall on their product where you have the AV LAN side and you have the IT management side of it so they can coexist just in the device itself. But I found that the shared router tends not to work out too well because the policies kind of conflict sometimes. between AV and the IT side.

Tim Siglin: So we're still in the world of overlay networks?

Colin Sandy: Absolutely.

Tim Siglin: Okay, got it. When you talk about streaming out of the firewall--say, corporate environment or educational environment pushing it out-- what sort of issue do you run into with the IT department there, because they may have a set amount of band width that they use for their traditional email, FTP, blackboard, learning management systems, and then you're coming along saying, "Hey, I want to shove a bunch of data down this pipe."

Colin Sandy: Sure, I can give you a concrete example. There's a state judiciary that we do work for and their concern really was impacting their network where employees--judges, lawyers, etc.--would be looking at the content and slowing down the rest of the network for email and FTP and all the traditional services. So what they ended up doing and was using Riverbed in their system to manage the traffic so you wouldn't impact expediency either.

Tim Siglin: Do you have a network traffic shaping tool in there to do that?

Colin Sandy: Absolutely.

Tim Siglin: Then, do you ever find that what they've asked you to put in is going to raise the amount of external capacity that they need in terms of the data pipe size overall, or do you fit within the constraints of what, if they say we have a OC3 you fit in that?

Colin Sandy: Well, most of the time, the procurement for the backbone or the pipes really comes before any thoughts about streaming content. Most of the time it's, "Here's what we have work within our parameters." Various manufacturers have done it, I know I've mentioned Riverbed. IBM has its eCDN that does the same sort of thing--manage internal traffic, and you know those types of schemes really are necessary so that everyone's happy.

Tim Siglin: And you mention eCDNs. Let's sort of end on that, that was a really big deal when I did work with the media publisher which became Qumo, and Cisco and IBM looking in eCDNs, probably ten or twelve years ago. Are eCDNs still a really big component of caching content around the enterprise, or is cloud-based external caching sort of what happens these days?

Colin Sandy: I'm seeing it both ways. So, looking into overall state agencies, in Minnesota they're using a cloud-based solution to kind of get around a traffic issue with various agencies around the state. Here in New York, they're deploying IBM's eCDNs, so you know it really matters to their budget structure. You know whether they want to go CAPEX or OPEX, you know whether they have the internal staff to manage the equipment or what kind of contracts they want to get in to have it managed for them.

Tim Siglin: Any security concerns, I mean that used to come into play. I don't know if it still comes into play?

Colin Sandy: Cyber-security especiially. You have state actors that are putting what-have-you into what-have-you. A lot of companies--especially government companies and larger educational institution, corporations--want to make sure that their IT from top to bottom is secured. And you know where as the marketing folks, the development folks, they want to make sure as many eyeballs can see the content as possible, so sometimes there's a conflict in there but, let me just roll it up by saying this you know there are a lot of arguments as far as who's allowed to do what. But I think on the AV side, a lot of the folks that do traditional broadcast like me really need to understand the security considerations and security concerns of the IT professionals, and on the other hand the IT professionals need to understand the you know the workflow concerns for the AV professionals.

Tim Siglin: Having worked for the Department of Defense and Public Affairs, that was sort of the challenge: you had, on one hand, somebody would say that's classified information national security, on the other hand it would be like a reporters asking, "What can we give?" And eventually they'd get it through Freedom of Information Act, but it was very much that sort of balance between those. Colin, thank you very much.

Colin Sandy: Absolutely. It was great chatting with you.

Tim Siglin: Likewise, and we'll be right back.

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