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A Campus-wide IP Video Network for a State University, Part 1

Jun 8, 2010 12:00 PM


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Editor's note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes Timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the Timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

The traditional coax based video network at North Carolina State University had reached capacity, and when they decided to upgrade to a campus-wide video-over-IP system, they called Haivision for a solution. Peter Maag is here to give us the lowdown on how the system was set up and how it all works.

Peter, thanks very much for being with me here on the Networked AV podcast all the way from Montreal. You're with Haivision—and I'm sure everybody's heard of Haivision, but just in case—what does Haivision do and how long has it been around?
Peter Maag:
Well thank you very much, Bennett; it's certainly nice to be invited to your podcast. Haivision is based in Montreal and in Chicago. We've been around for about five and a half years now, going on six years, and we were formed out of, actually, an acquisition of a codec position of a company called Miranda here in Montreal. So we've had quite a long history now, and we've kind of developed from kind of an encoder centric company to a IP video system company. And that was certainly stimulated through what was kind of a dramatic merger in our industry last year when Haivision merged with the Chicago company called Video Furnace—and since that time, the products have integrated, the teams have integrated. I've been through quite a number of mergers and acquisitions, and this has been a absolutely beautiful marriage of software-based technology out of Video Furnace and hardware encoding technology from the Haivision heritage. So that's really where we stand today: We deliver specialized encoders for telepresence, I would say, or church remote venues as well as IP video systems for a number of different markets including hire ads and medical and the military and those type of markets. [Timestamp: 2:24]

Well, that's certainly where the action is; I mean, you see a lot of that everywhere now, and video over IP is an industry that's really shifting into high gear now. Now you had a particular installation at North Carolina State University; they had a cable TV system that looked like it was at capacity and they called on Haivision. Why did they particularly call you guys? Did you have a relationship with NC State already, or how did that happen?
Well, they've had a feed system there for a little while but they really—like you said, they were at capacity and looking to make a change as many people are. The savings over coax plants going to IP video are abundantly clear for the standard TV distribution infrastructure, but in addition to being able to replace that by going to IP video, they enabled themselves with so much more creative power in the way the content is delivered around the campus. So like you said, they were looking to replace the cable plant, and they actually went to a number of different vendors to see who could offer the best solution, let's say, for them. And yeah, we're quite pleased with our relationships that we carry forward in higher ed and see a few a certainly being great relationships that we have, but we cover a lot of the university market. And that comes primarily from the Video Furnace heritage, and that technology was designed specifically for delivering television around university campuses. [Timestamp: 4:09]

And it looks like it's fairly well developed. Now, I don't know how many people listening maybe know all the ins and outs of Video Furnace, but I know that it delivers video to both computers and set-top boxes for things like displays that you might have around a college campus. So exactly how does Video Furnace work?
Well, I think you got it pretty well. And I think that the magic is that for the specific challenge it equally delivers media to set-top boxes or to the desktop. When Joe Gaucher, the CTO and founder of Video Furnace, was examining the problems that higher ed have and exactly what they need to do, he noticed a number of trends and a number of requirements that the university community has. And the first trend is, "OK, we need to get rid of the coax distribution," but he also identified that students going forward are going to be as likely, if not more likely, to watch TV on their laptops or PCs as they are on the TV deployed into their dorm room, right? And the universities are kitting up to face this challenge, right? But in doing so, they needed a system that not only showed a dramatic amount of equivalency between the TV and the PC, let's call it, laptop experience, but also had to satisfy a number of demands or a number of challenges that the IT departments had. And that led to the development within the Video Furnace architecture that's known as the InStream player. I don't think the Video Furnace people picked up on it, or picked up. I know they always knew it was great, but I really fell in love with this player, and I call it "The Magic of InStream." And this magic is really the fulfillment of the requirements or the needs of the IT departments at universities, and it really focuses on two very important things. The first thing is that it works on any PC, any laptop—Linux, Mac, Windows, whatever they have—without any need for installation, so the IT departments don't have to have lengthy configurations of the system requirements, which is great. And the second thing is that it doesn't need any installation, so they don't need to download any player. Anytime that a student wants to watch to TV, he just clicks on the web link and the player comes to his computer and is installed in memory space. So those two aspects of nothing to install and working across all platforms is something that's kind of revolutionary to that environment, so it's very very IT-friendly. [Timestamp: 7:10]



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