Software Suite: Resource Management
There's a lot to be said for networkable AV devices, but none of it's worth saying if you can't consolidate data from IP-enabled equipment and better manage it. AMX, Extron, and Crestron sell robust, server-based software for managing thousands of rooms worth of AV gear.
Credit: Extron GlobalViewer Enterprise
AMX has arguably taken the most innovative leap. At InfoComm 2008, the company showed off version 3.2 of its Resource Management Suite with support for the company's Anterus Radio Frequency Identification solution. By putting RFID tags on gear (think projector, smart board) you can track it around a building, provided you also have RFID readers connected to a NetLinx controller. If a projector “walks” out of a room, the RMS system can send alerts to AV managers. RMS 3.2 supports up to 1,000 rooms—that could mean a lot of RFID tags and readers, which have a rated range of 100 feet.
Extron rolled out the Enterprise version of its GlobalViewer server software at InfoComm. While expansive (it supports 5,000 rooms), Extron's new software is also restrictive—namely in the way it granularly controls access to AV resources based on user roles and locations. As a browser-based program, it supports all the biggies, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari, and it adds Secure Sockets Layer encryption for added security. And if the user has Extron IP Link-enabled devices, AV managers or integrators can push out global changes at one time.
Crestron's RoomView Server Edition is built around the increasingly standard Microsoft .NET server platform. It offers many of the same security levels as its competitors, including user rights and SSL, and supports Windows credentials (for easier network log-in in Windows environments). The more Crestron gear a client uses, the more RoomView can manage, including lights, temperature, sound levels, etc. In fact, with RoomView, the AV staff can push messages to Crestron touch panels to streamline tech support.
When choosing, ask your rep how his software integrates others' devices. Extron, for instance, says it will provide coding help for integrating AMX and Crestron systems (but doesn't support them out of the box). That kind of flexibility could be key in a mixed AV world.