If you’re not convinced that the network is the center of an automation and audio/video system then you might as well stop reading this.  If you’re curious about what the future of the network holds and how it’s going to impact your decisions then read on!

The past few years have been a wild ride. Nearly every device imaginable is living on our networks and it’s changed entire industries.  As we look towards the future this trend will continue to dramatically increase with the number of connected devices expected to grow five-fold in the next six years.  Simultaneously, with gigabit internet – internet speeds 100 times faster than today’s basic broadband connection – expected to be available in 50 states by 2015, there will be pressure on your clients to adapt and this will create great opportunities to step in and help.  To prepare your customers for the future, you should be thinking about the opportunity to provide proper equipment, tools, and services.

Today’s average US internet connection speed is only 7.5Mbps.  Gigabit internet will offer speeds of 1,000 Mbps, over 100 times faster. Although gigabit internet is available in only a small number of markets today services such as 4K UltraHD (which requires 20-30Mbps per stream).  All of this will place an enormous amount of stress on your customers’ networks, but you can be prepared for this by installing equipment capable of handling the upcoming increase.  The reality is that you’d hate to sell a commercial grade network to your clients today that has to be replaced in a year.this is changing quickly, and by 2015 every state in the continental US will have gigabit availability.  With this increase in speed, your customers will have access to new streaming

Proper equipment includes a router which can handle the gigabit capacity, switching with the capacity to stream multiple 4K streams, and wifi coverage that can handle the demands of this traffic.  There are many commercial grade routers at attractive price points that you can offer to your clients but it is important to start specifying these devices today.  Many integrators have been offering gigabit switches to their clients as an upsell but now these switches are becoming a requirement.  It is also important to note that not all switches are created equal; just because a switch is gigabit rated doesn’t mean it will have the switching capacity and performance to handle the traffic that is going to be put on the switch.  It will also be more important to install managed switches, so that you can have the proper visibility into network traffic to effectively diagnose and resolve network problems.  As your customers continue to stream audio and video content wirelessly to devices like AppleTV or iPads, you’ll also need to ensure you have proper wifi coverage.  Lastly, start to test your networking vendors hardware today and standardize your options, switching vendors continuously can be a management headache because all equipment is configured differently and supporting a variety of platforms is not efficient.

There’s a lot to think about when designing your network infrastructure, but it is also important to think about the challenges that all of this connectivity and traffic will place on your support department.  You’ll have more connected devices, more bandwidth intensive applications, aging customer networks and probably very limited visibility on the majority of your existing customers.  Even a simple installation consisting of an AppleTV, a wireless access point and a router can become a challenge to support when the customer has problems streaming Netflix.  The challenge becomes identifying where the breakdown occurs – is it a problem with Netflix, the ISP, the wifi, the AppleTV or the user?  Even slight latency or packet loss on a network can impact the quality of streaming video and this only increases as 4K streaming becomes more common.

The good news is that the combination of proper equipment and tools can make servicing your customers’ networks more manageable.  Proper tools become a requirement with the increase in connected devices and high-bandwidth intensive applications.  You need visibility into where the breakdowns in performance are and the ability to resolve your problems without the time and money associated with rolling a truck for something as simple as a reboot or settings change.  ihiji invision will show you breakdowns in wifi connectivity, switches that are stressed, and dropping traffic or ISPs who are not meeting the performance necessary to deliver HD streaming content.  ihiji also allows you to remotely reboot many devices via IP-based PDUs, UPSs or PoE enabled switches.  Another benefit to using ihiji is that it is a standardized tool which integrates across a large number of vendors for network and power management, because the worth thing that can happen amongst this challenge of managing connectivity is to get stuck managing a dozen different remote management tools!

The sharp increase in the number of devices along with the growth in high-bandwidth services means that you need to immediately begin to prepare your company and your customers for the changes.  The good news is that the equipment and tools are already available and ihiji is here to help with remote management, recommendations and ongoing education.  Want to get more information on ihiji, schedule a short demo today!

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