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The Interoperability Paradox in Pro AV

Lately something has really been puzzling me. It’s about interoperability, and the ways we take it for granted some places, while completely ignoring its value elsewhere. For example, everyone knows and understands that it’s possible to use a Sony TV with an LG Blu-ray player and a Denon AV receiver. A QSC audio processor can feed a Crown amplifier which can drive Bose speakers.

Interoperability is everywhere…

In most of pro AV, we rely on a high degree of interoperability driven by standardized approaches to connectivity. HDMI, S/PDIF, Dante, and even “put some current down a pair of copper wires connected to an 8Ω load” – each offer some description of how devices should communicate. This simple fact ensures solid and easy interoperability between brands, across many different kinds of connectivity.

Interoperability allows each manufacturer in an ecosystem to focus on its own areas of strength. Crucially, it allows each manufacturer to rely on partners (sometimes even competitors) to deliver products where that manufacturer is weak. This creates a powerful economic force (called comparative advantage) that makes the entire ecosystem stronger. The concrete benefit? Designers, no longer restricted to a single manufacturer’s catalog, may choose the best of the best for every component.

So interoperability creates design flexibility, and is a fundamentally good economic force. But does an SVSI AV over IP encoder work with an Extron AV over IP decoder? “Of course not!” you are all saying.

Why is that?

…Until it isn’t

Why do we take for granted that any TV will work with any source; that any AV receiver will work with any speaker? Yet we also take for granted that AV signal management equipment – the infrastructure that differentiates pro AV systems from consumer gear – is NOT interoperable.

My purpose here is not to single out SVSI or Extron. In fact, nearly every manufacturer of AV over IP equipment is building products that do not work with other brands. Ironically, many of them work with a so-called ‘standard codec’ called MJPEG2000, yet they are still incompatible with one another.

Why is this true? I don’t have a good reason to offer – it’s a paradox! But there is a way out of this logic trap.

SDVoE is the interoperable solution

The SDVoE Alliance exists to break this paradox, and bring to signal distribution and management the same level of reliable interoperability that is enjoyed in every other part of the AV universe. SDVoE leverages the 7-layer OSI network model, defining standard behavior of an SDVoE device at each of the first six layers. At layer seven lives a powerful SDVoE API that is standard across vendors. Control software that creates the application also lives on layer 7.

SDVoE technology standardizes and controls everything from the API down. Therefore SDVoE devices exhibit the kind of interoperability expected elsewhere in pro AV. Perhaps more importantly, this is the level of interoperability expected by the IT professionals who are often the gatekeepers to the network.

Interoperability is a central focus of the SDVoE Alliance. We and our partners (like Lang AG) believe it is the only way to enable successful convergence of AV and IT. We believe that, given a choice, system owners will always elect not to constrain themselves. We believe that the strength of the pro AV ecosystem lies in our ability to work together, rather than a stubborn insistence to each go our own way.

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