IPIQ: The Internet of Everything
After a decade in business, the team at
Access Networks has made their mark on the CEDIA channel. An industry once dominated by the sensory experience of sounds and screens has come to accept an insurgence of IP devices; an “Internet of Everything” that is fully dependent on what is, in many ways, invisible.
Unlike the myriad of speakers, flat screens, idevices and gaming consoles that fill the
automated residence, the home network is
most powerful when it is unseen and unheard. When broken or flawed, the network quickly takes center stage in all the wrong ways,
bringing even the most brilliantly connected home to its knees.
Access Networks Founder and CEO Hagai Feiner realized this trend early on. He built Access Networks based on the premise that with a solid network foundation, the connected home could—and would—quickly become no different than the enterprise. It would require not only unified automation of electronic systems but also seamless wireless connectivity throughout the entire home. As Feiner expected, the same home that once only required wireless Internet access now boasts wireless access for laptops, tablets, streaming music and movies, and much more.
In their 10 years in business, the company has striven to deliver robust, best-of-class, enterprise-grade networking solutions that are equally reliable and serviceable. Part of achieving this delicate balance has come not only
from hiring a team of certified IT and AV professionals, but also from understanding the benefits of using hardware—in this case, enterprise-grade networking gear—that can support the challenging landscape that is today’s connected home.
“It is our job to ensure integrators and their clients that their IT infrastructure will create a reliable wireless experience inside their home, no matter how many devices are on the network, ” said Feiner. “The magic is in finding robust hardware that can support the continuous growth of connected devices in the home while also providing the tools to solve any issue that might arise. What separates Access Networks from other offerings is that we have both.”
In their showcase at last year’s CEDIA EXPO 2013, a shirt worn by each Access Networks team member beckoned each passerby with the bold statement: “It’s what you don’t see that sets us apart.” Upon entering the Access Networks booth, attendees would quickly learn that the shirts, along with the rest of the company’s newly designed booth, were designed to peak attendees’ interest in what the company sees as one of its top assets: visibility.
“Access Networks is the only vendor in the CE space that offers true network visibility,” said Director of Marketing Sarah Fleishman. “Without visibility, it is nearly impossible to efficiently troubleshoot, identify and resolve a network issue in the field.”
While the term “visibility” has gained momentum in recent past, the network visibility that Access Networks describes is very specific. This type of visibility goes beyond a Cloud interface or a GUI, and speaks to an enterprise-grade network appliance’s ability to keep a detailed log of its actions and share that log with a certified network engineer at any time using a command line interface. The ability to look inside the gear and resolve network issues—coupled with Access Networks’ vast experience
and understanding of the CE industry—has aided integrators in the transition toward IP-
connectivity, transforming the network from
a necessary evil to a platform for unlimited
DT Frank, Programming Manager at Starpower in Dallas, has experienced the benefits of network visibility firsthand. “True network visibility has enabled us to quickly determine when problems occur on our clients networks, and turn around immediate and long-lasting solutions,” said Frank. “Networking solutions that are off the shelf or designed for small businesses simply do not allow us to do this, which results in thousands of dollars of losses in time and service calls.”
To bring this point home to EXPO attendees, the Access Networks booth, officially called a Visibility Center, was designed to give attendees a behind-the-scenes look at the process of designing, specifying and troubleshooting the network.
The booth included two main components: The physical hardware, which appeared in a museum-style display; and an educational demonstration that took integrators behind-the-scenes to showcase network visibility in action. In the center of the booth, a display of open-shell Ruckus Wireless access points (APs) sat inside a glass table to showcase the patented antenna array that lives inside each piece of hardware.
The center of the booth also housed three laptops used for visibility demonstrations. These five-minute demos walked integrators through some common network support challenges to show the step-by-step process that the AN engineering team uses every day to identify—and ultimately resolve—challenges in the field.
In one compelling demonstration, Access Networks was able to identify the root cause of a skipping media server and provide their client with a solution to the problem. To do this, the team logged into a switch on the network and used Cisco IOS (the software that lives on
all enterprise-grade Cisco Catalyst Series
appliances) to locate specific information about what had been happening on the network while they were away. In this example, the millions of errors shown on the recorded log signified that a bad wire was likely causing the problem.
“We wanted people to leave with a true understanding of network visibility as it applies to enterprise-grade IT,” said Fleishman. “This means not only seeing the physical differences in how the gear is designed, but also the tools that exist inside the gear that allow our engineering team to support our integrators at a granular level. We can talk about what visibility means all day, but there is no better way to understand it than to see it firsthand.” •