Monthly Archives: July 2015

Launch of Pakedge BakPak® 3.0 is Game Changer for Remote Management Systems

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The third incarnation of Pakedge Device and Software Inc.’s award winning BakPak® Cloud Management System has been unleashed.

BakPak 3.0 takes remote management to the next level with even broader capabilities and deeper integration. It’s sophisticated task and management automations transform networking by increasing efficiency, minimizing errors, and increasing profitability for integrators.

“This is so much more than power cycling and rebooting – BakPak’s intelligence empowers integrators with broader and deeper system control while allowing companies to save on labor overhead by simplifying and automating the more tedious maintenance and management processes,” said Victor Pak, CEO of Pakedge.

“BakPak 3.0 monitors, alerts, assigns, maps, repairs, manages and reports. There’s not another remote management system like it,” adds Pak.

Pakedge, a leading manufacturer of network devices specifically designed for AV applications, presented the new software at InfoComm a few weeks ago where it was well received and won an award for Best Network Management Solution – but at that time BakPak 3.0 was only out for limited release. As of Tuesday July 14th, the highly anticipated upgrade will be out for general release and the NP36 network patroller will be shipped with the new software.

Intelligent Self-Healing and Automated Troubleshooting

The cloud based remote management solution gives integrators end-to-end control from a distance with in-depth monitoring of network devices and control systems. BakPak does this with prioritized alerts, robust permission settings, automated network repair and mapping, easy configuration management, report logging, backup and restore functionality, and TriPlex – a unique troubleshooting system that determines the cause of the problem in case of a network outage or configuration error and suggests potential fixes.

Triplex is a built-in network diagnosis algorithm that works to find the source of network problems even in case of complete network outages. If the problem cannot be resolved through BakPak’s own self-healing functionality, TriPlex will report to the user the source of the problem on the network, allowing integrators to repair the issue or prevent it from occurring again. As it goes through these procedures it creates a log which is sent to users as part of a weekly report. The log is also useful to the integrator, because should BakPak be unable to restart the system and it becomes necessary to make an on-site visit, the integrator will have a list of procedures that were already attempted as well as the direct cause of and location of the problem in the network.

“It is intelligence that really sets BakPak apart from other cloud management systems,” said Dr. Marc Ilgen, Vice President of Software Development at Pakedge. “We’re trying to incorporate the same type of computational intelligence used in aerospace and intelligence industries and give it purpose for everyday uses. The best part about BakPak is that all of that all of this comprehensive tech is accessible in a really intuitive, clean, user-friendly interface.”

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Smart, Actionable Alerts

Should BakPak’s built in self-healing features not be able to resolve a network failure, integrators can count on the intuitive alert system.

Unlike other remote management system, BakPak 3.0 does not send misleading alerts – it is intelligent enough to pinpoint which device failure caused the network to crash instead of inundating integrators with a string of “device failure” notifications that don’t help. It does this by validating all error alerts through situational-aware AI algorithms to provide accurate usable information to take action on. These useful alerts are sent via e-mail, SMS, or the BakPak app so the integrator can respond as necessary.

Devices and types of alerts can be prioritized by urgency. BakPak smart alerts group devices into one of five prioritization categories based on their criticality to the network – with a separate category for wireless and IoT devices to prevent alerts from devices that go online and offline frequently.

Intuitive Management &Maintenance Functions: Group Firmware Updates, Group Power Scheduling, and Group Configuration Backup

Within BakPak’s device view and network map, profiles and devices are color-coded to allow users to quickly and easily note the device’s status – green if everything is up-to-date and working, yellow if the device is working but needs an update, or red if the device is down and needs immediate attention.
Grouped device management makes keeping devices up-to-date easy. With BakPak, firmware updates for Pakedge devices can now be pushed across all devices across multiple sites with the click of a single button.

This means that if you use the same switch model at different sites for different customers you still only have to push the firmware once.

Power scheduling, power cycling, and power control on POE switches and PDUs can be managed as groups as well. Even system backups can be grouped – instead of backing up configurations on devices individually, you can backup all the configurations for all the devices across the network at the same time with the click of a button. The configurations are then stored on the cloud for easy device replacement in case of failure. No additional setup or configuration required – simply swap out the affected unit and restore configurations from the cloud.

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Third Party Integration

BakPak’s intelligence is not restricted solely to Pakedge devices. Intelligent device management and third party device integration is a core part of BakPak’s service offering – with greater support for more third party devices being added constantly. At launch, BakPak 3.0 boasts full compatibility and support for Control4, Crestron, Middle Atlantic and Panamax devices. Even for third party devices not natively supported within BakPak’s own interface, users can use BakPak to access the built-in GUI of any third party device on the network, allowing configuration and management from anywhere in the world.

BakPak 3.0 as a Business Model

The Pakedge BakPak was designed to save technology integrators time and money by eliminating tedious processes. Automatic device discovery and auto-mapping minimizes setup time and simplifies troubleshooting in case of network problems. Group firmware updates and power control makes maintenance a breeze. Prioritized alerts, automatic self-healing, Triplex automated troubleshooting, and cloud managed backup and recovery help integrators bring peace of mind to their clients.

This peace of mind should be a selling point for dealers and integrators to begin offering managed services for which they can accrue recurring monthly revenue.

“So much is dependent on network integrity. Networks are truly the backbones of our modern spaces. With BakPak 3.0 integrators will be able to guarantee their clients peace of mind and also develop recurring revenue by charging modest monthly service fees. For too long integrators have undercharged for services,” said Pak.

His views are shared by Dawn Meade, AV Nation Board Member and Director of Marketing at Net-AV. Meade explained that margins on equipment sales all across the industry are razor-thin or non-existent thanks to commoditization.

“For decades, integrators have been giving away their time and services to make money on the equipment,” says Meade. She explains that customers have been trained to expect cheap services and engineering and that something must change in order to change that mindset.

To answer that call to action Pakedge developed BakPak and offers it in three service tiers – Basic, Advanced, and Premier. The company hopes integrators will use as an example for developing managed services as a part of their businesses.

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To kick off the launch of the new revamped BakPak 3.0 Pakedge announced that it would be offering the complete suite of features – Premier level services – for FREE until Sept. 30th. Pak says that he hopes this will give integrators the opportunity to experiment with the new features and decide which service level would suits their client’s needs. He added that after the free trial ends Pakedge will be offering a significant discount on the first year of Advanced or Premier sub-sections. The Basic service tier is free and does not require a subscription.

BakPak is part of the Pakedge Connect+ Platform, which is a carefully integrated system of switches, routers, wireless, power management and software technologies, designed specifically to work with each other to deliver seamless, scalable, and reliable multimedia networking performance.

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What About Band Steering? Follow Up to “Three Best Practices for Maximizing Wireless Network Performance”

Since posting our piece “Three Best Practices for Maximizing Wireless Network Performance” the other day, we received a few emails and a comment asking us “What about band steering?” and “Why all the hassle? Isn’t that what band steering is for?”

Well, we are happy they asked.

It’s a common misconception that band steering is a miracle solution for wireless optimization. Band steering – a common function found on wireless controllers  – discovers which devices are 5.0 Ghz compatible and  signals the access points to move the device to the 5.0 band. It is helpful, but its effectiveness of this is limited by the sophistication and quality of the wireless coverage.

This is why points #1 and #2 from our Best Practices for Maximizing Wifi Performance post are so important:

Assign different names for your 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz SSIDs

Using SSIDs to differentiate between the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands allows for more transparency and control of the wireless experience. For example, if the SSIDs were named Skynet2.4 or Skynet5.0, users and integrators would always know which band they were connected to.. Such differentiation in name would also empower users giving them then ability to choose between the bands if they wished to manually do so – this is not the case if the bands are masked by having the same SSID. Design your wireless network around the smaller range of 5.0 GHz band

Designing your wireless network around the smaller range of 5.0 GHz band is crucial if band steering is expected to work properly. If the wireless topology was designed around the 2.4 GHz range, then you can expect there to be drops in coverage on the 5.0 band. Designing around the 5.0 GHz band  will ensure that the fast 5.0 signal strength is seamless and won’t be overpowered by the strong, but slow 2.4 band. The 2.4GHz range can always be tuned down to minimize overlap, but you can’t really boost the 5.0 range with out compromising signal strength and speed. While the 5.0 GHz band is faster and less congested it’s range is not as long, nor is it as able to penetrate walls and dense objects as well as the 2.4 signal.

If you missed our Three Best Practices for Maximizing Wireless Network Performance we suggest you check it out. We also suggest you make sure your firmware is up to date on your wireless devices – on Friday (7/10/2015)we released updates for our WK-1 access point (v1.1.05) and our C36 controller (v3.17 ), please make sure you check for the updates on our dealer portal.

July Webinar: BakPak 3.0 Revolutionizing Remote Management

BakPak 3.0 – Revolutionizing Remote Management

Learn how to use BakPak® and how to grow your business by offering remote managed services.

First, we will walk you through the new features and functions in BakPak 3.0 and teach you how to use them. Then we will review the tiers of service and how they can be used as models for earning recurring revenue.

During the function review will walk you through automated network mapping, 3rd party device integration, disaster recovery features, and control systems management and more.

 

 

Tuesday,  July 21st

7:00 AM Pacific Time

(San Francisco, GMT-07:00)

click here to register.

 

 

Thursday, July 23rd

9:00 AM Pacific Time

(San Francisco, GMT-07:00)

click here to register.

 

Can’t make it? No problem.
We record all our webinars. Links to the recordings are made available  within a day or two of our live sessions. Just email sales@pakedge.com for the link.

 

BakPak 3.0 – Live Monday!

 

Full Premier level access, FREE until Sept. 30th

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Automated Troubleshooting, Control System Management, and More!

With the BakPak® Cloud Management System, users and integrators alike can rest assured that their networks are always secure and performing at peak. BakPak® takes the guesswork and headaches out of network maintenance by empowering integrators with remote monitoring, auto-healing, auto-mapping, auto-firmware updates, auto-configuration, back-up and restore functionality and Triplex – a built-in trouble shooting algorithm.

 

Grow Your Business with Managed Services and Bakpak.

BakPak® was designed to reduce labor costs by simplifying network setup and management while allowing technology integrators grow their businesses by offering managed services. Our new tiered service levels – Basic, Advanced, and Premier – will allow you to offer your customers peace of mind with remote managed services and allow you to collect recurring service fees.

While Pakedge does it’s best to make sure that we offer some the best profit margins in the industry we understand that can be difficult with other manufacturers. We believe that the AV industry needs to shake the bad habit of under valuing their services and we’re not the only ones – industry writers and experts all agree that recurring revenue and managed services are essential for business growth. BakPak® 3.0 just makes it easy.

 

You Get to Try BakPak® 3.0 Premier for FREE.

We are so excited and proud to be launching the new revamped BakPak® 3.0 that in order to properly celebrate its release we are inviting all our dealers to test drive BakPak® Premier absolutely FREE until September 30th, 2015. That means when you login after June 13th you will have complete access to a whole new suite of features. Between then and Sept, 30th you will be able to experiment with all the new features so that you will be better able to choose which service best suits your needs. The Basic service will be FREE and require no subscription, while Advanced and Premier levels of service will be offered as subscriptions for a very modest price that can easily be passed on to your customers. In fact, if you decide that you want to continue using the Advanced or Premier functions after the free trial ends, we will be happy to welcome you with a special discount off your first year subscription.

 

Dealer Install: High Tech Home for Hockey Legend Brett Hull

Guest Blog – Tommy Kissell Jr., Owner of Eco Innovations & Eco High Fidelity

SALT LAKE CITY, UNITED STATES:  Brett Hull of the US pursues the puck during the Men's Ice Hockey quarter-final against Germany in the XIX Winter Olympics 20 February 2002 at the E Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Brett Hull scored two goals as the US breezed past Germany 5-0, booking a rematch with Russia in the proces  AFP PHOTO/Robert SULLIVAN (Photo credit should read ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, UNITED STATES: Brett Hull pursues the puck during the Men’s Ice Hockey quarter-final against Germany in the XIX Winter Olympics 20 February 2002. Brett Hull scored two goals as the US breezed past Germany 5-0, booking a rematch with Russia in the process. ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP/Getty Images

In the custom integration world, audio/video retrofits are always a challenge. And even more difficult when the home is four stories and requires a 21st-century system update.  In the fall of 2014 my company, Eco High Fidelity launched the Hull Residence Project, a century old plus historical landmark in Clayton, Missouri. Brett Hull, an Olympian, hall of famer and legend of the NHL is one of the best hockey players of all time.  He and his wife Darcie moved to Missouri from their North Dallas home to take a position with the St. Louis Blues.

My firm,  has serviced the Hulls technology needs for many years, was invited to design a custom audio/video and automation system. My company gets to work on many interesting projects every year, but this one was unique and challenging.  There were high expectations from the start, as the clients had lived through audio/video systems that had never met their standards.  Their previous system plagued with service issues required constant maintenance.  The challenge of exceeding their expectations from hundreds of miles away in Dallas required a specific set of skills and detailed planning.

My firm specializes in a sustainable approach including green solutions like lighting control, shades, and subsystem automation. To ensure this project would be successful, it required major planning.   Although the system lacks specific green solutions, it still required a sustainable approach to ensuring everything went smoothly.

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Everything Eco High Fidelity does from planning a project, collaborating with other subcontractors, to the product we use, revolves around a sustainable approach resulting in environmental and economic ripple effects.    For the Hulls, we designed a system revolving around the Elan G platform for audio/video and automation, Pakedge for WiFi network traffic, and Triad Speakers for high fidelity audio.  The result is an amazing system for our clients with high-quality audio/video and stability that eliminates long-term service needs.

The keystone of any successful project is collaboration.   Anytime we are working out of town there is a process of familiarizing with the members of my team and the builders.  In this case, we were the out of town guys, unaccustomed to the standards of the builder and the methods of the other subcontractors.  In the audio/video world, our technology touches almost every part of the house and without collaboration nothing comes together.  This project included an all-star team from the builder to the designer.  From the start, Bruce Korn, owner of Higginbotham Custom Homes and Renovation collaborated with me to oversee everything from pre-wire design to system completion.

Bruce, who had a great working with a relationship with local St. Louis integrator Fusion Media Systems, was very open to the Hulls bringing my team into the project.  Fusion was included as well to provide low, and high voltage wiring retrofits to help bring our design to life.  This is a great example of a sustainable ripple effect and collaboration. Fusion Media’s execution of my prewire design allowed the builder to work with a familiar protocol, and my company to minimize travel while being able to count on a solid integrator for the infrastructure.

Sohaila Danesh, the designer, influenced the esthetics of the system to help me eliminate wall acne and unattractive audio/video gear in favor of integrating the system with her vision.   The Hull project is a great example of how three companies that could be competitors became colleagues working towards a common goal. Due to each of our high standards the process went very smooth. Throughout the process, Bruce Korn was able to maintain the historical integrity of the century plus old home while also modernizing and creating a course for me to provide an advanced audio/video system with excellent stability.   The future of the audio/video and building industries revolves around collaboration, and nothing pleases me more than to work with colleagues that I both learn from and create excellence.

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hull-guitarsThe Hulls love music and like to play it loud.  Old school high fidelity combined with new technology was a key factor to knocking this project out of the park.  Simultaneously we needed to provide a centralized distribution platform that could handle the size of the house, the needs of the Hulls, and, above all, stable control.  The heart of the system is in the basement. I still feel like I am in Bruce Waynes Bat Cave each time I go down there.  The dual customized Middle Atlantic racks house all the electronics in the home to eliminate local systems. Eco High Fidelity lead technician/programmer Jonathan Hughes and technician Sonny Alaniz approach rack work like sculpture.    The heart of the system is Elan for audio distribution.  Three Elan S1616s provide audio switching and digital power to 18 zones, several with multiple pairs of speakers.  The 8 zone video matrix by at Atlona provides seamless integration and reliability for HDMI switching.  The Hulls having lived through more expensive but less reliable platforms required something reliable, simple, and futureproof.  Elan g! is one of the few platforms that offers a lifetime software update.  With a proper base program, solid network, and periodic software upgrade, Elan g! give provides the Hulls the ability to utilize, sustain and evolve the system without the reoccurring cost.  The features are great too.  Since the Hulls love their music, they can switch sources and turn on zones in any area individually or in groups.  Sources include: ATT DVRs, Apple TVs, Kaleidesacpe movie/music system, and an S1 Digital Music Server with a terabyte hard drive and 200,000 plus songs of music.  The S1 Digital also syncs with any music streamer you have a subscription with complete with two-way feedback through Elan g!.  The control system revolves around Elan g!. Spotify, Pandora, and all the local AM/FM stations are viewed and controlled through any wireless device in the house. The entire home is globally controlled via any device because of the backbone of the system, the Pakedge network.    The control system requires a strong network as does the Hulls Internet usage and streaming of movies and music.  Pakedge Networks provides an enterprise-class network that cover the entire house with enhanced WiFi. The most important part of the network is the ability to keep a pulse on the system, and remotely manage power, data, and programming.  It also provides the Hulls the ability to reset sources that lockups like modems, Apple TVs, or ATT boxes at the touch of a button.  Since we are in Dallas Pakedge provides us the ability to service the system without traveling to St. Louis.  This is another perfect example of a sustainable ripple effect.  Even with the reliability of Elan g! The average audio video system with even the most advanced budget will require periodic maintenance.  The ability to access and service the system remotely eliminates costs of travel, equipment, time, and all economic factors that affect the business owner and client.

My favorite part of the system is the audio. Included is a state-of-the-art speaker system custom designed by Triad Speakers to fill the house with architectural speakers and studio quality sound.  The Hulls designer Sohaila Danesh and I collaborated on speaker, TV, equipment placement design.  Her appreciation for technology and exquisite taste for design resulted in a custom white finish throughout the house.  The audio design was difficult because of limited access and retrofit ability.  To preserve the integrity of the existing walls the Fusion Media team wired the main floor speakers near the floor.  Sohaila and I designed, and Triad custom built speakers to blend into the room while providing audio that would make George Lucas jealous. Every room on the first and second floor has speakers to create a house music system The Sunroom and main media area revolves around an 80” Sharp LED and custom built Triad sound bar.  For surround sound, there is custom-built/painted white finished Triad floor standing side and rear speakers.  Complete with custom built and painted a powered subwoofer.

Growing up in this industry I am still blown away by the technology we get to work with.  But it is the quality of the client, the collaboration with colleagues, and the results of my team that will keep me in this industry for life. The Hulls are the best type of clients.  They treat everyone they encounter with a warm welcome and value long term relationships.  Not to mention they love technology and music.  There is no greater pleasure than our clients wanting to be at home.  And it is an exciting time for home integration.  Builders, designers, and integrators are creating amazing systems all over the world, and we have hardly scratched the surface.