Communications

Pakedge Heads to CEDIA

CEDIA EXPO 2014 where you can see, touch, and be changed by the products and trends driving the residential technology. At CEDIA EXPO you will find the right type of advanced and fundamental training on home tech to help you conquer and profit from changes in the industry.

And guess who is going? You got it! Pakedge is heading to CEDIA again this year. Booth #820.

If you’re in the area, and want to come visit our booth, contact sales@pakedge.com for a free exhibit pass!

CEDIA 2014

Check out some Dealer Testimonials from CEDIA 2013.

Not your old school PoE switches – five things you can do with our new innovative PoE switches

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Thought you knew or saw everything on PoE switches? Think again – Pakedge has brought a new series of innovative PoE switches to the AV market. Moving beyond the traditional “PoE Out” switches, our lineup now includes the Powered by PoE switches (S8Wpde, S5Wpde, S8Mpd) and the new PoE pass-through switch (SE-5P2-EP). More information about our innovative switches can be found here.

The introduction of Pakedge PoE pass-through and Pakedge PoE Powered switch technology provides new levels of versatility to networks – but how can you use them in real life? Below are five practical places to use PoE passthrough and PoE Powered switches to enhance your A/V network setup and make your job easier.

In an Entertainment Center
Switches that are powered by PoE – like the S8Mpd, S8Wpde, and S5Wpde – are ideal for use away from a user’s main rack. Entertainment centers often have multiple devices that require internet connection – TVs, game consoles, media streaming devices, and more. By utilizing a smaller switch directly at the point of use, users can avoid the difficulty of running multiple Ethernet cables throughout a home to the main switch rack – and by using a PoE powered switch, users can avoid taking up yet another power outlet where so many power-hungry devices already reside.

Attics, Basements, and other rooms without power outlets
PoE Passthrough switches are ideal in retrofit situations that require the installation of an access point, a security camera, or other equipment powered by PoE – but that don’t have easy access to power outlets.  By utilizing the power provided by a PoE+ switch elsewhere on the network, multiple devices powered by PoE can be placed in areas without easy power access without the need for power outlets or costly and time-consuming rewiring.

Extending the length of a PoE cable run
PoE (And Ethernet in general) has a maximum length of 328 feet – a length that can be constricting in larger installations. If a main rack or PoE switch is located further than that from the device you intend to power, it will have to be run through an intermediate switch to “renew” the connection strength. By adding a PoE passthrough switch to the network as an intermediary stopgap, it’s possible to double the length one can run PoE – allowing devices to be powered much farther from the original power source.

At a Desk
A PoE passthrough switch is an ideal way to bring network connectivity to the devices used at a desk while also providing power to devices like VoIP phones. A single cable run from the main switch rack can provide internet connectivity to printers and PCs while powering and providing a network connection to the phone at your desk. Convenient screw-mounts and a tiny form factor allow for easy mounting to the wall or bottom of the desk.

Space constrained areas
Sometimes, you just need a way to add ports to your network – but there’s no room to work with. PoE powered and PoE passthrough switches (particularly the upcoming SE-5P2-EP) are small enough to fit almost any available area and, can be mounted almost anywhere – making them ideal for space-constrained areas. Because they’re powered by PoE, you don’t even have to find a wall outlet.

Five Best Practices for a Successful Network Installation

Communications connectivity

What are some of the secrets for a successful mega-network installation? Whether you install small to medium, large or mega-networks, these five pre-installation and planning best practices will help make your next network installation a successful one.

A good installation, large or small, starts with planning. Firstly, you need to spend a lot of time understanding the customer’s current AND future needs, as well as understanding technology trends, to build a road map from which to build the network infrastructure. Not all of it will be built at once, but can be deployed over time. Unlike a small network, a large network requires a substantial investment and change out can be costly. Therefore, it is critical that the network be future-proofed to meet the needs of the customer now and in the future, even if they don’t know what the future holds.

Second, implement a sound project management plan and a governance structure for resolving issues and conflicts. Mega projects involve a lot of different technologies, vendors, and integration points. Problems will always come up, but in a complex mega project, it is not always obvious where the issue comes from, and resolution may require coordinated action across multiple technologies with multiple vendors.

Third, many installers tend to underestimate how much time is required to set up and deploy a mega network.  As a result, they end up absorbing the cost of the extra hours. Mega networks are complex and have far more integration issues compared to the common install. Changes midway through the project may have system ramifications downstream. Proper project planning, including accounting for project creep and scope changes, and adding in an extra buffer of time for unforeseen circumstances, should be incorporated. In high-budget projects, the installer can set up a contractual arrangement to address the scenario in case a project deployment takes longer than expected.

Fourth, many mega projects are done off-site – including setup in racks, integration, and testing (to the extent possible). The racks are then shipped fully-assembled to the project site, where they are integrated into the rest of the system.  It can be advantageous when certain tasks are done offline in a controlled environment ahead of time, where work can be fully tested.  This may not always be possible in all projects, but if possible, would make for a simplified installation.

Fifth, select equipment vendors carefully.  Unlike smaller projects, mega projects have more robust requirements, and more than likely will require enterprise-grade equipment. Not all enterprise-grade equipment provides enterprise-level performance. Make sure to know the difference. Make sure to know what types of warranties, technical support, and software upgrades you are eligible for.  Enterprise grade equipment is priced at a premium, but you get what you pay for. It’s no use saving a few dollars, then finding out the equipment can’t support the customer’s needs, or incurring more expenses in installation costs because the technical support is not sufficient to get you through the installation.

What are some your best practices, lessons learned and tips for a successful installation? Tell us and share your experiences here.

 

5 Ways to Make Your Day Easier… with BakPak

The BakPak Cloud Management system is an incredibly powerful way to control and manage networks – but we find that without hands-on experience, integrators have a difficult time putting exactly what it can do into real-world terms. “How will this make my job easier?”

Below, we look to answer exactly that, with this list of 5 ways to use BakPak to make your day-to-day job easier – and one bonus feature geared toward making your business more profitable.

  1. Remote configuration – With BakPak, dealers can remotely configure any device on a network – even non-Pakedge devices. It’s easy to view every device on the network, select the one you’d like to configure, and enter the device’s native User Interface – all directly through BakPak.
  2. Receive Alerts – It’s not easy to keep track of every device on the network of every customer. With BakPak, not only is every device mapped and easily visible – but should a problem arise anywhere on the network, an alert can be sent directly to an integrator’s phone or e-mail – allowing pro-active maintenance.
  3. Basic Device Maintenance – Devices on a network can have problems for a multitude of reasons – and most of those problems can be solved with a simple reboot. Before BakPak, integrators would have to take time out of their busy schedules, send a technician to the job site – and flick a power switch off, then back on. With BakPak, this process is simple – like it should be. Power to any device controlled through a PDU or PoE switch can be cycled directly through the app itself – and device connectivity will update within the BakPak app in real time, letting you know that everything’s up and running.
  4. Take notes – Let’s face it, no matter how you try, any given network won’t always be worked on by the same technician. To make life simpler, notes can be added to each device on the network as they’re updated and managed – enabling technicians to document problems and how they were fixed, and making it simple to isolate common problems or devices that exhibit problems intermittently.
  5. Check device statistics – Ever wonder how long it’s been since a device has had an issue? How long it’s been since you last performed maintenance? Need to know a MAC or IP address for network configuration, but can’t access the device because, well, you don’t know its MAC or IP address? Want to see the problem devices on a network? BakPak makes it easy by putting all of a device’s statistics in one easy-to-view place – making BakPak your one-stop shop for networked device information .

Bonus: Recurring Revenue – One of the biggest areas for growth in any dealer’s business model is recurring revenue – the ability to go beyond the one-time payment structure of sourcing and installing products – and to instead transform that installation into a monthly source of revenue you’re able to count on for years to come. With BakPak, network maintenance and management can become a service you provide your customers for a recurring fee – allowing you to provide better customer service, and your customers to enjoy a hassle-free, truly transparent network infrastructure that just works.

As BakPak grows, Pakedge intends to focus on providing more robust tools to enable dealers to manage and maintain their recurring revenue streams well into the future – so stay tuned for exciting updates on this front.

It’s Steve… from Pakedge!

In March of 2014, John Sciacca wrote an article about the day “Pakedge Steve” became his Network Tech Support Jedi Master. (click here to read it) Last week, on the Pakedge Twitter account, AV Awakenings bragged about the tech support they received from Karla. One thing we always hear at Pakedge is “Your tech support team is awesome!”, and we certainly agree.

Operating out of Pakedge’s Huntington Beach office, a fun team of 6 spend their days providing the best possible support to Pakedge dealers and re-sellers. They provide detailed technical advice before and after your purchase.

Are you uncertain about how to set up your C36? Do you have questions about which of our routers you should use for your next project? How do you configure your products to get the desired result? Anyone who has ever installed and configured a network system has encountered similar issues. So it’s nice to contact someone reliable and professional to help.

Our team will support you every step of the way. Our service is built on the education and rich experience of our long-time employees and our fostering of teamwork and maintenance of our internal knowledge database. The best part of all of this? It is absolutely free for all of our dealers.

Today, we would like to put faces to their names. Behold, your Pakedge Tech Support Team!

Our Tech Support Team From Left to Right (top): From Left to Right (bottom):

Our Tech Support Team
From Left to Right (top): Iris, Rachel, Steve, Shereena
From Left to Right (bottom): Cody, Danny

Pakedge Donates $200K to Orange Coast College

Four years ago, Jason Gibson was working at U-Haul managing multiple dealer locations in Orange County, CA. He decided to enroll in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) program at Orange Coast College (OCC).

Today he is one of our regional account managers. You might have crossed paths with him on several occasions.

Jason credits his current position, in part, for his participation in the program. In fact, he still takes the occasional ICT course at OCC to keep his technical knowledge as up-to-date as possible.

Grateful for the opportunities he has been given, Jason decided to give back to the school. After a discussion with the management team at Pakedge, Jason was able to arrange a major donation: Pakedge donated over $200,000 in networking hardware to the ICT Program.

To read more about the donation by Pakedge, please visit the links below.

CE Pro

Residential Systems

Professor William Saichek, ICT Program Coordinator; Jason Gibson, Pakedge Regional Account Executive; Dr. Dennis Harkins, President, Orange Coast College

Professor William Saichek, ICT Program Coordinator; Jason Gibson, Pakedge Regional Account Executive; Dr. Dennis Harkins, President, Orange Coast College

Simplifying your wireless install with the Pakedge WAP Map

This week we announced the rollout of a couple of cool software visualization features to help installers with the deployment of Pakedge wireless access points (WAPs) on a project.

One of these is the Pakedge WAP Map, an interactive online “heat map” planning tool that lets installers estimate the number of wireless access points (WAPs) they need, the approximate coverage area of each WAP, and target placement locations. You simply upload a floor plan of the project site, set the scale (very important!) of the floor plan, “drag and drop” the WAPs onto the plan to see the coverage area, and then move the WAPs around until you get the optimal coverage. After you are done, you can save the mapped floor plan and print it out. We’ve created a short minute long YouTube video of the Pakedge WAP Map here.

If the Pakedge WAP Map looks familiar, that’s because it is similar to the heat map function currently installed on the C36 WAP controllers. If your C36 WAP does not have the heat map feature, please update the firmware to the current version (no charge for firmware update).

The Pakedge WAP Map is free to use online for all your projects through our dealer portal. Upon logging into the dealer portal, look to the navigation menu on the left hand side of the screen. It is located under Dealer Tools. All Pakedge authorized resellers have access to the portal. If you are a Pakedge reseller and do not have access, please contact Customer Service to request an account. If you are not yet a Pakedge authorized reseller, please contact the Pakedge sales line at +1-650-385-8701 for a demonstration. 

So what can you do with the Pakedge heat map? Here’s our list of the ways you can use it:

  1. When bidding on a project, use it to estimate  the number of WAPs needed, as well as the approximate placement locations. When used in conjunction with the site visit, this helps you develop a better cost and time estimate in your client proposal.
  2. Provide a printout of the WAP Map with your proposal to show your client visually how they will be able to get the wireless coverage throughout the site. A visualization of the coverage area is important to helping your client understand your proposal, and more importantly, allow you to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  3. Prior to arriving on the job site for the install, use the WAP Map to give the installer/technician a preview of the approximate WAP placement locations. The actual WAP locations may vary due to a lot of factors (interference from neighboring WAPs, building materials, or access issues), but the map will save some time by eliminating guesswork on where to start.
  4. Plan for the worse-case scenario (5.0 GHz band operation only). The Pakedge W7x series of WAPs are dual band units – operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands. The 2.4 GHz band has a higher range (and a wider coverage pattern) than the 5.0 GHz band, but it encounters more interference. There are also many devices that use the 2.4 GHz band only, so there are also many more users on that band. If you are installing a wireless network in an area where there is a lot of interference from neighboring WAPs, you can turn off the 2.4 GHz band in the WAP Map and see what kind of coverage you get, and more importantly, how many additional WAPs you need to add assuming you want to operate only in the 5.0 GHz band. To turn off the bands, just click “Hide” on the appropriate horizontal bar on the WAP Map.
  5. Optimize coverage for 2.4 and 5.0 GHz band applications. Because the 2.4 GHz band encounters more potential interference and has more users on it than the 5.0 GHz band, clients should use the 2.4 GHz band for email and web surfing activities where the bandwidth and latency requirements are not as critical. For high bandwidth, low latency applications like video streaming, teleconferencing or VOIP telephony, the 5.0 GHz band should be used for uninterrupted service. This means that in areas of the home or business where the primary application is video streaming or VOIP telephony (e.g. family room, conference room, etc.), you would plan the WAP placement based on the smaller coverage footprint of the 5.0 GHz band. This will increase the number of WAPs required, but it ensures that you have sufficient coverage through the 5.0 GHz band.

How has the Pakedge WAP Map helped you? What other ways are you using, or planning to use the WAP Map?  Please share with us your success stories and best practices!