Black Box demonstrates 4K video wall at ISE 2015

The Black Box Team is back from Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) – the world’s largest tradeshow dedicated to professional AV and electronic systemsblack-box-video-wall-ISE integration. The show took place February 9–12, 2015, in Amsterdam.

We had a huge response to our innovative AV product line showcased at ISE. Commercial Integrator named Black Box as one of the top nine products changing the scope of video at ISE 2015.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend, take a look as Inavate captures Peter Brooke-Wavell demonstrating the new 4K-ready iCOMPEL and VideoPlex 4 live at ISE 2015.

In addition to our 4K video wall controller, VideoPlex 4, and 4K digital signage player, iCOMPEL P Series, we also showcased MediaCento IPX – our solution for HDMI-over-IP extension, switching, and video wall creation. This video extension product line includes devices that compress and encode source video for extending over a LAN using lossless compression technology. They can be for multicast distribution (multicast) or point-to-point (unicast) distribution. Other benefits include: easy integration, plug-and-play setup, optimal PC-to-screen performance, uncompromised digital content, and secure connectors. Plus, a controller is available for matrix switching and video wall creation.

Overall, the show was a success – it’s always great connecting with customers worldwide. The Black Box Team looks forward meeting again – see you at these upcoming events.

Additional resources
For more 4K resources, be sure to check out:
• 4K products: www.blackbox.com/4k
• Free white paper: Piecing Together the 4K Puzzle

The hidden cost of digital signage stream decoders

Why are more people signing up for digital signage installations? One reason is the drop in initial capital costs.

Recently I saw a player on Google Shopping for roughly $200. That is cheaper than two tickets to a first-class rock concert, and can offer much more than a few hours of entertainment. The low-cost player offers a chance to increase business revenue.

Wow, increase revenue for just $200? Before you sign up, keep in mind there is a reason these digital signage installations are inexpensive.

Unlike digital signage players that are PC-based (x86 process, storage, etc.), these inexpensive players are appliance-based and gather content by streaming data across a network. With simple content layouts, this is not a problem. However, when digital signage content is streamed over a wireless network, data costs can creep up if not careful.

Example of how quickly data costs can rise over time.
Suppose a company wanted to install three 3G media players at a price point of $200 on their business network. Let’s sayhidden-iceburg that the company wanted Web pages, videos, and photos as part of their signage content. A quick estimate of data costs can be calculated using a data calculator*.

Let’s say the three players are on a total of 12 hours in a given day. During this time, these three players stream five Web pages, 60 minutes of video, and 50 photos (it can be assumed that RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, and text boxes consume negligible data). For all three players, total data usage would be 18GB/month (6GB per player).

This statistic is important for one critical reason: the cost of data overages. Data rates for businesses using a WiFi network can costs upwards of $80 per 10GB; however, data overages can cost up to $15 per 1GB overage. That being said, the overages themselves would cost $120 per month. This brings the total month data charges to $200. Multiplying this number for the year brings the total to more than $2600 for the three players. Suddenly, those “cheap” players become more expensive.

By adding the additional costs of the players, the total cost per installation of digital signage for the first year is equal to $3K. The other item to take note of is that these data charges do not fluctuate too greatly. Therefore, it can be inferred that a three-player signage installation can cost upwards of $8K for three years of operation. There are other players that do not use stream decoding; however, they are more expensive initially.

Digital signage players with no hidden costs.
If your company cannot afford to be surprised with operational costs that continue to add up over time, I’d recommend you go with a one-time investment digital signage system like iCOMPEL. You just pay one up-front cost. All digital signage software is preinstalled and updates are free. No expensive licenses are required year after year.

Plus, the PC-based digital signage player works right out of the box – keeping digital signage simple. It also comes packed with customization capabilities making it perfect for large-scale, sophisticated applications.

So, what digital signage player will you choose for your next installation?

*Data calculations based off a well-known telecommunications estimation tool.

10 Factors to consider when choosing a cabinet or rack

The sheer number and different types of cabinets and racks can make choosing the right one for your data center a daunting task. But, if you consider your requirements one at a time, you can zero in on the right cabinet or rack for your application.

A cabinet is an enclosure with four rails and a door (or doors) and side panels. A rack is an open, freestanding 2- or 4-post frame that doesn’t have doors or sides. The decision on whether to use a cabinet or rack depends on a number of factors.

1. Equipment data-center
Before you choose a cabinet or rack, you need to determine what equipment you’re planning to house. This list can include servers, switches, routers, and UPSs. Consider the weight of your equipment as well. The extra stability of a cabinet might be important if you’re installing large, heavy equipment like servers. An open rack is more convenient than a cabinet if you need frequent access to all sides of the equipment.

2. Environment
With the open design, racks are a good choice in areas where security isn’t a concern such as in locked data centers and closets. And racks typically cost less than cabinets.

Cabinets, on the other hand, protect equipment in open, dusty, and industrial environments. Aesthetics can be a factor too. Will customers or clients see your installation? A cabinet with a door looks much neater than an open rack. When you’re trying to create a professional image, everything counts.

3. Ventilation
If your equipment needs ventilation, a rack offers more air circulation than a cabinet. Even if your cabinet is in a climate-controlled room, the equipment in it can generate a lot of heat. The requirements for additional airflow increase as more servers are mounted in a cabinet. Options to improve airflow include doors, fans, and air conditioners.

4. Size
Width: The width between the rails in both cabinets and racks is 19 inches with hole-to-hole centers measuring 18.3 inches. But there are also cabinets and racks with 23-inch rails. Most rackmount equipment is made to fit 19-inch rails but can be adapted to fit wider rails.

Rack Units: One rack unit (RU or U) equals 1.75″ of vertical space on the rails. A device that’s 2U high takes up 3.5 inches of vertical rack space. Rack units are typically marked on the rails. The number of rack units determines how much equipment you can install.

Depth: Cabinets and four-post open racks come in different depths ranging anywhere from 24″ to 48″ to accommodate equipment of varying sizes, particularly extra-deep servers. The rails on some cabinets and 4-post open racks are also adjustable to different depths.

When you consider the width, height, and depth of a cabinet or rack, clarify whether they are inside or outside dimensions.

5. Weight
Cabinets and racks vary in terms of the amount of weight capacity. Some cabinets can hold 1,000 pounds or more. Carefully consider the weight of your equipment and decide where you want to mount it before choosing a cabinet or rack.

6. Rails
The vertical rails in cabinets and racks have holes for mounting equipment. Two post racks typically have threaded 12-24 or 10-32 tapped holes. 4-post racks and cabinets often have M6 square holes for mounting servers.

7. Moisture, dust, shock, vibration
When housing electronic components outside of a protected data center, look for a cabinet with a NEMA (National Manufacturers’ Association) rating. NEMA standards are designed for corrosion resistance, protection from rain, submersion, liquids, dust, falling objects, and other hazards. There are also NEBS-Telcordia standards for protection against seismic activity, shock, and vibration. Cabinets and racks can also be bolted to the floor for extra stability.

8. Power provisioning
There are multiple options for powering rackmounted equipment. Power strips mount can be mounted vertically or horizontally. Power Distribution Units (PDUs) and Power Managers have additional capabilities such as remote management and metering. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) typically mount in the bottom of a cabinet or rack because of their weight.

9. Cable management
Most cabinets and racks have built-in cable management troughs and cable rings for routing cable. For more information on cable management, see 9 Ways to Improve Data Center Cable Management.

10. The extras
The type of shelving you choose depends on the equipment you plan to mount. There are multiple options: solid, vented, stationary, and pull-out shelves. And there are shelves built to hold specific pieces of equipment, such as servers or keyboards. Other extras include fans, waterfall brackets, and grounding bars.

2014 Mega breaches: 5 key takeaways

This is the first in a series of blog posts concerning IT security and trends for 2015.

A new study by the Ponemon Institute outlines how the mega security breaches of 2014 are changing attitudes towards IT security.

The breaches affected the personal records and credit card information of more than 350 million people. The financial toll is estimated to be billions of dollars in cleanup expenses, fraud response costs, lost market valuation, reputation damage, lawsuits, and related expenses. IT managers face mega challenges as they try to protect data containing credit card information, financial transactions, and other personal information.

In this January 2015 study, 735 IT security practitioners were surveyed about the impact of the mega breaches on their budgets and compliance practices. Here are five key takeaways from the results.

1. More resources are allocated to preventing, detecting, and resolving data breaches.
61% percent of respondents say their budget or security increased by an average of 34%. 65% of respondents say the increased budget enabled investment in security technology to prevent and/or detect breaches.

The top five technology investments are:

  1. Security Incident & Even Management (SIEM) (50%).
  2. Endpoint security (48%).
  3. Intrusion detection and prevention (44%).
  4. Encryption and tokenization (38%).*
  5. Web application firewalls (37%).
ponemon-institute-graph-1

Source: Ponemon Institute

2. Senior management level of concern about cyber defense has risen dramatically to 7.8.
Before the Target breach, the level was 5.7 out of ten. In addition, 55% of respondents rate senior management’s concern as extremely high. Prior to the Target breach, only 13% of respondents believed senior management was extremely concerned. Overall concern among C-level executives was up by about 37%.

ponemon-institute-graph-3

Source: Ponemon Institute

ponemon-institute-graph-2

Source: Ponemon Institute

3. Senior management realizes the need for a stronger cyber defense posture.
The majority of respondents (72%) reported that after the breaches, their companies provided tools and personnel to contain and minimize breaches. 67% say their organization made sure IT had the budget necessary to defend against breaches.

4. Companies have changed their operations and compliance processes.
60% of respondents say they made changes to operations and compliance processes to improve their ability to prevent and detect breaches.

5. Many companies fail to prevent the breach with the technology they currently have.
65% of respondents say that attacks evaded existing preventive security controls. 46% say the breach was discovered by accident.

*If you are considering solutions that ensure PCI compliance, the Black Box EncrypTight™ system provides multi-site WAN encryption at speeds up to 10-Gbps and across Layers 2-4. It also eliminates the hassles of creating and managing numerous VPN tunnels.

Solution Briefs
PCI DSS Compliance
Network Security for Finance

Machine vision: 100% assembly line inspection

Machine vision technology—the image-based automatic inspection process—has matured greatly and is now becoming an indispensable tool in manufacturing to increase quality and profitability. USB 3.0, with its 5-Gbps throughput and ability to send power and data over the same line, has greatly contributed to this growth.

What is machine vision?
Machine vision is an image-based, automatic inspection and analysis system for applications, such as process control. It automatically takes pictures to inspect materials as they come down the assembly line.

Other machine vision applications include:

  • PCB inspection.
  • Medical vial inspection.
  • Robot guidance and orientation of components.
  • Engine parts inspection.

Machine vision uses a small industrial camera and lights mounted near an assembly line to take pictures of product as it passes. The images are then analyzed by software to determine if various aspects of the product meet acceptable specifications. For instance, if a label is misplaced, the bottle will be rejected. All of this is done at incredibly high speeds—fractions of a second.

Machine-Vision

Years ago, machine vision systems were very expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. But in the last 15 years or so, advances in technology have brought the cost of machine vision down, making it a practical solution for 100 percent quality control. And the cost for implementing machine vision keeps decreasing as technological capabilities increase.

Machine vision is now an indispensable tool for quality assurance, sorting, and material handling in every industry, including electronics, food processing, pharmaceuticals, packaging, automotive, etc. It is an economical way to make sure sub-spec product is rejected. Machine vision can be used to inspect for geometry, placement, packaging, labeling, seal integrity, finish, color, pattern, bar code, and almost any other parameter you can think of.

USB 3.0 and machine vision
USB 3.0 brings a number of advantages to machine vision systems. Because of its 5-Gbps throughput, ten times more than USB 2.0, it eliminates problems of stability and low latency for image transmission and camera control. USB 3.0 enables the transmission of higher-resolution, higher-frame rate video with no loss of quality.

USB 3.0 also sends data and power on the same line. This is enough to power a camera without worrying about a separate power supply or power line.

In addition, compared to older systems, USB 3.0 is plug-and-play, making it easy to swap out cameras and other hardware, such as USB 3.0 extenders, hubs, and other devices.

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