6 Things to remember when investing in digital signage

Digital signage can truly be an enigma. Today, it seems to be all around us in forms as diverse as interactive flat-panel displays, signs the size of buildings, and, most recently, on mobile devices we carry around with us.

Digital signage can be a very effective and surprisingly affordable communications medium for businesses and institutions of all types and sizes. But if you’re just getting started with a digital signage project — as well as designing the AV infrastructure behind the screens — you may be unsure of where exactly to begin and what all is needed to make it happen. Here are six things to remember when investing in digital signage.

1. Budget
A digital signage system is not a one-time purchase. The budget needs to include costs beyond the initial investment. Future purchases will likely include software upgrades, new hardware, tech support, and, possibly, training. A company may even seek outside design consultants occasionally to completely refresh its look. In general, a budget that accounts for up to 24 months is better than one that only considers the first outlay of cash for displays.

2. Scalability
Another factor in setting up digital signage systems that is often overlooked is scalability. An inflexible system seriously limits the ability to adjust, add, and change hardware and displays in the future. Content and functionality of the signage system will be in flux as well. Expanding signage configurations is par for the course when setting up a signage system. Other departments will want to deploy it once they see how effective it is. Companies get bigger and change locations, add offices, upgrade facilities. Signage needs to be able to scale with the organization.

3. Involve more than one person
Digital signage shouldn’t be software that goes onto one computer with only one person running the show. Many people in an organization should be involved in digital signage content and configurations. Licensing agreements or Web-based systems easily accommodate multiple users, and the effort that goes into creating content and maintaining the system won’t need to start at square one with each personnel change. Continue reading

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3 Benefits of using managed switches

Managed and unmanaged network switches both have their purposes. Here’s a quick look at the advantages of using managed switches.

1.)    Minimizing network downtime
A major advantage of managed switches is the failover redundancy they add to your network, helping to achieve less network downtime. Recent studies exploring IT downtime found that that the average business loses $159,331 per year through downtime and data recovery. It’s estimated that businesses’ ability to generate revenue is reduced by 29%.

Managed switches can help companies avoid these problems by allowing for failover links in the network. Protocols, like an Alpha-Ring topology, that achieve a 30 millisecond or less failover time after a network link is broken help minimize downtime and help enable a more convenient network infrastructure with reduced cable costs. Standardized protocols like Rapid Spanning Tree (RSTP), Multiple Spanning Tree (MSTP), and Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) allow for failover links and interoperability over multiple vendor switches.

In addition, features like the Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) enable the user to add more bandwidth for high flow-rate applications without changing the cable type on the switch. These features of managed switches, operating alone or in combination, can create a low-downtime, low-latency network.

2.)    Cutting operational expenses
Another area in which the managed switch can assist in lowering IT costs is in operational expenses. This can be accomplished because managed switches enable you to remotely access and monitor your network, removing the need to keep staff onsite 24/7 at remote locations just to monitor network health.

Management communications tools like Telnet, RS-232, a Web browser, or SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) enable you to get an update on the status of your network. And they give you the ability to access and control your device remotely in order to make changes or troubleshoot issues. Managed switches feature advanced network diagnostic tools such as Port Mirroring and Remote Network Monitoring (RMON) that give you a visual breakdown of network traffic per port, as well as the ability to troubleshoot and bench test network equipment/devices. Continue reading