Radio World named Wayne Pecena as the recipient of its 2014 Excellence in Engineering Award. Would you like to know why? Many engineers think of Wayne as their virtual mentor, and an authoritative source for learning new broadcast engineering skills, especially in computer networking. Chris Tobin and I talk with Wayne about educating engineers.
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Kirk: This Week in Radio Tech episode 239 is brought to you by Axia Audio and the new Fusion AOIP mixing console, packed with features, refined from over a decade's worth of IP audio experience. By the Telos iPort Plus. iPort Plus is the multi-codec gateway connecting multiple channels over IP and by Lawo and the new Crystal Clear Virtual Radio Console. Crystal Clear is the radio console with a multi-touch touch screen interface.
Hey, Radio World named Wayne Pecina as the recipient of its 2014 Excellence in Engineering Award. Would you like to know why? Many engineers think of Wayne as their virtual mentor and an authoritative source for learning new broadcast engineering skills especially in computer networking. Chris Tobin and I talk with Wayne about educating engineers.
Hey welcome in, it's time for This Week in Radio Tech. I'm Kirk Harnack, your host and delighted to be with you. Yes, founder of this auspicious podcast. This is our 239th episode. This is the show where we talk about everything from the microphone to the light bulb at the top of the tower and everything in between.
"Hey," you say, "Well where in the world is Kirk right now?" I am, here let me get that shadow out of the way, I'm at a little standalone FM radio station in Cleveland, Mississippi and it's WKXY. It's one of my stations here in the Mississippi Delta area. We'll tell you a bit more about it later on. Our co-host is Chris Tobin. Chris is the best-dressed engineer in radio and he is, I assume, coming to us live from somewhere in Manhattan. Hi, Chris.
Chris: Hello. Yes. I'm in my home office, at the home office here at the bunker. Coming from Manhattan, no crazy transmitter rooms today, no rooftops, nothing like that. I just thought I'd go for a normal thing.
Kirk: How about the two-sentence weather report? What's New York City like today?
Chris: New York City today was clear skies, temperatures around 40 degrees, and this evening it's going to drop into the 30's, and I think there's a cold-front rolling through and I guess next week we have some unsettled weather mass coming through. [Inaudible 0:02:08].
Chris: Yeah. I was scheduled to do work on the Empire State Building tomorrow night but we've had to postpone it until the temperatures-at the, what is it, 81st floor, it's about a thousand feet. Temperatures are going to be hovering around 23 degrees and working on the antennae connectors is not going to go well. Even with a heat gun.
Kirk: How does the cold propagate along the metal antennae feed-lines from the antennae outdoors to the inside? Is that a factor?
Chris: To the inside? No. No. they all go through bulk-heads that prevent that from happening but working outside the wind is just steady. If you can just imagine a steady breeze, say unlike the Bahamas, but say in the Arctic Circle. Try and move your fingers after about an hour, a half hour. It's interesting. Even with gloves on.
Kirk: I don't want to think about that.
Kirk: Wow. You've got to tell us more about this sometime about working outside at the Empire. I didn't know that you would do that but I guess somebody has to.
Chris: Well I do it on the-it's on the parapet, I'm not hanging from the mast or the mooring mast, I leave that to Tom [Sullivan] and his boys. No. I'm doing the smaller stuff that you can do with my rigging gear and stuff. I do have a rigger's harness so I'm not doing it-I'm not doing it, what do they call it, free-spacing.
Kirk: Yeah. Hey our guest, and I'm really just delighted to have this guest on the show, we've promoted it a few times-By the way folks, if you're listening or watching the show I wish that you would go like us on Facebook. It's This Week in Radio Tech or maybe it's TWIRT, I don't know which it is, but look for This Week in Radio Tech, you'll find it.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, "twirtshow" on Twitter, and we'll keep you informed of who the guests are, when they're coming up, and we'll remind you that we're about to do the show live. That way you can turn it on and watch us or listen to use live while you're going about your day or you could just pay full attention. Delighted to have this fella on from College Station Texas where they just got Internet, it's Wayne Pecina [SP]. Hey Wayne, how are you?
Wayne: Good evening. Doing fine, Kirk.
Kirk: Good deal. Wayne, I guess I have met you virtually first because I've been involved with SB for a few years and I started seeing your name associated with giving webinars associated with the SBE teaching things about Internet protocol and IT, information technology. Tell us, what's your title there at the station that you work at? At the university?
Wayne: Well I'm with-our office is in the, we're part of the Office of Information Technology. I am with KAMU Radio and Television. We are basically public broadcasting NPR and PBS stations that are owned by the university and within our organizational structure we fall under the Office of Information Technology.
Kirk: Oh. Okay. All right. Oh, yeah. I just found the website here. Oh. Wow. That's complicated. KAMU.TAMU.edu.
Wayne: Yep. So we're pretty, what I would call, your basic public radio, public TV station in terms of formats and the type of programming and so forth.
Kirk: Now some public television and radio stations are really quite on the fore-front of trying new things. One of them that I can think of is the one in Cleveland, Ohio. WCPN and the other stations associated there. Boy, I can't think of their slogan or the idea center they have there but they've got quite a program going there.
You on the other hand, you're very innovative with the stuff that you teach. Give us just a few sentences, tell us about, set us up for the rest of the conversation in terms of what you do there at KAMU and what kind of cutting edge things you're doing to educate engineers like me.
Wayne: Well, in terms of what I would describe as my day-job title is Director of Engineering, and thus I have responsibility for all of our technical operations. In addition to the broadcast side we have larger kind of behind the scenes operation within the university system which is really a video network for distance education purposes that spans between all of the university system parts. We have 12 campuses around the state, a number of agency offices, and remote out-reach centers. That is really where I sort of got my feet wet in the networking business many years ago as that video-conferencing network began to grow.
Kirk: You know, distance learning has been around for a while, but we used to call distance learning just having a classroom in a town that didn't have any other classrooms and you'd send university professors from the university hub out to the remote small towns. My dad was a university professor at Eastern Kentucky University and did that kind of thing. Then they got into some computers, in fact I think my dad was early-involved with that, but you've got video.
Boy, I was associated with Kentucky Educational Television and the universities in Kentucky. When they were doing some of that, I didn't design any of it I was just watching what they were doing, so distance learning can mean a lot of different things. What does distance really mean today when you say it?
Wayne: Well, certainly...
Kirk: Is it video? Computers? Both?
Wayne: I think it's a little bit of a mixture of everything. When we began in distance learning, the way we really became involved, is because at the time distance learning was a television studio with a satellite link coupled to it and usually the return or the feedback from the remote students was really pretty high-tech. It was voice phone calls, or the high-tech way of doing things was fax machines at the time. This was really in the pre-what you would consider, the pre-Internet days. Certainly the pre-email days. That is where we began in the distance learning and Texas A&M being one of the, I guess, key programs as agriculture and those initial distance learning classes were all agricultural-related and in fact funded by a grant from the Department of Agriculture. Actually there were several land-grant colleges throughout the nation that were basically all doing about the same thing we were and they were sharing agricultural programs between the different institutions. That began, again, what was simply a television studio production which in this case was a class distributed by satellite. As the technology began to evolve that more or less transitioned into interactive video, video-conferencing, probably a more common name.
At that time all proprietary technology, probably you know $250,000 dollars' worth of equipment to equip a video classroom basically using telephone company provided circuits such as T-1 circuits for interconnection. Over time of course that infrastructure technology evolved, standard-based, and with that evolved the network. Somewhere in the mix came what we think of as the Internet and everything really became just a big IP network.
Video just became another application riding on that network, and kind of got us to where we are today where certainly we still have the interactive video, you have applications that reside virtually on everyone's PC or hand-held device such as Skype that again is just an application. Today we find within the university still the interactive video is used, web-conferencing certainly has taken a very dominant standpoint in that. So again there's many forms of technology that have evolved into distance learning today.
Kirk: Wow. Wow. It sure has evolved a lot. Man.
Kirk: Hey. I want to take a quick break; we've got to talk about our first sponsor on the show. By the way you're watching This Week in Radio Tech episode number 239. our guest is Wayne Pecina and Chris Tobin is with us. Chris is going to have a question or two as soon as we get back from our commercial. Our first sponsor is Axia and a brand-spanking new console that Axia is just now shipping. If you follow Axia or follow me on Facebook then you may have seen some pictures already of the first few consoles we've shipped. A few went to France and a few are here in the United States.
In fact there's a brand new big project going on on the West Coast that these consoles are right in the middle of. It's the Fusion Console from Axia. The Fusion AOIP Mixing Console. Look at this thing. We showed this at the NAB show and now they're finally shipping. These things are absolutely gorgeous. I mean just such a pretty console. I've got an Axia Element Console here in the studio behind me and the Fusion is really the next generation. We've taken all of the good features in Axia, excuse me in the Element Console, and built upon those making things more convenient, giving you more options for hooking it up, and giving you more features. There's even an expert mode for some really advanced features. Now the Fusion Console from Axia can have anywhere from four to 40 fader channels. Each one has instant access to any source. You can assign any source type to any channel. So a microphone, a turn-table, remote codec, a hybrid-It doesn't matter.
You know it used to matter when we had consoles that we're just all hardware and defined by the hardware but that's no longer the case. On this console, on the Fusion, you've got high resolution OLED displays above each fader strip and they display the selected source, the full-time confidence metering so you can see pre-fader metering going on, talk-back status, pan and fade information, and plenty more. These are really meaningful displays.
There's integrated intercom capability. There's built-in IFB for two-way communications to individual talent positions with their headphone feeds and mic's plus a variety of optional drop-in intercom modules that connect that console, your Axia Fusion console, to intercoms throughout a plant and even off-site.
If you saw a video on Facebook and on YouTube that we just put up about how Cumulus is doing this. They're using another product from the Telos Alliance to get intercom across the country very conveniently. Automatic Mix Minus [SP] as Axia has always had but now with even more features. There's an expert mode in the Fusion Console that allows construction of customized mixed-minuses.
So if you're used to doing remote broadcasts with a stereo path between you and the remote broadcast and you want to interrupt just one side or just the other side you can set that up. You can define that. You have very granular control over the mix-minus assignment, bus assignments, IFB gain, per channel talk-back insertion. There's a very flexible record mode so you can hit record, the big record button on the console, and get exactly the feed that you want.
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If you've been waiting for that next thing from Axia, well, it's here. Finally, they're going out the door. The metal-work is just gorgeous. The switches are aircraft grade, they feel fantastic. I really encourage you to take a strong look at this console. Folks have been-folks at Axia told me they've got a bunch of them pre-ordered so if you order one it may be a few weeks but I know they're cranking them out as fast as they can because they are so beautiful.
Check it out on the web. Go to AxiaAudio.com and look for the Fusion Console. It's just a brand new site, brand new page, to tell you about this Axia Console. Oh, by the way, it's surround ready. If you want to do 5.1 with Fusion you certainly can. Thanks a lot to Axia and the new Fusion Console, now shipping, for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech.
All right, it's TWIRT episode 239, Chris Tobin is with us. Chris you have long-been an advocate of education about engineering subjects and in fact you yourself have done a pretty good job of conducting seminars and you've done just a great deal of one-on-one education. I'm speaking of personal experiences; you've taught me a lot. Maybe you've got some questions or comments for Wayne as we move through our conversation with him about educating.
Chris: Well, I actually do. With the education side of things in your experience and the environment that you're in how do you see it as students who are coming out of IT? Maybe going into broadcast or dabbling in the concept of radio TV reading the article in Radio World that you have here and the stuff you've been doing in the distance learning and all of the other things that are going on in the industry and as they go.
The caliber of individuals, or the curiosity, do you see hope? Not hope. I should say, do you see people taking it and taking the broadcast element of what we all know as a passion, enjoys beyond just simple numbers, and go with it and take the IT world of the new technology and morph it into what our passions have been.
Because in the article you happen to make mention of the fact that a lot of folks who are SB members are seasoned RF people, seasoned transmitter antennae design people, and the new up and coming if you will, are IT professionals and they have no experience with RF. Even though the Ethernet cable they're working with is an RF source.
How do you see that chasm and where things are going? Because I know I learned from guys who knew it for 50 years. I've passed it onto students I'm working with at Hofstra University, and I've been helping them and trying to understand the other side of what they're doing with IT broadcasting. "Oh, yeah. By the way this is what happens when your transmitter does this, this is what happens when the antennae does that, here's why the signal does what it does," and all of these things and how they add up.
Wayne: Well I think certainly there is a transformation that is occurring particularly in the skill-sets and knowledge needed by broadcast engineers today, and particularly future broadcast engineers, because of the impact of the IT industry upon the broadcast industry. Certainly that has occurred in the radio side of things for quite some time. You look particularly at Kurt Smitchen [SP] of the Axia Consoles, if you really look at the infrastructure behind that console it's an IP network. Plain and simple. Using actually some fairly advanced technology within IP networking, that's beginning to of course move into the television world as well.
So the future broadcast engineers certainly are going to have to be well-versed in IT knowledge and skills. One of the aspects, at least that a lot of my educational efforts have been, is on IP networking which I see as sort of the foundation of pretty much all of the skill or the knowledge areas of IT. IT of course is pretty diverse, there's a lot of different specialties and areas of specific specialization but again I look at the IP networking being kind of that foundation technology.
In terms of looking at where are some of the new talent coming from, particularly the younger talent, I think it's going to be coming from the IT industry because there's going to be opportunities for either experienced IT people to move into the broadcast world as the industry demands that skill-set but yeah your comment is exactly owned. Those people generally are not going to come with the RF skills, even some of the fundamental audio and video interfacing skills and knowledge, that is taken by granted for most broadcast engineers. Certainly everyone had to learn this stuff but that's kind of a given.
So from an education stand-point I think there's a lot of opportunity to address some of the newcomers to the industry with basically teaching some of the fundamentals of broadcast engineering, whether it be RF, audio, or video, so that they come up to speed with that knowledge.
Chris: Well I'll tell you what I'd noticed just recently this week working with a couple of folks. They're IT-based individuals. Two things. One I know the pay-scale is very different with an entry-level IT job and that of an entry-level broadcast engineer. That's a whole other issue.
But one thing I did discover working with this individual is the lack of understanding of the work-flow in broadcast. It was funny because when we were talking, it was a group of us, and I was probably one of two broadcasters. The rest were IT individuals who had sort of been thrown into the broadcast environment and trying to learn it and figure it out. The one thing they haven't really caught onto was the work-flow. When I saw work-flow it's like if you've worked in a sports newsroom or a sports bullpen you know there's a certain level of urgency and the urgency is because the writer, the reporter, the presenter is crashing as the term goes. Crashing on a story and getting ready to go to air.
One thing I've discovered working with IT folks, they're idea of mission-critical, what's crashing, or what's urgent is usually pre-empted by booting the computer and doing things that just disrupt the entire work-flow to the point where it comes to a standstill. In what you're doing with the 14 engineers, which I think is what you said you have, that work with you, the student environment you're in, and the various campuses-Do you ever find yourself sort of taking a step back or realizing, "Wow. I need to sort of explain the work-flow to sort of justify why we're doing this." Rather than just simply say, "You do this, you do this, and here's the outcome."
Wayne: Yeah. I think the urgency or the mind-set that the show must go on is well-ingrained in most broadcast engineers or anyone from the broadcast industry. So as we began to make that transition again through that evolution of distance learning all of, I think, the TV side of the house understood and knew if a class was to start at 12-noon sharp that was the time it started. That's the way it works in the broadcast world, particularly when you're dealing with live programs.
From more of the IT there was not that sense of urgency and that was kind of a lot of-it took a while, I guess, to bring that mindset of how things must happen on a schedule. You think about a class as not really being that important, certainly it's not a Super-Bowl or anything like that, but if you think about a college four-credit class in a major university environment where resources are basically scarce, as a result you have very tight scheduling and if you have technical issues that disrupt this class on Monday where do you make it up?
Because before you know it it's time for the next class, and the next class after that. There's really not necessary-It's like in the commercial world and you've sold all of your slots and you mess one up there's not really any good spaces to, again, do that make-up. So it is important, you know, to treat that kind of non-broadcast stuff with a seriousness that it must happen by just the nature of experience in the business.
The broadcast people tend to have that and again it just takes some time for someone purely from that IP background that says, "Oh, well we'll just reboot everything." Okay. That's really not necessarily the right solution at times. Or you find yourself-Now the IT people are kind of doing the maintenance work really within the window that is very similar to the midnight transmitter maintenance windows.
In fact within our network infrastructure we have a maintenance window that basically runs from midnight to 6:00 A.M. and that's pretty much the same transmitter maintenance window that I kind of grew up in, happened to be Sunday night was kind of the routine transmitter maintenance window from midnight to 6:00 A.M. So the technology now that is within education is so ingrained and so important it really just becomes like a utility. It's expected to be there all of the time and work all the time.
Kirk: Good words, Wayne, and I appreciate knowing that some emphasis is being given to maintenance schedules that fit what broadcasters are used to. Like you said we used to take transmitters down every Sunday night for cleaning and maintenance. Hey friends, you're watching This Week in Radio Tech episode 239. Wayne Pecina is our guest. Wayne, you just received an award from Radio World Magazine. Tell us about what that award is.
Wayne: Well, the award I must say was quite a surprise when I received the phone call regarding that. I was named the Radio World 2014, I think, Engineering Excellence Award. Specifically that was, I guess, targeted to me because of some of the education efforts that I have been involved with particularly with the Society of Broadcast Engineers really beginning back in about 2010 that is really focused upon bringing IT knowledge to broadcast engineers.
So again working from the stand-point you have an experienced seasoned broadcast engineer but the IT knowledge and skills are kind of some of the new stuff, particularly I have focused on IP networking aspects because once again that has been my, I've maintained that's kind of the foundation technology that everything else is built on.
So over the year since then I've probably conducted, oh, pushing now 40 different education events ranging from online webinars hosted by the SBE to in-person presentations ranging from NS work-shops at NAB, regional NS work-shops, various state broadcaster associations, annual conventions. Certainly Texas of course is one but other states from Tennessee to Alabama to SBE chapters on the East and West coast. So there's been, I guess, over let's say that's been about four years now. Again about 40 different events that I have conducted. Again all focused upon IP networking for the broadcast engineer.
Kirk: Yeah. I'm on the SBE website and if you Google for example SBE webinar Wayne Pecina you can get to a web page called "Webinars by SBE". You can see upcoming webinars and it's not all just IT stuff, there's webinars about Chief Operator responsibility, HD radio and trends and advancement, ATSC 3.0, but then there's a whole list of on-demand webinars and a number of these I have attended live when they had been put together in the last year, two years or so.
But there's a whole multi-part series, Wayne, that you've done on IP networking. Part one through part six with titles like "The IP Address Management", "Routing and Switching", "The OSI Model", and then you have this-I've got to see this one that's on here about IPV6 I believe. Is that in the can already or is that coming up?
Wayne: No. that one's been done in the past, it's probably even time maybe for an updated IPV6 simply because that side of the industry has certainly moved forward by leaps and bounds probably since that specific webinar was done. So that one might be due for an updated version here coming up in 2015.
Kirk: Got you, got you. Wow look. This multi-part-If someone were to go back and watch, now there's a cost for this. These are very valuable lessons. You can get an enormous amount of learning out of each hour or hour and a half. I guess a lot of these are an hour and 20 minutes or so. Certainly worthwhile especially if you're an engineer and you can persuade your employer to pick up some of the cost on this. Man that can be valuable, you know, that kind of education. But even valuable to pay for yourself as I've done. Wayne, for someone who hasn't seen your webinars on networking and these fundamentals of IP, where do you suggest they start?
Wayne: Well certainly there are several that are on the SBE website that are available. You know certainly if you're really coming into things without really any background I would say certainly start at number one and move from there. On the other hand a lot of people do come with some level of IP networking knowledge so then selectively, for instance, the one that is on routing and switching, or IP addressing, you know again those are kind of focused areas so it certainly would be appropriate to just target the ones that you're interested in or you feel you need some additional knowledge in.
Kirk: I want to ask you about a title, we're going to take another quick break here, but this phrase, "A Network of Networks" You've got several webinars that have to do with this. For example you've got one called "Advanced IP Networking: Routing the Network of Networks" and I want to find out what that means. "The Network of Networks". That sounds complicated but maybe you mean something that we're already doing now anyway, so hang on.
Our show, This Week in Radio Tech, is brought to you in part by the folks at Telos and I want to make sure you know about a product that Telos makes called the iPort. Now if you don't need the iPort, you know go make a sandwich or something right now. But if you don't know if you need it or not you might.
The iPort is a super powerful multi-codec gateway. It's just amazing how this thing is being used. In fact coming up at-There's a great picture of the inside of it. Coming up at the next NAB show in April, during the Broadcast Engineering Conference, I'm giving a paper about an incredible us of this multi-codec gateway. The iPort plus.
It's just amazing what this product can do in terms of transferring live audio programming from one place to another. It can do multi-path sending of audio to and from a number of locations. It can do UDP packets, it can do TCP, and it can do multi-cast. We're going to be telling you about a network, well the largest commercial network, in Australia with something like 45 download locations, 45 locations, and each location getting feed from both satellite and terrestrial. I think someday they may end up turning the satellite off but right now dual-feed to all of these locations. Plus many of them are in time-zones where they want to do time-zone delay. The iPort Plus does that. It's an option for time-zone delay.
You may want to use the famous App-Techs Coding Algorithm. Well, the iPort Plus does that, too. It's just incredible flexible. It just sits there and runs. It's an incredibly reliable appliance.
The iPort Plus was originally designed to let folks who have let's say Axia, a live-wire studio in two different locations, let them connect to each other either over the public Internet or over a private IP link. Maybe a private LAN or microwave IP link. Whatever you may have. But this allowed multiple channels to go between two locations. The iPort has been available for, I don't know, eight or nine years or so now. It's been out for quite a while.
But the iPort Plus builds on the original iPort's design and adds so many more things that make it applicable for extraordinarily reliable program-distributions with a number of channels. In fact an iPort can actually send audio programming to as many-one iPort can send to 96 different locations. That's pretty impressive. At the same time. That's not two-way. It can receive about eight, but it can send to 96. It's got built-in AAC, AAC Load-Delay, High-Efficiency AAC, as well as MPEG layer-2, MP3, linear, and the optional App-Techs Enhanced.
If you want to-well, I wish I could tell you. A large radio network recently had a problem with one of their point-to-point IP connections here in the U.S. and they ended up having to route a bunch of weekend programming, well. I can't tell you the story but I can tell you the iPort absolutely saved the day and the iPort allowed literally millions of listeners to hear some sports programming that they were very interested in. It's just an amazing box. If you need to get multiple channels of audio from one place to another or from one place to multiple places let me encourage you to check out the Telos iPort. Dual power supplies, fully redundant there, it's just an amazing box.
I along with the research and development team at Telos have been working on this product for some years and it was great to start with and now it's got even more features including virtual mixers built right in if you need to do a little channel-jimmying around before something gets sent or after you receive it. You can do that. Check it out on the web at Telos-systems.com and look for the iPort. It's actually now called the iPort Plus due to so many enhances that are in it. Thanks a lot to Telos for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech, and to the iPort for being such a hero, for saving the day, and helping networks get audio programming from here to there quite easily over the public Internet if you'd like.
All right. We're talking to Wayne Pecina, he's an educator. He is the-he's gotten the Excellence in Engineering award from Radio World Magazine, and that's saying something. Not many people have received that. I have been watching, or participating, in Wayne's webinars for some time and learning a lot of the important thing about networking. That's one of the things that he's an expert at. So Wayne we were going to ask you about the network of networks. What does that mean and why do I need to know about that?
Wayne: Well, that of course is a series of webinar that all use the term "The Network of Networks". I have to give credit to Kristen Owens [SP] who's the SBE Education Director in the national office, that she does market. You know the webinars, not just the ones that I do but of all of the various SB webinars, and that term we came up with is a way to, I guess, to take some of the fundamental technology that we were going to discuss in the webinars but also maybe add a little bit of mystery to it from the marketing stand-point. So from the geeky title that I would come up with we would talk about building a segmented network. Well I think you might agree that "The Network of Networks" has a little bit more intrigue to it from the marketing stand-point.
So basically, the webinar series does focus on basically the construction of what I might consider a best-practices network that you would implement today. Specifically oriented toward the broadcast facility and by a network of networks, really the technology is focused on building a segmented network. In other words you have one physical network infrastructure.
Certainly today that is going to be Ethernet whether it's copper, fiber, or most likely a combination of the two, but you have one physical network infrastructure. Across that network infrastructure you have effectively built then separate networks by utilizing generally VLAN technology so that you separate different functions, whether it be for some policy, for security, or in terms of broadcast environment for performance.
So in other words we have our radio automation network, our radio IP audio content network, that's separate from what might be considered the business network or the front-office network. Maybe it's separate from the news network and so forth. So again you have several networks but it's built across a single physical network infrastructure and thus that's kind of where the term "The Network of Networks" came from. So through the webinar series it's kind of a step-by-step approach of first obviously you have to have the physical network environment, moving that up through Ethernet switching and constructing VLAN's, of course then into the routing and so forth and so on.
Kirk: Hey, Chris Tobin, let me ask you in modern broadcast facilities, and I've just built a new one in Greeneville, Mississippi, and we ended up with three distinctly different computer networks there. One, the business network that's hooked to the Internet. One that we call our Rivendell Network, it connects our Rivendell play-out machines to their server and we want to keep that on its own switch. Then the Axia live-wire network which is not directly connected to the Internet.
So Chris are you finding that more and more broadcast facilities, instead of having one flat network, are having several networks that are either connected to each other or maybe not?
Chris: Oh. Yeah. Actually I think it's becoming necessary by design. I think what's happening is more broadcasters are finding out you can't have a flat network and think that everything will work just fine by plugging it in. VLAN's are very popular and that's probably one of the best ways to do it. In the example you just gave that should become the norm.
I know for years places I've worked at where we were installing computers and we still had some of the system-36 stuff, the IBM main-frames, you know that concept was always a separate system from the other stuff that talked to it. Then the system-36's that had a PC attached to it back in the day, that had a separate network for the PC that talked to the main-frame. So that thinking has been along for a long time, I think we've just sort of become, I don't want to say lazy, but just took the easy way out. So plugging stuff in, just put it into a switch, and go.
Now we're discovering with our automation systems the demand they put on them they're very chatty-Systems like say Axia or the Weak-Net [SP], or Bolovo Adante, and all of the other systems now that are IP. You have to, by necessity, I mean if you build a facility today and you don't have segmented networks or some method of separating everything, you can put bridges between them, you will run into a problem. I'm discovering talking to a lot of folks, they don't do it, they build what they think is a robust setup, and then one night or one day something goes wrong and everything just comes apart.
Then they go back and say, "Oh. Well maybe we should be building out these separate little guys." So yeah. I think moving forward today that you should be thinking three networks minimum for what you're doing. That would be the smart approach. I could be wrong, but Wayne can speak to that as well. But I think that's the way to do it. If I was building something or advising somebody I would tell them that, definitely.
Kirk: Wayne, when we're thinking about building different networks or segregating functions, what's probably the first thing you think about? What functionalities are separate? I just gave the example of your business network, Rivendell because they just wanted those to talk to each other very tightly although it's tied into the Internet network, too, and then our AIOP network happens to be Axia live-wire but it could be something else. What's the first thing you do to think about? Do I need to segregate these functions?
Wayne: Well, there are several reasons that you would want to consider when you do decide how to separate the networks. In some, particularly let's take a large corporate environment, you're going to have basically corporate policies that come into play. Maybe if you're particularly in an environment there may be even some regulatorial-type restrictions that's going to require you to have certain security provisions for instance.
From a practical stand-point outside of any type of external regulation generally I think the two practical things you look at are performance, particularly in the broadcast environment because we deal with real-time media and that has some pretty strict performance criteria that the network simply has to be able to perform at a certain level to deliver that real-time content. Whether it be audio streams, video streams, or a combination of both. Then finally the other, I think, important is from a security aspect. Security can take on many different, I guess, perspectives.
Certainly in the news recently we've heard a lot about, I guess, some issues with Sony and security in terms of computer networks but from a more practical side even the security to keep one part of a station operation from disrupting another one. For instance in your environment where you talk about your Rivendell network, obviously you would not want some incident in let's say a business computer to interrupt the operation of that automation system, to disrupt your on-air content.
So again segmenting networks is a way to effectively isolate them as well. Outside of the corporate policy or governmental regulation performance and security I think are the two main reasons to look at doing that. Do you really want to build three separate networks? Well yes, you do virtually. But not necessarily physical. As Chris pointed out...
Wayne: Go ahead.
Kirk: I'm sorry. Go ahead, go ahead.
Wayne: Chris pointed out a good point back if you look at the way the networking industry has evolved it all began with proprietary systems and you typically had physically separate networks. But now as everything has basically migrated or whatever the right word is into an Ethernet-based IP network where you have a common physical infrastructure maintaining one physical, let's say, cable plan with the idea of cable is also referring to fiber-optics, you want the ease of a common physical plan across the facility whether that is a small radio station in Mississippi or maybe that is a large corporate environment that might span multiple floors of a building.
You have that common physical infrastructure but again by using a segmented approach you break that network up into the segments. Put the appropriate host devices on the segments and then you're able to control those. Where there's access needed between different network segments then you apply routing. You can apply routing with access lists, and of course all of the myriad of devices of firewalls and access control for when you do need to access these from a remote location.
Kirk: You know, I'm not very comfortable talking about VLAN's because I have never myself had to implement VLAN's. In my situation it's always been easier just to buy a 200 dollar switch and make that my switch for Rivendell or a thousand dollar switch and that's my Axia switch. So I'm really intrigued by the notion of VLAN's and how to implement them but when I think of implementing VLAN's I really do think, "Well that's going to be a 35 hundred dollar switch." I also consider that in a small town, Cleveland, Mississippi, Greenville, Mississippi, if this switch ever dies I can't go to Wal-Mart and get one. You know?
I'm going to have to be a bit more professional about this than maybe the area that I'm in will allow me to be. So I'm perfectly happy at the moment having separate physical networks but I end up tying them together, and you tell me if this is just totally unsafe. A few people have told me it's not a great idea, other people say, "Yeah. It's perfectly fine." Dual-nic a computer or two here and there where I have access through one nic through the Internet and then I can use the browser on that remote computer to look at the things on the isolated network that I need to.
I think that's a pretty common practical question. Do I have to use VLAN's or routing between LAN's? Or can I say dual or even triple-nic, put you know three Ethernet interfaces, in a pc that I want to use for multiple-access?
Wayne: Well that approach certainly is a very practical way to do things. Particularly it is very commonly done in your example, you have an automation host computer and you have a private network, and you have a public aspect. You just simply put two nic-cards in that computer. That certainly is a practical way, it probably is not the best from a pure security stand-point as you're relying on the integrity of that operating system, whatever it may be, on that host device to one not have any bugs in it, to let any leakage between those separate networks, or probably more important is some type of external ingress from the myriad of the computer viruses, bugs, and all of that stuff that would in turn impact that network.
Kirk: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Wayne: Yeah. Some of the policy corporate or even regulatory policy would even in some cases prevent such things.
Kirk: That's true.
Wayne: Because of the security risk. On the other hand it is a very practical way to address things today. Particularly in, you know, maybe more appropriate for a smaller environment than a large corporate network or a large station network let's say.
Chris: Yeah, double-host, double home-
Kirk: Chris Tobin. Yeah. Go ahead Chris
Chris: Double-nic'ing in a corporate environment in a publicly-traded company is technically a security threat-factor and is not permitted.
Chris: I can tell you that from the two corporations I've been employed by.
Kirk: Yeah. Yeah.
Chris: They do not like that. But in your situation, and you're talking about, "Do I VLAN or do I do three separate switches or two?" I think the trick, and here's what Wayne is saying, you need to assess your environment and I think in your case you're totally justified in going with the switches the way you did and not to think of it in a negative way but to think of it in a practical way.
Because you don't have at your fingertips the resources that a larger, say group-facility, might offer up. So yeah, you could do layered, two-layer, three switches in a core and go crazy VLAN'ing. But no I think in your situation it makes total sense. What you do need to consider security no matter what and then the other thing with what you're saying with the double-nic or what about this what about that, it's what is it called? A unified threat-management box. Something at the port where your Internet is coming in and making sure your firewall and everything else is as secure as you can make it. Then you've got yourself a nice solid little setup.
I mean I think that having three separate switches in the event of a failure, why not? I mean go for it. If you can do it, definitely do it. It makes total sense. In broadcast environment it's up time. When I had an Axia system I had separate switches for many things and I was basically bucking the system and going against the preferred install. But you know what? We had a couple of hiccups, didn't interrupt the operation. Things kept moving right along.
Kirk: Wayne, the next time that you're asked to explain or give an analogy for, "What's a unified threat management device or box? A UTM." Tell them, "That's the IT world's version of a bar bouncer."
Wayne: There you go.
Kirk: A unified threat management. Hey, Wayne, we don't have a whole lot of time left but when we come back from our last sponsor announcement I want to, I do want to ask you a little bit about IPV6 and why it should be important to me. I'm still kind of scared of it but I'm seeing more and more IPV6 addresses in my daily life and then we want to also find out what haven't we covered yet, Wayne? That you want to impress upon the engineers who are watching or listening to this podcast. So think about those two things. IPV6, why is it important? What should engineers like me, like Chris, like all of our colleagues at both large broadcast outfits and smaller ones be worried about?
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All right, we're with Wayne Pecina for just a few more minutes. He received the Engineering Excellence Award from radio World Magazine and I know Wayne, Wayne you and I both serve on the SBE Board of Directors. So I'm just delighted to share that position with you. That's just great. I wanted to ask you about IPV6 first of all. What are your thoughts about-Like me, do I need to learn about this now?
Wayne: Well, certainly IPV6 is rapidly being adopted within the networking industry simply based on a shortage of public IPV4 address space. Because of that shortage of address space either network operators have had to do manipulations of that to really serve a growing customer-base, and mainly that's been through doing some type of network address translation really to translate between the private domain and the public domain. In itself for basic web surfing most activities, that is something that's totally transparent, it's all done in the background, and no one really knows that it goes on. It really does not have that big of a detrimental impact.
However for again the broadcaster, once again, you're dealing with real-time content, you're delivering real-time content particularly through a streaming type service to the masses. This translation that occurs adds latency to the process and obviously latency is one of the factors that is detrimental to the quality of experience with streaming video.
So one of the solutions to the shortage of IPV4 address space certainly is IPV6. IPV6 has been what would be considered the chicken and egg thing, yes I have IPV6, but the person I want to communicate with or talk to is not IPV6 enabled. But that is rapidly changing, particularly as all of the major carriers whether it be through cable modems, through DSL modems, the U-Verses and the FiOS's of the world, they're all rapidly rolling out IPV6 services so that you have native IP addressing.
As you kind of follow some of the trades and the concept of the Internet of everything it's going to be absolutely essential to have this expanded IP address space. So I think today IPV6, if you are a major content-provider you've already addressed IPV6 in your network infrastructure. If you're from the consumer-side, particularly if you're on the geek type consumer, you're going to want to be the first one on the block that has that IPV6 capability in their home network. But it's coming to the masses, it's just a matter of time.
In terms of do you need to know about it, well I think it's like any other new technology. It is always good to have an awareness of that technology so you can make an intelligent decision of when it is time where I really may need to seriously address this. Whether it be in my home network, my business network, or as a manufacturer of products within the industry. When is the right time for this to be addressed in my products?
Kirk: Chris, you sound like you might have a comment about IPV6. Is this something, Chris, that I got alarmed to do with my internal equipment? Or can I keep IPV4 addresses for the foreseeable future on Internet gear?
Chris: Well, you can keep them for the foreseeable future while you're behind a NAT router and stuff. It's when you're talking to the outside world. I think Wayne's right. It's developed, it's coming out, you're going to see more of the deployment on the larger scale probably more on the backbone, back hall framework, between ISP's and larger core systems. So it's coming but you don't have to panic just yet.
Kirk: Okay. All right. By the way, it's about the limit of my brain's short-term memory to get an IPV4 address in my brain and then go type it in somewhere. How do you type in an IPV6 address?
Wayne: Well, it just takes a little bit more time. Certainly, you know, moving from basically if you think about an IPV4 address it's a 32-bit address that becomes shortened or summarized in a dotted decimal notation. An IPV6 address is a 128-bit address that is also then summarized into a dotted hexadecimal stand-point. But there's shortcuts. One of the features of IPV6 is that there is some auto-configuration capability that is built into the standard so that you don't necessarily have to be typing certainly 128-bit address or even that summarized hexadecimal address. Because it can become very, very tedious.
One thing about IPV6 that is often over-looked, mainly the focus becomes on the expanded IP address space that it provides but there's other, I guess, features that come into play because IPV6 was essentially an opportunity to re-engineer IPV4. IPV4 well-entrenched, once you put some things into the field in practice there's some problems that developed or areas that weren't maybe fully thought out. So IPV6 was a way to do some re-engineering well beyond more address space.
Certainly the auto-configuration capability is one, mobility is another one, particularly now that you have a lot of mobile-type devices. The geographic location of where that device is can become critical particularly, and this applies I think very well into the broadcast or the media industry, where that geographical location of a certain host-device becomes important particularly in the content or the digital rights management aspect.
Certainly that comes well into play in the financial environment with various electronic payment forms. Security which was an add-on to the IPV4 environment is a natural part of IPV6. So again there really is more than just the expanded address space but the address space expansion pretty much gets all of the attention at this point. But there's more there.
Kirk: I'm intrigued. I'm intrigued. I've got to learn more about this even though I may not have to use it any time real soon. But hey, one more thing and that is, Wayne, you've got the podium. You're the professor at the front of the class. Here I am an engineer working at one of my radio stations here, we've got a little cluster of about eight stations all together, and then there's plenty of engineers out there. Chris Tarr [SP] works for a cluster in Milwaukee, and you know like so many of us, takes care of a number of stations. What, if you could give us a couple of things to focus on, what's important that we make sure that we get up to speed on to stay relevant?
Wayne: Well, certainly again as I have I guess suggested several times, I think the important beginning place is in IP networking. Understanding, really, the fundamentals of how IP networks work and the approach that I take in the instruction or the presentations that I do is simply you follow the OSI model which is a seven-layer conceptual model that has been around since the early days of the information technology industry.
But it is very applicable today because really the terminology of the industry comes from the OSI model and particularly relating to networking the first four layers are considered the data-flow layers and I think it is important to understand the fundamental of a physical layer identified as layer one, layer two is considered where the physical addressing comes into play. Ethernet switching layer three. Virtual addressing, IP routing, and finally layer four TCP and UDP. Understanding the differences between those two protocols and which one fits in the right environment.
Again understanding those fundamentals also helps everything else to make sense and when it comes to troubleshooting an IP network I think if you're able to think conceptually in terms of the OSI model it will greatly ease the troubleshooting. Particularly if you have a network that just simply nothing works, you know, then a lot of times that is the easiest one to diagnose and to fix.
The more challenging ones are the ones where yes, it's working, but it's not working very well or it's not working very well this afternoon, it works good tomorrow, and the next day it's back to not working so well. Those are where performance issues come into play, those are a little more challenging. Again a mindset or thinking in terms of the OSI model I think can help to diagnose and isolate that problem.
When you begin to use tools like Wire Shark or a packet-sniffer to kind of sort out some of those performance issues they are all geared around the OSI model so having that fundamental knowledge I think is important. I kind of relate it to basically electronic knowledge. If you're going to be doing electronic troubleshooting you really need to understand Ohms Law and the basics of semi-conductors of the difference in an NPN and a PNP transistor. Fundamental AC/DC circuit theory. This is kind of the basis of the IT world, or the IP networking world...
Chris: ...is understanding let's say those first four layers of the OSI model.
Kirk: Do you have any webinars coming up with SBE or other things that we should be aware of?
Wayne: Well I do not have any scheduled webinars. I have been pressured to get those scheduled but I'm working on a new series dealing with troubleshooting and that is one that is under development and at this point I will just say that will be upcoming in 2015.
I have a couple of other projects I'm working on at the Spring NAB show at the NS Workshop. I'll be doing the opening tutorial and that will be focused on actually as much as you can do as a hands-on approach to building this network of networks with real live equipment and going through, again, pretty much the nuts and bolts of how to actually build a segmented network based on VLAN technology using some popular industry equipment. Again focused on more than just the theoretical, how do you actually do it in terms of hopefully demonstrating that process as well as a couple of other programs or presentations coming up within the broadcast engineering conference at NAB. So that's kind of what's ahead for me in at least the first part of 2015.
Kirk: I'd be real excited to learn about troubleshooting and what tools, especially what tools are already built into OS's or which ones are either freely available or which ones are worth buying. Which tools, whether they're hardware tools that I go plug something into or just have my computer on the network and reconfigure the switch, Wire Shark you mentioned, I think these are very, very important things. Hey we're almost out of time, Chris Tobin have you got anything else for us?
Chris: No, no. I'm good. I think we've covered everything. We're out of time though. That's good. No. I'm fine.
Kirk: Okay. Good deal. Hey Wayne, thank you for being with us I appreciate you spending over an hour with us here to tell us about this. Congratulations on your winning the award, being selected by Radio World Magazine. You certainly deserve it.
Wayne: Well, thank you very much. It's been a pleasure to join you. I have watched and viewed your podcast since actually the days of number one and it's certainly an honor to be a guest on your show. Thank you.
Kirk: Great. Glad to have you back and we'll try to keep people informed of your schedule for more webinars when they come up and since we're both with SBE I'm sure we'll be able to coordinate that and get the word out. I've attended a number of them and have found them all to be worthwhile. So thanks again.
Wayne: Thank you.
Kirk: Hey Chris Tobin, thank you for being with us as well from your layer in Manhattan. Have you got anything exciting coming up between now and Christmas?
Chris: No. No I'm just going to do family stuff, take it, enjoy the holidays, have some eggnog and try and get some down-time between now and the end of the year. Sort of relax and recharge. I've got a few things I need to address that 2015 hopefully will be a prosperous one.
Kirk: Well, good. Good for you. Eggnog, that sounds good. I'm in the mood for some eggnog. That would be-A little R&R. Hey, a programming note. We may do TWIRT next week on Tuesday. If we don't do it on Tuesday we won't do it on Christmas day. We won't do a TWIRT on New Year's Day as well. So we could have two weeks of no TWIRT, so Chris Tobin maybe you could give me your vote and put thumbs up or thumbs down, do you want to do a year-end wrap-up TWIRT show? Maybe just kind of a shoot the bull show next week on Tuesday same time. Any interest?
Chris: Yeah. I can do that. Yeah sure. Why not? Have some fun with that.
Kirk: I'll see if we can get Tom Ray in here unless he's out Christmas shopping and Chris Tar, as well and do a little year-end wrap-up show.
Kirk: I don't know. Okay. All right. We'll see if we can plan on that. So stay tuned to this same bat-channel and we'll have the information for you. All right, thanks to our sponsors. Folks at Axia and the new, now-shipping, actual in the field, Fusion Console. AOIP console. Also Telos and the iPort Plus multi-codec gateway. Lawo and the Lawo Crystal Clear Multi-Touch Touch-Screen Audio Console from Lawo. Thanks to all of them for sponsoring the show. Also thanks to Andrew Zarian and Suncast both, two producers on today's show to handle our hot guest and great co-host. So appreciate both of them.
We'll see you next week, probably on Tuesday, watch for announcements on Facebook and Twitter on This Week in Radio Tech. Take care, bye-bye everybody.