Episode 50: Fred Loucks Part 2 -Microservices & The End Of AV Control

Patrick Murray interviews Fred Loucks about…

  • How management will replace control in AV integration…
  • How hardware manufacturers can modernize their business by moving to a subscription model and why they should…
  • How to make the software delivery process as simple as installing hardware.

Key Takeaways

  • The next audio video streaming technology is not going to be what makes big changes in the integration industry.
  • AV software tends to run in disparate “locations” or many private networks.
  • Using modern, non-proprietary software requires many dependencies and can be difficult to manage when deploying to multiple systems. Containerization solves this issue.
  • Different packages may require different versions of the same underlying libraries. Without containers, both packages would be forced to use the same version, creating a conflict.
  • Containerization allows programmers to take advantage of multiple programming languages in the same system.
  • Containerization aims to be non-hardware platform specific.
  • Monolith vs microservices
    • Monolith applications have everything tightly coupled together in one large program.
    • Microservices break up functional parts of an application into their own service. Allowing different teams to work on different parts of the application.
  • A messaging mechanism is required for microservices to talk to each other. A pubsub, or publish/subscribe bus, is often used.
  • Microservices do not need to be aware of each other. They function fully independent of one another.
  • Microservices could be designed with a focus on the function to accomplish. For example, one microservice can create the connection to a real-world device and manage the messages flowing to and from it. Another service can be responsible for controlling the device, another for collecting telemetry or usage data, and yet another service for managing firmware updates.
  • Documenting the messages a microservice can send and recieve is critical for implementing microservices.
  • The messaging middleware is required to meet the AV industry where it is today – standardless.
  • Middleware normalizes data into something consumable by other services.
  • Containerized versions of proprietary software is an alternative to manufacturer-specific, hardware-only solutions.
  • Devices that work best with a microservices approach offer robust and observable API’s and are manageable in a declaritive manner.
  • Containers are the key to creating an App Store-like experience in the AV industry.
  • The technology to implement containers and microservices in AV is already available.
  • Advances in edge computing will have an impact on how AV systems are integrated and managed.
  • If the change does not come from within the AV industry, it will come from outside the industry – most likely IT. Talent recruitment is the biggest challenge for AV in reinventing itself.
  • The way control system programming is developed today is not how modern software is developed. For example, back-end developers rarely develop front-end user interfaces.
  • Adopting a mindset of managing deployments instead of controlling rooms will help AV professionals adapt to the changing landscape.

Episode 49: Fred Loucks On AV Monitoring & Programming Your Way Through Problems

Integrating Technology

Fred Loucks, CTO of Level 3 Audiovisual, takes us on his journey to answer one question: How do you get visibility of audiovisual systems at scale?

We learn some cool new phrases like “Automated remediation” and “Signatures of common issues” and dig deep into…

  • Program Management from designing, deploying and updating with a focus on administration.
  • How programming let him rollout 3000 Zoom Rooms in two weekends with a one-man team.
  • The real costs of downtime and disruptions including productivity loss, embarrassment and loss of confidence.
  • How collecting data adds value by answering questions – it starts with monitoring.
  • Why there is resistance to AV monitoring tools.
  • Wrangling the chaos of API’s and protocols to create a data model.
  • Why to avoid devices that are not observable.
  • A day in the life of a support NOC technician.
  • Defining a service status for AV systems in order to present an SLA.
  • Why monitoring is incomplete without remote access, documentation and domain knowledge.
  • The challenges of creating an AV NOC including deep integration with customer networks and staffing. 
  • Thinking about management instead of control. 

Episode 48: AJ Thompson On Cloud Driven Solutions, Scaling and Open Source Control

AJ Thompson is Vice President of Cloud Driven Solutions and provides a range of services including SaaS platforms, Consulting, and App Development

Interview Highlights

  • AJ was previously on the podcast in Episode 35
  • Cloud Driven Solutions offers a meeting and agenda management application that integrates with AV systems
  • Scaling was the biggest challenge when going to market
  • Expects an open source AV control system is inevitable

Mentioned In This Episode

AMX, Crestron, QSys, BrightSign

Product Demo

Episode 47: Wes Hatchett on Implementing Software-Based Control Systems

Wes Hatchett is CEO of ControlEnvy. ControlEnvy is an open-source software based control system.

Wes and the ControlEnvy team were one of the first podcast interviews in Epsiode 6.

Interview Highlights

  • Can run on Android.
  • Has a setup configuration interface that includes troubleshooting and debug tools.
  • Chose to focus on Android because it continues to outpace even laptops in processing power.
  • Sample application: Google Pixel 4a installed in a rack connected via WiFi.
  • A Mac Mini can also be used when a hard-wired appliance is required.
  • The system is driven by states stored in a local data store.
  • Paths are used to access components in the data store through logic macros.
  • Shifting from completely custom programming projects to a product based model allows for better update management. Old systems benefit from feature updates instead of standing still.

Mentioned In This Episode

Lutron, Sonos, Biamp, Google Pixel 4a, Apple Mac Mini

Episode 46: Stephen Von Takach on Integrating Workplace Experiences, Gamification, Data-Driven Features and Open Source Software

Stephen von Takach is CIO at PlaceOS. PlaceOS ties together drivers into systems by running functions on a scalable cluster of computing resources. Similar to how AWS Lambda works.

Interview Highlights

  • Constraints allow creativity to blossom.
  • Drivers can exist in multiple systems. Logic is system specific.
  • Built on Crystal-lang, similar to ruby, but type-checked. https://crystal-lang.org
  • PlaceOS started in AV integration but, because they can integrate with anything, it has evolved to focus on workplace experiences. Streamlining your day, from when a persons enters a building until they leave.
  • User actions generate data that give insight into utilization and enable features like contact tracing and gamification.
  • “Once you are integrated into every system, the experiences are only limited by your imagination.”
  • Digital twin – modelling real world systems in the digital realm.
  • Mitigating risk through partnering with IT.
  • Most stake-holder resistance concerns network security, GDPR conformance and data ownership.
  • Conference room automation is evolving to eliminate the need for a touchpanel control interface.
  • Open source removes vendor dependency and helps educate. It also helps create a cooperative driver development ecosystem.
  • Clients are looking for a wholistic solution. A single workplace app (as opposed to multiple apps with separate functionality) drives usage and discovery of what the workplace is capable of.
  • Gamification can be used to drive a behaviour, like using spaces in off-peak hours, by offering an incentive, like free coffee and gift cards.

Mentioned In This Episode

AMX, Cisco, Microsoft Teams, Project Connected Home over IP, Google, Apple, Zigbee, 

Episode 45: Joe Way On Simplifying Everything with Software & Customer-Centric Design

USC tasked Joe Way, Director of Learning Environments, to create the single best IT Department in all of academia. Joe tells about what it was like to achieve that vision.


  • Look at what companies like Google and Amazon are doing instead of other universities.
  • Software Driven. Does not want to own black boxes.
  • Simplifying everything by considering the entire customer workflow.
  • Realized that AV over IP is just another distribution system and not taking full advantage of the network the way IT does.
  • IT focuses more on Security and Access Management.
  • Changing the UX by focusing on connecting services instead of boxes in lecterns.
  • Training is the biggest challenge to an IT-centric approach. AV is easier to troubleshoot because it is all signal flow. In a software-based system, there is much more to consider than the physical layer alone.
  • Relationships with “the rest of IT” was a key to success. Examples include Infrastructure, UC, Application Services and Computer Science.
  • There is a huge opportunity for integrators in managed services.
  • Key selling points are scalability, a frictionless user experience and everything remote including setup, configuration and service.
  • System upgrades take advantage of and can be triggered by third-party service upgrades like Zoom.
  • Adopting the users language helps create the most useful designs.
  • Bringing in a PR major to effectively use Digital Signage for marketing and messaging.
  • Be fearless!

Mentioned in this episode…

  • University of Southern California
  • Amazon
  • Google
  • Crestron
  • Shure
  • ISE
  • SDVoE
  • BrightSign
  • Zoom
  • SolarWinds

Episode 44: Anton Karsten On Choosing Web Technologies For AV/IT

Anton Karsten helps me understand:

  • How web browsers work
  • Some history of HTML and browsers
  • The problem with frameworks
  • Choosing frameworks
  • Single Page Apps vs Server-Driven Architecture
  • Using Javascript for AV Control and Automation
  • Advantages of Typescript
  • Organizing Project Teams
  • Dealing With Different Devices
  • How Large Companies Set User Experience Standards
  • HTML, CSS, Javascript, Angular, Vue, React, PHP, Saas, Webpack

Episode 42: Chris Neto On Personal Branding & Being Mistaken For A Twitter Bot

Highlights From This Episode…

  • A great way to learn AV is to start on the end user/technology owner side.
  • High Speed Internet at home was the spark for growth in AV.
  • Keep a portfolio of your work and recommendations to present at job interviews.
  • Study personal branding to improve your social media effectiveness.
  • Social media is about building relationships by sharing information.

Mentioned In This Episode…

Altcomm, New York Giants, William Paterson University, Picturetel, Polycom, RCM Technologies Staffing, Schering Plough Pharmaceuticals, Merck, Novartis, Barco, Starin, Twitter, Joel Colm (Twitter book), AV Help Desk, Paul Konikowski


One of the books Chris used to understand Twitter. (This is an affiliate link. Thanks for your support!)

Contact Chris



Rebels & Flux


Episode 41: Bill Mullin On Ecosystem Development & What Makes AV Special

Highlights From This Episode…

AV focuses on the creative side of technology. That’s what separates us from IT; We help people tell their story and communicate ideas.

We can improve our offerings by looking at every step of the delivery and use lifecycles. A short training after the install isn’t enough.

System thinking includes considering every “user” in the supply and use chain. A company’s intentions are communicated at all of these touch-points.

To be scalable, standards are required.

Best practices and oversight increase reliability and improve the overall experience. Consider a Quality Of Service Manager position as a go to reference who helps everyone implement your guidelines. 

Look into Advance Supply Chains to increase sustainability and avoid “bone piles” of unused equipment.

AV is everywhere. It is still a specialty, but is becoming more of an expected and critical piece of building infrastructure.

Mobility and remote working catalysed the boom in huddle rooms to give mobile workers a touchpoint in the office (instead of a fixed desk).

Spend time considering where you fit in a Smart building and smart world. Survival is not about being the smartest or the biggest, it is about being adaptable.

Consider the application, vertical market, and venue. Does the application get it done? What vertical markets will have strong activity?Venue specialists can be successful but need to be able to interconnect. 

Be disciplined in what you do. Use software and agile project management to avoid waste and move adeptly.

Customer success = how much they love you in the end.

Map your workflow. Ask question like, “What are we going to do when we meet the curmudgeon?”.

Consider on-demand training because people don’t want information until they need it. The days of the lunch and learn are ending. 

Mentioned In This Episode…

  • Paul Konikowski
  • David Fitzgerald
  • Barco
  • Zoom
  • MCSI
  • Dante
  • QSys
  • Book: Draw To Win
  • Bobby Schwartz
  • Malissa Dillman