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Lab X team makes switch to Biamp as AVB certification begins

Also during an uncharacteristically eventful month in Switch World: Extreme Networks receives the inaugural AVnu Alliance AVB certification for its Summit X440 switch.

In a development that looks likely to take its eminence in all things AVB to the next level, Biamp has hired Lab X’s founder/president Lee Minich, his complete engineering team and “a few” of the connectivity specialist’s assets.

The announcement coincides with the decision to close Lab X as a contract engineering firm. Established in 1996 and based out of Rochester, New York, Lab X had lately been a flagwaver for Audio/Video Bridging (AVB)-based networking with its Xavity platform and specific products such as the Titanium 411 1GB AVB Ethernet Switch. Minich himself became particularly closely identified with the AVB movement, serving as the marketing work group chairperson of the AVB-promoting AVnu Alliance for four years.

But as Biamp president/CEO Steve Metzger (right, with Minich left) now informs PSNEurope, Lab X opted to “discontinue development and maintenance of Xavity” in 2013. Simultaneously, “Lab X began offering tools for the ongoing maintenance and development of Xavity technology to Lab X customers”.

The addition of the Lab X founder and all of his engineering staff will undoubtedly strengthen Biamp’s AVB-related product offering, which is currently headlined by the Tesira scalable media system for digital audio networking. Metzger confirms that Minich – whom he describes as “a visible cheerleader” for AVB – will continue to be involved in AVB’s “evolution as an active participant, as will other members of Biamp.”

Now reporting to Biamp’s executive vice-president of operations, Matt Czyzewski, Minich praised his new employer as “a trailblazer in the development of media systems for installation of all sizes around the globe, and has shown true commitment and dedication to evolving our industry. Our team is very excited about becoming part of the Biamp family, and we’re looking forward to contributing to future product development in important and exciting directions.”

Although long-term impact on the Biamp AVB range was unclear at press time, what was certain was that Extreme Networks had become the first company to successfully complete the AVnu Alliance’s much-publicised AVB certification scheme. The company timed the official announcement about its Summit X440 switch to coincide with ISE 2014.

Operated in conjunction with the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL) – whose client roster has also included OpenFabrics Alliance and Wi-Fi Alliance – the AVB scheme was devised to assure end-users that certified products comply with every aspect of the relevant IEEE standards.

The Summit X440’s capabilities are said to support the large-scale rollout of converged network devices such as IP telephones, wireless access points, and physical devices including video cameras.

Todd Acree, director of product management at Extreme Networks – which has a presence at ISE 2014 via the AVnu Alliance Pavilion – remarks that the company is “absolutely delighted” to have achieved the inaugural AVB bridge certification. “The present momentum behind AVB is undeniable, and the arrival of certified products feels like a significant step forward,” he says.

Rick Kreifeldt – chairman/president of the AVB-supporting AVnu Alliance and vice-president of research and innovation at Harman International’s Corporate Technology Group – welcomed the inaugural certification and praised the energy of the Extreme Networks’ team: “They have been fantastic about jumping headlong into the process.”

Highlighting the recent addition of residential technology giant Crestron to the AVnu ranks and the overall increase in membership over the last year from 50 to 65 companies, Kreifeldt strenuously rejects suggestions that the AVB movement has lost some of its former momentum: “In fact, we are growing faster than ever.”

Looking ahead, he expects the typical business cycle to address the current price issue surrounding AVB switches – “as a pure capitalist I assume the free market will take care of that” – and confidently predicts more products to emerge from the certification process in the near-future. “The pipeline is filling up,” he says, “and I would expect to see more announcements [regarding certification] in the coming months.”