WWE gains efficiency with new KVM switches.
Behind the scenes of “Monday Night RAW” and “Smackdown!,” engineers at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) edit the live video at a technologically advanced production facility in Stamford, CT. There, the broadcaster produces seven television shows, consisting of nine hours of original programming, 52 weeks per year, delivered to more than 14 million viewers each week.
WWE is a fast-paced organization, and the ability to change in response to production is imperative. When the broadcaster purchased a new server, it quickly became apparent that a standard analog KVM solution would not be adequate. The facility's small, multiport KVM switching system had distance limitations and did not enable sharing, so multiple computers and servers handled the same functions.
Working with By Request Communications (BRC), a broadcast systems integrator, and reseller Revco, WWE commenced a digital upgrade project and searched for a more progressive KVM solution.
The broadcaster decided to implement an enterprise-wide Avocent AMX KVM switching platform. With the new switches, the facility gained the ability to consolidate control of its machine room computers and devices into a single user interface. This centralized interface allows operators and engineers in multiple locations to access the same devices from the live studio.
It also took advantage of the facility's large Cat 5 and Cat 6 infrastructure. The ability to run the switches over Cat 5 cable and use that infrastructure for workstations and machines produced a tremendous cost savings. An additional benefit was the overall improvement of IT response time.
The broadcaster purchased four 32-port AMX5000 switches and one 64-port AMX5010 switch to connect standard PCs, graphics machines, broadcast servers, music machines (for MIDI files), editing systems and several corporate servers. Distributed throughout the broadcast department are 20 AMX5120 user stations, which enable engineers to easily switch between Microsoft, Mac and Unix platforms.
The station's video capability supports resolutions up to 1600 × 1200 at 75Hz, with a high-quality transmission rate — comparable to a direct computer connection experience. The switchers plug into a local PC at each user station, eliminating the need for a separate KVM at each desktop.
Another advantage is the ability to be multi-user connected. Sharing resources is a primary feature of the new switchers. This allows the engineers the ability to assign different user groups, different permissions to each user and different machines within those groups. This flexibility allows the engineers to maintain a secure network.
The switchers also enable remote diagnostics. With access to machines from desktops, engineers no longer need to travel all over the building to troubleshoot, resulting in a manpower savings.
Once WWE began using Avocent's AMX broadcast KVM switches, it found other uses for them and quickly outgrew the original purchase. When the broadcaster began daisy chaining the outputs of one box to the inputs of the next, it realized the solution was more than meeting its expectations. The system has a plug-and-play capability, making it user friendly in situations such as upgrades.
Ultimately, WWE's AMX switches cross multiple users and multiple locations from newsrooms to production control rooms, enabling the facility to function more efficiently.
John Jensen is a product marketing manager for Avocent, Connectivity and Control Division.