As professional media engineers, it is our responsibility to design, implement and maintain our facilities. Increasingly, this means that we are in charge of ensuring that our professional media networks are operating correctly.
Professional media networks differ from other IT networks in the following ways: First, they are used in professional media applications — sharing video and audio that is used on-air, for example. Typically, these networks are carrying high-resolution images and full bit-rate motion video. Second, it is likely that these networks are being managed, meaning that there are some policies in effect that, for example, might prohibit using the network to access the Internet, or that might ensure that e-mail and other office applications run on a separate business network. These networks, along with traditional SDI infrastructure, form the backbone of the media operation. When the networks have problems, the operation is impacted, so being able to troubleshoot networks effectively is important.
If you are experienced in troubleshooting, you already know that the tools you use will vary from incident to incident, depending upon the nature of the problem. Troubleshooting these networks is no different. If you are new to network troubleshooting, you could be forgiven for thinking you need to invest in expensive network analyzers or other test gear in order to identify and repair network issues, and in some cases, this could be true. But, the good news is that, for the majority of cases, you probably already have the tools you need right on your computer. Let’s get started.