SVG@NAB Perspectives: Utah Scientific’s Harmon on Responding to Client Interest in IP, Deepening Partnership With Axon
With the first day of NAB 2016 in the books, it’s clear that the story of this year’s show will mark the shift toward IP. Interest in IP solutions is high on the convention floor, and Utah Scientific is part of the conversation with the recent unveiling of UTAH-400 IP Gateway, a family of IP gateway input and output cards that provide two-way conversion of SDI video signals and SMPTE-2022 signals over a 10G Ethernet connection. Prior to the show, the company announced that it has joined the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), which also added Evertz and Sony to its ranks.
SVG caught up with Utah Scientific President Tom Harmon in the bustling Booth N4524 — where the company is also showcasing its partnership with Axon — to discuss how the two companies are working together to leverage their respective strengths in the U.S. and abroad, Utah’s newest router, and, of course, its plans to pursue IP.
What’s new for Utah Scientific at NAB 2016?
We’ve introduced three new things at the show. We’ve introduced our IP Gateway cards to get the [SMPTE-2022 signals] in and out of our routing switchers. We’re investing heavily in 4K; we built that largest, single-link 12-gig 4K router on the floor. And we’re introducing a new router called the Foundation series here at the show. What the Foundation series does for us in routing is, it doubles outputs, because, as multiviewers become more and more prevalent for monitoring devices, our customers are demanding more and more outputs of the router versus inputs. So that particular chassis has twice as many outputs as inputs, and it’s primarily [through] our relationship with Axon, [which] will be driving their multiviewers directly from that router.
I see that Axon and Utah are sharing a booth this year. Tell me a little bit about that partnership.
We are the exclusive distributor/reseller for Axon in North America. [Utah], in turn, gave away all my international distribution to Axon, except in Italy — our owner’s Italian — but, in the rest of the world, their sales organization handles our routers. As our owner likes to say, we’re engaged. We’re not married, but we’re engaged, and we’ll see how it plays out. … Last year, they had their own booth in the South Hall, and we decided [that], this year, it was time to go ahead and show the U.S. we are together. We’re first-line support; we bring everything through [Utah Scientific headquarters in] Salt Lake City and test it before it goes to our customers, and [Axon is] doing the same thing for me internationally.
In regards to IP Gateway, are you hearing a lot of demand from clients for IP, or are you taking that step in the hopes that clients respond?
There’s not a lot of demand for IP, but, everywhere I go, that’s what I talk about. We joined AIMS, and I’m very much excited [about that]. I’m very interested in the interoperability and the standards, because our industry has a history of not doing things standard. We had 19 HD formats when we first started with HD, and we can’t go that way again. So, to answer your question, there’s a lot of conversation about IP, but I get a lot more interest in my 4K routers. I’m actually moving product on the 4K side; I’m really not moving much on the IP side. Most of what I’m doing on the IP side is loaning stuff to other manufacturers so they can do interoperability testing. But it’ll go there. I know it’s going to go IP … so we’re investing in it. We’re committed to it, and we’re committed to the whole AIMS initiative. I’m glad it finally happened, I’m glad they standardized, [and] I was really impressed to see Evertz and Sony joining. … There is a demand for IP; more or less, it’s either the real early adopters or just information only.
What we tell our customers is, Look, we’ve routed everything. We’ve been in business 40 years. We’ve routed every format that’s ever been. Some were good, some went away, some were wrong. But we routed every format that there’s ever been, and that’s our commitment going forward. We’re very much a boutique company; we’re not Walmart, Kmart, and Target. You can go [to larger companies] and buy anything, but you rarely get an expert on anything. We tend to specialize in what we do and do it well. We support our products, and that’s part of the legacy we’re bringing into all this 4K and IP stuff: that same commitment to our customers.