A bit on Networking - and byting off more than I can chew

Let me first say that my prior post on Dan's Rose Colored glasses was all in good fun and the name was entirely inspired by the coloration of the photo in which he appeared. Dan commented that he had a better photo for me.


Notice that he has taken off his glasses!

Dan and I spend a great deal of time talking about Networking. Mostly about the future.

We are promoting a new network, Net 3, and it has been confusing for some. 

First note -- This post is not a "networking bible or stone tablet" for ETC's networking future. It is a description of "what's up" with our networking, from my point-of-view. I think you will find that it is consistent with ETC's plans - but not exhaustive.

Let me address a few questions.

Have you abandoned ETCNet 2? 

No - we have not abandoned ETCNet 2, in fact we have opened up many outside companies to develop on the Net 2 platform and most of our new control products will speak ETCNet 2 and Net 3 simultaneously. ETCNet 2 works great!

Are you ignoring ACN? 

No - we are not ignored ACN. In fact, we spent significant money helping to develop it ()not to mention Dan's time and vision!) and we at ETC strongly believe that the ACN protocol is the future of all "entertainment" networking. We will be promoting it - using it - and teaching others about it.

So what's up with Net 3? Why does it exist? Why did we call it that?

First off -- Net 3 is not ACN. ACN is a standard, a protocol description, a plan. Net 3 is a tool, a user experience, a tangible feature set.

But - ACN is a big part of our plan for Net 3. Most (but not all) Net 3 features are built on ACN and Net 3 supports integration with other ACN based networking solutions (when they come around!) We say Net 3 is "powered by ACN."

Net 3 remembers the past while welcoming the future. Many familiar protocols, like EDMX will work on Net 3 networks running newer hardware like Net 3 gateways.

Net 3 strives to solve real lighting problems beyond DMX distribution. See our integration with popular Media servers as an example.

Net 3 is performance tested. We use a system integration lab at ETC to test our equipment - and equipment by others - to insure an acceptable performance  level is reached.

Net 3 supports expansion. This is a big difference from our previous networking protocols - we were tapped out. Net 3 is ripe with possibility. 

Net 3 works with others. That's why we did not call it ETCNet 3. Net 3 supports interoperability with other ACN systems and with protocols like RDM as well.

 While developing Net 3 hardware we tried to keep costs low. That's why our gateways are modular. That's also why we worked with Pathway to develop the One-Port node we were showing at LDI. The One-Port supports the new streaming ACN protocol (soon to be a standard,) as well as ETCNet 2, and provides an inexpensive solution for simple DMX data distribution.

Do I need to upgrade right away? Have I suddenly become a dinosaur on my Net 2 system? 

Net 3 represents a whole new world for ETC customers to discover. Do you need to upgrade? Many will not feel the need. Most people I have talked to are perfectly happy with ETCNet 2 and good ole ETCNet (the original.) For many applications the Net 2 world is great. Over time though, the benefits of bi-directional communication across manufacturers and from product to product will become more self evident. Many of you will add new Net 3 hardware as you upgrade and continue running Net 2 on your existing hardware. The good news is that you can! And most of our new control products will run both networks simultaneously!

So - you won't be left in the past. You needn't rush into the future for fear of becoming a dinosaur. But there are new opportunities waiting for you when you are ready. It is our job (and the job of all other lighting manufacturers) to show you why you need to migrate.

What do you think about networking? Do you think about networking?
Published 10-28-2006 4:37 PM by dlincecum
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