NETGEAR Episode 4
9:52AM Aug 17, 2020
forward error correction
Welcome to switched on thinking a podcast that explores the real world networking challenges faced by businesses of today and the future. Twice a month we deliver insightful and informative analysis of the key role that networking technology plays in driving business success and ensuring business continuity. switched on thinking is brought to you by Netgear, delivering innovative networking solutions you can count on, so you can spend more time on what matters most growing your business. Now, here's your host, acclaimed author and tech columnist,
Neil C. Hughes.
Welcome back to The switched on thinking podcast where I'm going to be discussing how Netgear and its partners are solving real world networking challenges of today, and indeed the future and today, I want to explore the technology that many of us are guilty of taking for granted and the importance of relationship between vendors that make it all possible. For example, Hawkeye innovations are a group of inventors, mathematicians, developers, technical gurus, production experts, and above all, sports fans who develop and deliver the most sophisticated officiating tool in sport. And when you're watching almost any sport from cricket, soccer, baseball, tennis to NFL and volleyball, gameplay is often stopped and decisions are made with sophisticated vision processing technology, which enables sports to not only track balls to millimetre accuracy, but also soccer players and even cars. So today, I want to explore how Hawkeye and Netgear are working together to achieve all of that, and much more. But enough scene setting for me, let's get Karen Purdy from Netgear and Kat Hayes from Hawkeye innovate on the podcast to learn more about the relationship between these two companies and how they deliver huge successes in front of a live global audience. So welcome to the switched on thinking podcast Guys, can you begin by telling the listeners about Hawkeye your role and why technology is critical to your business?
Well, I'm Kat Hayes, and I'm a senior network engineer at Hawkeye innovations, you probably know is best, or most famously well known for the tennis and the cricket. So we are the Hawkeye. But we do a variety of other sports everything from football, to rugby, to baseball, to American football to Iranian volleyball. If there's a sport, we generally have some involvement in broadcasting software and the media. And my role there is to head up the network's team and effectively deal with the communications of how that gets them. pitchside back to another The place
fantastically, so many areas. I'm excited to delve into late, especially Iranian volleyball. That's something I will go into a little bit deeper. But, Karen, welcome to the show, too. But can you tell the listeners a little bit more about your role at Netgear and the kind of problems that you're solving with technology?
I mean, I am your general, business development manager. I don't like that title. To be honest. I'm a pre sales engineer, technical engineer, I replace mice. I also live vicariously or the carelessly actually we're in the UK, through through cat and many others like cat so I get to jump around and live through their technology experiences and help them on the networking side of things.
Now, one of the reasons I invited you both on the podcast today was to understand how Hawkeye and Netgear are working together and how critical that relationship is as well as the technology. So what fascinates me about this story is Hawkeyes developed the most sophisticated vision processing technology Sport, which enables you to not only track balls to millimetre accuracy, but also soccer players and even cars. But the problem is also heavily reliant on the network. So I would imagine that you're in a situation where this has to work. And it has to work now on a daily basis. And so can you share some of the demands of Hawkeye software that need for that reliable network to make everything a success?
Well, of course, unlike traditional networking, where you can delay a project and wait till it's right, with something like a sporting game that's been scheduled, and, for example, things like the World Cup, we cannot turn around to the world and go, sorry, guys, we've got a bit of a network failure. We'll pick it up in a few hours time on them. So today, so it's very, very demanding, in the sense that exactly what you said it has to work and it has to work now because that event is happening and it cannot fail. So Reliability and ensuring that the network which is effectively you know, the heart that the software runs on. And that cannot the software cannot function without a reliable backbone. So it's really, really key for our business that the really clever guys and gals who go and make him go make this amazing software and make this happen. How have a nice easy time when we get our jobs right.
And from neck ears perspective care and get some a little bit more about how you support a global operation like Hawkeye with high profile sports games in multiple time zones because I would imagine it's incredibly challenging.
It is not gonna lie, we don't sleep we drink a lot of caffeine and Red Bull and we very little other than takeaway, fast food. Pretty much the mandate when you work with Hawkeye worldwide. Well, I mean, we're quite lucky in the sense that Nick is a pretty connected company worldwide. We're in pretty much every country in the world, every region with We are a networking company Our mission is to connect the world to the internet. So we're all connected pretty well. So I've got colleagues like my colleague Neil smart in the UK we've got another chap, Alex Pendleton both those guys are fantastic Alex sits on the West Coast so we've got guys covering West Coast East Coast guys in Germany and we all sit and talk daily by daily weekly. So there's a great support team for me personally and obviously for customers like cat that we can all reach out to and work with together so it works quite well but it is you know, it's not an easy task people got to be ready to go if something goes wrong but I think that's probably it in general, right I've I've worked in an enterprise IT small it big it distributors, resellers. And, you know, everyone is relying on it now. So it's probably quite that that similar concept that if something goes down, and you've got to go to work,
and what I'm quite conscious of, I think for most people listening, we all take the kind of technology that you guys are providing for granted cuz we've all watched whatever sport that we enjoy watching. We rely on that technology to clear up any decisions, but we know very little about what goes on behind the scenes. So before a huge sporting event that will have a global audience watching. I'm curious cat, what kind of challenges keep you up at night? And what role didn't that gear play in helping ease those concerns that are keeping you awake at night?
The main the main sort of challenge is and the heart of our business is that, you know, it's kind of it's in the name, it's Hawkeye innovations, and we're always doing something new. At the end of the day, you could have a cricket game and a remote part of India. How are we going to get that to work? What's the connectivity? Like? Are we doing something via the internet where there is not fantastic connectivity? Can you know on what are the ways that we can adapt and overcome to looking at these? I certainly know that I've been having a look at like Project Loon, which is Google's Internet balloons that are available in parts of Africa and Brazil. But recently, we had a new project that we were looking at for the Major League Baseball, and which we were the first people in the world to be using these 25 gig cameras for some of the analysis. And we are the first people in the world to be using Netgear switches. And we will have very new things coming together and new protocols. And effectively, it wasn't playing very nicely when we were doing the testing for this. None of it was talking and playing ball. And effectively that's where we were able to net get going. Something awry is happening here. Karen L.
Effectively, I think I think you could jump in now and say how you fix that because you guys definitely deserve the credit.
Or don't know if I want to take the credit for that. But it's like cat says so right. What's not to be excited about, you know, if you do technology. And that's the kind of bag and I wouldn't say I'm a networking guy, I probably say the same cat, we're technology people, and, and all this stuff where you're the first of what cats involved in and she gets to go away and create new solutions, you know, we and probably the person that you love being part of that. And just this example, I guess was was something that's not been done. So this is the kind of problem you roll into a lot of the time. And these guys had their 25 gigabyte AK cat or a 4k or 8k Right, okay. Okay. 25 gig and that took us into a world of forward error correction, on 25 gig and above speeds was was not something native to us. Turns out, you know, we looked at it and went, yeah, it should be fine. You know, we both ran through it should work like the cameras if nothing works, and then everyone starts to panic. But we went back, looked at it and worked out that it was a we have one type of forward error correction, you had a 5050 chance is only two and we had the other one was The odds but that for us was our chance. Obviously, we appreciate working with these guys, you, right? These guys spend an awful lot of money with us and would expect us to, to work with them, quite rightly, to solve problems like this, so we go away and we have a fantastic engineering team who could look at that. And very quickly, were able to, I think it was Reed Solomon. forward error correction, wasn't it? I can't remember which one it was. But the RS forward error correction was was really quickly I think, in the space of two to three weeks, implemented all the way from not existing on that code base to implementation software code update, to public release and to be available to Hawkeye even even before that public release. So you know, I'd love to take the credit but but the truth is, it's it's a whole host of people sitting sitting behind me at Netgear that make that happen for cat and the guys at Hawkeye. So it's very much to two companies, two sets of teams, but all working together in some really really cool stuff.
That to bring what we Talking about to life here, let's take an event such as the Women's World Cup or the Champions League Final, because a lot of people will be looking forward to that in a few weeks. Are there any challenges that that you remember in stressful environments like this, because I suspect there's going to be a few war stories.
I mean, there is always challenges. And that's a very unique thing about school. And that's a very unique thing about working at a global level. You really need to be prepared for the unprepared even such thing. As you know, maybe you have a hardware failure, for example, which you know, these things happen where it's a server or a switch to a monitor, you've got to get these things out and it's got to be changed quickly and rapidly. And it could be throwing it down with rain, and that makes logistics and things very difficult. Obviously, nobody wants to be stood outside, you know, and doing those things. But there is a whole team on site that very, very quickly deals with those problems. And this is a Where Joe comes into it in a big way with those logistics. So we can, we've got spares, we've got all different kinds of kit and everywhere around the globe. And Joe makes sure that it gets to where it needs to be exactly the right time.
And Karen, can you walk me through net gears role in ensuring that these many networks that Hawkeye software is dependent on all work seamlessly together? Because in many ways, that is the unsung hero, isn't it as well the network,
it's all a team game a lot of testing.
I guess is is the key to it, some of it you don't know until it happens, you know, and there's some certain things and you know, protocols things like priority flow control, which is an absolute swear word. don't even want to go into it but you started well. I don't know why they've got to go there a little bit. But I saw that you know, we're a knock on effect a Nic card can go down all of a sudden something that works for you and it is creating the solution is all now part of the problem and it goes down product flow control kicks in, fills up buffers and kills your network. But it's designed to do that. And so there's an awful lot of testing with stuff like this because even if you think you've got the perfect solution, sometimes you actually don't realise you don't know when something goes wrong, it triggers a chain effect. And Hawkeye have got fantastic, you know, facilities for testing in in their offices out out in Basingstoke. And they've got acres of space with PCs and servers and switches, and likewise a Netgear we've got equipment in our office over in penfield, and all over the world. So testing is key. But a lot of the time, you know, problems just happen. So it's the testing post problem as well, that goes on. And
yeah, and it's trying to stop that that thing from happening again, you know, and doing it doing a washed up data blackbox meeting, I'm trying to figure out, Okay, this is something new. We've not seen it before. Let's make sure that doesn't happen. Again, and let's learn from it.
Okay, I'm curious, when you're running global events heavily reliant on networks and software, I've got to ask, Where do you begin to tackle securing it all? Because it's one thing, keeping everything online, but then securing it is a adds another level of complexity, doesn't it?
It certainly does. And security obviously has to be paramount. And it's, it's finding that fine balance between having something safe and secure. And it also been not so secure that it's operationally detrimental. You have to be very mindful of, you know, its basic practices, what's the physical security? What's the network security, and zoning that network? how and what is internet facing or what is inside? Is that physically secure? Is the van locked, you know, does that you know, these kinds of things, because this is where those kinds of challenges kind of can arise. I think Those, those things that often get forgotten that when you work in a really nice clinical environment, like an office, and that's where your network is, you've got a custom built space that's put away and all those fun, you know, all those fun kind of security practices are done. Where this is you kind of have to adapt to the environment and adapt the different places on site. And you also have to be very mindful about the zones of the worlds that you are operating in as well. Because obviously, each different league, each different sport will have their own requirements. And they will say if you're connecting into walls, you've got to do this. If you know another telco, at&t might want a different thing. So it's having a relationship with all those kinds of vendors, and being able to put something in that suitable for the customer and that's suitable for us. Again, yeah, going back to the team, the guys have just done a big project to roll out a new layer of firewalls globally. So They're working on that very, very hard at the moment, we've got a security guy Jamie, who's absolutely awesome. And he's heading that up, and loads of other things. And it's also making sure that the global team on board with all those practices, are they doing the right thing, and ensuring that we keep training and educating people to be doing, you know, good internet practice, you know, good Internet safety, shall we say? And good, good security.
Have you got those passwords? screensavers as well. Don't tell your password to anyone on the internet.
Exactly. Just to bring everything we're talking about to life here when the Premier League games are often nothing amazon prime earlier this year, it quickly revealed the problem to me at least with latency for example, every very often I would get a goal alert on my phone before actually appeared on my TV. So Karen, how much of a challenge is latency when a sporting event is relying on a net net game network to to make that real time decision?
Or don't put out I hope they will see where you go.
Yeah, I like this.
For us the the world of latency, our latency is quicker than you can blink. Yes, it's barely not there. But you do raise an interesting point because again, for us we switching is the one thing we generally don't blink about next year. You know, we have a lot of new technologies coming out all the time. But But switching is is our absolute bread and butter. It's where we hedge our bets. It's where we're absolutely confident in what we do. And you know, we've got great engineering teams, we've got great product management teams, we've got a chap called Laura Mercier, who is our head of fully managed switching at Netgear. There's a great team in in charge of the other switching families also as well as support engineers, pre sales engineers, and, and all of these guys are there. You know, we go through alpha test, beta tests, public tests, they're all the ground what we need to know to say right is If the latency is acceptable, and here, I mean, our latency between copper and fibre is, is so minimal, we can include both of those mediums to transport him inside the same link aggregation group. So there's a an awful lot of work. That means the point of the whole convoluted answer was we absolutely trust our switches now, but that is the world right? Generally, you know that that is what happens. Sometimes people don't understand it, but it takes time to get a live video feed from from A to B, and then from them to re feed that and see that back out to you all the mirrored servers that would have had to host those video feed
talking to you both today. I think what really shines is that this relationship that Netgear have with Hawkeye. So I mean, from the outside looking in, it seems that there's no egos and it's just all seems to be everybody working together to deliver something special. It's that relationship, something that's very important to you both, and after that over to you, Kim.
Yeah, absolutely. I you know, I think you could probably no, it's not we're not so much customers or colleagues. We're all very Much friends you know we've all cats been, although cats only been archived for one year and a half cat.
you know it's like
forever we're all we're all similar you know Joe who works at Hawkeye I've known for seven years and we're all genuinely friends in inside and outside of this we all love what we do we all love the companies we work at you know that's that's generally what it is I go to Hawkeye and take pictures of stuff that I shouldn't because I'm like this is just cool man 8k cameras and they I mean one guy and now I'm not gonna lie he's got to like jewel inch 50 inch screens his monitors his his glasses, a huge as you could expect. Right? But it's absolutely amazing and and I'm fortunate enough to live in a world of of that working at a manufacturer neck here and we get to revel in and you know, we're all under NDA with each other. So we get to share a little cool, cool stuff that that's going on that we can't tell you now until you stop recording.
You know, it's generally just appreciation that, you know, we're cool people, they're cool people, and it just works.
Cat. I'm curious when you're looking to innovate. I mean, you mentioned innovation. So when you're looking to innovate and improve products, is this something that you work closely with Matt get with to?
Yeah, of course. And it's one of the many reasons that I'm doing this podcast today is because I would really like a favour from Karen's get my hands on their latest gear. There we go. throw you under a bus. Yeah, that's exactly what it's about. And this, and this is why we need them and going, we're already we're already looking at using this stuff. before they've even bought it out. You know, we're looking to the future, looking at new projects, new adventures, new things that we're doing, and seeing how kind of like the product suite aligns with that. Of course, can we repurpose, and can we reuse stuff that has been out in one place, you know, maybe it's been used for cricket now. It's Go ahead, coming back out and then going out for a basketball tournament. We do a lot basketball in the US. But then we've we've kind of got to be looking and we've got to keep the pace up. So is the new stuff going to be better and more suited to what we need to do?
Karen, one of the things that I was doing a bit of research, I came across the Major League Baseball camera implementation, because I know you've got a lot of powerful kick going on in there. But can you expand on that for people listening that obviously don't know about the great work you're doing there?
Yeah. So that's, again, the the 8k cameras, but that took us into a place at Netgear that we've never been before. So that's actually on our 240 500 series switches dedicated to AV at the moment. And those are you've got one which is 48 ports of one gig slash 10 gig slash 25 gig, and then it's got a core ports of 100 and then you've got dedicated 40 slash 50 slash 100 gigs on 32 ports. And if you said to me, we're going to have 100 gig switch at Netgear. We laughed in your face two years ago just wouldn't have been a thing, right? The whole kind of SMB world is still adopting 10 gig the prices you know, now we're way below $100 a port 4000. So that is still filtering out it's becoming more of the norm maybe for backbones if you're replacing networks. But but certainly 100 gig was was just blowing my mind and it's blowing my mind since we've been doing it. The cat and Hawkeye were actually the first I believe well wide switches so it was a great unknown for both of us to go into it. And that takes us back to the whole forward error correction story that was you know, blowing all of our heads but we managed to solve but it's, it's all it's a mix of copper connections, fibre connections, 25 gig
Oh, that was another one because I wanted to use copper and fibre and I wanted to do one thing copper
modules for this we're converting from this to this to this and you know, converting from om four back to back to cat six or cat seven copper cables. It's all very much geared around that 25 gig and 100 gig switch though, which is kind of the the backbone of that little setup. I call it a little bit obviously, it's vast and replicated amongst multiple sites feeding back into the colossal Hawkeye network, but, but it's all kind of based around our our pro AV switches and if there's stuff missing, which is you know, sometimes the case when you're you're pushing the boundaries and you're doing something that hasn't been done before. I think there's this this kind of cross between certainly myself and cat and Hawkeye Netgear that if it is something missing that we can do it and things like PTP in fact is a is another thing that was was missing.
we had it in certain permutations on certain switches and can't turn around because Actually, you know what, this would be really handy for us to have in other situations and to also have on the 4500 series switches that just came out a couple of months ago. So we then again, we the forward error correction thing was a p one right that had to be resolved there. And then to get the solution up and running of Why's the connection between the camera in the switch did not take place just would not work. But then things like PTP where it's a nice to have, we can look at it work with walk, I assess it, and then you know, a couple of months later, that's actually just come out and you know, it brings me joy to know that I work in a place where I have a manufacturer that is willing to back and support what I go out and do and if I turn around to my customer customer needs this and there's a valid use case for it. You know, cat just wants silly stuff like, you know, racking switches probably won't happen immediately. Right? But if there's a genuine use case, and you know, Nick gear is very much networking and technology people internally as well. And you know, we can can go back and feed that and like I said, PTP transparent mode on the 4500 series just came out in its latest version of code a couple of weeks. I think that for four to eight weeks ago. Yeah, it gives me pleasure to go back and say, right, there's the other feature that was was a little bit less important. But nonetheless, there is, from my
perspective, was net gear is such a huge organisation. There's like this really kind of small company kind of personal feel to it, you know, where if you were perhaps to go to another vendor, you you can't go with kind of these demands and these things. For example, I think PTP was a great one, you know, I can get to talk to the wrong and like the head of switching, and you get listened to and you get asked for stuff. So can we have a PTP clock built into the switch, that we can now use it and you can ask for different things and those things will get listened to? And quite often I get a No, not today, but very often. I do Get a Yeah, actually, that would be good for us that would be good to you. Good, good for you guys. You know, how come it is there? How can we make things better? And I'd have some fun along the way. And something else that I think
stands out here is a lot of big sporting brands throughout the entire world are going to be looking to Hawkeye to almost lead the way with technology. So I've got asked, what is it that excites you about the road ahead for Hawkeye and the role that emerging technologies are going to be increasingly playing in sporting events?
Well, I think we've got to have a look at events of the past year of how sad to say Coronavirus has really shaped the face of technology. We're all working from home now or maybe very much most result. We do yeah, we're not having studio we're doing this from our from our houses. So effectively, overnight. Technology has changed the world and we've got to adapt to those changes. I certainly know that with social distancing. We can't have a load of guys packed into a van. And we need to look at how we can change and adapt our solutions. And I've certainly got into some very big conversations now about how we're actually going to deliver these things moving forward. How can we have people socially distance? Where does the kit need to be? Can we do this? Well, it's not Can we do this in a different way? We need to do this in a different way, taking into consideration all these different physical, you know, implementations, and how are we going to use technology to realise this? How are we? How are we going to, you know, move forward from that, and that's how to change and adapt very, very quickly and how we can make people's lives better by using tech.
Absolutely. And Kevin, I'm gonna put you on the spot here with someone like Hawkeye they're looking for, to innovate more and use emerging technologies. So I've got to ask, are there any teasers that you could possibly leave us with today about the future innovations or products from now? Get going and get me sucked in.
So you are, I guess, you know my market we do an awful lot of webinars and this is what I taught my marketing manager in terms of what we're going to be doing for the webinars for the next three or four months. And it's for us this is probably one of the most exciting times in it get into in terms of new product introductions, we got some fantastic stuff coming if I could show you the pile of boxes that barricades me in my house that might my wife is near to divorcing me because of of all this fantastic technology. And this this next three to four months, POV is getting more powerful. Wi Fi is getting even faster. And certainly switching is dedicated really in terms of things like AV in the world of audio visual deployments which all cry for fall into it, the family neck is getting even bigger, even stronger and even more intuitive. To and I think that That's going to be a big game changer in the world of AV and that's probably all I can say. But if you get yourself over to the net gay uk website or partner portal, and get on our webinar schedule, we'll be announcing the day stuff comes out throughout September, October and November. There's going to be a lot of announcements on my webinars. They'll pitch there to get you on
your WordPress care and you managed to do all that without breaking any embargoes. Kudos to you. Thank you so much for joining me today. Before I do let you go, can you point the listeners in the direction of how they can find out more information about your work or can find you online?
Sure. So if you head over to the Hawkeye website, www dot Hawkeye innovations.com. You can see some really, really great stuff on there about what we do. Find out more about the sport, probably about more of the different roles. So certainly not just In the business about how our operators and how they work on site, and there's absolutely tonnes and tonnes of fun stuff over there. So it's really worth a look.
Excellent. And Kevin from a net gear perspective, where should listeners go to learn more about the tech and where to contact your team if they needed to carry on this conversation we started today,
similar to cat net gear code at UK or.com depending on where you are, we've got a fantastic community website, which is community got gear calm as a place where you can talk directly to net gear, the general managers, so there's really open access we're on spiceworks you can reach us in the UK at UK sales or reseller at net good, calm. We're on LinkedIn. We're on Twitter, even on Facebook.
So what I've loved about our conversation today, yes, I mean, we're talking about technologies such as network software and 4k cameras. There's so much going on there. But I think at the heart of all that we've got the human race relationship between Hawkeye in that game and I think that just seems to be sent to everything that of course, and Bombay, but boy, Pot Noodle seems to get everyone so it's but more than anything just thanks for joining me today guys.
I just love this conversation because of how it highlighted the challenges that cat faces at Hawkeye, especially when playing a pivotal role at some of the biggest sporting events in the world such as a World Cup or Champions League Final. And if we look at the if we just look at soccer for a moment there, we can have dozens of football games playing at the exact moment in time, all of which heavily rely on technology. And as Kat said, there has to work there is no in between. So, so behind the scenes, we have Netgear and I just love Karen's examples of how they were writing new protocols for their switches to work with some of Hawkeye software. And for me that highlights this great partnership and adaptability that they've got by working together and I think Not only shows the value of technology but also the importance of relationships between Hawkeye and Netgear to deliver in high pressure environments with, let's face it, a global audience watching. But that's it for today's episode of switched on thinking, if you enjoyed the podcast, please leave a rating and review on whatever platform you listen. And I also invite you to join me again in two weeks where we will further explore how Netgear and its partners are solving real world networking challenges not only of today, but also in the future. So I'll speak to you all again next time to switch off thinking podcasts.