Just as many residential integrators dabble in commercial work, so to do commercial integration firms pick up residential projects.
While some of the AV, automation and security products and systems may require different skill sets and knowledge, there’s no denying that one common category education that would positively impact business these days is networking.
So many installers still squeak by on their own trial-and-error experience in IP networking, which perhaps has worked… so far. But that’s not enough, given today’s security threats, wireless overload, and increasing demands on home networks from streaming video (now including 4K), high-resolution audio, HD video surveillance and other bandwidth-taxing services.
That’s why so many integrators — even those who know a fair amount about networking — are taking an extra step to achieve the Residential Networking Credential from CEDIA (this year’s Expo is being held Sept. 10-13 in Denver).
For instance, Tyler Zeer of Calgary-based Symbiotic Integrations Inc., says he was “fairly savvy” before prepping for the certification, having already taken networking courses at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) Polytechnic and achieving his Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) 1 and 3 designations.
But he went through the CEDIA program “just to see if I’d learn anything more from what I already knew,” he says.
In fact, he learned plenty, especially in his weak area of VPNs.
“I had shied away from it,” Zeer says, “but port forwarding kind of opened the door to compromised security, and that scared me.”
Thanks to his pre-test studies, Zeer says he is now confident in implementing VPNs. Next up at CEDIA 2014, Zeer wants to make sure he’s rock solid on VLANs and firewalls.
Selling the Pricey Stuff
One major takeaway from the network certification process is that Zeer is better equipped to sell pricier enterprise-grade networking gear.
“We are able to get them [clients] into better-class routers and switches,” he says. “It’s a bit of work to sell them but I think they have confidence seeing that we have the certification behind us.”
If customers expect seamless Wi-Fi handoffs, always-on connections and hi-res streaming, they better step up, Zeer says.
Likewise, the network certification process “gives us the confidence to sell” high-end networking products and services, says Jordan Gibson of Appalachian Home Technologies in Charlottesville, Va.
“It becomes a challenge when customers can go to Google, type in ‘wireless router’ and find products for $200 to $300,” Gibson says. “We let them know that we are going to do it right, and we will use products that won’t fail and don’t have to be power-cycled every two weeks and can handle all the devices.”
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