Are you thinking about setting up a control room for your network or security operations? And have you thought about installing a video wall to provide a common operational picture for a group of operators? Then you probably wonder which of the three dominant video wall technologies (LCD, LED or RPC) make the most sense. Although there is no short answer to that question, this article will help you to make a well-founded decision.
The video wall is probably the most obvious image we have of a control room. However, there are control rooms, often smaller ones, that do work without a large-screen common operational picture. Thanks to networked visualization technology, it is perfectly possible to view, share and interact with control room content on any operator position and on any display that is connected to the network.
Does your NOC or SOC need a video wall?
As control rooms scale towards bigger operations, in general the need for a common operational picture, displayed on a large video wall, increases. In that case, there’s more content to be presented, more stakeholders involved, and more decisions to be made. Let’s look at some of the benefits of having a video wall in your Network Operations Center (NOC) or Security Operations Center (SOC) control room:
- Control room operators may be monitoring sources for 80% of their time, while the remaining 20% is dedicated to incident handling. It’s especially for that 20% where a video wall can facilitate collaboration. Whether the video wall is located in a central control room space or in a separate crisis room, having one central video wall where the amalgam of sources is presented to multiple stakeholders makes a joint decision-making process way much easier.
- The job of each NOC or SOC analyst is supported by an ever-increasing set of analytics tools and applications. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) and many more applications are needed to monitor the health and security of the corporate network. A large video wall can present a real-time ‘single version of the truth’ by combining the best sources that enable analysts to evaluate the situation.
- It may not be the most obvious or principal reason to buy a video wall, but having large-screen visualization in your control room also has a significant wow factor and PR value. A large video wall may just be the tool you need to show your important stakeholders, funders or visitors that your NOC or SOC staff has it all under control. A large video wall will demonstrate your capabilities in a much more convenient way than having your external audience check every operator’s monitor.
LCD, LED or RPC video wall?
If you decide to invest in a large video wall, then which technology – LCD, LED or rear-projection (RPC) – makes the most sense for a NOC or SOC? Although there is no simple answer to that question, there are a few important considerations to take into account.
- 24/7 reliability: NOC or SOC content typically needs to be available 24/7. Although historically, rear-projection technology was best positioned to serve 24/7 critical applications, today Barco offers reliable control room visualization in any of the three dominant video wall technologies, being LCD, LED and rear-projection. And with the recent introduction of Barco’s TruePix video wall platform, Barco now also offers a direct-view LED solution that meets the stringent needs of the control room market, in terms of image quality, 24/7 reliability and long-term supportability.
- Operator comfort: Colors that remain uniform over time and across the entire wall surface are essential for the comfort of NOC/SOC analysts who often need to make long shifts monitoring video wall content. NOC/SOC control rooms are often office-like environments, where light is let in. A video wall therefore needs to have enough brightness to counter the ambient light conditions. LED offers the highest brightness, although LCD and RPC have also made great advancements in order to cope with challenging light conditions.
- Seamless viewing: The seams or mechanical gaps between multiple screens or panels of a video wall can be a hinder, because critical content can get lost or misread behind the seams or bezels. Unlike LCD and rear-projection, direct-view LED video walls (such as Barco's TruePix platform) are fully seamless and have no screen gaps, because the LED diodes can be spread over the entire tile, up to the edges. Barco UniSee, Barco’s premium LCD product, is a nice runner-up with an almost seamless experience.
- Compact footprint: Many NOC and SOC operations are organized in small to mid-size control rooms. For control rooms designers, it’s therefore essential to make the best use of every inch of available space. Rear-projection cubes, which have historically been very successful in larger control rooms, such as traffic centers or utilities, are less practical in smaller NOC/SOC rooms. Cubes take a lot of space, whereas LCD and LED walls are much more efficient in terms of real estate. And with Barco’s solutions for easy maintenance of LED and LCD video walls, that make video wall panels accessible from the front, there is even less space wasted.
- Cost-efficiency: NOC and SOC investments often fall under the IT department, which typically makes capital expenditures followed by a period of 3-5 years usage. In such an investment model, cost-effective video wall technologies make most sense. From the three dominant video wall technologies, LCD technology is the most budget-friendly investment, especially for small to mid-sized video walls.
What is the best choice for your NOC/SOC?
Since every control room is different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. LCD and LED provide the best options for NOC or SOC control rooms where space is limited. Out of these two technologies, LCD is the more cost-effective one, while LED will offer operators a more ergonomic, seamless viewing experience, even in high ambient light conditions.
Still got questions about the different video wall technologies? Then feel free to talk to one of our Barco experts.
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