Comrex Switchboard for audio (formerly known as BRIC TS) is a feature that allows presence notification, status and connection help (NAT Traversal) via a cloud-based service. Switchboard within the hardware codec provides the following functions:
- The ability for Comrex audio codecs to sync with a cloud based server and deliver status information
- The ability for Comrex audio codecs to determine their public IP address and the type of any NAT-style router ahead of the codec, and display that information to the user
- The ability of Comrex audio codecs to display presence, status, NAT info and IP addresses of other codecs within the same fleet
- The ability to share this information with codecs outside the fleet (Shares)
- The ability to take instruction from the server on how best to traverse NATs when placing a call between two codecs
One of the issues that many users of our ACCESS and BRIC-Link codecs are faced with is dealing with IP network firewalls or trying to access their codecs which are on a private Local Area Network or LAN. All IP codecs require an IP address to dial into and just as when you are trying to make a telephone call, if you don't know the number, you can't make the call. But what if the number can only be accessed from inside your building, as with a PBX extension? In order to get to that extension from outside of your building, you have to go through the main switchboard which then would route your call to the person at the extension you are trying to call.
In the case of your IP codec, which might be sitting on a private LAN, the "switchboard" in this case is a router or Network Address Translator, commonly referred to as a NAT. By telling the router to forward all of the incoming traffic on certain data ports to your codec situated on the internal LAN, a codec user outside of your building is able to connect to your codec inside the building. This process is known as "port forwarding" which is also used to configure network firewalls that provide additional security protocols to protect your internal network.
Well, configuring your own network is usually manageable... if your IT guy is in a good mood and if you can get him to help you out with this process. But what if you are on a client site trying to do a remote and your client's IT guy doesn't want to put an "unknown" computer on his network? Or what if you're trying to connect back to your studio from a hotel room using the hotel's high-speed Internet connection?
Switchboard TS to the Rescue
SwtichBoard TS is a server which is maintained by Comrex and located at a secure site. Use of this server is free. A BRIC-enabled device simply needs to apply the one-time license unlock for each device that will be used on Switchboard TS. A user or administrator would log on to the Switchboard TS website and create an account. Once an account has been created, a list of codecs is defined. Each codec is then identified in the list by its MAC (Media Access Control) address. From the main list of codecs, multiple Contact Lists can be created within each account. For example, if you have ten ACCESS codecs and five are used by the News department and five are used by the FM Rock station, you can create two Contact Lists: News Department and Rock 101.1. Each Contact List would be able to access only codecs in their own group. However, it is possible for individual codecs to join a Contact List using Shares. A complete description of Contact Lists and Shares can be found by reading the following: Tech Note.
Once the account has been created, the Contact List has been defined and codecs identified, each Switchboard TS enabled codec is then configured to "Use Directory Server". When the codec is connected to an Internet connection, it will automatically communicate with the Switchboard TS and sync up. A listing of all of the codecs in that particular group will then be displayed in the "Connections" list on each of the synced codecs. This "Buddy List" of codecs will display the names of the other devices in the group, their connection status (indicated by a colored icon), their IP address and their availability. A codec user can then simply select the device they want to use and hit the "Connect" button. Devices that are not synced with Switchboard TS are denoted by the ">" icon.