EDITORS CHOICE 02.04.18

Case Study: VMware, Australia

VMware Main Image
Breakout room at VMware's Melbourne, Australia office

Peter Hunt from Hewshott International details how a global relationship and early engagement helped deliver a modern corporate office for VMware in Melbourne, Australia.

Corporate spaces are evolving under the impacts of a younger workforce and progressing technology. This has meant that employers are having to pay more attention to how offi ce space and the technology deployed can help them empower their employees.

VMware is a global provider of cloud infrastructure and business mobility systems. As it grows and expands, with new offi ces being established across Asia Pacific, VMware has had to refi ne its approach to AV technology and its application. This resulted in VMware appointing a global head for AV to handle responsibilities.

VMware’s new office in Melbourne, Australia serves as an example of the company’s new approach to AV technology. Hewshott International was appointed as the consultant for the project while integration services were provided by Rutledge AV.

Hewshott International had worked with VMware previously and Peter Hunt, group CEO at Hewshott International, details: “We have two offices in India and we previously worked on multiple offices for VMware. The relationship between our Indian offi ce and VMware’s Indian offi ce is good and this project was a natural progression and born out of our prior relationship.”

Hunt says about the project: “A lot of the design work for the Australian offi ce was done in India due to the established relationship between our two offi ces there. VMware’s global AV head is also based there and so is our lead designer so it made sense to have that function there. Of course, I supported the project locally, with local decisions on site here in Australia but all major structural and design works were done out of Hewshott India.”

He continues: “This process started around a year ago, and was a new initiative from VMware. AV has gone up a level as it has become such an important component of the corporate world. We started from a set of standard template designs which are replicated around the world, and Melbourne is one example of this. The reasoning behind this approach is that when people move from one office to another office the view out of the window might be different but the functionality of the space is the same.” The new VMware office in Melbourne, Australia has meeting rooms which differ in size and functionality. The general baseline for the meeting rooms involves the provision of audio, video and control.

Pendant ceiling microphones are used in the meeting rooms to pick up audio.

Videoconferencing codecs, DSPs and cameras are also provided for the purpose of communication. Large format display panels are used for visuals. Audio in most of the meeting rooms is provided by a combination loudspeakers from a number of manufacturers.

A single control processor is used to provide control for the meeting rooms. Touch panels are provided inside most of the meeting rooms to allow users to control the AV.

Hunt says: “One of the global AV head’s main aims was to regulate and improve consistency of outcome for VMware for all AV rollouts. This is why the GUIs and touch panels are programmed centrally and have been worked on so that they are consistent.”

Smaller meeting rooms are provided with wired connectivity options. Hunt says: “The aim for these smaller meeting rooms was to keep it simple. There is no control system here because control is not needed. It’s the same with wireless connectivity. But users can plug in their laptops via HDMI and use the AV in the rooms. It just works and it makes lives easier for the users who don’t have to deal with figuring out which button to press.”

The smaller meetings rooms are also equipped with tablets that provides booking functionality. A larger training room at the VMware office has its own AV systems. The biggest deviation when compared with the meeting rooms in terms of AV is the use of microphones that have been screwed onto the tables to provide audio pickup.

Hunt details a special consideration: “VMware was keen to avoid racks and racks of equipment remotely located. So, everything to do with AV is compacted into the space that we had in the room. All the equipment is housed here.” The equipment is mounted sideways on rack strips and features DSP, videoconferencing codecs and the matrix switch, all in a cabinet under the screen.

Even though VMware wished to avoid remotely located equipment, the nature of the AV deployment meant that sticking to this vision entirely was not completely plausible. There is an AV rack for larger and shared AV equipment which houses the larger control processor for the meeting rooms and two DSPs to manage the extra microphones deployed in the training room.

Also located in the rack is the equipment for a breakout room, which is VMware’s casual meeting space, dining area and café. Amplifiers for the speakers in the breakout room and radio microphone receivers are housed in the rack. The breakout room itself features a display and a PlayStation for staff to use, with ceiling speakers for both voice and programme sound.

On the surface, the AV deployment in the breakout room seems simple and straightforward. But Hunt points to it as the most challenging part of the project. He explains: “By law, offices in Australia must provide hearing augmentation in areas where there is amplified speech, including videoconference rooms. We were going to go with an induction loop like the other rooms, which have magnetic loops under the carpets. But in the breakout room, it’s polished concrete, so we couldn’t dig up the floor and hence we have gone with IR units for hearing augmentation. We had the compliance consultant interpret the law in a certain way, but I wasn’t happy with their assessment and had to discuss the matter with them and make them understand how the AV was going to work. They agreed that it was a requirement and IR was the only way to go. I would much rather have a difficult conversation early than have a harder one down the road when the problem has become much worse.”

Overall though Hunt states that there were many positives to be drawn from the project. He says: “We have been getting involved in corporate projects such as this earlier now so that we can inform the client and their architect and the other parties about the considerations that must be taken for AV which is good because we are an integrated part of the team rather than just being tacked on.” He continues: “Early engagement means that we have the opportunity to unravel some of the assumptions made about AV where lack of detailed and up-to-date knowledge results in poor decisions. When you can insert the detailed, current knowledge into the equation the realisation about the needs of AV becomes apparent and the result is a better project.”

Regarding Hewshott International’s role, Hunt says: “I think that we were able to bring a good understanding of the idiosyncrasies of operating in Australia to the VMware project. The laws are different around Asia Pacific. The induction loop is a great example of this. So when there are frustrations and issues because of these misunderstandings, arising from the different business practices in different countries, we provide quality advice and local knowledge about the various laws and regulations.”

Tech Spec

Audio

ClockAudio microphones
Crestron amplifiers, ceiling speakers
Leon ceiling speakers
Polycom microphones, DSPs
Shure microphones
Tannoy ceiling speakers

Video

Crestron DM matrix switch
Extron connectivity ports
Polycom videoconferencing codecs, cameras
Samsung displays

Control

Apple iPads
Crestron CP3 control processors, touch panels