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Author: Toine C. Leerentveld, Senior Manager Product Management, Platform Solutions
Crestron Virtual Control (VC-4) enterprise software has been available for over two years, but you may not know what it really is, the benefits it delivers, or how it’s evolved.
What is Virtual Control
Crestron has been the leader in control systems for decades; our control appliances run smart homes, rooms, buildings, and campuses. We were the first company in our industry to recognize and embrace that AV and IT were converging, and as such, implemented enterprise-grade security and standards-based communication on our devices. The next step was clear to us: we needed a software-only solution.
That’s why we developed VC-4 from the ground up as an enterprise-grade server application that leverages existing IT infrastructure to provide a fault tolerant and scalable control platform. It’s the perfect fit for large-scale AV-over-IP deployments, making it easy to onboard new rooms. We also recognize the importance of cyber security to our customers, which is why Virtual Control uses encrypted and authenticated device connections to provide end-to-end security.
In addition, VC-4 provides a full REST API to enable integration with other enterprise systems. VC-4 makes it easy to deploy hundreds of rooms with just a few clicks or via the REST API. Using Crestron .AV Framework™ software, you can deploy rooms without having to write a single line of code. Simply update your code in a single location and all rooms will upgrade to run the new version – it’s that simple! Virtual Control is the ideal solution for companies looking to leverage IT infrastructure to create a scalable control platform that simplifies deployment to just a few clicks!
VC-4 is moving
When we develop new products, we want to make sure we meet our customer’s requirements. VC-4 is no different. We talked to potential customers to find out what Linux® software distribution we should target. The answers were varied, with Ubuntu® and Red Hat® Enterprise Linux (RHEL) at the top. Most customers said that either distribution would be acceptable for them. We chose Ubuntu because it has a lower barrier to entry and is the most frequently used enterprise distribution used on web servers.
Since launching VC-4, however, we have seen a shift. Some new customers indicated that Red Hat Enterprise Linux was a requirement for them to adapt VC-4, and our larger existing customers were starting to require RHEL as well.
We explored how easy it would be to support both Ubuntu and Red Hat, but unfortunately, we cannot provide an acceptable solution that will run on both at this time. As such, we have made the decision to move Virtual Control from Ubuntu to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
To provide a free operating system alternative, Virtual Control will also support CentOS® software.
Benefits of moving to Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Our customers tell us that the main reasons they prefer RHEL have to do with the long-term support and security implementations available to Red Hat.
To make sure Virtual Control would run in the most secure environments, we designed it to be compatible with SE Linux enabled in “enforcing mode.” This means that the IT administrator controls access on the server with very specific security policies, and thus put them 100% in charge!
Other than some bug fixes, settings to enable remote debugging of rooms, and support for the Crestron ONE™ mobile app, the RHEL version of VC-4 builds the foundation for Crestron to offer some very exciting new features, coming early 2021!
Are you running VC-4 on Ubuntu and want to upgrade to RHEL?
If you’re an existing customer running VC-4, we made the migration to RHEL as easy as possible, with little downtime.
Please follow these steps exactly and do not take down your Ubuntu installation until we give you the go ahead.
First, we provide a migration script that lets you make a backup of all your rooms, programs, and VC-4 settings on the Ubuntu server. For security reasons, we do not back up any x.509 keys and certificates. You can run this script while your rooms are running, so there is no downtime. The resulting migration file will have to be placed on your RHEL server.
After that, you can install VC-4 on your RHEL server, following the steps in the installation guide. It will ask you for the migration file, which it uses to create all the rooms, programs, and settings to match your installation on Ubuntu.
The next step is to remove the Ubuntu server from your Crestron XiO Cloud® platform. This step will take your rooms offline. Simply log into your XiO Cloud account, click on the hamburger menu behind the server, and then click “Unclaim Device.”
This will remove the server from your account and free up the licenses for the RHEL server.
Change the hostname (or IP, if that’s what you’re using for addressing) of the RHEL server to the hostname of your “old” Ubuntu server and reboot. This makes all your devices connect to the new server and your rooms will be up and running again.
You’re almost done! Simply claim the RHEL server into XiO Cloud and assign the licenses.
If you prefer CentOS, all the same benefits and migration steps apply.
Time to try Virtual Control
Interested in trying VC-4? Simply download it from the Crestron website, and install it on your server; it will run for 90 days with no limitations.
After 90 days, you will need to purchase a VC-4 license, available as a subscription (which includes software updates and improved support levels) or as a one-time purchase, which will require an additional maintenance license to receive updates and be eligible for the enhanced support. Note that the VC-4 server must be connected to an XiO Cloud service account to validate the perpetual licenses.
Learn more on Crestron 4-Series Control Systems