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[Videos] VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business Technical Overview & Tests

Frank Anderson

Author: Frank Anderson

Accomplished, results-oriented, Senior Solutions Architect with solid experience driving end-user computing solutions while showcasing product strengths. Strives to make complex technology easily consumable by offering the best reference architectures, guidance and performance studies in the industry. Thought-leader professional with over 20 years of experience in end-user computing.

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Optimizing Skype for EUC Is the Only Way to Go

You can run Skype for Business inside VMware Horizon 7 virtual desktops without negatively affecting the virtual infrastructure and overloading the network. During Skype audio and video calls, all media processing takes place on the Windows client machine, instead of in the virtual desktop.

To learn more about the Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business, watch the following two videos (each 10 minutes long) that provide a technical overview of the technology and offer some insights to its performance-enhancing characteristics.

Technical Overview for the Horizon Virtualization Pack (Video Presentation)

The technical overview for the Horizon Virtualization pack video covers the following topics:

  • Challenges delivering Skype audio and video media
  • How it works
  • Key benefits and capabilities
  • Architecture
  • External accessibility
  • Installation steps
  • Supportability
  • Troubleshooting and configuration
  • Resources

Horizon with Skype for Business Testing (Video Results)

The Horizon with Skype for Business Testing video demonstrates Horizon 7 with Skype for Business for audio and video call scenarios. The video provides a series of test cases that show the benefits of the Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business. The video offers both qualitative and quantitative test results that compare two Horizon 7 deployment scenarios that include and exclude the Virtualization Pack.

The difference does not seem significant at first, but the impact is more far-reaching when you consider performance when scaling beyond the resource consumption of two sessions. When sites try to scale end-user computing (EUC) workloads based on Skype for Business, the importance of using the Virtualization Pack becomes paramount, as is evident from the details of this study.

The testing environment consisted of:

  • VMware Horizon 7.2
  • VMware Client 4.5
  • Skype for Business
    • Server: Office 365
    • Client: Office 2016 Pro Plus, 32-bit
  • Horizon 7 test lab
    • Located in Washington state
    • Two Windows 10 Enterprise 64-bit virtual desktops
  • Horizon 7 test clients
    • Located in North and South Florida
    • Two Windows 10 systems

The configuration scenarios for the point-to-point video call testing included:

Test 1

The first test scenario was configured for a point-to-point video call using the Real-Time Audio-Video (RTAV) feature included with Horizon 7. Although RTAV supports webcams and audio devices, it is not the most efficient means for delivering Skype due to the media hairpinning and transcoding method that this technology uses. However, RTAV does serve as sufficient fallback for times when the Virtualization Pack cannot be used.

Testing was staged with virtual desktops hosted in Washington, and the client endpoint devices across the U.S., 3,000 miles away in Florida. There was over 100 ms of network latency that separated the virtual desktops from the endpoints. This is a great example of why media hairpinning is very costly; the audio and video from the local endpoints was sent to the virtual desktops, exchanged among the Skype clients, transcoded as part of the remote delivery protocol, and then finally delivered to the endpoints coast-to-coast a second time.

Test 2

The second test scenario was configured for a point-to-point video call using the Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business feature included with Horizon 7. The Virtualization Pack is the optimized, best approach for delivering Skype because the audio and video media is delivered directly to and from the client endpoint devices without transcoding, and is routed out-of-band to the remote delivery protocol.

Test 2 used the same hosting environment, client endpoint devices and network conditions as the first test scenario. Because the Virtualization Pack was enabled for this configuration, the audio and video media exchanges were contained in the endpoints and never traversed across the country. A clearer, better user experience can be observed in the captured footage while substantially fewer EUC infrastructure resources were consumed when compared to the first test scenario.

Be sure to watch the video in its entirety for other data points and details, as well as another testing scenario using a single desktop session.

 

Learn More

These two videos provide a technical overview of the Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business and demonstrate the performance-enhancing characteristics of the technology:

Plus, download this solution overview to learn about the key benefits of Microsoft’s and VMware’s optimized Skype for Business solution.

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