Prepping Your Network for Skype Online
Using Skype Online eliminates the need for you to deploy servers on-premises and also relieves your IT department from needing to deal with the on-going security patching and cumulative update installation associated with operating an on-premises Skype for Business Server solution. However, even with Skype Online you still need to ensure your managed network is properly provisioned and configured. Additionally, you still need to work to set user expectations and through training, communications and change management help your users get the most from Skype Online.
I’ve asked my business partner and Skype for Business MVP, Dino Caputo, to help me explore the technical steps you need to take in order to prep your network. In the first part of this story, Dino documented the network requirements for Skype for Business. In the second part of this story, Dino explained how to download, install and run the free Skype for Business Network Assessment Tool. In this article he details how to interpret the assessment tool results.
The Skype for Business Network Assessment Tool provides the ability to determine how well the network would perform for a Skype for Business Online call by means of a simple audio call test. The tool tests the connection to Microsoft Network Edge by streaming a set of packets to the nearest edge site and back for approximately 17 seconds for a configured number of iterations. The tool measures, monitors and reports a number of key call quality metrics.
Analyzing the Results
After running the tool, to analyze the results, use PowerShell scripting. Using the following cmdlet you will receive further information about the tests you have just performed:
From the output you can see the tool parsed three rows of data (one per iteration run) and has yielded the following results. Since the tool does not know where in my network it was run it displays both the results from the perspective of the client workstation and the edge of my network. Since the initial running of the tool was from my client workstation, I focus on the top results for a “Skype for Business Client machine connecting to the Microsoft network Edge.”
In this case I scored passing grade in packet loss, RTT latency (Round Trip Time latency) and jitter. However, I scored a failing grade in packet reorder ratio. Referring to the targets detailed in part 1, to achieve a passing grade in this target, less than 0.05% of out of order packets must be achieved. Something between my client and the Microsoft Edge Network is causing the excessive packet reorders. Determining this and correcting it would be prudent before continuing down the path of deploying more Skype Cloud PBX voice users.
Notice that had these results been obtained from my network edge, I would have achieved a failing score in all categories. This is because the requirements are more stringent from the customer network edge to the Microsoft Edge. The following are the network target requirements shown once again in a convenient side-by-side chart.
Figure 1: Performance Goals when using Skype Cloud PBX
Next Steps and recommendations…
Here are some high level recommendations and next steps to follow for assessing network performance:
You should assess your internal network as well as the connections to Office 365. Run the performance test from several workstations within your client-facing network to ensure all segments are properly performing. Run the tests from your egress points as well. This will help you understand where the issues may be.
- You should assess and gather data for all of your networks over a long period of time. Perform your testing for a minimum of a week, so that you can see usage patterns for all business days and hours. This will show you peak times.
- Take multiple samples of network performance measurements. Microsoft recommends taking a measurement every 10 minutes from your site during the entire period of time you are gathering data. For comparing the Skype for Business Online network performance requirements, take the 90th percentile measurement value from this sample data set.
- Continuously assess the network's performance. Network utilization varies over time due to usage pattern changes, new enterprise-based applications that use a large amount of bandwidth, and changes to your organizational or physical company locations. It is important for you to continuously monitor your network performance against these network performance requirements and targets/thresholds and make timely adjustments to ensure the most optimal Real-Time media quality.
Thank you, Dino.
That concludes the three steps, and three articles, related to assessing and remediating technical issues with respect to your network and Skype Online. See below for thoughts on addressing the non-technical network challenges.
About Dino Caputo
As a Senior Architect and Microsoft Office Servers and Services (Skype for Business) MVP, Dino gets to do what he does best – help clients achieve their business goals by providing advanced technical solutions. It’s his ability to develop technical strategies, understand client needs and deliver performance outcomes that have earned him a reputation as a seasoned IT professional and true team player.
Beyond the Technical
Enterprise users can expect Skype for Business voice calls to work perfectly even in situations outside of your control: working from home, at a coffee shop, at a hotel. Getting the technical right is a key and necessary first step. However, additional steps follow.
Once you master the technical challenges, setting, managing and meeting user expectations requires a strong user training, communications and change management approach, to learn more about this, please consider attending the exclusive BC Summit at the beginning of November. The BC Summit delivers key sessions from many industry-leading experts; of particular note, Blair Pleasant and I will be leading a session that focuses on driving usage and adoption for enterprise customers. This is a natural extension and important next step once you solidify your technical platform.
Also on UCStrategies.com in this series: