Validating Your Network for Skype Online

Validating Your Network for Skype Online

Kevin Kieller PNG
Validating Your Network for Skype Online by Kevin Kieller and Dino Caputo

To have a successful Skype Online implementation you must test your network.

I’ve asked my business partner and Skype for Business MVP Dino Caputo to help me detail how you can ensure your network is ready for Skype Online. In the first part of this story, Dino documented the network requirements for Skype for Business. In this article he explores how to setup and run Microsoft’s free network assessment tool.

Recap

The Skype for Business Network Assessment Tool provides the ability to determine how well your 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.

Over to you, Dino...

Installing and running the tool

You can download the network assessment tool here. There is no automated installation; you unzip the files to a directory on your machine and use PowerShell to run it. 


Figure 1: Network Assessment Tool directory listing

Expert Tip:

Since the tool emulates the Skype for Business client I found it required Office 2016 installed on the machine you were running it from.  Otherwise you would get a nasty runtime exception error.  When testing from the edge of your network I would suggest using a virtual machine you can install office on.

The tool is run via a Windows PowerShell session from any workstation.  Before you run it you should be familiar with the configuration file that sets up the options for the tool to run.  Out-of-the box, I found no modifications were required in order for it to work.

The configuration file is called “NetworkAssessmentTool.exe.config” and is located in the same directory as the other files. You can edit the file if required. The defaults are as shown below:


Figure 2. NetworkAssessmentTool.exe.config

The key configuration components are explained in the following table:

 
ConfigurationDescriptionIf Not Specified
Relay.IPIP Address to reach the relay server. MUST be a valid IP address string.Tool will fail.
Relay.UDPPortUDP port to reach the relay server for relay allocations. MAY be omitted if the user wishes to test TCP allocations only. If both UDP and TCP are configured, UDP will be preferred if the relay is reachable via UPD.  If UDP and TCP are not specified, tool will fail. Otherwise, allocate on TCP only. 
Relay.TCPPortTCP port to reach the relay server for relay allocations. MAY be omitted if the user wishes to test UDP allocations only. If UDP and TCP are not specified, tool will fail. Otherwise, allocate on UDP only.
WMAFilePathPath to valid WMA file to be used as an audio file for the audio call. File MUST exist and MUST be a WMA file.Tool will fail.
NumIterationsNumber of audio calls to make. These will be made serially (no concurrency).Takes value of 1.
ResultsFilePathLocation to output the results to. This is typically a tsv or csv. The delimiter is specified by the “Delimiter” setting. The first line of the output describes what each column is.Results will not be output to a file.
DelimiterFor the output file in “ResultsFilePath” (if specified), this is the separator for each column in the output file. Takes value of <TAB>.
IntervalInSecondsTime to wait between consecutive calls.Takes value of 5.0s.
WMAOutputFilePathPath to where the audio received will be written.  If file exists it will be overwritten. Tool will fail.

You may not need to change any of the parameters for a successful run of the tool; however, you should note the following:

  1. The Relay.IP is set to the current Skype Cloud PBX media relay Public IP address.
  2. The test will make exactly 1 call iteration of a 17 second call.
    • I would recommend running at least 3 iterations which is changed by updating the NumInterations variable in the file.  This way you can average the results over a few iterations. 
  3. If you select multiple iterations the tool waits 5 seconds in between runs.

There are two scenarios you will need to run the tool under. The first are runs from client workstation machines to measure the quality of the network from the workstation to the Microsoft Cloud Network Edge. The second scenario are runs from your corporate network Edge to the Microsoft Cloud Network Edge. This is important so you can understand where issues may exist within your network. For example, the test may give you a passing result when run from a machine from your network Edge, however yield a failing grade when run from a machine on your internal corporate network. 

Here is an actual run of the tool from my workstation. In this example I have configured the tool to run three iterations. With each iteration the tool yields some initial results:

That concludes a summary of installing and running the network requirements tool for Skype Online. In part 3 we will explore how to analyze the results.


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.

If you are interested in learning more about evaluating, selecting and successfully implementing a Cloud or Hybrid solution, please consider attending the exclusive BC Summit at the beginning of November.

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Also on UCStrategies.com in this series:

 

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