Citrix announces advances in Skype for Business (Lync) integration

At Citrix Summit spent a lot of time talking about the enhancements that they made to their Skype for Business integration, together with Microsoft - building on their distinctive competences.  Here's what's new.

The “v2” architecture now available leverages Citrix’s field-hardened multi-OS HDX RealTime Media Engine as the Receiver plug-in.

This component is currently available for Windows, Mac and Linux x86 devices, with equivalent functionality. (This week, Dell announced support for version 1.8 of the HDX RealTime Media Engine on Wyse ThinOS, with support for RTME 2.0 on the horizon.) The RTME provides a functional equivalent to the Skype for Business media stack, supporting all calling/conferencing scenarios, such as audio and video calling, hold, transfer, call forking and redirection, and active speaker conferencing. It supports up to 720p30 transmit and receive resolutions. And it is, of course, compatible with the Skype for Business protocols for networking, media encryption (SRTP/AES), firewall traversal (STUN/TURN/ICE) and bandwidth management.

But the HDX media engine no longer has to handle authentication or SIP signaling; those functions are now performed exclusively by the Skype for Business client. The Skype client authenticates to the backend infrastructure over SIP using the context of the user’s authentication to the Windows operating system on XenApp/XenDesktop, enabling single sign-on. These simplifications improve robustness and the user experience (for example, initialization occurs more quickly and there is never a need to re-prompt the user for credentials).

The RTME is a self-contained package with a much smaller footprint than the VDI Plug-in; it consumes about 120 MB of storage space on the user device.

HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.0 delivers a truly native Skype for Business UI experience. And it adds numerous features to what was previously available in version 1.8, such as:

  • Call DelegationRTME v2 install screen
  • Response Groups and Team Call Groups
  • Voicemail integration
  • Automatic Join Meeting audio
  • Emoticons
  • Web Proxy support for Windows and Linux devices
  • Support for Click-to-Run
  • Status icons (Connecting, Connected, etc.)
  • Active speaker identification

This is all possible thanks to a much-improved API added to the Skype for Business 2015 client in the December Product Update (client version 15.0.4779.1001), for use innative UI mode. These essential enhancements were introduced by Microsoft quietly while our collaboration on HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.0 was still under NDA.

The resulting architecture looks like this:

RTOP v2 architecture

If there is no HDX media engine on the user device, the RealTime Optimization Pack supports optional fallback to server-side media processing (Generic HDX RealTime). Fallback can be disabled if it is preferred to deny audio-video service to users without an HDX media engine rather than impose additional CPU load on the XenApp/XenDesktop server.

More at the source:

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