Monday, July 13, 2015

Skype Meeting Broadcast first impression

Configuring Skype for Business Server for meeting support requires careful planing for both configuration and bandwidth. Natively, conferencing is pre- configured (from policy prospective) for maximum of 250 participants, where all modalities are offered. It is my personal opinion that even with properly scaled Front-End pools, 250 participants is still too many. Too often I see users sharing Desktop to show PowerPoint or any other content - something that leads to very unpleasant end user experience. And... "regular" users do not schedule meetings of such scale - always senior managers are conducting large meetings.

On premise deployment also offers "Large Meeting" support. Large meetings have the following characteristics: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj204894(v=ocs.15).aspx


  • The meeting format is a one-to-many presentation.
  • One or a few users are presenters, and everyone else participates only as attendees.
  • PowerPoint presentation sharing is the main data collaboration activity.
  • Audio is required and video may also be used.
  • A dedicated person, generally either the meeting organizer or an assistant to the organizer sets up the meeting well in advance.
  • Dedicated staff (not the presenters) runs the meeting, including connecting to an online meeting, verifying that audio, video, and slide sharing work, managing lobby and user roles, muting and unmuting participants, taking questions, and managing recordings, as appropriate.
From deployment prospective,  Large Meetings require dedicated Front End pool where no other modalities are hosted. This is - no "regular users" are homed on the dedicated pool. Also, only one meeting with up to 1,000 participants may be conducted at any time per dedicated pool. How to setup support for Large Meetings is described here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj205074(v=ocs.15).aspx

With the evolution of Microsoft Cloud, we can now offer our CEO meetings up to 10,000 (yes, ten thousand) participants who can attend in a browser on practically any device. How about that!

Needless to say, Broadcast Meetings service is available only if have online tenant and you are running Hybrid configuration.

Environment configuration


The steps to prepare the environment for Broadcast Meetings are defined here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt243953.aspx


  1. Add new Hosting Provider 
  • New-CsHostingProvider -Identity LyncOnlineResources -ProxyFqdn sipfed.resources.lync.com -VerificationLevel AlwaysVerifiable -Enabled $True -EnabledSharedAddressSpace $True -HostsOCSUsers $True -IsLocal $False
  1. Add three new SIP Federated Domains
  • New-CsAllowedDomain -Identity "noammeetings.lync.com"
  • New-CsAllowedDomain -Identity "emeameetings.lync.com"
  • New-CsAllowedDomain -Identity "apacmeetings.lync.com"

Scheduling


Scheduling is really easy.

  

Configure the details


 Add users who will conduct the meeting




Select participants. At present, we have two options ("Anyone from my company" is coming soon) - Anonymous, where anyone that knows the link can join...



...and Secure (Individuals identified by email address or distribution group - both from our company).



Lastly, we can customize some options




Our Skype Broadcast Meeting is now scheduled. All I need now is to copy the Event link and distribute it to the participants.

Experience


After I clicked the meeting link, I was asked to login with my AD credentials via ADFS...

...and after authentication, I am presented with this screen



Looks like a plugin is (once again) required.







***It appears that the "Event Team" - people who will manage the meeting must have Lync/Skype4B client in order to join as Meeting Manager ("Your event team consists of presenters, producers, organizers, moderators and anyone else you trust to have control of the broadcast").

Because I do have Lync client on the computer I have joined from, the client was used and I have the familiar Skype meeting interface. I was able to join prior to the scheduled time!. This, of course, make sense because Presenters/Organizers must be able to upload and validate the content and the functionality of the meeting. Attendees, however, will uses web browser only.



I did upload PowerPoint presentation



If an attendee joins ahead of time, the following screen is presented.


Once an Event Team member Start Broadcast...



...the attendees will see the content.




My overall experience was excellent. Meeting scheduling was easy, the interface intuitive and took literally 2 minutes to complete.

Event Team members will manage the meetings from a familiar Skype4B client interface and use familiar controls.

As for the attendee's experience, one word - cannot be simpler than that. Click and attend.

Great work, Microsoft/Skype team!

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