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July 01, 2016

Citrix is Ready for Skype for Business 2016-Are You?

By Steve Anderson
Contributing Writer

Citrix (News - Alert) has had a hand in the growth of Skype for Business for some time now, going back to January when the “v2” solution it developed in conjunction with Microsoft (News - Alert) got an official launch, helping to bring Skype for Business to virtualized environments. That delivered a lot of new services for businesses, and left some wondering what would be next. That question has been answered as Citrix unveils new operations geared toward Skype (News - Alert) for Business 2016 in the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.1.

The new HDX RealTime Optimization Pack 2.1 is geared toward working not only the latest product update for Skype for Business 2015, but also an update set to be released soon for Skype for Business 2016. That alone is a great offering, but the HDX pack has some other interesting applications. A recent demonstration featured interoperability between the HDX pack and NetScaler SD-WAN, showing off the kind of capability that can be introduced when using it with software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN).  It's also been noted that NetScaler does a great job as a load balancer for servers running Skype for Business, which helps ensure a better overall user experience.

The HDX pack alone comes with some excellent new features, including an update to the audio-video package. Where previously it used H.264 video encoding for two-party calls, but used the RT-Video codec for conference calls, the new version allows H.264 for conference calls too. That updated codec means better quality overall, as well as access to Scalable Video Coding (SVC) and Forward Error Correction (FEC) systems for further improvement.

Just to round out the improvements, the new update also includes the new SILK audio codec for improved audio quality that can handle speech delivery over standard Internet. New endpoint location identification options are in place, as are some new features to better allow for audio recording. Quality of experience (QoE) reporting tools are on hand as well to help in troubleshooting.

Early reports are heavily trending positive, with users primarily calling it various degrees of a good experience, and noting that the collaboration with Microsoft is proving valuable in the end. There is a lot of value in collaborative effort, especially when developing a product for a particular platform. That platform's developer knows all the ins and outs of that platform, so those bringing in a product to run on a platform can provide a valuable outsider's perspective while at the same time having access to all the various issues that a platform can offer. It's the best of both worlds: fresh eyes to see what the insider missed and experience to know if what the outsider wants is impossible or unfeasible.

Citrix is clearly ready for Skype for Business 2016, and those who want to be similarly ready need only join up with Citrix to get the benefit of some impressive collaboration.




Edited by Alicia Young

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