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Getting a Visual on Skype for Business Call Quality
Microsoft wants your business: your voice, and your video, and your conferencing -- you know, all that good stuff beyond instant messaging and presence that comprises true unified communications -- and it's tooling up in preparation.
Microsoft has invested heavily in capabilities that help enterprises track their communications flowing over the network and to monitor system performance overall, said Ben Canning, Microsoft partner director of program management, told attendees of a Monday afternoon Skype for Business overview session at Microsoft Ignite in Chicago. He didn't qualify "huge investment," but he did provide highlights of a new reporting dashboard and IT Pro Tools solutions kit this week.
Looking at Call Quality
The Skype for Business Server 2015 Call Quality Dashboard is intended to help Skype for Business administrators "view and diagnose network infrastructure issues affecting call quality," Microsoft describes in its Download Center. Administrators will be able to view a standard set of system reports created out of the install process, as well as create custom reports.
Via the Call Quality Dashboard, administrators will, for example, be able to get trending data across a wide variety of streams, drill down to see the distinction in quality between managed and unmanaged streams, and slice the data into views by office, service and endpoint, Canning said. In addition, they can use a "rate my call" feature to get user perspective on call quality.
The learning provided can be particularly useful when real-time matters, Canning added. "If you're trying to do real-time media, ... poor call quality is going to kill you. With this you can drill down and figure out, 'What is the deal? Where is the problem?'"
At Microsoft, insight provided via the Call Quality Dashboard has led to a 3X improvement in call quality, Canning noted.
Trio of Tool Partners
Microsoft's tool efforts don't stop with the management and monitoring capabilities it's providing in Skype for Business Server, added Canning's co-presenter, BJ Haberkorn, director of product management. "There's a lot of stuff between where a user is sitting and the server on the backend hosting the meeting ... but a lot of it is outside the scope of Skype for Business," he said.
- Event Zero Dossier provides analytics on Skype for Business deployments, while operational insight for real-time communications is available via the Operations product family.
- The Nectar Unified Communications Management Platform provides UC application performance management in five primary categories: network pre-assessment, monitoring, management, reporting, and troubleshooting/diagnostics.
- Unify Square addresses the full Skype for Business lifecycle, from pre-assessment to provisioning; monitoring, reporting, and diagnostics/troubleshooting; and user satisfaction. Its Skype for Business-certified portfolio includes PowerView, providing analytics; PowerSat, cloud-delivered user satisfaction surveys; PowerMon, for system service and media quality monitoring; and the newly announced PowerProv, an account management, phone number management, and policy compliance tool.
The creation of the IT Pro Tools solution set, Haberkorn said, is indicative of how important Microsoft feels it is to help fix problems that crop up anywhere in the communications flowing via Skype for Business.