Skype Meeting Broadcast and HIVE Insights

Intro and Scenario

 

Skype Meeting Broadcast is a part of Office 365 and Skype for Business Online that allows companies to organize and broadcast meetings to large online audiences (up to 10,000 attendees). You use the Skype Meeting Broadcast scheduling and management portal to schedule a meeting.

As you can see in the TechNet post “Bandwidth requirements for Skype Meeting Broadcast” ( https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3122742 ) the Internet connection bandwidth required increases based on the number of users that are going to participate to the broadcast and on the resolution they are going to use on their device

 

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Therefore, while the load on the on-premises pools is no longer a problem, your network will be stressed and the quality of the user experience will depend deeply on the available bandwidth.

The risk of having someone (especially on branch offices) complain that the broadcast is not usable or that the video has a poor quality is really high and (using default tools) there are few ways to act in a proactive manner.

HIVE Streaming is a third party Software Defined Networking (SDN) Video Distribution solution that:

  • adds analytics (to assess your network situation BEFORE actually having a Meeting Broadcast)
  • network optimization, so that clients in your network are able to act as a “proxy” for the broadcast, reducing and optimizing the bandwidth usage

 

How does it Work

 

The HIVE Streaming solution requires installing a software (the HIVE client) on the viewers’ computer that converts the device into a “mini cache server” and fetches video from the best available source

 

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Each client (in a dynamic manner) talks with other clients to determine the optimal routes and load balance.

The clients will also communicate with a Cloud service from HIVE (Helper Service).

 

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The HIVE Helper Service:

  • silently tests the network (the aforementioned “assessment” before the Broadcast Meeting)
  • gathers data to create analytics like the one in the following screenshot

 

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More details about the HIVE Helper Service (including security related explanations) are available in a datasheet : HIVE STREAMING FOR SKYPE MEETING BROADCAST ( https://www.HIVEstreaming.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/HIVE-Product-Description-for-Skype-Meeting-Broadcast.pdf )

HIVE is working (also) on a clientless (browser based) version of their client but it would lack the capability to perform the aforementioned silent test, that is an important feature

 

Takeaways

 

Meeting Broadcasts is a popular feature in Skype for Business Online, given the limitations about large meetings in an on-premises deployment.

The administration tools and the optimization offered by Microsoft, right now, does not grant to DevOps and company IT people the control and analytic capability they need to create big corporate broadcasts with no issue.

Hive offers a dynamic, feature rich set of tools and features that adds value to the Microsoft Solution

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