Delivering Great Online Meeting Experiences with Skype Meeting Broadcast
Every day we see our customers using more and more Videos in their internal communications. Video has gradually evolved from being used in video conferences during team meetings, to leveraging pre-recorded videos and webcast streaming for training purposes and, more recently, to live broadcasting of town hall/all-hands type of events.
Office 365 has a large selection of services that can provide a great experience for adopting video as a communication tool within the company and for engaging with your business customers and partners. In this post, I will focus on a feature that is part of Skype for Business Online called Skype Meeting Broadcast. More details about this service can be found on the product site. At high level, it provides an easy way to produce and host online events with up to 10,000 participants.
To schedule a new broadcast, we can connect to the Skype Meeting Broadcast portal:
Once the meeting is scheduled, producers or team members can join via the Skype for Business client. In addition to the video stream, there is also an option to share content, such as a PowerPoint presentation:
Attendees can watch the broadcast via any supported browser and they can also provide live feedback or ask questions using the Yammer group that is associated with the event:
As you can see, Skype for Business enables users to broadcast events in a an easy way and by using tools that they may be already familiar with.
At the Microsoft Technology Center, we also have the opportunity to work with our partners to deploy and showcase their solutions that enhance and extend our services. One of those partners is Kollective who have developed a very interesting and innovative solution that can enhance the Skype for Business Broadcast service for customers who have large and distributed environments. The high level idea is to distribute the video streams within a specific location (e.g. network subnet) from the local clients that have already downloaded the video segment, as opposed to have each client downloading the video stream from the Internet (Azure Media Content Delivery Servers). The key benefit is the optimization of the Internet traffic usage, which can also translate to a better end-user experience.
Once we have configured our Office 365 demo tenant to support the Kollective solution and deployed the agents on the client computers, I have performed a quick test to see the new traffic flow.
- With the agent deployed, when the first client is connecting, the stream will be downloaded from the Kollective Internet CDN servers:
- Then, the client will “pre-stage” the content and will make it available to subsequent clients in the same location:
- A second client that is joining the broadcast will stream the content from the local network, without the need to download content from the Internet (and will start serving other local clients as well):
This is a great example of how the Skype Meeting Broadcast solution has been enhanced by our partners to help customers to provide the best user experience even in very large and highly distributed environments.
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