QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
I would like to see how Skype for Business is being used in the healthcare industry, particularly in critical care areas. How is it being built for resiliency and how is it being integrated into existing healthcare telecom and telemedicine systems?
We see extensive deployments of Skype for Business in healthcare among Information Workers in those organizations, where it is leveraged for traditional Unified Communications workloads: IM & Presence, Audio/Video Calling, Web Conferencing, Broadcast Meetings, and in many cases, PBX replacement. Microsoft is also actively working with technology partners such as Modality Systems to build telehealth solutions for non-critical care applications, such as tele-pharmacy and tele-counseling, and for check-up appointments.
Within critical care, we’ve helped build solutions for Specialist-to-Practitioner communication scenarios and for remote language interpretation services, where the practitioner and patient need an interpreter to communicate quickly and effectively, including remote video-based sign language. The partner we co-developed this solution with is CTS Language Link (ctslanguagelink.com).
Regarding resiliency, any well designed Skype for Business infrastructure deployed on premise will be built with High-Availability and Disaster-Recovery in mind. This is also certainly true of Skype Online in Office 365. We see very few service outages due to failures within the Skype infrastructure. Most of the problems are related to dependency services like the data network infrastructure: bandwidth, routing/switching, DNS, etc., All of the dependency services therefore need to be well-designed and resilient also.
Can you explain any differences in how a collaboration strategy should be developed between Skype for Business-Online in Office365 vs. Skype for Business-Server with regard to global geography, features, service limitations, configuration, etc.?
The collaboration strategy for an organization should not differ much between Skype Server and Skype Online. Typically, we work with IT organizations to define capability and business continuity requirements, as well as future needs, budgets, and timelines. From these inputs we’ll make a recommendation for the best approach. There are certain features available in the on premise version of Skype today (for example: Response Groups and Custom Dial Plans) that are not available in the online version, but these features are on the Skype Online roadmap, and the gap is closing rapidly. It will be much more likely that Online will surpass On Premise in terms of capabilities in the near future (for example: Teams and Skype Meeting Broadcast are available only in the cloud), so we want to make sure our clients are aware of this. There is a “hybrid” option also, which enables organizations to leverage their existing PSTN carrier services, while moving most of the Skype infrastructure to the cloud, which is a great option in cases where there are good reasons to keep PSTN services locally. The question regarding global geography is less of an issue than it was in the past. Skype Online now supports users being assigned to server pools based on their primary geographic location, ensuring their services are delivered in-region, with minimal latency.
How much minimum budget are we supposed to have, to avail these facilities?
Regarding Kollective, it depends on the size of your company and the size of the meetings you plan to run. In companies that intend to run meetings over 1000 attendees, Kollective is typically required to allow the network to scale to that many concurrent streams. Kollective is licensed per user/per year in a subscription model. Pricing varies by employee count and options selected. Best reach out to us so we can get you information that would be specific to your company – I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skype Meeting Broadcast is available with any Office 365 Enterprise or Stand-Alone license bundle. The pricing will vary by seat volume and region. Keep in mind, only the presenters in a meeting are required to have a license. Attendees do not need a license.
We use Skype, but I was not aware of the stretch to 10K or the polling tools. Is this integrated with another tool or is this a Skype standalone?
This is part of the Pulse tool and part of Skype Meeting Broadcast which is different than both standard Skype and Skype for Business. Skype Meeting Broadcast is bundled in the E1, E3 and E5 0365 SKUs.
When you refer to Skype Meeting Broadcast as “the backbone of communications” does that mean it could replace Outlook for sending emails?
No, that statement was specific to employee focused video communications. This a tool that is meant to support large broadcast communications that are video based and can include sync with PPT slides.
Our global company has invested in Office 365, however, our network connection speeds/bandwidth is dismal. (Case in point: this webcast is not streaming well – I keep getting interruptions every minute or so.) What arguments do you recommend making to influence a stubborn IT department to improve connectivity to support communications that leverage Skype for Business?
That is the specific reason Kollective exists. Many global companies have this bandwidth issue and are not likely to upgrade connectivity enough in the near term to satisfy demand as video broadcasting takes off. Kollective is a software based solution that dramatically reduces the connectivity requirement to be able to stream to 100’s to 10,000’s users inside the firewall. Find more information here at kollective.com and/or reach out to me at email@example.com.
I thought Skype Meeting Broadcast only supports 10,000 users. How did Schneider do 180,000 employees?
Schneider has 180,000 employees but did not stream live to that many users at any specific time. The number of direct streams was in the 15,000’s of users. The initial broadcasts by Schneider used a different webcast technology but were powered by Kollective. The model was exactly as we discussed. Many of the large companies we are speaking with want to do a similar transformation to Schneider, but plan to use Skype Meeting Broadcast. For more specifics, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are there any security concerns related to Skype for Business or Skype Meeting Broadcast?
Security is always an important topic in the sales process. We have companies of all sizes that have signed off on both the Skype Meeting Broadcast security model and the Kollective security model. This is always core to any technical evaluation.
Our employees have several different versions of Office – Office 2013 and Office 2016. Do we still have this capability? Is the tool compatible across versions?
Skype Meeting Broadcast is only licensed as a part of O365.
Cost is a factor with this technology as is bandwidth across multinational locations. We are moving to O365. What extra costs/equipment are needed at broadcast locations?
Depending on company size, you should look into a solution like Kollective. This would allow you to address the streaming video and video on demand scaling problem without having to do a network upgrade. The software based solution is much less expensive and very simple to deploy. You can reach out and I’m happy to help and discuss the basics so you can determine what you need whether it is Kollective or not: email@example.com.
How do you get the executives to use the tool?
Great question! We have a number of resources on this topic, they are listed here:
Any tips for multi-time zone support where you want it to be live for proper Q&A consideration?
I think the easiest is to shoot the whole show live once for a time zone, then replay the show for specific time zones with a live Q&A at the end. This is much simpler for the presenters and reduces the amount of live production you have to do.
Up to how many lines can the Skype provide live streaming? We are using live streaming and 300 lines are the maximum capability due to server capability.
Skype Meeting Broadcast is currently configured to support 10,000 although Microsoft has signaled that will likely increase sometime this year. The key is making sure your network can support the stream load you anticipate. Happy to discuss this at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does this have functionality to integrate all of the legacy Video, Skype for Business, Audio (Phone, Mobile, etc.,.) and still provide the same performance?
I am not completely sure what you are asking. Skype Meeting Broadcast is a webcasting tool. It allows live video and slide sync, multiple presenters (switchable at the producer console). It does however integrate with audio only PSTN dial in capability. The streams are supported on mobile and almost any device you can imagine. As an attendee it is just browser based. Happy to answer questions if I did not cover the main intent here: email@example.com.