If there is one thing that many people have come to expect at work, it’s audio working when they make a call. Although the proliferation of cell phones has made some people a bit more tolerant of issues with calls, when dealing with enterprise UC, the expectation of quality audio every time is prevalent. When working with Microsoft UC solutions, there are multiple avenues to ensure you are able to provide a great quality experience. Whether it’s in planning, during proactive operations or reactionary, as part of day-to-day support, of the platform.
Planning and Preparation: Setting yourself up for success
Proper planning is the first step toward success in the life of your technologies. When prepping for a Skype deployment, strategy and planning around your objectives and requirements help you to identify potential network obstacles or gaps in your infrastructure that could cause issues before you even deploy. Beginning well is the key to deploying and operating well. Be sure to take a special look at things like your wired and wireless networks, VPNs, and the use of your proxies and firewalls.
The second step in proper planning is to choose optimized endpoints. Using a quality device can make or break the audio in your call. Taking a call from your cell phone headphones or PC mic/speakers does not compare to using a certified device. Planning for optimized endpoints includes tasks such as making sure your clients (mobile, desktop, etc.) are up to date. This provides a level of consistency of experience, and can reduce complexity when troubleshooting. Additionally, Microsoft continually makes general improvements and optimizations across the product. Ensuring end users receive these updates reduces their risk of running into a previously-solved problem.
Proactive Steps: Identifying trends and reviewing usage
Proactive management means that you are working ahead of any potential problems to avoid issues before they happen. In terms of Skype for Business, Microsoft’s Call Quality Dashboard (CQD) reports a large amount of call quality data for every call. Use the tools provided by Microsoft to your advantage to help identify trouble spots or trends before they become an issue that impacts your deployment.
Users can leverage the Call Quality Dashboard to investigate user experience and identity items. You can review your poor audio streams and work to determine a root cause based on the report suggestions as likely problem areas.
Poor Call Percentage reports can be used to identify specific buildings, subnets, and networks that are contributing to the bad experience. Leverage the device reports in CQD to identify the type of capture (Microphone) and render (Speaker) devices, which also impresses the need for devices that are optimized for Skype for Business. Doing so helps you reduce the likelihood of encountering negative experiences due to the device itself (i.e. built-in laptop speakers/microphone).
Sometimes even the best-laid plans run into problems. In those scenarios you have to make sure you can identify where the problem was in a specific scenario so that you are able to investigate, react and remediate effectively.
Microsoft provides a few great tools online for reviewing this:
- The Call Quality Dashboard, which provides a great point-in-time look at any given individual call or meeting, and all the details associated with it. You can access that data from both the web-based interface or through PowerShell. It’s the go-to spot for most administrators, but also can provide a dense amount of information that is sometimes a bit cumbersome to parse through.
- Call Analytics provides you with a friendly interface that allows you to search for any user within your organization. This is specifically focused around help desk and escalation scenarios in which a user has raised a quality concern over a call or meeting. Once you have found the user whom you wanted to investigate, Call Analytics provides you with a clear overview of all calls placed by this user.
If needed, peer-to-peer calls can be separated from meetings to provide a more granular overview. Once you have found the problematic call in question, you can select this call and deep dive into the four core areas of the call: Device, System, Connectivity and Network.
- Device shows you specific information around the capture and render device the user was using during this call.
- System shows you system statistics.
- Connectivity tells you how the system was connected–for example, via WiFi.
- Network shows you networking statistics such as jitter and delay.
Managing call quality is a bit of art and a bit of science, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. With a little bit of preparation and ongoing review, even the most complex enterprise can provide their teams with a great experience when using Microsoft cloud products.
If you need assistance, New Signature’s experts are available to help you continue your journey to a cloud world. If you are unsure where to start with your cloud adoption or had a previous rollout that didn’t go as well as planned, New Signature’s Skype for Business Online Voice Enablement can help provide a turn key roll-out that starts with envisioning and takes you all the way through operational readiness.