Bridge Communications

Friday, July 8, 2016

Using Skype for Business VBSS

In the recent Skype for Business server update Microsoft has introduced server side VBSS as one of the new features.  What is VBSS?  VBSS is short for Video Based Screen Sharing, and has the potential to be a game changing new feature.  Prior to VBSS, Lync and Skype for Business used RDP technology to share you desktop when you presented in a one to one call or conference call.  RDP is the same technology Windows folks have used to remote control servers and computers for some time.

Jeff Schertz has a great article detailing how VBSS works here

So what does this mean in the real world?  VBSS make a shift to a UDP packet share, encoding and sharing using H264 which is what a standard MP4 would use.  H264 is also what services like YouTube use for most of it's videos.  This allows for a much higher frame rate than a TCP based RDP screen share, with similar or slightly lower bandwidth.  What this means to users is a smoother less choppy video like display to remote users viewing your screen.  This represents a giant leap forward when demoing products for customers, and even sharing live video in Skype for Business conferences.  It is important to note that RDP itself in the latest versions of Windows 10, is also moving toward this video encoding.

What uses VBSS before the update (CU3)?

1.  2 Users running Skype for Business 2016 clients presenting a desktop.

What does not use VBSS before the update? (falls back to RDP)

1.  Any 2 party call presenting a desktop where both clients were not Skype for Business 2016
2.  Any conference call (more than 2 parties) presenting a desktop where all clients were Skype for Business 2016.
3.  Any conference call (more than 2 parties) presenting a desktop with any mixed set of client versions.
4.  Any conference call where 1 or more parties joined via the temporary web application.

What uses VBSS after the update (CU3)?

1.  2 Users running Skype for Business 2016 clients presenting a desktop.
2.  Any conference call (more than 2 parties) presenting a desktop where all clients were Skype for Business 2016.

What does not use VBSS after the update? (falls back to RDP)

1.  Any 2 party call presenting a desktop where both clients were not Skype for Business 2016

2.  Any conference call (more than 2 parties) presenting a desktop with any mixed set of client versions.
3.  Any conference call where 1 or more parties joined via the temporary web application.


As you can see the change is only going effect this 1 scenario.
Any conference call (more than 2 parties) presenting a desktop where all clients were Skype for Business 2016.

We tested all of the scenarios against CU3 and were very impressed with the frame rate in this scenario compared to how it worked in the prior to CU3.  At this point is is unknown as to whether Skype for Business 2015 clients will get an update to allow them to use VBSS.  This and the temporary web application present the 2 most common scenarios that force all users of a conference back to the slower frame rate of RDP.

Conclusion

VBSS makes a compelling case to update users to Skype for Business 2016 clients.  With all users on this version in a given conference, screen sharing becomes exponentially better and smoother, opening up new types of presentations that were previously not possible.



Doug Routledge, C# Lync, Skype for Business, SQL, Exchange, UC Developer BridgeOC Twitter - @droutledge @ndbridge



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