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Lync 2013 client preview for VDI/Hosted Virtual Desktop environments

This is an update in the right direction for getting all Lync features to work in a hosted environment! But where are we on this topic of getting the collaboration features etc. to our end-users in a good way to the “Any Device” and “Anywhere” or BYOD if that’s what you wanna call it?

Before there has been a lot of issues with running Lync and what’s supported feature-wise depending on where you ran Lync, what protocol you where accessing it over and how Lync was presented (either as published desktop or as a published app). And this had it’s challenges for companies that for instance wanted to go to a BYOD model where the end-point device the user was sitting on wsn’t managed and didn’t allowed Lync to be installed and where those users then were relying on their XenApp or XenDesktop environment. And then there are features that aren’t supported or let’s say; didn’t work that well and really loaded the host server.

The table below is from a great Microsoft blog post by Jesper Osgaard where he compares the features of Lync in a virtualized environment;

What did Citrix do about it? Well first they released the HDX Realtime Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync to address these issues and to ensure improved Lync functionality. And I must give Citrix credit for adding support for Linux directly!

“Citrix® HDX™ RealTime Optimization Pack for Microsoft® Lync™ offers clear, crisp high-definition video calls in conjunction with Microsoft Lync. Users can seamlessly participate in audio-video or audio-only calls to and from other HDX RealTime users and other standards-based video desktop and conference room systems.Citrix HDX RealTime Connector for Microsoft Lync runs in both the Citrix XenDesktop virtual desktop and in the Citrix XenApp virtual application environments.”

This feature from Citrix helped of course but there is still one major dilemma I’d say; where is a good Lync client from Microsoft for Linux devices?? Many enterprises have a mix and need to do full collaboration from Linux as well (and without having to rely on a Citrix or View based solution that further adds IT-costs for providing a collaboration service that “just should work”)! But it may not be on the top priority for Citrix with their own online products (GotoMeeting etc.) that works well but of course it lacks Presence and IM features of course so it’s not a complete alternative for Lync.

But let’s get back to the topic of this post! Now Microsoft has released a preview of a Lync client for “VDI” as they still call it.

“To support enterprise-grade audio and video over VDI with Lync 2013 Preview, Microsoft implemented a new Media Redirection architecture and built a VDI plugin that runs on thin clients and pairs with the Lync client running in the remote desktop to which the end user has connected. This means audio and video originate and terminate at the thin client. This offloads encoding and decoding of media from the datacenter to the thin client, leveraging the thin client’s local resources, and enabling the solution to scale. All the other great features of Lync (IM, Presence, Desktop and App sharing, whiteboards, file transfers, online meetings, and Office Integration) are available from within the virtual or remote desktop. Figure 1 is a high-level architectural diagram that shows how audio and video originate and terminate at the plugin running on the thin client or access machine, which results in minimal bandwidth consumption between the access device and the data center, making this solution scalable.”

And this is interesting and may improve the overall delivery of Lync audio and video over RDP, let’s see what VMWare and Citrix go with this… Citrix has released a blog previously that they will support and integrate this into the Receiver and let’s see how that turns out; XenDesktop support for the new Microsoft Lync. And VMWare did the same of course; Microsoft Lync 2013 support with VMWare View Desktops.

Another question is if/when Citrix will look at integrating audio and video support in the Receiver for iOS so that companies could provide their internal Lync service over ICA/HDX to mobile devices like iPads without using the native iOS Lync app that some have issues with…?

But still; WHERE IS A TRUE LINUX CLIENT WITH FULL LYNC FEATURE SUPPORT? I’ve written and said it many times before, the whole concept of using old traditional Hosted environments for legacy applications is still here but it’s costly. I understand why, but is that the way the trend is going? No, we all know that all vendors and services are going towards a SaaS model that can be consumed from the “Any Device” and in the future I also hope that it will be “Any OS”. There is an interim period right now where we have to continue to host legacy services on “VDI” and XenApp based services, but it will not be around forever.

Of course the legacy model will be there in the future as well for a subset of use cases like developers needing a true “fat” client and apps, but those “fat” apps will also evolve to be secure and isolated and aware of the context in which they run and communicates securely over the Internet to back-end resources and just using the host as a host and nothing else. And all app-data for that app is going to be sandboxed and managed on “Any Device” with a MAM service for compliance, remote wipe etc., just like what is happening today within the Mobility area where VMWare Horizon and Citrix CloudGateway manage hosted apps and desktop deliveries, SaaS, Web, Data, Native mobile apps and so forth for the “Any Device” but still in a controlled fashion in a MAM-model.

Ok, over for now… have a great day!

//Richard

  1. TERUIN
    October 9, 2013 at 08:51

    Dont work on Lync 2013 with XenApp 6.5 ! HDX drivers Crash. the issue has been signaled to Citrix 31 July and the 14 August Citrix opened a bug ref 409977. Still pending ………

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