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VMware Integrates Skype With Horizon Desktop Infrastructure

Upgraded security is a key benefit of the new partnership.

Although VMware continues to assert that its main public cloud partner is Amazon Web Services, it is also recognizing the growing popularity and influence of Microsoft Azure, particularly in the desktop virtualization space.

The first fruits of that partnership came last month, with the unveiling of "VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure." That partnership got another boost this week, this time with Skype for Business integration.

The effort was initially announced last year at VMworld Europe. At that time, the company outlined plans to enable Skype for Business on VMware Horizon 7 via a plug-in.

The effort promises better security because of the centralized Horizon VDI approach, according to VMware. The solution also offers broad mobile access to Skype for Business across Linux, Mac and Windows client devices. VMware had indicated last year that the integration was planned for Skype for Business Server and Skype for Business Online. A VMware white paper (PDF) indicates that Horizon 7 has support for Skype for Business Server 2015, as well as the older Lync Server 2013 product.

On Tuesday, in a Microsoft Tech Community post, Sheldon D'Paiva, director of product marketing at VMware, indicated that Horizon's integration with Skype for Business had reached "general availability" status, signaling that it's ready for commercial use.

According to D'Paiva, the integration offers the following security benefits:

  • Information security through data leakage prevention
  • Elimination of malware threats at endpoints
  • Protection of information when devices are lost

IT pros get centralized management with VDI. They also can apply "dynamic policies" to client devices, which will take effect "based on whether the user is in a trusted network or not," D'Paiva indicated.

In doing the integration work, VMware addressed a problem with centrally deploying Skype for Business via VDI. It concerns audio and video traffic, which can become a "bottleneck," according to D'Paiva. VMware's solution is to use a "media engine at the client," which will offload the Skype for Business audio and video calls, he explained.

In May, VMware also announced plans to bring Horizon to Microsoft Azure, offering yet another VDI option for running applications. At that time, VMware had indicated that the Azure launch would take place in the second half of this year, so it's likely still yet to come.

In other Skype for Business news, Microsoft indicated this week that applying the May update for Skype for Business Server 2015 will deliver the same "enhanced meeting experience" improvements that were rolled out to Skype for Business Online users back in April.

The May update delivers the following meeting improvements to the server version of the product:

  • Simplified meeting-join experience with a single-click join capability for Internet Explorer.
  • Join audio conference via PSTN call back.
  • Always fresh client.
  • Optimized screen real-estate for content sharing and collaboration

The simplified meeting-join experience installs the Skype Web App when end users lack a Skype for Business client. The call back feature is for end users lacking an audio device, such as a headset. The always fresh client feature checks Skype for Business Web Apps and will update the app if a newer version is available.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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