VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business reporting Fallback mode

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What is VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business?

As many customers are using Skype for Business as part of their Office365 subscriptions, they are looking to get a rich user experience and at the same time minimize the number of resources that audio or video calling consumes in their VDI or RDSH environments. The answer for this is the VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business.

The VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business allows Horizon customers to deliver a great user experience in a virtual desktop session by making usage of a media engine. With this media engine, we have the ability to offload the media stream to the endpoint of the end-user.

The picture below shows the stream within a non-optimized audio/video stream and one while the VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business optimizes the stream allowing communication directly between endpoints.

 

Using the virtualization pack for Skype

Making use of the virtualization pack for Skype is easy. But before we start we have to make sure we meet the basic requirements:

  1. During the VMware Horizon Agent setup in the VDI or RDS host(starting with version 7.2), select the VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business feature
  2. Make sure you have Skype for business installed (do not use the Basic client!)
  3. Install the Horizon Client on the endpoint. The VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business is installed by default if installing any client newer than 4.6 for Windows and 4.7 for macOS users.

If you want to check if VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business is installed on already deployed virtual machines with the Horizon Agent installed, please check if one of the following exists:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Lync\VdiMediaProvider – GUID(REG_SZ)
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Office\Lync\VdiMediaProvider – GUID(REG_SZ)

For a complete list of all requirements for VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business, please refer to:

*Select the correct Horizon version in the blue drop-down box

 

Checking the virtualization pack status

When logging in to the virtual desktop session, check the engine status in the notification area (marked with the white circle).

 

 

 

Non-Optimized/Fallback mode

One of the reasons for writing this blog is the question from customers why the virtualization pack is running in fallback mode or why the Skype for Business client is still taking a lot of resources.

In the picture below, we notice the Virtualization Pack is running in Fallback mode meaning there is no optimization happening and thus using RTAV.

 

 

The most common cause for the fallback mode is a version mismatch between the Horizon Client on the endpoint and the Horizon Agent in the VDI or RDS host

The table below shows the Virtualization Pack status within the different Client and Agent combinations, according to https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/54773 and my own personal testing:

Horizon Agent Horizon Client Virtualization Pack status
7.3.x 4.6 for Windows

4.6 for macOS

Optimized

Fallback

7.4 4.8 or newer

4.7

Fallback

Optimized

7.5 4.9

4.8

4.7 or earlier

Fallback *

Optimized

Fallback

7.6 4.9

4.8 or earlier

Optimized

Fallback *

 

*Unfortunately, I could not test every combination. This is an expected result based on other combinations. I will update the table as soon as I have test results.

 

Optimized mode

When the Horizon Agent and Client are compatible for the virtualization pack according to the table above, the Virtualization pack for Skype for Business should look like the picture below:

 

 

 

Resource Results

Within my lab environment, I have captured some data (CPU and Network) to show the difference in running in fallback mode(non-optimized) versus optimized.

Audio calling without optimization:

CPU in the VDI during a Skype call without video:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Network throughput measured in the VDI during a Skype call without video:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With optimization:

CPU in the VDI during a Skype call without video:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Network throughput measured in the VDI during a skype call without video:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we see in the results, using the VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business in an optimized way, CPU and throughput is much lower.

Conclusion

Hopefully this blog shows how easy it is to make use of the VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business. Just remember: if you are getting the Fallback mode message, this is most likely due to an incompatible match between the Horizon Agent and Client. If this is not the case, then try to find your answer in the logfile’s:

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Horizon-7/7.6/horizon-remote-desktop-features/GUID-E00B7DC3-CAC6-421F-A9A7-FF0925888D9D.html

 

About Dennis Sigmond

Dennis Sigmond is an enthusiastic IT Architect working for Login Consultants and specialized in the DaaS and EUC market. Dennis has over 14 years of experience in IT and is rewarded with the vExpert 2017 status.

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