Until now, Linux-based thin clients were unable to offer trouble-free telephony and voice via Skype for Business.
Thanks to high-quality broadband Internet connections, high-performance hardware and high-quality headsets, making phone calls via Skype for Business is standard practice in many companies. Provided the company uses Windows computers. Until now, using Skype for Business’s voice functions proved problematic for companies which rely on Linux clients. But thanks to the upgraded “HDX” plugin from Citrix, Sennheiser headsets and Skype for Business now also function smoothly together on Linux thin clients. The development process was driven by Skype for Business specialist IP Dynamics, which conducted tests over several months, collected log files, wrote tickets and mediated between the manufacturers. IP Dynamics is demonstrating a working Linux-based Skype for Business installation at the Citrix Technology Exchange Conference in Bonn on 29 and 30 May 2017.
Skype for Business is a powerful unified communications platform which is used and appreciated by many companies. As the digital transformation progresses, traditional telephones are taking a back seat. Headsets represent the current state-of-the-art, and not only in call centres. PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones are used as means of communication.
Previous issues with voice via Skype for Business on Linux thin clients
Until now, companies which use Linux thin clients were at a disadvantage. Although Skype for Business could be used via a virtualised Windows system, voice was a problem. This was due to the absence of a functional driver which correctly linked headsets to the Linux operating system as an audio device. Input devices such as mouse and keyboard clashed with the headset and no longer worked. Other problems included dropped calls, poor voice quality or delays when establishing calls.
“This is anything but satisfactory, and not only if you want to use Skype for Business in a call centre. Like one of our customers, an insurance company”, recalled Jean-Paul Günther, a Skype for Business systems specialist at IP Dynamics. For security reasons, the insurance company used Linux thin clients from IGEL – a strong argument for virtual computing is that all data remain within the company. IP Dynamics was asked to implement a contact centre solution comprising the Voxtron contact centre software and Skype for Business. “We wanted to ensure our customers were not left out in the cold”, explained Jean-Paul Günther. No sooner said than done: IP Dynamics set about developing a working driver with the relevant partners.
Skype for Business experts drove development
In IP Dynamics’ Skype laboratory in Hamburg, the unified communications experts recreated the customer’s installation, conducted tests, searched for faults, collected log files and wrote tickets. “It wasn’t just the testing that took time. We also had to act as moderators between headset manufacturers, IGEL and Citrix. The companies themselves had to conduct tests and undertake development. So it took a while until we had a functional driver and a working HDX module”, recalled Jean-Paul Günther. Citrix’s upgraded HDX module now links Sennheiser’s headsets with Skype for Business under Linux. “From the outset, Sennheiser was really interested in remote session-based VoIP telephony and was really committed to the process”, recounted Jean-Paul Günther.
Hands-on working system
IP Dynamics is presenting the result of these efforts – a working contact centre solution in a Citrix session, on Linux thin clients from IGEL – at the Citrix Technology Exchange. The conference is being held on 29 and 30 May 2017 in Bonn. Interested parties can find IP Dynamics in the RheinEbene foyer.