IP Dynamics drives unified communications on Linux thin clients


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.