Lync deployment: using Virtual Desktops (VDI)

Now with a full Lync 2013 deployment it’s more easy to have things to write 🙂
Before Lync 2013, building demo environments using a complete virtual infrastructure was a ‘challeging’ task. With a virtual desktop I needed to use some extra techniques to send video (a USB redirector was the best method), but the experience wasn’t good enough.

Microsoft Lync 2013, RDP and RomoteFX  introduced this capability: The Lync 2013 VDI component allows a Windows client to use the local media devices on a remote session (a Windows Desktop or RDS Windows Server). Actually the component will send audio and video directly to the peer or Lync Server, wich will assure the same quality and experience. It looks like a very strip-down version of the full client.

After some more (late) hours reading and heaving testing, I finally mastered the right implementation. This is what we ned to  deploy and configure:

Virtual Desktop

1. Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 (32 or 64 bits), Windows 2008 R2 SP1 or Windows 2012;
2. Remote desktop enabled (Win7/8) or RDS (Windows Server);
3. Ensure that remote recording is enabled for remote desktop, so you can send your local microphone audio. Command line:
REG ADD “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-Tcp” /v fDisableAudioCapture /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
4. Lync 2013 full client installed with the latest updates.

Lync Server 2013

1. Lync user account must have Media Redirection client policy enabled
This setting can only be enable using powershell. For global policy:
PS> Set-CsClientPolicy -EnableMediaRedirection $TRUE

about_RDP8Local desktop

1. Windows 7 SP1 , Windows 8 (or embedded versions);
2. For Windows 7 SP1, install KB2574819 (DTLS support) and then KB2592687 (RDP 8.0);
3. Lync 2013 VDI with the same OS bitness (install VDI x86 plugin on a 32 bits Windows version, and the VDI x64 plugin on a 64 bits OS).
4. compatible USB webcam installed

…We are ready to start using it!

Before you connect, you should configure you remote desktop client correctly. Enable remote audio on Local Resources tab > ‘Remote Audio settings…’ and ensure that ‘Persistent bitmap caching’ is disabled on Experience tab.
RDP8_lyncvdi_config

After connecting start (if is not already running) your Lync client session and wait for an additional logon window and If everything is authenticated correctly, you should see a confirmation at the bottom right of your remote Lync client.
LyncVDI_authetication->->->->LyncVDI_connected

All you need to do is make a video call. I received this impressive 720p wide video flowing fine and without delays.
LyncVDI_videocall

And this is how you can have UC on a VDI. This is a good foundation for a cloud offer (UCaaS), although you have to evaluate the costs (ex: licensing the local and remote Windows). One thing for sure, there aren’t that much capable solutions available.

Take into account about some limitations, like:
>> Not supported with Office 365;
>> No Integrated Audio Device and Video Device tuning pages, and you can only use your local default audio/video devices (cannot switch between cameras);
>> Not Multi-view video, recording of conversations or joining meetings anonymously.

Additional notes:
>> There’s also support for VMware Horizon view and Citrix HDX;
>> You can also use Windows enabled terminals (Wyse Z90D7, R90L7, X90m7 and HP t610 and t5740e).
>> if you have a 32 bit version of Office installed, you’ll get a noticed blocking the plugin setup. You need to uninstall Office.
>> You can have a Lync client installed on the same computer as the plugin, but you cannot run both at the same time.
>> The plugin could not start correctly when I used my VPN connection.

Comments are welcomed

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One thought on “Lync deployment: using Virtual Desktops (VDI)

  1. Ronnie McIntyre 17/02/2014 / 15:29

    My company are running Lync 2013 on RDS. It is working fairly well for us but there are 1 or 2 issues that are concerning me. The main issue is Lync Toast not responding and the only ‘fix’ we have is to reboot the terminal server. It seems to be linked to Flash or DCOM as flash also stops working but I cannot explain this connection. Every user on the terminal server is affected. Fortunately calls are not dropped but it means the affected users have to restart their Lync 2013 client each time the Toast hangs or logoff to try and connect to a different server in the farm.

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