This is good news! The certification process validates the seamless way Pexip Infinity Fusion integrates with Skype for Business Server 2015 meetings. Pexip has the ability to integrate video endpoints seamless in to Skype for Business meetings so that anyone from any device can call in to a the meeting and join with audio, video and screen sharing both ways.
Why the certification at this point?
Personally I see a lot of enterprise customers moving to Skype for Business Server for VoIP and meetings including moving their telephone conferencing solution. If the enterprise has video endpoints from other vendors the end-user story becomes complex. The goal is always to have as few options as possible when it comes to how to do meetings to ensure widespread adoption. Pexip helps with this story and they can even register endpoints directly which helps the enterprise decommission older outdated and complex video servers and still keep the meeting room investments. Another reason for this move by Microsoft is probably that Cisco has a good video interoperability story with their acquisition of Acano that happened in 2016. Also their own offering, the Video Interoperability Server (VIS) that was introduced with Lync Server 2013, has not seen much development since it’s release. The VIS role has the limitation that it only works with certain Cisco endpoints and only with internal endpoints without any firewall between the endpoints and Skype for Business Servers.
What does the integration look like?
From a video endpoint that is internally registered on separate video servers or directly to Pexip, all they have to do to join the Skype for Business meeting is dial the Skype for Business meeting conferencing ID and join directly in to the meeting. For external endpoints that is not registered to any local video servers, they need to dial firstname.lastname@example.org and type the conference ID when prompted to join the meeting. To learn more about the capabilities and setup process read my blog post on the subject
Why this has a big impact for customers
A lot of enterprises moving to Skype for Business has an existing investment in video based meeting rooms. In my design process I always ask what their meeting rooms look like and what kind of equipment are being used. Many larger organization has many vendors for video and audio in their meeting rooms and are not ready to replace all that technology with Skype for Business based equipment. The Pexip integration helps them capitalize on the investment already made and still succeed with Skype for Business. This helps with flexibility when designing future meeting rooms and ends the technology debate regarding what vendor is best. You can have the best of both worlds and remove the technology barrier for meetings.
What does the certification entail?
Here is what Microsoft writes about the certification process “The Skype for Business Certification Program is designed to offer Microsoft customers badges or designations as indicators of third party solutions that demonstrate a high quality experience and compatibility when used with Skype for Business. Only products that pass the specifications outlined in the Skype for Business Certification Program can be associated with each designation. Specifications are designed specific to each category based on, but not exclusive to, industry standards, enterprise class solutions, functional interop or audio/video quality. All vendors participating in Skype for Business Certification Program participate in common support infrastructure (TSANet) for rapid resolution of support tickets.” Read more here
In short, it means both Microsoft and Pexip has tested, adjusted and validated the integration and that both parties support the solution and will work together to resolve any unforseen issues. This is good news for customers and partners that use and work with both Microsoft and Pexip.
To sum it up
Pexip is now supported by Microsoft when integrating with Skype for Business meetings. This is good news for customers because they can now easier choose best of both worlds when designing meeting room experience. Removing the meeting technology barrier results in widespread adoption in the enterprise. The focus of this certification is clearly Skype for Business Server meeting integration for enterprises. Pexip has other capabilities such as support for hybrid topology, distributed meeting across servers in a global environment and scale-out capacity using Azure. I am looking forward to see how this relationship develops and working with helping enterprises succeed with Skype for Business user adoption in all scenarios.