Skype for Business Broadcast Meetings Part 1

Unless you have been hiding under a gigantic UC rock, you will have no doubt seen the recent announcement from Microsoft around Skype for Business Broadcast Meetings.

Further enforcing the agile software release strategy of Cloud first, On-Premise second – should you fall into the latter category, this is the first Skype for Business feature release that is explicitly going to depend on hybrid connectivity being in place.

In Lync Server 2013, Hybrid connectivity always felt like an afterthought, something to bolt on, to help you get from A to B but there was never any real feature benefit from doing so (IMO – it was purely for migration purposes).

With Skype for Business, this has now changed – there will actually be scenarios where hybrid connectivity is required to not only allow for selective user placement and migrations, but also to enable specific functionality, Meeting Broadcast being the first.

So Why Meeting Broadcasts now, what are they?

Skype for Business Broadcast Meetings provide you with the ability to host large meetings, up to 10,000 users.

As it stands, with an adequately provisioned on premise deployment of Skype for Business Server (and Lync Server 2013) infrastructure can host up to 250 meeting participants by default, this can be increased to a further 1,000 users through the deployment of a separate AV conferencing pool. In my lifetime working with Lync, I have not yet come across a scaled out AV conferencing pool! L

The first major benefit: It does not leverage your on premise infrastructure for media traffic. Even if you were able to host 10000 users internally on Quantum Physic like compute power – would your internet pipe handle it?

Now, with Skype for Business Online and Skype for Business Server 2015 Hybrid Topology, it is now possible to leverage the Azure Media Services for the streaming of Audio, Video and PowerPoint content to up to 10,000 users that could be globally dispersed.

The service uses Azure Media Services for streaming audio, video and PowerPoint presentations and offers built-in interoperability with Bing Pulse for sentiment tracking and Yammer for audience conversations. Extensibility enables third parties to add audience polling, formal Q&A and other functionality.

In addition to this, Microsoft are able to leverage the Content Delivery Network which caches Meeting Broadcast content at differing geographical locations for the most efficient retrieval and playback regardless of your location!

Integration and Extensibility

As well as Audio, Video and PowerPoint content, Microsoft have also enabled integration with the follow:

Bing Pulse

This natively integrated voting application allows audiences to stay engaged with the broadcast using the ability to vote based on questions being asked. Meeting Organisers are then able to leverage this information allowing them to tweak their meeting content and delivery to improve audience satisfaction

Yammer Integration

Adding a Yammer feed to your Meeting Broadcasts allows meeting attendees to again, remain engaged with a meeting through the use of collaborative conversations as you see through the use of the current online service.

Prerequisites and Requirements

  • Office 365 Tenant with at least one E3 subscription license
  • Office 365 E1 and Business Plans do not provide the required licensing
  • If on premise, your deployment must be setup ready for Skype for Business Hybrid connectivity
  • The following browsers are supported for Attendee access:
    • Internet Explorer 11, Chrome, Firefox, OSX Safari, iOS8, Android (KitKat)

USER ROLES

There are multiple types of roles that come in to play:

Organizer Create Meeting RequestsCreate Meeting Invites

Review Meeting Reports

Producer Manage Meeting Sources\ContentRecord Meeting

Publish Meeting to Office 365 Video

Event Team Member Participates in the meeting by presenting live or dialling in from a remote location.
Attendee Meeting Content Consumer only

 

Where do I start?

Once you have confirmed prerequisites are in place the next step in accessing your first Broadcast Meeting is to browse to the following URL:

https://sched.services.skype.net/

Which will bring up the following webpage:

Meeting Schedule Page

It’s from here, that we will create our first broadcast meeting, select, New Meeting, just above the calendar area on the left hand side of the page.

Clicking New Meeting, will bring up the following screen, where we start to define our broadcast parametersNew Meeting

EVENT DETAILS

Editing the Meeting Details will allow you to:

  • Edit the Event Title
  • Define Start Date
  • Define Start Time
  • Define Duration (1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour fixed durations at the moment

Original Details below:Original Meeting Details

Updated Details below:Updated Meeting Details

EVENT TEAM

As displayed in the below image, it is here that we leverage the previously described use roles and begin to grant access to our broadcast to those trusted membersConfigure Event Team

ATTENDEES

At the time or writing, only Anonymous (anyone with the link) or predefined attendees can attend. As shown in the below image, there are plans to limit it to company only broadcasts, which will be really useful for internal content over a dispersed workforce.Configure Attendees

 

CUSTOMISING YOUR EVENT

The options are details below, are based on those available at the time of publication of this post. Customise Your Meeting

 

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION APPS

Right and Left Panel options allow you to select, at which location on the page you would like to place with the Yammer Conversation or Bing Pulse applicationsAudience Participation

TROUBLESHOOTING AND SUPPORT

As we can with Skype for Business Server client support, we can also define custom URLs that attendees are able to visit, should your organisation have created some support collateral for Skype for Business meeting broadcasts.

The default URL is: http://aka.ms/skypebroadcastsupport

 

CUSTOM LINKS FOR ATTENDEES

As each broadcast meeting is going to be different (unless replaying!), the content publishing during each meeting is likely to be different.

Here, Microsoft have provided us with the options to provide customer links relating to Meeting content, that may be hosted externally to 365.Audience Participation Apps

 

For now, that concludes part 1 of my Broadcast Meetings. In Part 2, I will step away from the introductory talk and scheduling of meetings, moving off to a usage and management perspective – hope you enjoy!

 

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