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Skype for Business Gets Even Better With Native Integration Via RealConnect™

Cameron Smith
August 25, 2017

Microsoft has revolutionized office collaboration with their “Skype for Business” platform. Integrating instant messaging, video communication, meeting scheduling and more, it’s a holistic platform that enables heretofore unrealized cooperation.

However, as Skype for Business grows in ubiquity, its shortcomings are becoming more evident. The main one is simple – it can’t connect to standards-based video systems that aren’t also Skype for Business.

While more and more businesses are opting for Skype as their office collaboration system, there are plenty without it. With the disparate conferencing platforms at different organizations, connecting can be a challenge.

It’s because of this that most conferencing providers offer some degree of integration with Skype for Business. This solves the problem of using it to talk to different systems, and can augment the sometimes limited capabilities of Skype as a video communication platform.

But not every Skype for Business integration is equally effective. Many require a cumbersome integration process that can be over confusing and under effective. That’s why Polycom created the RealConnect™ solution – the most complete integration for Skype for Business on the market.

Here’s what you need to know:

Skype for Business Can Offer the Simplest Way to Join a Video Conference

Microsoft has created a useful “multi-tool” product in Skype for Business.

As a unified communications system, it combines instant messaging, presence, content sharing, audio and video calls for use in business collaborations.

It has simplified connecting with collaborators – users have their list of contacts in front of them, and they appreciate the simple interface. It doesn’t take long to figure out how to use it.

It would be nice to use that interface to connect to a video conferencing call with the same ease that you’d start an instant message conversation. But Skype’s built-in video experience is somewhat limited – and can be too basic for enterprise-level businesses looking to hold video conference calls.

Skype for Business without integration isn’t on the same level as many proprietary video conferencing solutions:

  • There are no full-screen multi-party video views
  • Limited multi-point views available
  • There’s no support for different screen sizes and resolutions
  • You can’t connect to outside video systems other than Skype for Business

To elaborate on that last point, Skype for Business can only call other Skype for Business users. Want to hold a meeting with your colleague on Skype for Business and your customer who wants to connect over their video conferencing platform? Not possible, without integration.

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Additionally, if bandwidth is a concern, it’s important to note that Skype for Business uses a lot of it, with 3 – 4 mb/s for 1080p video streams. That’s a lot more than a typical cloud video conferencing platform.

Now, these are all things that video conferencing platforms are good at.

The ideal situation is one in which you can connect to a public cloud video conferencing platform via Skype for Business – but without sacrificing either Skype’s ease-of-use or the capabilities for the conferencing platform.

It’s a tall order and no one has been able to come close – except for RP1Cloud which operates on Polycom’s RealConnect™ platform.

The Power of Native Integration with Skype for Business

Several of the big players in cloud conferencing have provided some basic integration with Skype, but the experience is lacking.

Put simply, most video conferencing software speaks a different language than Skype for Business, making seamless integration difficult.

Microsoft has built workarounds through their built-in feature, called “Federation,” allowing external access from outside software and/or conferencing providers. The majority of solutions integrate with Skype for Business this way. But this method is not optimal.

For one, the process can be difficult to navigate for the average user, as it involves many steps prior to the call to effectively activate the video. This might frustrate the average user, and at the very least slow the process of connection.

In essence, if a great video experience is a priority for your users, the “Federation” integration feature used by many video conferencing providers might be insufficient.

The best option is finding a platform that has been natively integrated with – and speaks the same language as – Skype for Business.

Enter Polycom’s RealConnect™ technology, the platform that providers like RP1Cloud have used to accomplish the experience Skype for Business users want when they meet with cloud video conferencing users.

Polycom has always worked closely with Microsoft to ensure that they can complement Microsoft’s business solutions, and the latest offering is the integration with Skype for Business.

“To improve the user experience for our customers, Polycom RealConnect™ eliminates this barrier, which ensures everything works together and provides each end user with the familiar communication experience they’ve grown accustomed to [with Skype for Business],” Charlie James, EMEA Microsoft Alliance Director said in a guest blog for Polycom.

It will effectively be plug-and-play to preserve the ease of access of your meetings. Join a meeting on the RealPresence platform through Skype for Business without sacrificing any of the features that either has to offer.

With proper native integration, you will be able to take full advantage of the convenience Skype for Business offers, and an optimal video experience without compromise.

On Prem Solutions vs. Office 365

Polycom has recently announced that their RealConnect™ technology will also allow for Skype for Business integration within the Microsoft Office365 cloud. This solution can be a great fit for businesses without the necessary infrastructure to manage their own on-prem S4B solution and are looking for a per-user licensing model.

With the RP1Cloud + RealConnect™ solution, you can take advantage of a full, comprehensive and holistic integration leveraging existing hardware without the need for any installations with on-prem, cloud or hybrid Skype for Business set ups.

Skype for Business Integration Comparison

Skype Integration Features RealConnect™ Basic Connect BlueJeans Cisco Zoom Lifesize
Maximized use of VTC and Skype AVMCU Yes No No No No No
Two-way content sharing Yes No No Yes No No
Preserves chat directly on Skype client Yes No No No No No
One click-to-join experience Yes Yes, but only from room video systems. Yes Yes, but only on Cisco endpoints. No No
Skype Screen Layouts Yes No No No No No
Uses panoramic strip to extend video Yes No No No No No
25 People Simultaneously Yes Yes No Yes No No
Native scheduling and workflow in S4B Yes No No No No No

*Information accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing

Conclusion

Skype for Business is an amazing communication and collaboration platform. It’s been widely adopted as the standard in offices around the world.

Thanks to the comfort most users have with the Skype for Business interface, it is a great platform from which to access video conference calls – but only when integrated properly with a dedicated video conferencing solution.

The most effective integration is through Polycom’s RealConnect™ technology, which gives the highest quality experience with the simplest, most straightforward way.

With RP1Cloud, you can take full advantage of Skype for Business’ versatility with an enterprise-level video conferencing experience, preserving the Skype for Business workflow.