Continuing from last week!
Before I give a few more examples of using Monitoring Reports in Lync/Skype4B support, let me answer a reader question. This reader emailed me last week after he’d checked his own Monitoring Reports.
His question was basically, “What does this ‘Healer Concealed’ column mean?”
Healer Concealed is a ratio given in Monitoring Reports to help you identify poor audio streams. It’s one of three such ratios – Healer Concealed, Healer Stretched, and Healer Compressed.
Full definitions, courtesy of TechNet:
“Average ratio of concealed audio samples to the total to the total number of samples. (A concealed audio sample is a technique used to smooth out the abrupt transition that would usually be caused by dropped network packets.) High values indicate significant levels of loss concealment applied caused by packet loss or jitter, and results in distorted or lost audio.”
“Average ratio of stretched audio samples to the total to the total number of samples. (Stretched audio is audio that has been expanded to help maintain call quality when a dropped network packet has been detected.) High values indicate significant levels of sample stretching caused by jitter, and result in audio sounding robotic or distorted.”
“Average ratio of compressed audio samples to the total number of samples. (Compressed audio is audio that has been compressed to help maintain call quality when a dropped network packet has been detected.) High values indicate significant levels of sample compression caused by jitter, and result in audio sounding accelerated or distorted.”
Essentially, Lync/Skype for Business tries to “heal” its audio streams when they suffer packet loss or jitter. It reports instances of such so we know where & when these losses occur. That’s why you’ll see the Healer ratio columns on multiple reports – Media Quality Summary and Server Performance, for instance.
Hopefully that answers your question, Dutiful Lync/Skype4B Insider Reader!
Now, on to more examples of where Monitoring Reports can help admins out.
Guests report long delays when joining an Online Meeting
Like last week’s examples, join delays are often the fault of a user’s connection. Online Meetings take a little more bandwidth than audio calls (particularly if you enable video). If users aren’t on stable high-quality connections, they’re increasingly susceptible to delays & jitter.
If the user does have a good connection though, we must search for the culprit! There’s a report for that.
PRACTICAL USE: Open the Conference Join Time Report. This report’s devoted only to how long it takes users to join a conference/Online Meeting. Filters & Metrics Reference on TechNet.
This report will only tell you about join times. Its value is in confirming that users are suffering join delays, and how often. Knowing that, you can also open the Conference Diagnostic Report and compare dates.
User X can’t make or receive calls
The key thing to verify here is whether the user’s audio stream is bad, or if there’s a problem on the server. More often than not, the problem’s on the user’s end.
Next stop? The User Activity Report.
PRACTICAL USE: Ask the user to attempt some calls, both internal and external. Then check their account in the User Activity Report. The Detail view will show you session data, media quality, and gateway information. If you have poor values or holes in the data? User X needs a better connection!
Most of the time, choppy video is the fault of the computer you’re using. The video driver may need updating, or it may have hardware acceleration enabled. (If so, try disabling it by opening Outlook’s options. Click “Advanced” and scroll until you see “Disable hardware graphics acceleration”. Check the box.)
If you’ve confirmed this isn’t the case, then check the Conferencing Diagnostic Report first. That way you determine whether the conference itself had a connection failure.
Next, open the Media Quality Summary Report. There is a section here dedicated to Video Calls. Details show you packet loss, frame rates, and the relative client health. (The Healer Ratio columns are especially helpful here.)
If you’re still searching for the issue, you can always check the user’s User Activity Report too.
PRACTICAL USE: Video is a complex, bandwidth-intensive communication medium. Errors can have more than one cause; if you only fix one, you may still have problems (and I know exactly how frustrating that is!). Troubleshoot video from the endpoint to the server; checking Monitoring Reports at each stage may let you skip a step if you see no indication of trouble.
It Pays to Familiarize Yourself with Monitoring Reports
Thank you for all the responses to last week’s post! Monitoring Reports are a popular tool, it seems. I’ll address creating custom reports in a future post.
For another Monitoring Reports reference, visit this No Jitter post: Living with Lync: Monitoring Success – No Jitter Blog
And this Inside Lync post: A Primer on Lync Audio Quality Metrics – Inside Lync
Both are a little older, but they’re good primers for understanding the depth of Monitoring Reports.
What’s the most common Skype for Business call issue you deal with? Please comment or email me. Now that Skype for Business has been out a little while, I’d like to hear how it’s working for you.
In the meantime, join us again next week!