Skype4B for Weddings !

Been meaning to blog about this since August. Bit of a non work / work related blog post and a bit of fun for me but wanted to share my experience on how i used Skype for Business at a wedding.

My now sister in law was getting married and the groom (Martin) (not me, my now brother in law is also Martin) asked me if i knew a way of streaming video for their wedding, as the wife to be grandma wouldn’t be able to climb the stairs up to where the actual wedding was taking place and there was no lift either due to the age of the building. Sad smile She would have to sit downstairs.

So immediately i thought i gotta do this !!!! so i was automatically thinking “Skype / Skype for Business” my initial thoughts also included

  • Skype to Skype (Consumer) peer to peer Video Call
  • Skype meeting broadcast
  • Skype for Business video calls (Using SfB Online)
  • Foscam or another IP Camera and laptop
  • Facetime on two Apple devices

I asked what the Internet was like at the venue and he said NOT good as it was shared and the hotel commented people had to reconnect all the time and it wasn’t reliable. hmmmmm this could be a problem and i dont want to risk a dodgy internet connection killing the video of their wedding live to her grandmaSad smile

I decided i needed a back up plan that included NOT using any internet connections so i would need a local on premise only deployment.

From the initial list of ideas that rules out quite a few:

  • Skype to Skype (Consumer) peer to peer Video Call
  • Skype meeting broadcast
  • Skype for Business video calls (Using SfB Online)
  • Foscam or another IP Camera and laptop
  • Facetime on two Apple devices

That’s left me with an IP camera and a laptop and Skype for Business that’s delivered via an on-premise solution i can take to a wedding.

I tested an IP camera and the results were not great viewing via a browser and the audio wasn’t good and video quality wasn’t either so that option was out the window.

So i needed to design a Skype for Business Server 2015 on premise solution that i can take and setup at a wedding venue, ideally discretely in the corner of the room where the wedding is as we only have access that room and quickly. This is going to be fun !!!! I design Lync / SfB solutions for customers and now my family.lol.

We decided to check out the wedding venue location and check the Internet and we had mixed feelings internet speeds, it was ok i couldnt trust it for broadcasting a wedding that we get one shot at this, we need something we could trust and wouldnt mean Grandma missed out on the actual ceremony.

Also we needed to hide any local equipment in the venue room as the guests were in there as well so no routing of network cables so WiFi network was looking be needed as well, my not preferred choice but may have to be unfortunately.

Wedding SfB Solution Design

I didn’t do a full high level and low design for this solution Winking smile but here some are the details on the design and what i used.

Wedding

  • HP Micro Server running Hyper V 2012 Core
  • Domain Controller running DC / CA and DNS Roles
  • Skype for Business Standard Edition Front End Server
  • Kemp Loadmaster as reverse proxy for internal mobile client connectivity
  • Microsoft Surface (Wedding User) Skype for Business Desktop Client
  • 10 Meter USB extension
  • Logitech 920 USB Camera
  • Samsung Tab 4 using Skype for Business mobile client
  • Kemp Freeloadmaster for reverse proxy for mobile client access.
  • WiFi Access Point to connect Surface and Android to, with seperate SSID.
  • Two SfB users (Wedding and Grandma) IP Audio Video enabled

 

So in summary i had HP Micro Server with virtual servers with a AD deployed, DNS, CA, SfB server Standard Edition deployed and a free kemp loadmaster for mobile client access connected to a WiFi access point.

Initially i had thought of using two laptops so wouldn’t need the kemp but then we were unsure on where Grandma would be sitting and the hassle of carrying a laptop and would there be power there etc. To keep it simple for her i had an samsung Tab4 to use with the SfB mobile client so i deployed a Kemp VLM to act as a reverse proxy for mobile devices to connect to internally. For mobile client access i did have to install the trusted root certificate for the mobile client to sign in as i was using only internal certificates as i wasnt using public certificates.

I also had concerns over the strength of the Wi-Fi Access points i was using and i would have preferred to use a LAN cable for the Surface over USB but i couldn’t. Wi-Fi was local to the room and connection was good. Mobile client i was concerned on Wi-Fi again reaching downstairs and praying for no packet loss but not alot i could do but pray.

Servers were all virtual and under the recommended hardware specs but performance was good as wasn’t really being used as only had two people. SfB Server had 8Gb and a couple of CPUs

The results

In the morning of the wedding i popped up to the venue room, setup and hid the HP Microsoft server under a table and the hid the access point out of sight.

Set the surface up on the floor in the corner and mounted the Logitech camera on top of a speaker already in the room. I used the microphone on the camera itself and it was surprisingly good.

Signed into Skype for Business on desktop and mobile client and set up a peer to peer call just before the wedding and the results are below. Set grandma up and went to my seat with fingers crossed.

Some pictures of how it looked.

wedding device

IMG_7655

wedding device3

We also recorded the wedding as well Smile bonus.

 

Overall i think a great result and grandma said the quality was good and she was very happy to watch it live downstairs and most important she didn’t miss out.

Shortly after i had to rip out everything for the next event in the room and dash for pictures so i now have a mobile wedding solution based on Skype for Business where internet connections cant be trusted. Let me know if you want to hire me out Smile

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as i did building this Smile

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