Last week Microsoft announced a new release of their unified communications product, Lync, delivered in the new Office. This release will include an interface specially designed for VDI integration. Citrix has been working with Microsoft to prepare for the new Lync and is developing support for it in XenDesktop.

When delivering a unified communications client from XenDesktop to a large number of users, the optimal architecture shifts the media processing burden from the server to the user device whenever possible, much like HDX Flash Redirection. Leveraging the processing power of the endpoint maximizes server scalability by offloading CPU-intensive webcam video processing. This optimized HDX real-time architecture eliminates “hairpinning” (also known as “tromboning”); the audio-video traffic flows “peer-to-peer” (directly from one user to the other or from each user to the Lync audio/video conferencing server). Since the media traffic completely bypasses the Citrix server, much less network bandwidth is consumed and there is zero degradation in audio-video quality. This is the concept behind Citrix’s Optimization Pack for Lync 2010, introduced last month with Feature Pack 1 for XenDesktop, XenApp and the Citrix Receiver.

The VDI plugin just announced by Microsoft supports this optimized architecture when delivering Lync 2013 to users on Windows devices. Citrix will integrate this with our Receiver for Windows. The new VDI plugin developed by Microsoft will enable organizations to deploy the new Lync in virtual desktops as a full enterprise-grade unified communications platform including instant messaging, presence, conferencing, enterprise voice/video and Office integration. The combined solution will allow users to make use of their USB-connected Lync-certified audio and video devices. It redirects voice and video traffic from the virtualized desktop directly to the user’s PC or Windows Embedded thin client for a seamless experience within Citrix XenDesktop VDI instances or as a published application via Citrix XenApp. [October 2013 correction:  Microsoft has since advised that they do not currently support delivery of Lync 2013 as a published app, only as part of a full published or virtual desktop. Customers desiring to deliver Lync 2013 as a published app (seamless app delivery) should make their request known to their Microsoft Sales representative for submission via the Lync/Skype Experience Engine at https://www.lyncfeedback.com/default.aspx.]

For non-Windows devices not supported directly by the Microsoft VDI plugin, Citrix is committed to provide optimized support with our Optimization Pack for Lync and to embrace any future alternative versions of the Microsoft Lync VDI plugin.

Citrix continues to work in close partnership with Microsoft to enhance Lync performance in virtual environments. These new enhancements to the platform will allow Citrix customers to use the capabilities of the new Lync to deliver a powerful and robust experience.