Working from home is not a new concept; however, shelter in place orders resulted in companies needing to conduct virtual meetings through remote sessions more frequently than in the past. With more demand for video conferencing, such as Microsoft Teams video meetings and Zoom meetings, we can now see issues using these popular applications.
How your employees connect to your network can make video conferencing frustrating or downright impossible to use. Microsoft Teams is a resource-intensive application, especially when utilizing the audio and video functionalities. Microsoft Remote Desktop Services and Citrix never worked well for these types of applications.
Though the root cause is slightly technical, it is essential for organizations that have built their technology environment around remote desktop to understand.
The first piece of this puzzle is to understand how remote desktop services work. We made a video about how remote desktop works, but I’ll do my best to describe it here. To make it easy, let’s just use the acronym RDS as a place holder for either Citrix or Remote Desktop Services from here on as they both work in the same fashion.
RDS runs on a server inside the central network environment. When a user launches the RDS client, they are connected to a "virtual desktop" or an application running on the RDS server. The vast majority of the processing takes place on the server, rather than the user's local device. The local machine sends mouse movements, and keyboard strokes to the virtual desktop, and the virtual desktop returns changes in the display back to the user.
A perfect example of applications that work well in an RDS environment is the Office Suite, email, CRM and ERP solutions, and other applications that primarily use text. This is because the display's changes consume very low amounts of bandwidth and are tolerant of variations in speed and quality of network connectivity between user and server.
While redirecting keyboard and mouse input from a local system into an RDS session works very well, live video and audio redirection are problematic. Video and audio are extremely resource-intensive and highly sensitive to network speed and stability, resulting in significant usability issues in an RDS environment.
Most applications don't tax the processor very much; however, video does. In an RDS environment, all users are sharing the processor of the server while their home processors take a break. This isn't a problem for most applications, but when the server is asked to process video feeds for a large number of users, it creates huge performance issues.
There is no universal way to effectively solve these issues as they are the result of the limitations of the underlying technology and how these solutions function.
Endsight is in the business of helping people thrive. If video conferences are vital for your business and people, we are here to help discuss your remote access strategy. Please reach out to your Technical Account Manager to review your options. If you are not a client, our team would be happy to help you navigate this as well. Simply schedule an appointment with us to get an assessment.