Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blaming the wrong problem

For years we've struggled with poor skype quality when working with the corporate office users.  For years, the network team has tried to troubleshoot any possible contributions to the problem. Since skype works GREAT for me whenever dealing with someone not in the office, it must be a problem with the office.

Turns out, we were chasing the wrong problem the whole time.  The problem is that skype was designed for 1 to 1 communication between consumers, not a business network. So using the consumer version of Skype, the data transmitted is handled differently.  In geek terms:

Residential internet connections are typically allocated a temporary fixed public ip address. This IP gets registered to a Skype user on Skype’s servers, so when someone needs to contact that user, Skype knows where to direct the call, and can use UDP to establish a call between the participating users.
In corporate environments, where there are lots of users using the same internet connection, sharing of a a single public IP address between those users has to occur (Port Address Translation). That means that the Skype servers will have registered the same public ip address for all the users in that organisation. This means that Skype is not able to establish a direct UDP P2P connection between a user on the outside of that organisation and a user in that organisation, and has to use other means to make that connection.
The solution?  Upgrade to skype corporate which is designed for this traffic or use an alternative like GotoMeeting or other tool which is not based on a UDP P2P connection.

The lesson for you in this is that you can blame the technology all you want. However, sometimes it is doing exactly what it was designed to do.