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Don't Lightly Change Established Values for Conferencing
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September 21, 2016

Don't Lightly Change Established Values for Conferencing

By Steve Anderson
Contributing Writer

For those who put the Skype (News - Alert) for Business Server 2015's included planning tool to use, there are a panoply of values that can be modified to best reflect the situation on the ground. This can be a tool that helps clear a lot of hurdles, but sometimes, making too many changes to this tool's default values can raise more harm than good. One key metric to leave untouched without a very good reason is the “conferencing” value, and for reasons that might not be expected.

The standard value in that field is 5 percent, and that number isn't just one plucked randomly from the ether and put into a field. Five percent has been part of this equation since the days of Office Communicator Server 2007, and essentially, Microsoft (News - Alert) is making the claim that its own best practices note that five percent is the right value to set, even though the 250 conferencing limit is still in place that may sometimes make this a difficult situation.

It's also important to consider just what a conference actually is, and given that a conference is essentially a contact that involves at least three people—which is the point at which the multipoint control unit (MPU) kicks in and the resulting conversation carries on across front end servers. Indeed, the math suggests some reasonable support for this number as well, as current reports suggest the 5 percent figure essentially boils down to about the maximum limit for a front end server for a medium-sized organization of about 25,000 people.

Ultimately, this establishes a default value that's there for a reason. Though it can be changed readily enough in the case of some unusual circumstances, like a company-wide conference where most everyone employed by the firm will show up, leaving the default alone is, mathematically, a good plan.

When a default value has been a default value for the better part of a decade, it means one of two things: either the people who set the values are so hopelessly outmoded that the ignorance involved is out the door, or there's a very good reason to maintain that default for that long. It would likely be a mistake to say that Microsoft is either too stupid or too lazy to modify its own thinking to make one of its biggest products run better. A properly-running Skype is a feather in Microsoft's cap, and given Microsoft's moves away from being just about Windows, it needs properly-running Skype and anything else to help ensure its profit margins.

So when it comes to the conference value default, it would probably be for the best to leave it alone. Again, there may be a good reason to do so, but before changing that setting, make sure that good reason is in place, lest the change do more harm than good.

Edited by Alicia Young

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