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Microsoft Simplifying VPN Configurations for Its Video Streaming Services

Microsoft this week announced that it is working on a more simplified way for an organization to leverage local end user Internet connections when accessing Microsoft Stream and Microsoft 365 Live Events video feeds.

Those two video services get used to broadcast videos in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Stream and Yammer clients. With the shift toward working from home, a lot more traffic may be coming through an organization's virtual private network (VPN). As a consequence, there have been requests to avoid funneling "high-volume and latency-sensitive" video traffic through a VPN, which may not be up to handling that task.

The ability to enable direct connections to video streams to avoid overburdening a VPN has been a requested scenario. However, there's presently a namespace snag that's problematic for easily configuring these direct connections.

Here's how Paul Collinge, a senior program manager on the Microsoft Office 365 product team, explained it, per the announcement:

With the switch to large scale remote working, many customers have asked for the information required to connect their users to Stream/Live Events directly from their local internet connection, rather than route the high-volume and latency-sensitive traffic via an overloaded VPN infrastructure. Typically, this is not possible without both dedicated namespaces and accurate IP information for the endpoints, which is not provided for the Default marked Office 365 endpoints.

Collinge further explained that using the split tunneling (or "forced tunnel exception") networking approach for Office 365 traffic with an "Optimize" option on the endpoints is a best-practice approach for organizations looking to unburden their VPNs. However, the Microsoft Stream and Microsoft 365 Live Events services just have support for a "Default" option. They lack the Optimize option right now.

Microsoft is currently working to make it easier to set up the forced tunnel exception approach for Microsoft Stream and Live Events that will allow for direct connections, but it'll take some time. When it arrives, it'll come in the form of "more defined and service-specific URL/IP data to help simplify connectivity to the service for the VPN connection model," Collinge indicated.

In the meantime, Collinge provided some workaround steps to enable the optimized forced tunnel exception for those video streaming services. The steps don't appear to be simple though. Carrying them out will just enable direct connections for the latency-sensitive video traffic, he further explained, in the announcement's FAQ section.  

Exactly when a more simplified configuration approach would be available wasn't described.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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