VM’s are great for building labs and testing different scenarios. On of the challenges with Lync/UC is you need Audio and Video to do any serious testing.
You have a couple of options here
- Use some old Physical hosts
- Use VMware Workstation with it’s AV/USB pass-through
- Use Virtual/Emulated Soundcard and Webcam
If you happen to have some old desktops/laptops lying around you can use them along with a virtual lab. You can’t really beat this for real world testing, but It’ll cost you extra power and space
Use VMware Workstation
VMware Workstation offers some unique features that are a benefit in this scenario. It allows the hosts soundcard to be passed through to the guest. You can even pass through multiple different USB webcams (they seem to need to be different brands/versions) to different VM’s on the same single machine.
Use Virtual/Emulated Soundcard and Webcam
This is an interesting option. I use a Hyper-V Server for most of my lab setups. This allows me to have multiple Windows 7 machines setup with Virtual Soundcards and WebCams which allow them to make and receive audio and video calls.
How does it work?
By default you will get the following in a Hyper-V VM for Audio and Video
Not much use for any testing.
Enter e2eSoft VCam and Virtual Sound Card. These two apps can be downloaded as a free trial. What they do is emulate a soundcard with mic and WebCam which Lync will pickup as Audio and Video Options.
During the install you’ll be asked to install the virtual devices:
Once installed you can select the devices in Lync
The e2eSoft VCam plays any media file you load into it on loop. Handily there is a HD wildlife video included in Windows by default that fits the bill nicely (but might look a little odd to passers-by)
The Soundcard loops the sound from the machine to the mic. It’s really a tool to let you broadcast all system sounds, but it stops Lync complaining about having no Audio options.
Now you can setup Audio and Video calls from the VM, or from VM to VM
Update: I’ve also found that http://www.manycam.com/ will do the same thing, and for free