I was unfortunately given the task a while ago to deploy Skype to select computers within my organization. I say ‘unfortunately’ because I’ve heard many instances involving Skype that make me cringe with my network administrator hat on. Skype has a ‘feature’ that takes advantage of its P2P nature that it calls becoming a supernode. A supernode is just a computer that has Skype installed on it that has excess bandwidth. Skype then starts routing local Skype calls through your Internet connection. Sometimes when you have LOTS of excess bandwidth, such as at a University, so much traffic can start getting routed in that it floods the switches and disables an entire building’s network and Internet access. All of this was publicly a big deal a while ago but this article will include steps on deploying Skype with the Supernode disabled and other settings so the software package has minimal effect on your environment.
Skype was actually one of the better companies as far as deploying software because they provide a .msi and a .adm for controlling the software through Group Policy. Unfortunately, Skype’s site has changed recently making it a lot more difficult to find the information you need and giving me reason to document the process here.
You can still download the “Business version” of Skype which comes in a .msi format that’s ready for deployment from the Skype for Business part of the site. The links to the .adm template, however, seem to have been lost in the shuffle. Fortunately, you can still download the latest version (as far as I know) from here: http://www.skype.com/security/Skype-v1.7.adm.The ADM template can be opened in your Group Policy and then you can change a number of settings like the ports and protocols used and more importantly to me, disabling the supernode setting.
For backup purposes, I’ve relocated a copy of the files to my server which includes the now-missing Skype Network Admin Guide v2.2 (PDF). One other thing you’ll find there is a batch script I wrote that simply edits the registry of the current user to remove Skype from starting when you login. Skype has a bad habit of by default setting itself to run automatically with login. This isn’t something I’m fond of even with the Supernode feature disabled through the .adm template. In the same group policy, I made this a login script and it deletes the registry entry Skype makes each time it’s run.
One advancement Skype has made recently would be the Skype Manager. It provides the ability to create and manage accounts for your company, dole out allowances for Skype Credit, and other Skype features.
Check out the site or their video for more details on how Skype Manager could help you which is currently available as a free trial until the end of October 2010.