For a long time Microsoft has offered the capability of on-premises Live Communications Server, Office Communications Server and Lync Server deployments to federate with AOL for instant messaging. In order to use AOL federation there were certain basic requirements that had to be met:
In order to use PIC federation you had to have the appropriate licenses, just as you must have the appropriate Client Access Licenses in order to use Lync, Exchange, SharePoint or any other Microsoft software. Most customers would see this cost included as part and parcel of their Enterprise Agreements with Microsoft, so while some people may dislike the cost of Enterprise Agreements, Microsoft is including a vast amount of functionality (PIC included) to you at a reasonable cost.
Microsoft has largely handled the PIC provisioning process through their PIC website, whereby you simply request the public IM providers you want to federate with and Microsoft handles all the coordination and enablement on the back end. Having Microsoft handle the coordination was a “single throat to choke” but it often resulted in longer setup times as it could take up to 30 days for the services to be available once the request was submitted.
Microsoft announced earlier this year that the PIC agreements with Yahoo! and AOL were not being renewed, meaning customers would either A) lose their ability to federate with those providers or B) have to look at third-party solutions to keep the federation alive. The EOL date for the Microsoft PIC agreements is June 30, 2014, so the clock has been ticking ever since the announcement was made. AOL recently stepped up to the plate and announced that they will begin offering direct federation for Lync customers through their PIC website, a welcome change of heart that allows customers to “keep the lights on” between their on-premises Lync deployments and the AOL cloud. Additionally, the provisioning process allowed customers to contact AOL directly and negate the need to request provisioning through Microsoft. Reading all this you would think this is a “Win-Win” situation, but as the old saying goes, the “Devil is in the details”…
I recently went through this provisioning process with a customer and discovered that the new AOL PIC federation service is not free and actually costs you additional monthly fees on top of what you’ve already paid for your Lync CALs. For this customer it would have cost them $10 per user, per month to use the AOL federation service. Add this up over a year and you could have substantial increases in your operating expenses to support AOL federation. On the plus side, however, AOL includes written SLAs as part of the service and offers customers various tiers of support for service incidents. Note: Should you decide to use AOL federation your fees could be different as AOL had different levels of fees based on the number of Lync users whom you wanted to have AOL federation enabled for.
The fact that Microsoft included these costs within Enterprise Agreements was both a blessing and a curse – it meant that some customers would grumble about the costs, but it also meant that customers could simply take advantage of all the included features without a second thought. Now that Microsoft will no longer have an agreement in place after June 30, 2014, the true cost of the federation has now come to the surface and I have to admit that the AOL federation rose has some thorns. I can certainly understand that AOL has infrastructure and operational costs associated with this service so a fee is understandable, but some folks (myself included) might question if connectivity with AOL services is worth the cost they charge you, especially considering that only instant messaging is available. Skype, on the other hand, offers IM & audio federation with Lync (with video coming in the near future), so the value proposition of AOL seems to be eroding when compared to Skype.
Is AOL federation worth it? That’s up to you to decide…but suddenly Skype seems a lot more attractive to me!
Every year, Microsoft awards a group of Developer MVPs with an additional recognition. It has become a tradition to recognize those MVPs who have demonstrated exceptional community effort by inviting them to a special dinner during the yearly MVP Summit event located at the Redmond headquarters. Technical Fellows Anders Hejlsberg and Brian Harry were hosts to this year’s event which celebrated 29 community leaders during the Developer MVP Recognition Dinner. This year, our own Jason Follas was awarded with this special recognition for his effort and dedication to the technical community in Microsoft’s Heartland District and beyond.
The MVPs recognized were selected through a selection processed handled by key Microsoft employees and more importantly, Jason’s peers in the MVP community. Jason is a dedicated community member who gives a lot of time and energy to user groups and technical conferences; he is one of the organizers behind the Day of .NET in Ann Arbor, in addition to CodeMash. Jason is also a leader for the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group in Toledo and is currently an Architect in the Detroit LBU. Congratulations Jason!
On a recent client engagement working with an existing Sitecore multi-site instance, a discussion took place on how to better manage the current translations process. The primary issue to be resolved was the overwriting of translation values on deployments. This was happening for translations entered during a specific time window between deployment label creation and actual deployments of site changes to the production environment.
The current architecture currently contains a custom translation resolver and a specific translation dictionary within the Sitecore content tree. This translation dictionary is shared among several sites and these sites cover several different regions.
In the November 2011 Cumulative Update of Lync 2010, Microsoft added the ability to disable file transfers via the edge server. This feature enhancement undoubtedly was the result of customers voicing concerns about data loss protection and was a welcomed addition to the IT administrator’s arsenal. In short, the feature allowed administrators to block all file transfers that would traverse an organization’s edge server but allowed file transfers within the confines of the internal network (assuming the user was assigned a conference policy that allowed it).
In Lync 2010, to block all file transfers on the edge server you would use the following command:
new-csfiletransferfilterconfiguration -identity edgeserver:pia-ls2013-ed01.widgets.com -blockfileextension $true -action blockall -enabled $true
The same file transfer blocking capabilities exist in Lync 2013, but the commands are a bit different from what was used in Lync 2010.
In Lync 2013, to block all file transfers on the edge server you would use the following command:
new-csfiletransferfilterconfiguration -identity edgeserver:pia-ls2013-ed01.widgets.com -action blockall -enabled $true
There is a common perception that age is a defining factor in how enterprise users adjust to, and engage with, enterprise social networking tools. The problem, so the folk wisdom goes, is that older users are slower to adopt newer, “cutting edge” software (translation: consumer-like UI and functionality) because they are averse to change (translation: stodgy) and comfortable with what they have (translation: complacent).
Their research has shown that the demographics of age are less of a factor in enterprise social adoption than people think. If you doubt that statement, go check and see if your mother-in-law is on Facebook and get back to me. Mine is. In fact, she’s probably ‘liking’ a photo of my daughter right now.
Where there’s been resistance to enterprise social, it’s been more about a question of how people work, Yammer tells us. Their research shows that older ‘information workers’ (i.e., people who are used to interacting with knowledge in a give-and-take fashion) tend to adopt social tools in much the same frequency as younger information workers. It is those used to a process-based approach to work that often resist.
While older workers are far more likely to be comfortable with a process-based approach– because hey, that’s how they grew up in business– there are also younger users (translation: engineers, project managers, etc.) who fit that bill as well. The key to helping anyone with a process focus to become a successful user of social tools is in giving them a single use case where the social tool makes life easier than whatever they’re using today.
People will nearly always adopt a new tool when it is easier to use than the old tool. That takes research, requirements analysis and planning– it’s not instantaneous but it’s worth the effort!
Being able to create multiple application deployment types with Configuration Manager is a great feature. This gives you the ability to have one application built to suite many deployment needs, such as MSI, Script, AppV, Citrix or multiple languages. While this is a great feature there is one issue with the new release of Configuration Manager 2012 R2 I have come across.
While creating new applications, I started to notice many were not giving me the ability to select uninstall the button was grayed out while other applications worked fine. I then proceeded to verify uninstall was setup correctly, and if any of the installs were set as required. The one thing I did noticed was all the applications that were having the uninstall issue all had multiple deployment types. So I said to myself (SELF) what if I removed all the deployment types except one, and guess what, now I can uninstall the application. So after this chat with myself, I decided to try the same thing on all of the other applications that I have this issue with and now I can use the uninstall feature on them as well.
My theory was that if you have multiple deployment types you lose the ability to uninstall applications. I decided to test this in our lab on an older version of Configuration Manager 2012, and found I had no issues with the ability to uninstall applications when you have multiple deployments created for the same app.
So this appears to be a bug or an issue in SCCM 2012 R2. I did read a articles stating that this is an issue at this time, Microsoft is working on a fix. So for now if you have multiple deployment types created with SCCM 2012 R2 for a application you will not be able to use the uninstall feature, the button will be grayed out.
I will do a follow up to this post once I get conformation this issue has been resolved.
Happy Application Packaging….
Here are some screen shots of my testing.
Multiple deployment types
Grayed out uninstall
One deployment type
Last week, Perficient and Clarity teamed up for the webinar, “Maximizing Your Lync Investment in the Contact Center.” Matt McGillen, Director of Infrastructure at Perficient, and Craig Reishus, Director of Business Development at Clarity, showed attendees how they can extend Lync to other business units, easily adding functionality to an existing Lync environment.
First, Matt showed why people are choosing Lync, and how Lync is truly modernizing communications. It’s allowing people to work from anywhere, thereby enabling and improving mobile productivity. It’s providing users with connected experiences, enabling new ways of collaboration with voice and video on a single unified client. And it’s simpler to manage with deployment flexibility. When it comes to the latest version, Lync 2013, organizations are choosing it for a multitude of reasons, including:
Next, Craig showed attendees Clarity Connect, Clarity’s robust contact center solution that natively extends Lync’s capabilities. Clarity Connect is built on high level APIs, with the call never leaving Lync. It is delivered to the Lync client. The solution allows organizations to simplify administration and decrease costs, without sacrificing on functionality or user experience. During Craig’s presentation, he demonstrated the features that come standard out-of-the-box, including call recording, and walked through the rich, dynamic dashboard. He also explained the licensing model, which is derived from the quantity of three variables: concurrent channels, support agents, and servers. The pricing is all inclusive – there are no separate costs for the number of call centers that you have.
Matt and Craig finished their presentations with time to answer many of the great questions that came in during the session. You can watch the entire webinar, including the Clarity Connect demo and Q&A portion, here.
Simply put, Lync does not support certificates that are issued using the Cryptography API: Next Generation providers. At the time of this writing, Lync 2010 and Lync 2013 only support certificates that are issued using legacy Cryptography API providers. To determine if your certificate was issued with CryptoAPI:NG support, use these quick instructions:
Using certutil.exe, you can examine the information about the certificate.
Certutil.exe –v –store my “certificateserialnumber”
A lot of data will be returned, but you need concern yourself with only a single piece of that information. If you do a search and find Microsoft Software Key Storage Provider, then your certificate has been issued using the new CryptoAPI:NG provider and won’t work with Lync.
If you say to yourself, “So what!? I’m going to use the certificate anyway!”… Attempting to assign a certificate that is used using the CryptoAPI:NG providers within Lync will result in an error and the certificate cannot be used:
An error occurred: “System.Security.Crpytography.Cryptographic.Exception” “The buffer supplied to a function was too small.”
This past Wednesday, we hosted a webinar, “Using Yammer and SharePoint Intranets to Drive Employee Engagement.” During the session, Rich Wood, Director of Web & Social Collaboration at Perficient, first gave a quick overview on the enterprise social network and Yammer, and then went on discuss user adoption and engagement. He covered what exactly a social strategy entails, and the importance of a social maturity assessment, complete with a social toolset recommendation, community planning and a communication plan. Throughout the webinar, we shared some of Rich’s highlights on Twitter @Perficient_MSFT:
Rich explained that when it comes to adoption (he prefers the term engagement), training is crucial, yet surprisingly rare today. That said, learning from coworkers is among the most common AND most effective learning methods. While organic growth is bottom up, and organizational mandate is top down, and both have their advantages and disadvantages – but the key is in the planning.
With Yammer, familiarity breeds usability. Yammer looks like Facebook, as Rich pointed out. If you know how to use Facebook (as the vast majority of us do), then you intrinsically know how to use Yammer. Read the rest of this post »
What is Platform as a Service (PaaS)? How does it differ from Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas)?
Let’s start with IaaS. When “The Cloud” first became popular IaaS was the target. The point of IaaS is to migrate a company data center into Windows Azure. This involves converting whatever physical servers you have to Hyper-V virtual machines and upload the contents to Azure(or sending them via FedEx for Microsoft to upload). While this process is cumbersome and time consuming it does work and has some great benefits. The next step in this process is to create a secured link between your former data center and the Azure data center. Doing this will allow your users connectivity to all of their pre-existing applications. In fact, your users should not even notice that the data center has been moved. Everything should operate exactly how it did prior to the migration. Depending on the size of your infrastructure IaaS has the ability to save you time, space, money and will allow IT admins to breathe easy knowing they don’t have to be overly concerned with server hardware failure. From that perspective, IaaS saves you money because you have zero server maintenance / replacement cost. Another benefit of IaaS is that all of your existing third party software is guaranteed to work on IaaS. If a business has an old Citrix application that is critical for the accounting team, then migrating to IaaS will guarantee that application still works as expected. The problem with IaaS is that you are still running an entire infrastructure. IT will still have to manage the servers, Active Directory, patches, and updates. In short, you aren’t benefiting from a lot of the major benefits of the cloud.
PaaS aims to solve that.
PaaS in Azure is synonymous with “Cloud Service”. The target of PaaS is custom business applications that will replace your existing third party software infrastructure. These applications can be written in either .NET or Java. In PaaS you essentially rent the hardware the application runs on. Renting the hardware means you do not have administrative access to the virtual machines powering the application. The permissions are set so that Remote Desktop to the virtual machine is enabled and users can administer IIS.
What is the advantage of renting hardware the application runs on? Why wouldn’t I simply use IaaS to retain tighter control over the environment?
Azure manages the infrastructure powering the application so IT administrators no longer have to worry about it. The infrastructure used to power a global application with millions of users generating massive amounts of traffic (like SnapChat) is massive. The work and time it takes to manage that infrastructure is several times larger. With PaaS you are able to eliminate the management of the environment the app runs on. It is also cheaper to run an application with PaaS than creating dozens upon dozens of virtual machines. Scaling is much easier with PaaS. It is possible to scale to a massive size very quickly(and automatically) with PaaS. To do the same with IaaS, virtual machines must be created in geographically relevant locations.
PaaS provides most of the flexibility that IaaS provides. By sacrificing a little control administrators and developers are able to automate most of the infrastructure maintenance that comes with growing web applications. This not only saves money but allows developers to create new features without having to worry if the infrastructure can handle it. Whether the application is of massive global scale like SnapChat or simply a small application which applies business logic to users; PaaS on Azure maximizes productivity by removing laborious infrastructure maintenance.