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Ringing in the New Year with Skype (Lync) for Business

This morning Microsoft lifted the curtains to finally unveil what everyone knew was inevitable; Lync Server now becomes “Skype for Business”. This is actually the second go around for the “Skype for Business” name, prior to the Microsoft acquisition Skype tried to enter the “Business” realm with a business offering…yeah, that didn’t work out to well. Now the Skype name officially gets both the consumer AND the enterprise by simply rebranding Lync Server as the first step of the Skype backbone and Lync backbone inching closer and closer together to become one cohesive environment.

So, enough of that rambling…I for one am very happy about the rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business, this for many reasons:
1.) I can explain my job easier to friends
2.) I can explain my job easier to family
3.) I can explain my job easier just random people. Flying becomes much more enjoyable.
4.) I don’t have to explain to anyone why there was Skype and Lync when they were essentially the same thing
5.) Lync and Skype are no longer two different silo’s…well, to the less technical people, anyway

My blog posts are more aimed at our customers and clients, so I should answer the questions you are probably really wanting to hear.

Question: How does this impact my on-premises deployment of Lync?
Answer: It doesn’t. It’s simply rebranding at this point. To stay relevant and always be part of the “cool people club” you should upgrade as soon as the next Skype for Business version is released in 2015. If you plan to stay with Lync 2013 or Lync 2010, you’re old.

Question: Skype is “in the cloud”, does that mean Skype for Business is going to be cloud based? I don’t want to be in the cloud!
Answer: Nope, it’s still on-premises. New server requirements will be releases soon enough, then at that point you should start budgeting for new servers.
Of course there is still Office 365 Lync Online offering…that will be rebranded as well.

Question: Will upgrade be “in place” upgrade.
Answer: Nope, not according to early reports. You’ll have to buy new hardware. This has always been the case with OCS and Lync so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Update: To clear up some confusion I’ve read between 2 different articles, in-place upgrades will indeed be available according to official statement on Microsoft’s announcement this morning.

Question: Skype is something we didn’t allow in our enterprise because we couldn’t control it, is Skype for Business going to be unmanageable?
Answer: Skype for Business is still going to be an on-premises deployment with the same “Backbone” that Lync Server was built on. All the “checks and balances” to keep Skype for Business secure are still in place.

Question: Can I finally make a video call between Lync and Skype?
Answer: Not yet, but should be able to in December of 2014 as reported by Microsoft. And when Microsoft says December of 2014, what they really mean is sometime in 2015.

So I hope this clears up any confusion regarding another rebranding. In short, technically, Skype for Business is staying the same course as it had been with Lync Server by offering on-premises and cloud based solutions. If your organization is eyeing Enterprise Voice or already has it deployed, the solution will still be on-premises as it should be.

Now that you’ve read my blog, here is a “Lync” (yup, I had to do it) to the official announcement. http://blogs.skype.com/2014/11/11/introducing-skype-for-business/

Abusing Outlook

For many of us Outlook is always running. If used to its full potential Outlook will work for you and make a busy day more manageable. Many fail to utilize the many features Outlook has to assist you with hundreds of incoming emails and/or a full calendar. I am sharing a few tips that will help you be more organized and efficient with Outlook.

Use Commands

outlook-com-logo These commands will help keep your hands on the keyboard and off the mouse.

  • Ctrl + R: Reply to email
  • Alt + W: Forward email
  • Alt + S: Send email
  • Insert: Flag email
  • Ctrl + N: New Email
  • Alt + F4: Close window

File into Folders

The folders in Outlook work similar to those in Windows Explorer. Believe it or not, you can keep your Inbox clean! I find it helpful to move emails to a folder (or sub-folder) once it is out of my mental queue of things to do. NameThe information is always there for reference later. Best practice for finding an email is to search from you inbox and then click “Find more on the server” if you need to drill down into your folders.

I have a folder for each coworker I communicate with often. If I can’t remember anything about the email I am looking for, usually I can remember who sent it. Or a coworker might say “I don’t remember, but it was in the email Bob sent last week”.

Another trick is to use an underscore before the name of a folder so it will be arranged just below your inbox instead of alphabetical order. This works with subfolders as well.

Lastly, once your folders have too many files you can create a sub-folder named with the previous fiscal year’s date and dump emails there that fit that time period there. All these methods make it easy to archive and/or delete files if you begin to reach your usage quota.

Clean Up!

Right click on your inbox or a folder and click “Clean Up Folder”. This will delete older emails that have been repeated in a back-and-forth conversation, but will leave the most recent thread.

Categorize

Categories

Categories are one of the most helpful features when facing a cluttered inbox. Why do I need to categorize my emails? The simple answer is to sort! Imagine that all your emails from accounting were clumped together and separate from emails about your current project(s). Aren’t those what folders are for? Yes and no. Personally, every category I use does have its own folder as well, but information doesn’t get put in folders until I have used it (like a physical file cabinet). Even then, some categorized emails will be put in sub folders of that category.

Sounds confusing?

In simple terms, categorizing works as a compliment to your folders.

By categorizing emails as they come in or having a rule set so Outlook can do it for me (later explained), I am able to focus on one task, ticket, crisis, or whatever it may be without shifting through other information that is irrelevant, but chronologically similar.

Custom Sorting

Sorting compliments using the categories feature. Notice a pattern? You may want all your flagged emails to be on top, and then have your emails with high importance next. This is possible with custom sorting. Don’t worry, beyond and within your custom layers, emails will still appear in the order they are received… unless you want new emails to appear on bottom, you can do that too.

Here’s how:

Right click “Categories” in the title bar / “View Settings” / Sort

Make Rules

Rules give program like control without any coding. They are formatted like an “if” statement (if this happens, then do this). I currently have over 50 different rules. Rules respond to your role within the organization.

Here are some examples of rules you might use:

  • If I receive a company newsletter, then mark it as unread, and put it the “Newsletter Folder” (never touches your inbox)
  • If Sally sends an email to Tom only, and I am cc’d, then display an alert window
  • If sender is “Amazon” and email contains text “Your order has shipped”, then put it in the “Amazon Shipments folder”
  • If Jon sends me an email, display it in an alert box with [custom text]

Rules are accessed through the home tab when viewing mail. I could spend days talking about rules, but instead I’ll leave the exploring to you.

Outlook Today

In the left pane click on your email address (above the inbox folder) and you will see a hybrid view that contains a list of your calendar items, your task, and a summary of mail folders that you choose to display. The “message” section displays the number of new emails you have in the folder. The customize button can be found in the top right corner of this view.

today

 

As you can see there are many things that enhance Outlook beyond the out-of-box settings. Although these suggestions work for me they may not be useful for you. Outlook is designed for you to tweak it in a way that is unique to only you. Other things you may want to explore include assigning policy to folders, conditional formatting, unique calendar permissions, email templates, and so on.

 

Cargill Showcasing at #Lync Conference

Lync Conference 2014 came and went this year with great success. Over the course of 3 days, it was impossible to attend all the breakout sessions because there were so many. To get caught up and watch the sessions you may have missed, they are now posted on the MicrosoftLync YouTube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/MicrosoftLync
I recommend taking time out of your day to virtually attend the sessions that may be applicable to your situation.

One of the sessions that I’m particularly biased too and highly recommned, is the Cargill session discussing the successful planning, deployment and roll out of Lync Server 2013.

The session takes you on an hour long journey through the processes Cargill used to justify, plan and then with Perficient’s help, execute on that plan to start saving Cargill a large sum of money each month. The savings were achieved by bringing 3rd party hosted conferencing in house onto the Lync Server 2013. If your organization is in the visioning stage of deploying the Lync Server platform, then this is definitely a great starting point to reference as it is a real world, no BS demonstration of success. Cargill is the largest privately held company in the world with over 140k employees worldwide. This story highlights the scale-ability of the Lync Platform, proving that Lync can lead the pack in the industry. Now granted, some of those employees are not Lync Users as they may be factory workers or non-computer users, so the initial roll out targeted around 70k heavy Lync Conferencing Users. As Enterprise Voice continues its growth pattern within Cargill, expect the usage to go up, as plants will start receiving common area phones and even managing existing analog phones. To understand more technical detail about the environment in the current state, please review my blog located here: https://blogs.perficient.com/microsoft/2013/08/lync-a-tale-of-stretching-the-limits-of-supportability/, which is now no secret that the blog was depicting the Cargill environment.

Managing Office 365 with Powershell

A recent Office Blog highlights new resources for Managing Office 365 with Windows Powershell.  Powershell is an incredibly robust tool for managing your SharePoint, Lync, and Exchange environments. It was released around the 2010 product lines and most of us in the industry remember its predecessor, STSADM, for managing SharePoint 2007.  If you are new to Powershell, you’ll find the Windows Powershell for Beginners article extremely useful.

Microsoft has also published a really cool TechNet article and video titled “Six Reasons Why You Might Want to Use Windows Powershell to Manage Office 365” I love that Microsoft is publishing this sort of content. Even just a few years ago, it was really hard to get even technical information on products. TechNet started coming up to speed around 2010, but for those of us who remember trying to figure out SharePoint 2007 without it, this new content is a welcome improvement!

“At the moment, all we care about is introducing you to some of the ways that Windows PowerShell can complement and augment the Office 365 Admin center. And yes, we did say “complement and augment;” we didn’t say “dispose of.” People sometimes think that Windows PowerShell is an all-or-nothing proposition: either you use Windows PowerShell exclusively, or you don’t use Windows PowerShell at all. But that’s not true. Instead, you should use Windows PowerShell when it’s the fastest/easiest/most effective way to do something. (Or in some cases, when it’s the only way to do something.) And if Windows PowerShell isn’t the fastest/easiest/most effective way to do something? Here’s one suggestion: then don’t use it in those cases. It’s entirely up to you.”

I encourage you to check these out and watch the video below. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. We have a great deal of experience at Perficient deploying and managing Office 365 with Windows Powershell.

  1. Windows PowerShell Can Reveal “Hidden” Information Not Available in the Admin Center
  2. Office 365 has Features That You Can Only Configure by Using Windows PowerShell
  3. Windows PowerShell Excels at Carrying Out Bulk Operations
  4. Windows PowerShell is Great at Filtering Data
  5. Windows PowerShell Makes It Easy to Print or Save Data
  6. Windows PowerShell Lets You Do “Cross-Product” Management

Other useful resources:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/fp161388.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/fp161372.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/fp161364.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/fp161397.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn568036.aspx

Lync Conference 2014…Your Chance to Grill the Experts

Starting this upcoming Monday, February 17, Lync Conference 2014 goes into full swing through the 20th.  Experts from all over the world will be presenting, demoing, answering questions and having a good time representing the world of Lync.  The Lync community as a whole are just a bunch of geeks who love what they do and equally love passing on the knowledge we have gained in the marketplace.  Since the Lync Conference stateside is a once a year opportunity, we encourage you to get excited about grilling all the experts in the areas you need your questions answered, because we are just as excited to talk with you!  What’s better than attending a 4 day party on the company dime to obtain free advice?!

Lync Conference

Now that the general overview is complete, lets focus more on what Perficient has to offer at the LyncConf! As the conference moves along throughout the week, Perficient will be highly involved by sponsoring the event, throwing a VIP party and representing a booth with resident experts there to answer your questions. During the breakout sessions, you may not get your questions answered because maybe you can’t get the one on one time with the presenter, or the time runs out before you get to ask your question. That’s okay! We encourage you to stop by and ask the questions to get the answers you need. We have 2 Lync Certified Masters (MCMs) on staff who are ready and willing to cover all the topics that your hearts desire. If you need help in thinking of some ideas and questions to ask, here are some examples:

Lync Strategies:
1.) Lync Readiness Strategy
2.) Basic Deployment Strategy
3.) Conferencing Strategy
4.) Global Deployment Strategy
5.) PBX Replacement Strategy
6.) Greenfield Enterprise Voice Strategy
7.) LRS (Lync Room System) Strategy

Do you have questions regarding technical deep dives? Here are some ideas as well:

Technical Review:
1.) Understand Simple URLs and how they can impact a design
2.) Understand how Lync integrates to PBX and IPPBXs
3.) Understand how Lync 2013 HA and DR works
4.) Understand the importance of SBCs and Gateways
5.) Understand Call Admission Control and QoS
6.) Understand Flexible dial plans and why we use Global E.164 standards
7.) Why do we have this “misfit” Office Web Apps role?

We look forward to seeing you at the conference and fully expect you to bring the hard questions…Can you stump us?

Safe travels and see you soon!

Lync Server – Install-CSDatabase error

With Lync Server 2013, the recommendation is to keep the OS on the C: drive and deploy Lync to a secondary drive running Raid 10.  When you ask for server provisioning with the requested drive layout you’ll receive your server with a second drive such as a D: or E: drive, or whatever your standard build calls for.  When installing Lync, the intelligence is built in to the Lync deployment wizard to detect this secondary drive and automatically install the CSData information to the secondary drive during step 2 of the deployment wizard.

I’ve had a couple of deployments now where I’ve ran into this particular error when running Step 2 on a new Lync Server 2013 Front End where my servers were provisioned with the secondary drive as I requested.  I receive the error; “An error occurred while applying SQL script for the feature RTCDatabaseStore…..” 

Click to view:

DBError

I have to admit, the first time this happened to me I was stumped.  After looking around a bit, I did notice that the folders on the E: drive had the padlock icon.

padlock

Digging a little deeper, I looked at the NTFS permissions on the CsData folder and noticed it had only “System” and “Administrators” listed for permissions.  Changing the permissions on this folder alone did not result in a fix, so it had to be something more.  Going up a level to the Root of the E: drive resulted in a much more positive outcome.  Looking at the C: drive and E: drive next to one another, I noticed how different they actually were as you can see.  We were missing “Creator Owner” and “Users”:

SIDEBYSIDE

To add in the missing user/groups, you simply have to add “Creator Owner” first, THEN add “Users”.  If you do not do this, the permissions will not be correctly applied.  Your CsData information will now finish installation as expected.  If installation does not finish as expected after adding these permissions, you may have  to go deeper into permissions at the root drive.  If you look close at the attached pic, you’ll see 3 different entries for “Users” and the “Apply to” is different for each.  You’ll want to once again open your C: drive and compare all the permissions of your secondary drive and your primary drive, as these are probably different.  If the permissions are not applied correctly, chances are only a single set of permissions will be shown for “Users” so you’ll have to add the appropriate permissions for 3 “Users” entries.  Keep in mind that the “Apply to” is the key to entering these permissions correctly THEN all should work.  If this doesn’t work….tell the provisioning team to redo it.  :)

permissions

On a side note, remember this general rule for all servers in your environment including SQL Servers and Office Web Apps.  Office Web Apps will produce connections errors when installed to a secondary drive.  The installation will finish without errors so you’ll get a false positive and you will be presented with a successful installation, but truth be told these permissions will not allow connectivity.

Lync Server 2013 – Annoying LS DATA MCU 41029 Error

Starting with Lync Server 2010 and now with Lync Server 2013, Certificate management was much improved over previous OCS platforms with the ability to itemize certificates across the environment.  More specifically, on the Lync Server Front ends you can now apply up to 3 unique certificates to each server.  A description is provided for each certificate below:

Click to view

certs

In a typical deployment, a single certificate can be issued and applied to all 3 services, which in turn simplifies certificates that much more and also keeps costs low.  There are times, however, that certificates may need to be itemized, or “broken out” into 2 or maybe 3 certificates and applied individually to each service.

In my latest deployment, the amount of SIP domains required for the certificates pushed the certificate’s SAN limitation which required me to itemize the certificates into 2 certificates.  In this particular deployment, I issued a single certificate that is applied to both “Default” and “Web Internal” and created a 2nd certificate to apply only to “Web External”.  With additional proper planning, I was able to share this certificate across all Front Ends of all 4 pools and the HLBs of the deployment.  Because this certificate has all the External Web Services names of all pools, it can also be applied to the TMGs (Reverse Proxy) if the organization is okay with having Internal Server FQDNs listed on a certificate that is applied to a public facing Reverse Proxy.  You may have noticed I implied that there are Internal Server FQDN’s listed on the External Web Services certificate; This is indeed a requirement.  As you can see from the Subject Name / Common Name field of the “Web External” certificate, it states the FQDN of the server is required.  In my experience, the name of the server does not need to be the SN/CN, but rather in the SAN of the certificate, this way the certificate can then be shared across however many servers you may be deploying.  If you do plan to use this single certificate across all FE’s in all of your pools, you must list every Server FQDN in the certificate.  If not, the following 41029 Lync Web App error will occur, which will break your the communication to your Lync Web App for external Users.  The blacked out FQDN you see from the picture is actually the FQDN of the server itself, not the pool.  If all the FE FQDNs are not listed in the SAN of the certificate, each FE in the pool will have a communication error to each FE in the pool, including itself.  So the end story is, Include FQDNs of each server in the SAN that you plan to apply the certificate too, to remove this annoying error.

Click to view:

Error

 

Comments Welcome

Using Fiddler to troubleshoot Lync Mobile Client

Troubleshooting and reading the logs on the Lync Mobile client is in my opinion, very cumbersome.   I find myself staring at the logs trying to decipher the cryptic messages, reformatting the text in notepad, scrolling to left and right repeatedly,…  well, you get the idea, it simply isn’t any fun.    I was recently challenged with explaining the log in process for mobility, specifically how the traffic starts at the client and eventually logs in.  I like to call these “Ladder diagrams” and unfortunately, this information is not easy to find on the web at this point.  Using the logs from the client provide absolutely no help either, so I needed a solution.  In talking with a fellow MCM one day, Henry Creagh, he pointed out that I could use Fiddler for reading the mobile logs.  I used Fiddler prior for watching how the fat client interacts with the URLs, but I had no idea I could take it a step further and send all my mobile traffic through my PC/Laptop as a proxy and capture the traffic, hence cleaning up those ugly logs into a beautifully well formatted, Fiddler stream.  (Thank you Fiddler for being 100% Awesome).   Setting up the client is quite simple, follow these steps.

1.)    Download and install the Fiddler Client http://fiddler2.com/get-fiddler onto your PC or laptop

2.)    Go to “Tools –> Fiddler Options –> HTTPS and choose “Capture HTTPS CONNECTs” and “Decrypt HTTPS traffic”

fiddler1

3.)    Then move onto “Connections” and select “Allow remote connections to connect”

fiddler2

4.)    On your mobile client, you must find your Proxy settings and send all the traffic through to the IP address of your laptop/PC.  In my scenario, I’m using an iPhone.

 

5.)    Connect the phone to WiFi, on the iPhone click Wifi then navigate to the Wifi you are connected to and enter in the IP of your laptop/pc like below

fiddler3

6.)    Log in with the Lync Mobile and watch the traffic flow

fiddler4

I know it is hard to read my pictures from this post but keep in mind that LyncDiscover or LyncDiscoverInternal was not queried in my traffic sniff.  This is because when you install the mobile client, at least on an iPhone and log in, that initial request is cached and the client knows to always try the Web Services URL during subsequent logins.  If you want to see the first hit to the Autodiscover URLs you must delete the app and re-download then log in.

Lync Server 2013 Interop – Debunking the Myths

It is quite obvious the big market players are competing to own the “Unified Communications” space.  I put quotes around Unified Communications because that definition seems to vary depending on who you talk to.  Big name players such as Microsoft, Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Polycom, the list goes on, have taken strides to create their own Unified Communications solutions.  It’s no secret that big acquisitions are made by these large companies to add a feature to their UC solution set, then try to market the products as their own creation.  I’ll leave the research of these acquisitions to the readers doing.

The first attack on Microsoft Unified Communications solutions seems to be the fact that they don’t offer native solutions for certain….”areas”….of Unified Communications.  Again, Unified Communications is defined by all the players differently, so the boundaries of what should be native and what can be 3rd party is blurred and simply lies within the eye of the beholder.  Two very common attacks we hear in the market is; Microsoft Lync needs Gateways and Microsoft Lync doesn’t offer a Call Center Solution natively.  My answer to the Gateway myth – False.  My answer to the Call Center Myth – So?  Let’s go down the Gateway path, shall we?

  1. Gateways are absolutely not required for Lync Server 2013 Voice, it just depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  To elaborate on this more, I put the most obvious interop scenarios in bullet point:
    1. PBX Interop – Indeed to interop with traditional TDM PBX’s, a gateway is needed with Lync if you want to keep the integration between the 2 systems On-Net.  Lync 2013 has moved into the 21st century and well beyond the age of TDM circuits.  Lync Server prefers SIP trunking so that is how it is designed.  In order for traditional TDM PBX’s to interoperate with any SIP only system, a gateway most likely will be needed in between.  Now keep in mind, depending on your desired goals, coupled with the Telco provider and proper planning, a gateway may not be necessary On-Net.  Really, it just depends on a design and what makes sense in your environment to get from A-B.
    2. IPPBX Interop – Again, a gateway is not required in all cases.  If you read up on Microsoft’s Unified Communications OIP website, you’ll quickly see that Microsoft Lync if fully capable of Direct SIP with Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya and Cisco.  Granted, proper planning and desired goals of the interop must be kept in mind as some functionality may not work between the 2 systems without a gateway.  If your IPPBX is not listed on the OIP, it absolutely does not mean direct sip will not work with Lync, it just means it was not tested or may not have passed all the requirements by Microsoft.  Take SnomOne IPPBX as an example; direct sip connection from SnomOne to Lync works great, but there may be functionality missing such as REFER support or the ability to DNSLB to multiple Mediation servers as an example, which could be a disqualification to become certified. The reasoning of these limitations should be shared between all vendors and the blame should not be solely put on the shoulders of Microsoft.  Just know that at least Microsoft calls them out publically so you know before you invest.
    3. ITSP Sip Trunking – Session Border Controllers “SBC” are the gateways to provide this kind of connectivity.  But once again, if you read up on the OIP, do your research and reach out to your ITSP, these SBCs may be provided or not needed as Lync can accept a direct connect in some scenarios.  This is more of a requirement from the ITSP and the type of protocol used.  Microsoft Lync is designed to use STANDARD based TCP protocol for secure SIP communications where some ITSP’s only provide UDP so something has to be in the middle to convert that communication from UDP to TCP.  Once again, this is not a Microsoft Lync limitation as some competing vendors like to preach.
    4. Gateways for Video and Lync Server 2010/2013
      1. H.263 – It’s once again false to assume a third party gateway is needed for video interop.  Lync Server absolutely uses a proprietary video codec and that is no secret; it’s called RTV.  There are plenty of arguments as to why Microsoft chose the RTV direction years and years ago, but nonetheless, it is in their video stack.  Also in the video stack Pre-Lync Server 2013, was H.263 STANDARD based video codec.  Lync and OCS had no issues integrating with various video platforms with H.263, not all systems, but a good share.  Granted, the video quality was limited to CIF, but nonetheless, a 3rd party gateway investment was not “required”.
      2. H.264 SVC – I’m not a video expert by any stretch, but I do know that H.264 SVC video codec is a standard and it has replaced H.263 in the Lync video stack.  On the Lync Server TechNet planning pages, one can view the technical details surrounding H.264 and Lync.  So the argument about “Lync does not use standard based video” is absolutely false and very well documented on the interwebs.  As a side note, it must also be called out that RTV is no longer the default video codec in Lync, as H.264 replaced RTV as the default and preferred video codec.  The reason, and only reason RTV remains in the stack, is for backward compatibility.  If Microsoft was trying to pigeon hole your video infrastructure, ask yourself, would they choose H.264 as their default video codec?  Don’t be fooled by the competitor’s gospel.
      3. Excellent Video Reference – If you so desire to argue video interop in Lync and the use of SVC, I challenge you to reach out to fellow Lync expert and highly respected MVP Jeff Schertz for the video deep dive your heart desires.  Hold on to your hat…  http://blog.schertz.name/2012/07/video-interoperability-in-lync-2013/

Next up is the Call Center argument

  1. I don’t have much factual information here as to why Lync does not offer a Call Center solution.  But I do know that Lync offers an IVR solution that is acceptable in many scenarios.  In fact, outside the obvious call centers we call for things like Cell Phone support as an example and similar companies, I’d challenge the “need” for a call center when a watered down IVR may be adequate.  Now, I’m not saying I would walk into an organization whose revenue stream is generated off of a huge call center and attempt to sell them native Lync as that makes no sense.  We know Lync is not that solution and that is simply not the targeted customer base anyway.  (Remember we are desiging and deploying a Unified Communications solution, not a call center solution) This also doesn’t mean there aren’t 3rd party solutions that bolt on to Lync that can solve the Call Center challenge.  There are plenty available on the market so if Lync Server is deployed for back office, providing substantial savings to you and you are wanting to learn how it could extend into the call center, do research and you’ll find plenty of solutions.  Ask yourself, does Call Center fall under “Unified Communications” anyway?

If you are considering Lync Server as your UC solution I can speak for the Microsoft UC System Integrators and customer community that you will absolutely not be pigeon holed to proprietary codec’s, you won’t need an abundance of 3rd party hardware and you won’t be on an interop island secluded from the rest of the industry or be denied the ability to interop with your current investments.  I do ask one thing of all organizations whom read this blog trying to get answers before you make your next UC investment; Ask around and try not to take any one vendors word for what the rest of the market is doing.  Evaluate all our solutions and let the solution do the talking for itself.  Microsoft Lync may or may not work for you, but don’t let it be because some uneducated and uniformed salesman said so.

I welcome your comments

Lync Server 2013 Internal Server Roles

This is post 10 of the twelve post series, to see an index of all twelve posts, click here.

On the 10th day of Lync’mas my UC Team gave to me: 10 Lync Internal Server Roles!

On the surface (No PUN intended), Lync 2013 is, or at least was upon release, widely perceived to not be much of a change over Lync Server 2010 and was more of a simple refresh.   “Ho Ho Hoooo-boy!”…This simply couldn’t be further from the truth once you dive into each of the different roles of Lync Server 2013.  Rather than use this blog post to deep dive into those roles, I will highlight all the servers and the roles associated with Lync Server 2013, in contrast to Lync Server 2010.  Don’t forget that these roles do not necessarily require their own separate servers, as they can be co-located.

The core of any Lync Server 2013 deployment continues to be Enterprise Edition Pool “EE” servers, or a single Standard Edition “SE” server.  With Lync Server 2010 and Lync Server 2013 there were multiple servers and roles associated with a deployment.  These servers/roles include:

Read the rest of this post »