My thoughts on the Microsoft Unified Technology Event

July 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that they are not doing the smaller, product centric events like Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) or LyncConf. They are switching to a Unified Technology Event which will be next May in Chicago. You can read the announcement here: http://blogs.office.com/2014/07/21/microsofts-unified-technology-event-for-enterprises/.

This news isn’t all that surprising, combining efforts has to be a great way to save money and more efficient from a planning standpoint.

I have to admit, I’m sad to see LyncConf go. I went to both years of it and thought it was fantastic. I hope the new event is as good and not just a re-invention of TechEd. A few reasons that I am disappointed the smaller conferences are going away:

First, when you went to the product specific conference, you had a common bond with everyone there from the get-go. You didn’t have to find out what they were there for, they were there for the same product you were.

Second, because the conference was smaller, you didn’t feel like such a small part in it. It’s easy to let yourself get lost in a large conference and not engage with other folks.

Third, the networking was awesome. The conference was small and intimate and it made it very easy to identify people you wanted to meet. A larger conference tends to drive people to cliques and can make it much more difficult to connect with others.

Things aren’t all bad though. Having several products at one conference is great for a general sysadmin who has to work with Lync, Exchange and Office365 everyday. That person might only have the ability to go to one conference and now can do so (just like before with TechEd). I view this more as a negative due to the fact that I am more specialized and I could have used an extra day at LyncConf to begin with, add-in interesting content from Exchange or O365 and I may have even more tough choices in which sessions to attend.

Also, as someone who works for a consulting firm, it will be tougher for us to send folks. With the separate conferences we could send two people to each and not take such a hit from them being gone. With the Unified event, we will probably only be able to send a small selection and then the rest miss out on the experience.

I hope Microsoft does a great job with the event and makes us all forget about the small, intimate conferences but at the end of the day, I feel like this just like your favorite band. It’s great to see them either way but the small club was a much better experience than the large arena.

Categories: Uncategorized

Lync and Site specific Simple URL’s

June 10, 2014 1 comment

We recently had a requirement when deploying a new Lync 2013 pool to give a Site/Region their own Simple URL’s. I knew this could be done and it’s always easier when doing it during the deployment but this was the first time I had ever had to do it when the site had been running for awhile on Lync 2010 and using the Global Simple URL’s.

Our requirement was to go from using the Global Simple URL (meet.company.com) to a Regional based one of meet-emea.company.com.

I went and double-checked Technet (as everyone should do) and also referenced an article by Justin Morris from awhile back that was specific to configuring site level Simple URL’s.

All of the info is great but it was lacking one thing, how to make sure that the old Simple URL would still work after we made the change. We did not want to have to have a flash cut where everyone had to go update their recurring meetings and the like.

In the Technet article for creating the new Simple URL is this tidbit:

SimpleUrlEntry Optional Collection of URLs for the specified component. For example, both https://meet.litwareinc.com and https://litwareinc.com/meet might be configured as URL entries for the Meet component. However, only one of those URLs can be (and must be) configured as the active URL.

Simple URL entries must be created by using the New-CsSimpleUrlEntry cmdlet.

It specifically states that you can define a “Collection of URLs for the specified component”. That’s the ticket! However, the Technet example didn’t show how to add multiple URLs. Here is what I found worked:

$urlEntry= New-CsSimpleUrlEntry -url "https://meet-emea.company.com"

$urlEntry1 = New-CsSimpleUrlEntry -url "https://meet.company.com"

$urlEntry2 = New-CsSimpleUrlEntry -url "https://dialin-emea.company.com

$simpleURLMeet = New-CsSimpleUrl -Component meet -domain company.com -ActiveUrl "https://meet-emea.company.com" -simpleurl $urlEntry,$urlEntry1

$simpleURLDialin = New-CsSimpleUrl -Component dialin -domain * -ActiveUrl "https://dialin-emea.company.com" -simpleurl $urlEntry2

Set-CsSimpleUrlConfiguration -Identity "site:MySite" -SimpleUrl @{Add=$simpleURLMeet,$simpleURLDialin}

After we had done all of this, we went and tested and everything appeared to work fine. We shall see if there are any issues from a users stand point that we we were unable to replicate using our test accounts.

Categories: Lync Tags:

Lync 2013 Trunks and EnableFastFailover

June 3, 2014 3 comments

This post was inspired by a troubleshooting session that happened just before the long Memorial Day Weekend here in the states. We had just moved our pilot users over to our Lync 2013 pool a day before when they started reporting issues calling certain numbers. What was interesting was not all calls were failing. Only international calls and a few mobiles were failing. National calls were working fine. Nothing changed call flow-wise so it had me a bit stumped.

To properly set the background, our calls were going from Lync to a Cisco voice gateway and then out an E1 to the carrier.  We tested a call from Lync 2010 and the call would succeed:

2010_Successful_Call

You can see at about 14 seconds into the call we get back our first 200 Ok. Next, here is a call from Lync 2013. User has all of the same voice policies, dial plan, routes, etc.

2013_Failed_Call

We dug our heels in and got the Cisco guy on the line and he watched what was being sent to the carrier and he didn’t see anything wrong but kept seeing Lync send a Cancel so the call would fail. What you don’t see in the above image is that we would start trying to hit the backup voice gateway which only becomes active if the first doesn’t work.

Well, it took longer than I would like to admit before we all noticed the call was failing at exactly 10 seconds everytime. Consistency like this is never coincidence. I started looking at the trunk configuration settings in Lync 2013 and lo and behold, I found this:

EnableFastFailoverTimer Optional Boolean When set to True, outbound calls that are not answered by the gateway within 10 seconds will be routed to the next available trunk; if there are no additional trunks then the call will automatically be dropped. In an organization with slow networks and gateway responses, that could potentially result in calls being dropped unnecessarily.

The default value is True.

We set the EnableFastFailoverTimer to False and our calls started to go through. It appears that this particular carrier was just taking a long time to setup International calls along with certain mobiles.

So, how did we set it? We used:

Set-CsTrunkConfiguration -Identity "our site specific trunk" -EnableFastFailoverTimer $false"

We could have also done it via the Lync Management Console by unchecking Enable outbound routing failover timer check box in the Trunk Configuration:

FastFailoverTimer

 

 

Categories: Lync Tags:

Jabra Motion UC Battery Life Report

May 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Awhile back I was given a Jabra Motion UC headset to test and work with to review. You can read my initial thoughts here: http://phyler.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/jabra-motion-uc-initial-thoughts/

After using this now for a few months, I thought I would report on the battery life. Jabra released an update in mid-April that extends the battery life to 8 hours but I wasn’t seeing anywhere close to that so I contacted their support and we worked through it and found a few things.

I spend a majority of my day on the phone with clients. One day, I realized that the headset went dead after about 3.5 hours of talk time. After conversing with support, we tried turning off the Busy light on the headset. I continued to test and found very little impact.

It was when I was modifying the Busy light settings, that I noticed I could control the range of the headset. For those who didn’t read my initial post, the Motion UC has a range of 300ft. It’s incredible. I can walk anywhere in my home and leave my laptop in the basement and carry on a call. You can see the defaults for the headset in the Jabra Control Center.

2014-05-21_2053

I moved the slider from Normal to Low to see how it would impact range and battery life. What I found was that the range dropped pretty significantly (less than 60 feet) but the battery life was extended significantly. I was able to go almost all day with about 5-6 hours of talk time and 2 hours of standby time (just sat it on the desk off the charger). I believe that if I were to drop the range down to Very Low, I would get standard Bluetooth range (~30 feet) and the full 8 hours of talk time.

This all stated, I did bump it back to Normal now that I know as I really valued the ability to be on a call and head up stairs for a coffee refill while on mute. I’ve just learned that if I’m not on a call, the headset needs to be charging.

Categories: Uncategorized

May COUCUG Meeting

May 15, 2014 Leave a comment

The May meeting for the Colorado UC User Group is just around the corner on the 29th from 4-6pm. Come listen to Exchange MVP Jason Sherry (@jasonsherry) speak about Exchange Cross-forest migrations.

You can get more details and RSVP at http://www.coucug.org.

Categories: Uncategorized

Support your local Lync User Group

April 30, 2014 Leave a comment

The last full week of April we saw many people from around the US gather to participate in local user group events. As a leader of the Colorado Unified Communications User Group (COUCUG), I am ecstatic to see the success and engagement growing for all of the local communities.

If you are not involved in a local user group, I believe you should be. The local user groups are not a place where people should be bored listening to a sales pitch. Each group, whether it is an independent group like ours or one of the national Lync Users Groups, has experts who want to share what they have learned over time. These experts consist of MVP’s and Microsoft Certified Masters (MCM’s) who give of their time to come and speak.

In addition, many of the sponsors bring a wealth of knowledge to these groups. You can find out about the latest gateways, end point devices (headsets, handsets, etc) and everything else. These vendors come to share information and try to provide folks with incredible technology to make their roll-outs successful.

The last point I will make is about the community. I see so many people develop great relationships at our events. We see people sit around after an event brainstorming ideas. These ideas come from everyone (including some folks who are consultants and charge by the hour outside of the event). I see connections made that lead to jobs later down the line. Networking is probably the best reason to join a user group in my opinion. In fact, this is one of the major reasons why we don’t offer the COUCUG as a virtual event at this time.

I highly encourage you to find a place in your community where you can connect with others and maybe even one day, give back by speaking to the group. You might think you have nothing to say, but I have listened to enough “Our Stories” where everyone got to hear about others real-life experiences to know that everyone has a good story to tell.

Follow the links and see if you can find a local user group. If you can’t, start one of your own. You might be surprised how many people share your passion.

Categories: Uncategorized

Reflections on Best of #Lync Conf Denver #COUCUG

April 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Yesterday, (April 24th), was the Best of Lync Conference Denver. As a leader of the Colorado Unified Communications User Group, I was involved in the planning, setup and execution of putting this event on. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what we accomplished.

First, we had a goal of 40 attendees. We ended up with 48 or 49 plus the sponsors and leaders of the user group for a grand total of 58. We did this with about a months worth of planning and invitations. Based on the amount of effort that was put into just this, I have to say my admiration and and respect (which was already pretty big) for Jamie Start (@nomorephones) and his team has been exponentially magnified. I have no idea how they have pulled off the real LyncConf the past two years without going absolutely crazy. Seriously, that team must be amazing.

Second, we had a pretty major curve thrown at us in that we had to share the Microsoft Offices with the “Microsoft Day of Unity” folks. This means we had approximately another 60 people in the office sharing the already constrained Internet connection (I’ll get to why this is important in a minute). We had to coordinate different food stations and be good neighbors as our rooms were right next to each other.

Since we only ended up with one room that could hold more than 10-12 people, we made a last minute decision to trim some sessions down and deliver everything from the one room instead of breaking things up and having both a business and technical track. This proved to be a wise-decision because everyone was able to get info from all of the sessions.

Remember that whole having to share the Internet thing? Well, we were fortunate enough to be able to have Jeff Schertz (@jdscher) speak to us. He delivered his “Video – What are you doing on my network?” presentation that he gave at the LyncConf. We brought him in via a Lync meeting and used a Polycom LRS unit. The LRS was on the same network as 100+ other people doing nothing but best effort. Our voice quality with him was fantastic! Yes, video was choppy but we were able to hear him and see his presentation the entire time. Huge win and a great job by Jeff. I can’t say how much I appreciated him being able to speak to us. His community focus is awesome.

We had three sponsors (outside of Microsoft). Jabra (@We_are_Jabra), AudioCodes (@audiocodes) and Clarity Consulting (@claritycon) helped us out. Clarity and AudioCodes sponsored the breakfast and lunch meals and then Jabra gave away 4 devices. The help from Claire, Lindsey, and Rose was tremendous. They helped direct people and answer questions. I truly hope people were able to talk with them and see how each of them could help with a company’s UC rollout.

Lastly, I can’t say enough about the team that contributed to the success of the event. We had help from so many places. I really hope everyone who attended got a lot out of the event. I think we had some fantastic content and some outstanding presenters. I’m excited to be entering year 4 of the user group here in May and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Thank you!

Categories: Lync Tags:
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 153 other followers