Comms vNext Thanks!

June 11, 2018 Leave a comment

By the time you read this, it will be Monday morning. I wanted to take just a moment to thank everyone who made Comms vNext 2018 possible.

First and foremost, I want to thank the community and everyone who showed up. Without the community and folks desiring an event like this, we would never have attempted it.

Second, I want to thank the speakers and the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the day so special. In no particular order:

  • Jamie Stark
  • Doug Lawty
  • Jens Madsen
  • Alan Shen
  • Heidi Gloudemans
  • Kevin Peters
  • Brian Ricks
  • Anthony Caragol
  • Nick Smith
  • Laurie Pottmeyer
  • Allen Wat

I also want to thank Allison and Darphene at Microsoft who run the Denver office. They were amazing and so helpful for making sure we had what we needed for the event space.

Next, our sponsors. These folks stepped up to the plate and believed in what we were doing and helped bring the event to life. Many of them flew in straight from another conference and just kept going even though they were tired and worn-out. We never knew it because they brought a ton of energy and knowledge to the day.

Last and not least, my co-organizers. Josh, Pat, Jonathan, you guys were amazing. Everyone contributed and the creativity that flowed from all of you was fantastic. I believe all four of us were needed to pull this off. The way everyone helped and put forth ideas and made sure things got done while we all did our day jobs just showed what can be done as a Team.

Speaking of Teams, this entire event was planned via Microsoft Teams. Yes, you read that right. We met and discussed the event in Teams. There were probably 50+ iterations of the logo and shirts posted in threads. Teams made this event possible.

I thought the event was amazing. I hope if you attended, you do too. If you didn’t or couldn’t attend, please stay involved in the community and make sure your desire to see an event like this happen again is heard. We are listening and so is Microsoft.

If I forgot someone, please pardon me. So many people contributed. There was lots of advice given to us in the background and if I had to name everyone, it would be an endless list.

Thank you.

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Categories: Uncategorized

The end of the road for Lync Phone Edition (LPE)

May 22, 2018 1 comment

Not sure if you noticed, but Microsoft made an announcement back around the Ignite time frame that they were going to disable TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in Office 365. Originally, they stated they were going to do this in March of 2018. Many of us wondered what impact this would have on Lync Phone Edition. Well, Microsoft thought about it, then decided to delay implementing the change until October 31st. When they moved the date, they confirmed that Lync Phone Edition would not be updated to support TLS 1.2 and that after that date, it would no longer work with Office 365.

Why would Microsoft do this? In the ever increasing world of threats, TLS 1.0 and 1.1 have known flaws. Many organizations (such as those in regulated industries such as securities) have policies stating that TLS 1.0 and 1.1 be disabled. Currently, Microsoft has said there are no known vulnerabilities in their implementation of TLS but it could be just a matter of time. Therefore, Microsoft is being proactive by disabling TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in Office 365. You can find out more about how to prepare for TLS 1.2 in Office 365 here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/4057306/preparing-for-tls-1-2-in-office-365.

At this point, you may be wondering, does this affect me? You can ask yourself two questions:

  1. Do I have Lync Phone Edition devices?
  2. Do I use Office 365 (Such as Exchange Online or Skype for Business Online)?

If the answer to both of these questions is no, you are safe, for now. If you answered yes to the first question and no the second, you are ok unless your organization implements a similar strategy and disables TLS 1.0 and 1.1 and/or you need to call people from your Lync Phone Edition who utilize Skype for Business Online.

So, what can you do? Great question. You can upgrade your device to a Microsoft 3rd Party Interop Partner (3PIP) device. These devices are certified to work with Skype for Business and Skype for Business Online. Due to this certification, they will continue to work after Microsoft implements their change. Some of the partners are offering trade-ins.

My friends at AudioCodes are doing a “Trade-up” progam. You can find out more about at http://online.audiocodes.com/lpeupgradeprogram. I’ve been a big fan of the AudioCodes handsets. AudioCodes handsets have all the modern features such as Boss/Admin, resiliency, hot-desk support, and more. In addition, AudioCodes has their IP Phone Manager (IPPM) to manage the phones. IPPM gives you a lot more control over settings and firmware than we have in the native tools today.

As we look to the future, it’s good to know that the 3PIP certified phones will also continue to work after the change over to Microsoft Teams. These devices will be able to place calls and join Teams meetings.

Take the call to action and look for outdated devices on your network. I’ve been surprised at how many organizations I’ve spoken to recently that are still utilizing these devices. It’s awesome to know that they have had such a long life. Time to look to the future!

Categories: Uncategorized

Teams and Scheduled Channel Meeting Invites

April 17, 2018 Leave a comment

This blog came from a situation where I noticed I got an invite for a meeting from a Team where I am a guest member. When I reached out to the person who sent the invite, they said they didn’t invite me and that no one else from their team had received the invite. This caused me to dive deep into the behavior of invites with Teams.

 

HT to Bryan Nyce for pointing me to Matt Soseman’s article about this very topic: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/skypehybridguy/2018/01/06/why-do-i-receive-invites-to-channel-meetings-in-microsoft-teams-mystery-solved/

 

After reading through Matt’s blog, I understood a few basic things:

  1. By default, if a user is not following the Office 365 Group, they will not get an invite for a meeting that is scheduled in a Channel.
  2. By default (and this is something that can’t be changed from what I can tell), a Guest in a Team will ALWAYS receive an invite to a meeting scheduled in a Channel because they cannot sign-in in order to follow the Office 365 group.

Now, these basic two ideas are fine and Matt goes on to describe what a Channel meeting is:


A Channel Meeting is a meeting that occurs within a channel in a team in Microsoft Teams and is out in the open, visible (and open) for anyone that is a member of the team to join (it’s “public”). For example, this can be a recurring team status meeting. When browsing the channel in my team, I can immediately see a meeting is occurring and can join and leave as I wish. This might also be useful if I want people to have awareness that a meeting is occurring, and based on the agenda they can choose whether or not there is value in them attending (similar to the meeting title and brief description on a monitor outside a physical meeting room). There are two types of channel meetings: scheduled and non-scheduled (meet now). For purposes of this blog, I’ll only address scheduled but see this blog here for more information on meet now.

Below is an example of what a channel meeting looks like if you were to browse the channel and see it. Let’s take a closer look at what is happening here:

  • On the right of the channel name (Go To Market Plan) the 

 icon, indicating there is a meeting currently in-progress.

  • In the conversation feed, I can see the meeting name (Weekly Team Meeting) a button to join, the date/time it is scheduled for, and who the original organizer is.
  • Notice the two photos to the right of the meeting name? That’s indicating there’s two people currently in the meeting and who they are (in this case Alex and Adele).
  • Notice I can also see the chat that is occurring in the meeting, in real time. In this case, Megan has placed today’s agenda in the chat which I can see even though I’m not in the meeting! This helps me decide if I want to join.
  • Lastly, I can see the meeting timer for how long the meeting’s duration is thus far. In this case, the meeting has been going on for 9 minutes.

From <https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/skypehybridguy/2018/01/06/why-do-i-receive-invites-to-channel-meetings-in-microsoft-teams-mystery-solved/>

Now, for anyone who knows me, they know that if they want me to attend a meeting, it has to be on my calendar. In Matt’s description above, what appears to be the design is that users are paying attention to a Channel, will see the meeting and decide if they need to join. This is great in theory but I know for myself, it would never happen.

 

To continue this thought, what if you have a daily status call (as he describes above), and I as the boss want to make sure that everyone on Team has it? Well, I can simply invite everyone. That’s simple, except not really. I can’t just invite the Team, I have to select everyone individually. This is cumbersome and has the potential to miss someone on accident.

 

So, the question you may be asking yourself is, is there a better way? The answer to that is yes and no. Yes, in that there is a solution but no in the fact that it requires a change to the underlying group that can only be made by someone with Powershell access.

 

To answer the question though, we can use Powershell to look at the properties on our UnifiedGroup (which is created when we create a Team) by using “Get-UnifiedGroup GroupName” (where GroupName is the name of the Team you created).

You’ll get a bunch of data back but the important piece here is “AlwaysSubscribeMembersToCalendarEvents”. By default this is False. If you set this to True, every time you schedule a Channel meeting all members of the Team will get a Meeting invite.

 

Here’s my issue though, I wish I had the ability to choose between whether or not I want everyone to get a meeting invite or just specific people. This could be accomplished in at least two ways. First, we could simply be able to Invite a Group to the meeting (remember, as of today, we can only invite Individuals). Second, there could simply be a check box that says “Send Meeting Invite to All Members of the Team” (or something to that affect). Either way, this would allow the most flexibility for users while minimizing impact on the administrators.

Categories: Uncategorized

ICYMI: Skype for Business Server 2015 – January 2018 Update

February 20, 2018 Leave a comment

In this episode of ICYMI: Skype for Business Server 2015 – January 2018 Update

If you were overwhelmed in late January by the rapid release of a bunch of Skype for Business and Teams features, you weren’t alone. I wanted to take a minute to highlight some key things that came out with the January 2018 Update:

  • Support of Location Based Routing with the Mac Client
  • Location Based Routing fixes where LBR users can be connected to non-LBR users
  • Support for Disclaimers on the Mac Client

Couple of things to note, first, with the Mac Client, you should have the latest deployed. LBR and E911 support came to the client back in November but we needed the December and/or the January updates to get the backend pieces.

Second, deploy the December version of the update (linked on the article) first. Then, if you are having one of the issues specified in the link, update to the January update. The January update is very specific to fix those issues.

Categories: Uncategorized

ICYMI: Microsoft Teams App Studio

February 13, 2018 Leave a comment

In this episode of ICYMI, I wanted to highlight the Microsoft Teams App Studio:

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Teams-Blog/Microsoft-Teams-App-Studio-Preview/bc-p/151540#M629

Here is the link to the “Getting Started with Teams App Studio”: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/platform/get-started/get-started-app-studio

While I am not a developer, I really think Teams App Studio is exciting. I can see a lot of potential for how organizations could use this to create simple (or complex) Apps that can be embedded into Microsoft Teams to help streamline their co-workers tasks.

If you are a developer and start to play with Teams App Studio, I’d love to hear what you are doing with it!

Categories: Uncategorized

Skype for Business – Deploying Handsets Checklist

November 30, 2017 1 comment

For many folks that have deployed Skype for Business (or one of its predecessors) this post might seem a bit dated. Still, I can’t help that lately, I’ve seen quite a number of issues arise while deploying handsets with Skype for Business.

 

When deploying handsets for Skype for Business, there are certain requirements that need to be met from a network and systems perspective to ensure that they can function properly. This post is mainly to provide my readers a checklist of sorts to ensure that phones can log in, function, as well as be managed.

 

First, some global basics.

 

NTP (DHCP Option 42): We should always ensure that all the devices on our network are getting the correct time, and handsets are no exception. When the handsets are not set to the right time it can cause issues with sign-in. Bonus level: ensure that the local time zone is being set by the management tool or offered via DHCP so that the phone automatically shows the right time for the location. DHCP Option 002 can be used to set the Time Offset: https://phyler.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/dhcp-option-002-time-offset-for-lync-and-polycom-phones/

 

Network Access: Verify that the handsets have access to critical services if they are located on a separate voice VLAN. Too often I see these dedicated VLAN’s not have access to things like Active Directory, Skype for Business, or in the case of Skype for Business Online, the Internet. Ensure that appropriate ports such as HTTPs (TCP/443) and the media ports are allowed.

 

SIP URI and the UPN: This one seems to rear its head more commonly. If your user’s Skype for Business sign-in address is user@domain.com, then their AD account’s UPN Suffix should be domain.com also. When the UPN Suffix is not the same as the SIP URI, then you get issues such as being prompted for the username at sign-in as well as calendar integration breaking. It is also important to note that ideally, the UPN Suffix and the primary SMTP domain are the same as well.

 

Phone Management: Are you using Skype for Business (on-premises or Online) to manage the firmware? Or are you using a third-party such as AudioCodes, EventZero, or Polycom? If the latter is true, then there are a few things you need to do to ensure that you will be able to successfully manage the devices.

 

The first thing when dealing with a 3rd party device manager is to ensure that DHCP Option 160 is set up. For some devices, they will search other options such as 66 or 161 but all of the 3rd party phones will look for Option 160.

 

We also need to make sure that the phones have access to the device manager. This ties back to the Network Access comment that I made above. If the handset is on a dedicated VLAN, you need to ensure that it has access to the device manager that will most likely be on a data network.

 

If you are using Office 365/Skype for Business Online, there is one more step you need to take. Within the O365 tenant, you need to set the EnableDeviceUpdate to False. If you don’t, every time the device signs in, it will get updated by Microsoft back to whatever their current released software is which many times is older than what is currently published by the manufacturers. The screen shot below shows that this tenant will provide updates to devices registered to it.

You will also want to make sure that Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) is set to True (see the EnableBetterTogetherOverEthernet setting in the screenshot above). The default is $True but I have seen a few cases where it was set to $False and causing issues.

 

Now that we have covered the basics that apply to both Online and On-premises, let’s focus in on a few things that only apply to On-premises:

 

DHCP Option 43: this option allows for Lync/Skype for Business clients to find the Lync/Skype for Business certificate provisioning server on the network. To get more details on this, we can go waaaay back to an old Lync 2010 Technet article: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg398088. When DHCP Option 43 is not working correctly, phones cannot find the certificate provisioning server, which then means that the phones cannot sign-in due to not having the proper certificate.

 

DHCP Option 120: This option allows the phone to actually find the Front-end server. Most phones now will also look for Lyncdiscover records so this one is a bit more legacy. It’s always nice to have this published when dealing with on-prem as it can help if for some reason, you Lyncdiscover record is not working.

 

Verify Media Ports: This one is missed in many deployments. When using Skype for Business, our clients are set to use specific media ports (at least they should be per best practice). We look for these media ports for things like QoS. If these media ports are being blocked (see the Network Access point above) or being routed through a proxy, VPN, or a WAN Accelerator, we can see voice quality or dropped call issues arise. To find out more about planning out your Media Port range, check out Technet: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg405412(v=ocs.14).aspx

 

Now, one last comment, all of these things are for handsets to connect to Skype for Business (On-premises or Online) or Lync. With the recent announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2017, all of the phone vendors have announced that they will support Microsoft Teams with their devices. While none of the major vendor devices will register with Teams today, that will come and we will see what is needed for that in the (hopefully) near future. For more information about what might be coming for handsets with Microsoft Teams, check out this post: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Skype-for-Business-Blog/Certified-Skype-for-Business-Online-Phones-and-what-this-means/ba-p/120035.

 

Categories: Skype for Business, UC Tags: ,

Reflections on using Microsoft Teams at Ignite

October 2, 2017 Leave a comment

After spending a week at Microsoft Ignite, I thought I would give a quick reflection on how I used Microsoft Teams during the conference.

For background, I have been using Teams at work since it was released as a public preview. We utilize it quite heavily for group communication. In fact, we replaced GroupMe at our team event back in April with Microsoft Teams in order to communicate where people were at and what they were doing. Overall, I’ve been super happy with Teams for it’s original purpose of group communication.

First, Instant Messaging (IM). I utilized Teams as my primary (read: Only) IM client for the week of Ignite. Most of my messages were to my colleague who was at the conference with me. We would use IM to figure out where to meet up as we split up sessions that we went to in order to compare notes. This was super handy at times when a session I was in ended up early and his session was still going with good Q&A. I was able to know and slip in to catch some of the Q&A.

In addition to 1:1 IM, I used Teams to essentially live blog sessions back to my co-workers who were not able to attend. This was helpful as they could then ask questions that I would then ask in the session for them. I know other folks did similar things with shared OneNote notebooks but the live blog method worked for us.

Second, Voice. This is the area that surpised me. I have done many meetings on Teams. In fact, we have a monthly happy hour on Teams. What surprised me was when I got a call on the mobile client. I was not on the WiFi, I was just on 4g. If you have used the Skype for Business Mobile client, then you know how sketchy doing a VoIP call could be over 4g. Not so with Teams. Every call was super clear and stable. I was really impressed.

As I look forward to the change to Teams, I can honestly say, that from a user experience, I’m excited. When PSTN capabilities comes to Teams, it will very quickly replace Skype for Business as my primary client. While I realize that my experience might be unique based on how I work, I think that many organizations are going to benefit from these changes.

Categories: UC