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.

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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

With Microsoft Teams, has Microsoft turned a corner with UC?

August 31, 2017 Leave a comment

If you have been paying attention lately, there have been quite a few articles, tweets, blog posts, etc. talking about Teams. As I utilize Teams every day and read these articles, a few thoughts have come to me.

First, just to give background, I’ve been using what is now Skype for Business since Office Communications Server RTM (circa 2007). Ever since I got my start with it, the biggest questions I have been asked about the product(s) have been around Conferencing and PSTN connectivity. Specifically, folks have looked to Office Communications Server, Lync, and/or Skype for Business as a replacement for their PBX in addition to the UC functions such as Instant Messaging and Presence. Most of the folks that I know that are deploying Skype for Business have had similar conversations.

I believe that with Microsoft Teams, we are seeing a giant change in the way Microsoft is approaching UC though. For in the past, UC was focused on the PBX. If we could add features and have PBX parity, we would have the ultimate UC solution, at least that was the way many people (myself included) thought.

What I believe has changed is that Microsoft has decided to push forward with the idea that the PBX is just a branch of UC, it is not the core of UC. This is a big change because as we move forward into the future, the way we communicate and collaborate is changing. Products like Slack, Hipchat, Zoom, etc. are being developed based on these changes. Microsoft is, in my opinion, being forward thinking with the changes they are making to their products. They are connecting with the younger generations and pushing forward.

The ability to think of Unified Communications as different branches of equal strength and not one key component with value-adds around it is a significant change.

While Teams is not perfect (far from it actually), it is a step in the right direction. I’m excited to see where Microsoft takes it and how they help Teams (pun intended) create and collaborate in the future.

Categories: Uncategorized

Microsoft Teams – Teams Meeting Outlook plug-in not showing

August 4, 2017 1 comment

This is just a quick tip on how I fixed an issue with the Microsoft Teams “Teams Meeting” Outlook plug-in not showing up. If you have the Teams client installed, then in Outlook, you should get “Teams Meeting” under the New Items list.

Here is what I was seeing:

What I should have seen is:

After ensuring the Teams Meeting plugin was installed by looking in %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\TeamsMeetingAddin, I uninstalled and re-installed the desktop client (also closed and re-opened Outlook after this) but this had no affect.

I then realized that the Teams account I was signed into (my work account) was not the same account as the primary email account (my personal O365 account) in Outlook. I signed out of Teams and closed Outlook. Then I signed into Teams as the same account as my primary Outlook email account. Opened Outlook and boom, Teams Meeting was showing up. I then repeated the process: closed Outlook, signed out of Teams (as my personal O365 account), signed back into Teams (as my work account), re-opened Outlook. The Teams Meeting plug-in was still there and working as it should.

If you are having issues seeing the Teams Meeting option in Outlook, maybe this will help you out.

Categories: Uncategorized

Speaking at VMworld 2017

August 4, 2017 Leave a comment

I have the pleasure and opportunity to speak at VMworld again this year about how to deploy Skype for Business on vSphere. Thank you to everyone who attended last year and left good reviews and comments as that is what got me invited back!

Many companies are still deploying or have deployed Skype for Business in a virtual environment. If you are one of them (especially if you are deploying voice, video, and/or conferencing) and want to know the best practices for running Skype for Business on vSphere, you should attend this session. We’ll give you tips that should ensure success with your deployment.

The session is VIRT2660BU: Virtualizing Your Skype for Business Environment, Doing it Right.

I will also be participating in the Meet the Experts sessions. If you are unable to make the main session or would like to chat one on one about your Skype for Business environment (on-premises or Online), swing by when I’m in the area. I’d love to talk with you.

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