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.

Advertisements
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.

Categories: Uncategorized

Thoughts on the discontinuation of support for SBC’s in Exchange Online UM

July 19, 2017 Leave a comment

ICYMI: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Exchange/Discontinuation-of-support-for-Session-Border-Controllers-in/m-p/88228#M1134

Well, this is something I had heard about but kept hoping Microsoft would change their minds on. I get (kinda) the business decision around this. I’m sure the SBC’s were costing a bunch of money, might have been having issues keeping the service quality where Microsoft wanted it, etc.

That said, I’ll be honest, I’m disappointed. I really feel like Microsoft is making a mistake here. Exchange UM always just “made sense” for many organizations. They already were using Exchange (whether Online or On-prem) so they essentially were paying double for any voicemail system. In recent years, I’ve moved solidly in to the “Online” camp and for most organizations I don’t see the value in an on-prem Exchange deployment.

For these organizations, they may not be ready for Skype for Business as a PBX (though, I do hope they all get there). Exchange UM was just a very nice solution that worked well and you could have one voicemail platform as you planned your move to Microsoft or was a money saver for organizations.

With that, I want to call out a few things that might not have been so obvious in the announcement:

  1. If you decide to try Microsoft’s Option #3 (see the post at the top of this article), you will have to deploy a Skype for Business environment (if you don’t already have one). This will require you to pay for the Skype for Business Server licenses, Windows licenses, etc. Or you could potentially purchase something like AudioCodes Cloudbond to drop in as an appliance.
  2. If you have Skype for Business/Lync 2013 deployed already or you choose to deploy it in order to support Microsoft’s Option #3, you will need to EV enable your users. This will make it look to the end user like they can dial out from their Skype for Business client. This could be a confusing situation for users.
  3. If you EV enable your users, you will need to make sure you license them correctly. This means you need to have the Standard and Plus CAL’s for on-prem or if you go hybrid with Online, you will need at least an E3 with Cloud PBX license.
  4. This last one is a gut feeling but my guess is that Exchange UM is just going to go away and this is the first step. Even moving towards Microsoft’s Option #3 without a plan to move to Skype for Business as a PBX is probably just throwing good money after bad and you will have to change again sometime in the near future (within 2-3 years). Microsoft has already moved away from Exchange UM for Cloud PBX users. Exchange UM hasn’t been developed on for quite some time. My feel is that it will go away and Cloud Voicemail will take it’s place.

These are all just my thoughts and reactions after taking a night to sleep on it. I could be wrong on some (or all) of the above statements so take this opinion piece as just that, opinion.

UPDATE:

Some good discussion about this post happened over on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6293444093079019520/?commentUrn=urn%3Ali%3Acomment%3A(activity%3A6293444093079019520%2C6293484439532027904)

Also, AudioCodes has released a solution for Option’s 3 and 4: http://online.audiocodes.com/exchange-online-unified-messaging-x-um

Categories: Uncategorized

Skype for Business Mac Client Released

October 27, 2016 Leave a comment

Hot of the presses, the new Skype for Business Mac Client was released today. You can get it here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=54108

You can read the FAQ here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/FAQ-Skype-for-Business-on-Mac-878fff6e-fc22-4917-870a-584478cb55ef?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US&fromAR=1

A few key notes:

  • Need El Capitan or later
  • No support for Pchat
  • Works with Lync 2013, Skype for Business and Skype for Business Online

*UPDATE*

Known issues: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Known-issues-Skype-for-Business-on-Mac-494ac5d5-50be-4aa7-8f5a-669c71c98c9a?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

If you have been using the Preview Client, you will need to uninstall it before you install the GA client.

Client Comparison table: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn933896.aspx

Support: https://support.office.com/en-us/skype-for-business#OS_Type=Mac

If you are interested in hearing more about the new client and are in the Denver, CO area, come to the Colorado UC User Group on November 10th, 2016. You can get more details at http://www.coucug.org.

Categories: Uncategorized

Skype for Business at VMworld 2016

July 27, 2016 Leave a comment

Are you going to VMworld? Do you work with Skype for Business? Are you planning a deployment of Skype for Business that you want to virtualize? Are all your first choice sessions full?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you should register for VIRT7620: Successfully Virtualize and Operate your Microsoft Skype for Business Infrastructure on the VMware vSphere Platform.

I will be speaking alongside VMware IT on how they deployed Skype for Business and the best practices that were implemented. We will highlight why latency, IOPs and other resources are important to Skype for Business and other Real Time Protocol products.

We will also talk through what happens to a virtual machine when you vMotion it from one host to another and how that would impact Skype for Business.

I hope you will join us to hear all about Skype for Business and virtualization!

Categories: UC