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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.

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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

Skype4B In-place Upgrade and LRS Admin Portal

May 11, 2015 1 comment

While reading through the In-place Upgrade docs, I spied this little nugget:

Be sure to uninstall LRS Admin tool for Lync Server 2013 before running In-Place Upgrade. The LRS Admin Tool for Lync Server 2013 cannot coexist with Skype for Business Server 2015. After running In-Place Upgrade install the new LRS Admin tool, see Microsoft Lync Room System Administrative Web Portal for Skype for Business Server 2015

I haven’t tested this but the fact that they say to Uninstall the Lync Server 2013 LRS Admin Portal was the big catch. Make sure you read all of the docs a few times before you start the upgrade process.

Categories: Uncategorized

Lync Edge Server Port Ranges and QoS

March 30, 2015 4 comments

Ran into this and felt like until the documentation is updated, I should call this out.  On this Technet article, it shows you how to configure port ranges for Edge Servers in Lync Server 2013. In the hopeful case that this page is updated, here is a static image:

EdgeServerPortConfig

The issue with this article is that it appears to tie the port ranges for the Edge server to QoS which is not the case. You need to read the article very carefully. The first sentence in it tells you that you do not need to configure separate port ranges for Audio/Video/Application Sharing on the Edge. It then goes on to tell you how to change the port ranges to match up with what you may have set for your front-end servers.

The problem with this is that you are changing the ports that the Edge will/can communicate on. If you are following Microsoft’s firewall guidance on ports, you should be allowing the 50,000-59,999 port range (TCP and UDP) outbound. If you follow this example, you would need to allow the range 40,803-65,533 (TCP and UDP) outbound.

The article claims you might do this to make administration easier but I will claim just the opposite. Based on what most Lync admins know and what Microsoft states are the default ports, without some really good documentation and knowledge transfer, you are probably setting up a future admin to fail.

If you are wondering what happens when you set this like this but only allow the 50k port range outbound from the Edge servers, here is your answer. When an outside user attempts to call a user who is inside or join a conference, the client will send an Invite that contains SDP candidates. Those candidates will have ports associated with them based on the configuration. The external client will attempt to connect on ports outside of the 50k range that is being allowed on the firewall (i.e. 40,080-49,999 or 60,000-65,533). These connections will fail and the call will fail to establish. On a conference call, this can be seen as the user connecting and disconnecting from the conference several times in just a few seconds.

Many kudos to @tompacyk for helping me see what was happening here.

Categories: Uncategorized