Tuesday, October 25, 2016

MsIgnite BRK2077 - Get to know the Skype Operations Framework

(or Success through the Skype Operations Framework - SOF)

Presented by Srini Raghavan and Ali Rohani

What does it take to run high-quality real-time communications service globally?
Of course, a cloud-based communications platform, but much more than so, we need to know how to plan, deliver and operate such a service. When we say "communications" it means more than just instant messaging and presence. It means voice communication and voice conferencing, with users located in different countries or regions of the world.

The difference between a PBX and cloud-based communications system is as vast as comparing a private well to our modern-day water supply system. So, we have an external network and local components (in-house plumbing) and all these components must work well (no pun intended) for our service to work.

SOF is a framework that gives you: Activity Descriptions, Delivery Guidance, Workshops, Questionnaires, Reports, Tools, Scripts, Tests, Checklists, Project Plans and Templates.

There are 3 phases with 4 stages in every phase, and each stage is a defined set of activities that are critical for your success. For each actvity there are assets and/or tools to help you with that specific activity.

Phase (stages)
Plan (Envision, Assess, Desgin, Prepare)
Deliver (Deploy, Enable, Adopt, Enhance)
Operate (Run, Support, Monitor, Report)

For example: A part of the Assess stage is the Network Assessment and here SOF is suggesting / providing the Skype for Business Network Assessment Tool

Wow, this 4G network is not fit for Realtime UC

SOF is mainly designed for Skype for business online but it can also be leveraged for on-prem installations. Activities such as the network assement, the envisioning workshop and others are common no matter if Skype for business online or on-prem is used.

To learn more about SOF visit the Skype Academy found at the Skype Operations Framework website.

Friday, October 21, 2016

MsIgnite BRK4004 - Troubleshoot new Skype for Business offerings

Presented by Jason Collier and Ricardo Garcia

Troubleshooting - reading logs and asking the right questions, like

  • What happened?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Who's affected?
  • What is the Error message and/or symptom?

The Skype for business client logs to the .uccapilog and .etl logs and the the Application log in event viewer.

New features in the Desktop client

Video based screen sharing (VbSS) 

Previously all screen sharing was done with the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) which is limited to a maximum of 8 frames per second and it runs over TCP. VbSS can go up to 30 frames per second and can use the quicker "fire-and-forget" protocol UDP. VbSS will also give a noticable faster call setup or start of the screen sharing in an existing session. There is no visual indication in the client to indicate if RDP or VbSS is being used for screen sharing, therefore we need to examine the logs to see if it works properly or not. Some sort of graphical indication and/or information about which codec is being used might come in future releases of the client, (please go to www.skypefeedback.com to vote for this idea if you like it.) In the SDP, RDP screen sharing is announced as
m=applicationsharing 53111 TCP/RTP/SAVP 127
and VbSS as
m=video 50054 RTP/SAVP 123 123
both media types are offered and accepted in the SIP dialog due to fallback reasons. If one of the clients in a meeting do not support VbSS RDP will be used as a fallback and if you would like to force the meeting to use RDP rather than VbSS, turn on recording. After a meeting has changed from VbSS to RDP it will not fallback to VbSS even if circumstances change.

Also, please note that VbSS is using UDP so make sure to open your firewalls when enabling this feature, more information about this is available in the article: Video based Screen Sharing for Skype for Business Server 2015. Audio is not supported in VbSS, but a workaround might be to use the Virtual Audio Cable software, and VbSS will not be in the RTM version of the Skype for business for Mac client, but will come in a later update.

Offline Messaging 

Offline Messaging uses Exchange Web Service (EWS), Exchange Server and the message history spooler so it works even with a Lync 2010 server. EnableIMArchiving in the client policy must be enabled for Offline Messaging to work.

PSTN dialing and PSTN conferencing issues

PSTN conferencing in Office 365 is a quite complex animal.

In Office 365 there is a user forest and a "PSTN resources" forest. This means that a PSTN conference is two cascaded conferences in two separate MCUs. Without dynamic conference IDs there is an issue with these two conferences not getting connected. This issue is called a bar-belling failure (not "disappointing" as the guy sitting in front of me in the audience suggested). The symptom for the users are that VoIP users can hear VoIP users and PSTN users can hear PSTN users, only. Also, the users might see an "Uninvited guest" in the meeting. There are two ways of avoiding this to happen. Instruct your users to use the "End meeting" function when leaving a meeting (but how well is that going to work out?) Or contact support and ask them to enable your tenant for dynamic conference IDs (and this is the real fix which is available since September 1st, 2016.) Eventually all tenants will be fixed and this issue should be a thing of the past.

In a Skype for business meeting it is possible to actually “End a meeting”

Skype for business for Mac

The presentation continued with logs in the Mac client. All you need to know about the old Lync for Mac 2011 client is summarized in this article: Removing Lync for Mac2011 :-) 

The Mac client has a dependency on the Certificate CRL - if a location to the CRL is included in the certificate it must be accessible by the Mac computer. That is accessible via http(s) and not LDAP. Also, be aware that a Windows CA does not have an http(s) address to the CRL published by default, LDAP only. 
Snooper 7.0.1168.1 will be released together with the Mac client, and this version can open and parse Skype for business for Mac client logs.

Resources for troubleshooting

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fun with Busylight hardware

Back in 2012 I did a test of the Lync Busylight product, and finally it is time for a follow up. I have now received the new redesigned version of the Busylight and also the Kuandobox hardware.

As you probably know the Busylight will be green, yellow or red depending on the status of your Skype for business client. The Kunandobox however, will feed presence status to the client depending of the state of another PBX telephone. So, I decided to combine the two, and here is the result.

Tunneling presence from the PBX phone into my Skype for business client which in turn feeds the busylight next to the phone I have created a nice little "Unified Presence" scenario where people online and people in my room will know when I am busy on the PBX phone or in Skype for business.

Notice the 4 second delay after the handset is put back in place - this is "clerical time" that is settable through the Busylight GUI which resides as a little icon in the taskbar.

Give me some time to breathe between all these calls

Lab setup - Hardware

Lab setup - Software
  • Windows 10
  • Skype for business 2016
  • Kuando Busylight/KuandoBOX software version 3.2.2

Sunday, October 16, 2016

MsIgnite BRK2086 - Plan for Skype for Business Mobile Clients

(or Enabling mobility with Skype for business)
Presented by Praveen Maloo
(who spoke continuously for 1 hour+ in a poised, controlled manner, good job!)

The integration with Outlook is better with join straight from the Outlook calendar, and access to the calendar from Skype for business. To get presence in Outlook is being worked on.

It is possible to upload and present a Power point file with the Office Web Apps server in a meeting.

The integration with the phone hardware / OS is improved when it comes to contacts and dialing. Before an ongoing Skype for business call or meeting were cut in the event of an incoming native (PSTN) call. This is now fixed. When in a Skype for business call, the user will get an option to answer or ignore the PSTN call; even send to voicemail and hold the current call is there. This will be available soon for iOS 10 devices.

The join button in Outlook, available now.

Another one of the issues with putting a phone in a phone is solved.

The login experience is improved with some more help texts at the login screen. If the username is entered in an incorrect format, the application will let you know immediately and not wait for you to enter the password and then fail the login.

The join experience is better with the application understanding where the meeting is being hosted, in your system or in a federated one.

Push notifications with the possibility to communicate messages to the lock screen, will be available in Office 365 first and then come to the on-prem software. Also, push notifications will show up even if you have not actually used the app for a long time. Presence during meetings have been inconsistent in the past but should now work better with push notifications in place. There is tenant level and user level settings to turn push notifications on or off. Sometimes when logging in to the mobile client old toasts appear from hours ago, and this is also fixed with push notifications.
15-20% less battery is consumed now after improvements, compared to earlier.
Transcription and translation of meetings will be in the mobile clients.
Siri support through Apple's Sirikit integration is coming.

Video based Screen Sharing (VbSS) will improve the meeting experience on mobile clients. With Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) sharing maybe 3-4 Frames Per Second (FPS) could be reached over TCP. With VbSS 15 FPS can be reached over UDP, making the sharing run much smoother. In reality a VbSS session will use more bandwidth than the RDP version (so there is a fallback mechanism) but counted frame-by-frame VbSS is actually using less bandwidth than RDP. So, the clients will try to optimize the viewing experience depending on the network conditions.

The so called "Modern Authentication" is supported.

It is possible to use Smart cards with the certificate based authentication.

There is Single Sign on support on the mobile, e.g. sign in to outlook and this authentication will be valid in Skype for business, Sharepoint, etc.

Intune adds manageability to mobile devices, for example force the version of iOS to be used or disable screen capture. (now it is possible to take a photo of a phone with another phone - be careful out there...)

Then the session went on with a nice demo, featuring: Creating a meeting in Outlook, joining a meeting from the outlook calendar, answering (joining meeting) from the lock screen, presenting content from iCloud or OneDrive, an incoming PSTN call during meeting were declined.

Downloads for all the mobile clients can be found here.

Many Questions and answers came last in the session.

A question about security and the local cache was answered with Intune that can assign a password for opening the Skype for business client. Screen sharing from the mobile client is currently not possible. Persistent chat, Conversations, Call back, VbSS, Multi Factor Authentication, sending SMS from contact cards and calling home to Sweden over a bad WiFi network were discussed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MsIgnite BRK2070 - Meet Skype for business for Mac

Presented by Richard Schwendiman and Jason Collier

Lync for Mac were not good; the Skype for business on Mac client is a new start.

A team of developers in Stockholm created the client, they have previously built the iOS Skype for business client. No code from Lync for Mac were used in the process, but it shares the same stack as the iOS and Android mobile apps. The client will work with Lync Server 2013 CU1 (UCWA 1.0) but even better with Skype for business Server 2015 (UCWA 2.0). Support for meetings is there, and the chat supports both a single or multiple windows.

Sort by availability (status) in the contacts view is coming after the General Availability release.

The video view is automatically adjusting to the number of participants in the meeting, with 2, 3 or 4 video feeds visible. Support for QoS, panoramic video and video based screen sharing is coming in later releases. Support for Persistent chat is not in the roadmap. New features will continue to be previewed using MAU (Microsoft Auto Update) even post General Availability.

Internal clients will use lyncdiscoverinternal and connect straight to the pool,
and not hair-pin the connection over the reverse proxy.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

MsIgnite BRK2081 - Plan your Cloud PBX deployment

Presented by Jamie Stark.

Four communication eras were defined, circuit switched PBX, IP-PBX, On-Prem Unified Communications and Cloud PBX.

Since we are reading from left to right it was interesting to see the order in this slide, compared to the same slide a couple years back. Cloud PBX is included in the Office 365 E5 license and can be added to the E3 or E1 licenses. Minutes in the calling plan are pooled by tenant.

Demo of assigning a number to a user in "Cloud PBX" for Skype for business Online.
This service is now available in the US, UK and Puerto Rico, Spain and France is on the way, unfortunately not available in Sweden just yet. Nothing can be said about in which countries this feature will be available next, or when, but the service will expand. (For France and Spain - sign up at www.skypepreview.com) In the UK about 1 million minutes of calling have been done so far.

Hosted voicemail is included in Cloud PBX, and even Exchange 2013 on-prem is supported. Voicemail transcription, busy-on-busy, Private line and Cloud Connected Appliance are features being looked at in the roadmap for Cloud PBX.

If you have an on-prem pool - go hybrid. If you do not have an on-prem pool - use the Cloud Connector Edition.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

MsIgnite GS02 - Move all your communications to Skype for Business Online

 Presented by Gurdeep Singh Pall

  • It is nice to work with a verb - "Skype" - anywhere you go in the world people have a story or experience about Skype.

  • So far some 3 trillion (that is 3000000000000) minutes of video calls have been consumed in Skype.

  • Among many customers Accenture is running Skype for business globally for 418000 active users via 4 data centers.

Delanda Coleman - Mac Client

The Mac client were demoed with a tabbed conversations view a black rather than blue border in the meetings view and without any distracting buttons or controls in the video view (other clients will probably follow.)

Calling from a Mac client to an iOS 10 device using the Call Kit integration in iOS 10 was demoed, e.g. answer the call from the lock screen. Support for Siri-assisted calling with Skype for business is coming in a future release, and it looks like the mobile phone is becoming the main phone for people even outside of Sweden.

Another key message in this part were: Skype for business loves Apple!

Ilya Bukshteyn - Project Rigel - Skype Room Systems

(note the name - Skype Room Systems - not Skype for business Room Systems)

One touch join experience were demoed on a Logitech smart dock device. These new devices from Logitech, Crestron and Polycom are all based on Surface 4 Pro with Windows 10 which means you can deploy these devices with the regular Windows 10 deployment tools you already have in place. The pricing of these devices will start from 2000 USD. If you walk into a meeting room, into an ongoing meeting, you can connect your computer to the device, project your screen, and the device will automatically share your screen into the meeting. Polycom announced the Real Connect Service (running in Azure) for Office 365 which allows Polycom devices to join video calls in Skype for business Online. A public preview will be available later this year.

The intelligent cloud

Natural language requires a lot of work and a lot of data to analyze to drive it forward. A demo of connecting to the simultaneous ongoing Office 365 keynote, transcribing it into English and then translating it into Spanish, Chinese and Klingon. A preview will be available in the Skype for business meeting broadcast feature next quarter, featuring some 50 languages, with more languages to be added later. So now you can consume your meeting on your favorite device, at any time and in your language.

Office 365 hyper-scale

  • 38% of all global international calling goes through the Skype network which is now part of Office 365.
  • PSTN conferencing in Office 365 is available in 90 countries and some 400+ cities.

  • PSTN calling is available in the US, UK and Puerto Rico, with France & Spain coming soon.

  • Regionally hosted meetings, the ability to decide in which datacenter you meeting is going to be hosted, is coming in the next few months.

Ben Canning - Cloud voice experience

A demo of the Office 365 admin center assigning French and Spanish numbers to users and creating an auto-attendant and call queues, and a powershell version of it as well.
Set-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName "Mattias Kressmark" -UsageLocation location

Skype for business advanced analytics

A single pane of glass monitoring for your Office 365 tenant. (again, interesting to see that both parties in the example (Ben and Gurdeep) was using an iPhone with iOS 9.3.5)

Skype Operations Framework

Partners can be certified according to this "best practice" framework on how to operate Skype for business. More than 1000 people have gone through training according to SOF already.