Friday, April 24, 2015

Goodbye Kressmark UC - Hello CloudPro!

After five years of successful business endeavors I am closing down the IT operations of our little company. I have helped 20+ organizations with their Unified Communications and Lync needs during this time, and counting my customer's customers, it is well over 50 organizations. Some 200 students have attended my classes in Stockholm, Go:teborg, Malmoe, Arboga, Utrecht, Amsterdam and over the Internet, my farthest student were actually located in Singapore. It was also great the time we could turn a face-to-face class into a "remote learning experience" on the fly due to bad weather; this using the very software we were training on. I had a great time working face to face with my customers around Stockholm and in Sweden and I also enjoyed rebooting servers after hours in more than 10 different European countries. So, this is definitely the end of a chapter, and now a new one begins!


I have started at CloudPro as CTO. At CloudPro I will continue helping organizations around the globe with Lync and the new Skype for business software. I will also become part of a larger team at CloudPro. Now I will have teammates who knows networking, hosting, licensing, hardware, Office 365, MDM, web development and even Macintosh computers (!?!) We will start out small, but expansion is definitely a part of our business plan. The shop is open - please contact us for any Unified Communications needs!

Next up for me is of course Microsoft Ignite in Chicago whok,ere I will work in the Hands-On-Labs area as usual. It will be great to meet with all my fellow MCT friends and all other computer geeks in Chicago. I am especially looking forward to the full release of Skype for business Server 2015 in May. I will become more "cloud-oriented" from here on, but my heart still remains on-prem or at least hybrid a bit longer. For my Swedish friends I hope to see you at Techdays in October if not before on Skype. My blog will remain here for now and I will try to keep posting interesting stuff from time to time as usual.

Thank you for this time all my customers, partners and friends - hope I will meet you again in future projects!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (13/15)

So I joined the thirteenth session of the Skype for BusinessReadiness WebCast Series and the topic for today were Lessons Learned from Preview. The Webcast was recorded and is available online from the link above.


Rick Varvel presented a lot of details around the TAP Program and how Skype for business have been tested by customers before the coming release.

Some 50 companies have participated in the program and they have homed around 130,000 users on S4B pools already. More than 1800 bugs have been found and weeded out during the program, and a lot of training has been delivered as well. Some coming features are still being tested in the program such as Broadcast Meetings and Skype Box (what is that?)

It was stated again that Hybrid solutions is a big focus going forward, and lots of time in the TAP program has gone to helping customers to get ready with ADFS Office 365 federation and other techniques needed for hybrid. Rick also explained the timelines in the project and the difficulty to predict release dates; but May still looks promising :-) It seems as recruitment for the next TAP program is already ongoing and it is nice to know that the product we like is constantly being improved upon.

Unfortunately no questions were answered, so no QnA this time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (12/15)

Today I joined the twelfth session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast Series and the topic for today were Lync/Skype Federation (Phase 2). The Webcast was recorded and is available online from the link above.



Kiran Kodali presented the topic and answered questions. Skype for Business is using the SILK codec; SILK is a better codec than RTA and / or G.722 at any network condition. In phase 2 of the Skype-Skype (that is for business with consumer) federation, media can be sent peer-to-peer from consumer Skype clients straight to S4B clients. If this is not possible due to firewalls STUN / TURN servers on both ends will be used. Phase 2 of this federation is already running in the Skype cloud and can be used as soon as on-prem servers and clients have been upgraded to Skype for business. Phase 2 also adds a Skype directory search which requires a S4B Edge server. The S4B Edge connects to a "Skype graph service", which is a service running in Azure delivering search results from the global Skype directory. Searches in the Skype directory can be done on name, location, email, phone and SkypeID, also Skype thumbnail pictures will be visible for S4B users. When we do a search from within the S4B client and have Skype Directory Search enabled, we will have a choice of where to search, in "My Contacts" or in "Skype Directory", with the default being "My Contacts" which is the internal address book. Conferencing or screen sharing capabilities is not a part of phase 2.

Here comes todays QnA session, 17 questions and 13 answers, enjoy!

New features

Will the new Skype for business server allow federation with Skype accounts or will federation only work with MS Skype accounts?
S4B Server/client will allow Search/Federation with both Skype IDs and MS accounts (live accounts)

Do Skype clients gain network efficiencies like SILK during a P2P session when running again an on-prem Lync 2013 server?
Yes, SILK will be used in P2P for both Skype and Lync clients for users homed on Lync 2013 Server on premise.

When will the Skype Directory search be available in the client?
It is already available in the S4B client, but it requires the user to be homed on a S4B server using a S4B Edge.

When Skype search is set to true can you still block this at Site Level?
Yes, Skype-Skype Federation search module works the same as Federation module, so you can disable it for a Site.

In S4B Online, will we be able to control who (by name and/or group) can and cannot (1) search for "public" Skype users and (2) connect with "public" Skype users?
For Online users, you can grant the ability for Skype Public IM at a user level and you can script this via PowerShell to bulk assign to users using the 
Grant-CsExternalAccessPolicy. If a user has Skype Public IM capability then they also have the ability to search the Skype Directory.

How are enterprises approved/enabled for SkypeID search?
No requirement to be approved. We just need to have S4B Client/Pool/Edge, and of course we need to enable Federation with Skype consumer (aka PIC federation.)

Is TCP port 4443 required inbound, outbound, or both?
Client to the Pool (TCP 443 – same as ABWQ) The Pool to the Edge (TCP 4443 – same as CMS replication) Edge to Skype Directory Search in Azure (TCP 443 - Access Edge Interface, and AV Edge Interface for media.)

Are any new external SRV records required or will the federation use the ones we use today?
No new SRV records required, the only infrastructure change will be outbound TCP 443 on the Access Edge server to enable the Skype Directory search feature.


Unchanged features

Do we still need to register every SIP domains Edge server at pic.lync.com?
Yes, for On-Premise deployments, you still need to register your SIP domains and an Edge server to enable Federation between your deployment and Skype consumer, for Online, you just need to enable Skype Federation in the tenant.

If we have currently configured Lync 2013 Server-Skype connectivity and we will not upgrade to S4B server, will the federation still function (without the Skype Provider update)?
Yes, but the Directory search is not available with Lync 2013.

Will the Phase 2 enhancement also be available for Lync 2013?
No, V2 Directory Search requires Skype for Business Edge/Pool/Client.


Features "missing"

Can a Skype consumer client join a Skype4B conference?
No, Skype cannot connect to conferences hosted in Skype for Business over the federation route. However, using the PSTN calling capability in Skype, a Skype user can dial into a Skype for Business CAA and join this way.

If two S4B users are on a P2P call, can they add Skype Federated user in the same call?
No, in this scenario, we would require a conference escalation. They would need to "meet now" then provide the Skype client a CAA to dial in to (assuming the Skype client is setup to use PSTN calling.)

Will there be a new Skype for Mac client to bring it to the S4B level and include the SILK codec?
Not answered.

Will the SILK codec be added to a future firmware update for existing Lync Phone Edition devices?
Not answered.

Will the Federation be extended to more platforms such as Skype Smart TVs and Xbox One?
Not answered.

Will Skype clients use SILK in case of media-bypass with Audiocodes Mediant 1000?
In order for this to happen, Audiocodes would have to update their devices to support the SILK codec. This would be dependent upon Audiocodes and your Audiocodes rep would be able to answer. (Maybe we can get a comment on the plans for this from Audiocodes - I will try…)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Skype for Business Dual UI Client Logic

Today I joined the webcast on the Skype for Business Dual UI Client Logic. It was a separate presentation in the same style as the readiness series to prepare Lync admins for the coming switch to Skype for Business and Skype for Business Online. The information focused on the coming client and its ability to swap between a Lync 2013 GUI or a Skype for business GUI with simple settings. A recording will available within a week from today.

Kaushal Mehta presented in a clear pedagogical order. The most confusing thing is if this information is public or not. At first it was said that it is for "internal use only", but then it was said it is not confidential and can be shared with customers, but subject to change at anytime before the official Skype for business release. So, if anyone from Microsoft have objections to this blog post - please let me know.

On April 14 (aka patch Tuesday) the Office 2103 patch will upgrade existing Lync 2013 clients as part of Office 2013 to Skype for business. This means that administrators must choose how to handle the GUI of the new Skype for business client. There is a new parameter (EnableSkypeUI) in the CsClient policy and a 2 new custom policies in Office 365 to control this behavior. The following two tables explain the parameters for Skype for business server (on-prem) and Office 365.

The Skype for business server (on-prem) parameter in client policy

The two new custom policies in Office 365

On April 14 an update to an existing Lync 2013 client will become available, there will not be a new client available for download at this time. To get Skype for business on a new computer Office 2013 or Lync 2013 must be installed first, and then updated with the patch coming on April 14th. Skype for business 2015 server (the on-prem version) will be available on May 1, and in Office 365 we can already find the two new policies; so all that is changing on April 14 is really the client part.

Some QnA from today’s session:

Has documentation been published that provides all of these details and scenarios?
Yes.
and documentation for Skype for business Online will be released shortly.

When will there be training videos from Microsoft to cover the new SkypeUI?
Here is a download link for the Skype for Business client awareness and readiness resources.

Can the S4B client run with a Lync 2010 Server?
Yes, the policy applies to Lync 2010 server as well.

The "Latest Lync 2013 Server patch" - does this mean March 2015 CU for Lync 2013?
It means December 2014 CU (5.0.8308.857) for Lync 2013 and February 2015 CU (4.0.7577.710) for Lync 2010. (so maybe "latest" is not the best wording - but it covers us for future releases.)

Will the -EnableSkypeUI be available on Lync 2013 servers only?
No, the Policy will be available on latest Lync 2013 Servers and coming Skype for business servers.

Does the client policy have to be set per user or can it be set globally across the org as a default setting?
It is a "CsClientPolicy" setting which can be set globally, and/or by site, and/or by user.

Is the update a part of a bigger office update or is it a targeted Lync client update?
This change is coming as part of a larger Office 2013 update.

Will the flag also control the meeting icon in Outlook, Skype or Lync meeting?
No, the flags covered in this presentation only control the Lync/Skype for Business client interface. All other connection points in Office will refer to Skype for Business.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (11/15)

Today I joined the eleventh session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast Series and the topic for today were Video Interop Server Deep-dive. The Webcast was recorded and is available online from the link above.


Lynn Roe presented and showed a nice demo with a VTC unit joining a S4B meeting and also calling in to a S4B client using the Video Interop Server (VIS) server role. We also got to see the new CLSlogger and some logging details of the VIS calls. The new CLSlogger will be released with the debugging / Resource Kit tools shortly after RTM. The video interoperability server role allows S4B customers to continue using already deployed (and expensive) Cisco VTC solutions. A Cisco CUCM is required for VIS interoperability and DTMF from a VTC to S4B is supported. Only inbound calls from a Cisco VTC to S4B are supported.

I am also pleasantly surprised to see that Guillermo Sanchez (aka ITSanchez) from Argentina have translated my first QnA posting in this series into Spanish. So for all Spanish speaking amigos y amigas out there, do not miss the post:
Skype for Business, Preguntas y Respuestas (Parte 1)

Here comes todays QnA session, 13 questions and answers, enjoy!


New features

What is the scalability number of users/conferences per VIS server?
Capacity planning information will be released post RTM, including bandwidth consumption, etc.

Can two or more VTCs join the same S4B meeting?
Yes

Does VIS support Tandberg devices as well?
Yes, Tandberg devices are supported.

How would we load balance a multiple server VIS pool?
With DNS load balancing.

Which CUCM version is required for VIS?
Currently VIS have been tested and validated with CUCM version 10.5.

What are the firewall opening requirements between VIS and the edge server?
Port information and requirements will be released on TechNet soon.

How do we configure CUCM to interwork with VIS?
The necessary CUCM settings that are required for interoperation with VIS will be released on TechNet soon.


Unchanged features

Does the S4B server still use RDP for content sharing?
Yes.

Does the Edge server used with VIS have to be a S4B edge?
No, the Edge server does not have to be S4B, VIS can leverage an existing Lync 2013 Edge server.


Features "missing"

Is VIS compatible with Cisco / Tandberg only (how about Huawei VC / TP solutions)?
Right now VIS is only targeting Cisco VTCs.

Is Content sharing with H.239 supported?
No, no support for H.239 at this time.

Will VIS allow content (desktop or app share / IMs, etc) to be shared across Cisco and Lync, or just video?
There is no content sharing on VIS supported at the moment.

Will a VIS client be able to join a meeting hosted in the cloud?
No, the meeting must be on-premise only.