Category: Exchange Server 2010

Q&A on the Lync Deployment Jump Start Course

Wow! I didn’t even finish the Deploying Lync Server Jump Start Course from Microsoft, before people started asking questions. Does it talk about this, would it work for my employees, and so on.

Since I promised a “takeaway” post of some sort last week, I’ll use this post to answer the questions you sent in.

Who would you recommend these Lync Server Jump Starts for?

Anyone new to Lync’s administration side of things. But not IT administration in general – they do require basic knowledge of server operations and networking.

Are video recordings available?

Not yet. But this is their most likely destination when they are posted: Technet Edge Videos
(The Jump Start team might be waiting until after this week’s course is over. I’ll update this section when recordings are posted.)
UPDATE: Video recordings are now available at:
(Requires Windows Live account)

Are the slide decks available for download?

Download links to the slides are (right now) only accessible if you’ve signed up for one of the Jump Start courses. I’ve requested a public download link from Microsoft. I do have the slides, but unless they say it’s all right to post them, I’d rather not do so beforehand.
UPDATE: I’ve received permission from Microsoft to post this link: Lync 2010 Jump Start: Session Downloads. Click on the title of each session to find the download links for the slides (the video recordings are also available for download here, too).

Is this course enough to prepare you for the 70-664 (Lync Server 2010, Configuring) exam?

Not quite. It’s billed as giving most of the required material, but not all. If you’re just starting the certification process, use this course to familiarize yourself with the many parts of Lync Server. Then, build on it with additional study materials like:


What was the most important part of the course?

I’d have to say it was Day 2, the Enterprise Voice discussions. (Voice Day, yaaay!)

Enterprise Voice is arguably the most complex part of Lync Server. Devoting a whole day to its many components and interactions was a great idea. And they sure picked it apart – going from PSTN connectivity to Mediation Servers. Voice policies to Call Park. Exchange Unified Messaging integration to Response Groups.

The instructors gave several demos to show, real-time, how Enterprise Voice processes are put in place.

Including how to integrate Lync Server with Exchange Server 2010 SP1. I’ve copied the 3 slides they gave as a reference for that, in Module 6b.

Step 1: Integration Tools
These two tools – one in Exchange Server, one in Lync Server – make integration possible.

The tools for integrating Lync Server and Exchange Server UM

Step 2: Integration on Exchange’s Side
Create a UM SIP Dial Plan in Exchange Server 2010 SP1.

Steps for preparing an Exchange UM Dial Plan

Step 3: Integration on Lync’s Side, and Use the Tools
Configure Lync’s dial plans to match the Exchange plan. Then, run Exchange’s exchucutil.ps1. Afterward, run Lync’s ocsumutil.exe.

Matching a Lync Dial Plan to Exchange, and Running Integration Tools

That’s an oversimplified explanation. But you see how the Jump Start listed out steps in their presentation. When paired with their discussion, you can easily see how the process works.

Don’t forget – the second Jump Start, Planning and Designing a Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Solution is going on right now (started yesterday).

Sign up at the link (free) and you’ll be able to follow along today and tomorrow. You can download the slides from yesterday, today and tomorrow as well.

Did you attend the Jump Start? What for? And did you get what you wanted out of it?


31 Lync Training Videos from MacroConnect

In November I posted a collection of how-to videos for Lync Server.

This month, someone has one-upped all of those.

Kevin from Macro Connect emailed me the other day to tell me about his new video series. He’s named it the “Lync Complete Training Guide” Playlist on YouTube.

After watching videos and reading his documentation, I told him I would happily blog about it. You’ll see why in just a moment.

What To Expect – Setup Videos and Documented Specs is a Detroit IT firm. One of their specialties (like ours!) is supporting Lync Server. Where I blog about it, Kevin created a video series explaining how to setup Lync Server 2010.

Here’s the playlist URL: Lync Complete Training Guide Playlist – MacroConnectLync. It’s 31 videos, average viewing time between 3-5 minutes each.

But that’s only half the guide. Kevin has also posted documentation for each video at his website:
Lync Complete Training Guide Documentation – Macro Connect.Net

The documentation is a follow-along for the videos. Each video has a link to its documentation section in the Description. Pretty high-value stuff.

Who Should Watch – Lync Pros and Support Pros

The training videos and documentation are geared toward Lync administrators, help desk personnel, and anyone who’s looking to fill these roles.

Some technical skill is assumed for the audience. Basic knowledge of Windows Server environments for one. Understanding of Lync’s primary functions, as well.

Kevin is thorough, and gives details fast. He does use Macro Connect’s FQDNs, number extensions, and PSTN gateway. Take all this into account; your setup will obviously differ.

I recommend you use the videos as the last review stage in training. The documentation is there to refresh your memory, and the videos give you a visual reminder.

What it Covers – Step-By-Step Lync Server Setup

You start in at the very top – basic server setup, SIP connections, etc. From there, the videos run through the Lync setup process, from prerequisites to server configuration. Most of the videos are devoted to configuring Exchange Server, Lync Front End, and Lync Access Edge.

The reason for documentation becomes obvious fast: the screen is not very visible in YouTube, so you can’t always see the Lync setup options selected or numbers typed in. The documentation provides the specifics you’ll need, all laid out in bullets.

(Especially useful when you’re dealing with Management Shell commands!)

Special Note: There is one section in the documentation list which does NOT have a video. “ADDING EXCHANGE UNIFIED MESSAGING ROLE TO VSERV2” is between “Configuring AD on vserv1” and “Install Exchange from Scratch on vserv2 – Stage 1” in the list.

The documentation does appear correct for adding Exchange UM. But Kevin has six videos in the list for installing Exchange Server – which you need to do first, before installing Unified Messaging! So, keep that in mind.

I like that he covered configuring Lync Mobile and locking down the Lync Server environment . He even ends with some ideas on custom Lync programming in Visual Studio, too.

From here of course, you’ll need to add Edge servers, Mediation, Monitoring/Archiving and so on.

Kevin’s series gives a detailed method for setting up the foundation of Lync Server. If you want a video reference for a typical Lync install, these are a great choice. Thanks for all the work Kevin!

Again, here are the links:
Lync Complete Training Guide Playlist – YouTube
Lync Complete Training Guide Documentation – Macro Connect.Net

What would YOU like to see in a Lync video?


The 411 on Lync Mobile Clients

Have you tried out Mobile Lync yet?

Microsoft has released brand new clients for every major mobile platform – iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, even the iPad. Twitter’s abuzz over the new clients.

All of the clients will work with both on-premises Lync Server or Office 365’s Lync Online. (However, some features are not available to Lync Online users.)

Let’s go through what’s available, shall we?

Lync for iPhone

Download Lync for iPhone at the iTunes App Store.
What it does: Presence, IM, Email Contacts, Enterprise Voice Calls, Voicemail, Dial-Out Conferencing, Call Forwarding.
The iPhone client is surprisingly comprehensive. It even has capabilities (Enterprise Voice Calls) the Android client doesn’t right now. Microsoft really pushed to make the iOS client as complete a duplicate of Lync 2010 (desktop) as possible.

Lync for iPad

Download Lync for iPad at the iTunes App Store.
What it does: Presence, IM, Email Contacts, Enterprise Voice Calls, Voicemail, Dial-Out Conferencing, Call Forwarding.
Virtually identical to the iPhone client (adjusted for iPad screens of course). However, the reviews for this version gave it a slightly lower rating the iPhone client. One reviewer noted that push notifications didn’t work for her.

Lync for Android

Download Lync for Android at the Android Market.
What it does: Presence, IM, Email Contacts, Voicemail, Dial-Out Conferencing, Call Forwarding.
The Android client is a fairly basic mobile app. Some features are not supported yet (VoIP, video). Right now it appears to function best as a connector between the phone’s capabilities and Lync Server.

Also, note: Lync for Android runs in the background, all the time. Push notifications aren’t necessary. Something to keep in mind for Android users!

Lync for Windows Phone 7Lync for Windows Phone 7

Download Lync for Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Marketplace.
What it does: Presence, IM, Enterprise Voice Calls, Conferencing, Call Forwarding.
Of all the clients, this one looks the sharpest to me. Look at this screenshot. Slick, isn’t it? Almost a step up from the Lync 2010 interface.

Appearances aside, the Windows Phone client packs in every feature the iOS clients have. Several more than Android, like taking delegate calls & using Call via Work.

However, one thing is missing: access to Lync voicemail. I’m honestly not sure why Microsoft didn’t include this. The system has the same base from server (Lync Server) to hardware platform (Windows Phone). What prevented voicemail?

What’s Missing in Mobile Lync (For Now)

Please note: According to the Microsoft Lync Mobile Client Comparison Tables, NONE of the mobile clients can do the following.

  • Automatically log IM conversations in Exchange
  • Manage delegates
  • View video in meetings
  • Conduct two- or more-party calls with external users
  • Share desktop or use presentation tools

Looks like we’ll have to wait until V2 for these features.

What’s your experience with a Lync mobile client? Is there something you’d want to see added?


The Universal Way to Add Pictures to Lync Contacts: Use Exchange Management Shell

I received a reader email last week. The sender said:
“Your instructions don’t work. There is no ‘Options’ in the Mac version of Lync.”

He’s correct. Lync for Mac/Communicator 2011 doesn’t use the exact same interface as Lync 2010. So my instructions from 8 Things to Do With a New Lync Client were missing something!

Specifically, the sender wanted to add a picture to his Communicator account. So we looked for another way to add pictures.

We found one pretty fast, too! Credit to Joe on the PlanetMagpie team for the following method.

Upload Pictures with the Exchange Management Shell

The solution was to use the Exchange 2010 Management Shell. The Management Shell is a command-line interface where you can automate administrative tasks using lines of code called “cmdlets.”

I wrote about cmdlets the other day, when we discussed backing up and restoring Lync Servers.

The cmdlet we need for adding pictures is “Import-RecipientDataProperty.” The upload process Joe worked out goes like this:

  1. Upload the picture you want to add to Lync (or Communicator for Mac) to a folder on your servers. Any internal location should do, but I recommend a spot on your Lync or Exchange servers.
    • NOTE: The picture must be less than 10kb in size, and preferably 96px by 96px.
  2. Note the specific folder location. You’ll need this.
  3. On the server where Exchange is installed, click Start > All Programs.
  4. Navigate to “Microsoft Exchange Server 2010”.
  5. Click Exchange Management Shell.
  6. In the new Shell window, type the following:Import-RecipientDataProperty -Identity “User Name” -Picture -FileData ([Byte[]]$(Get-Content -Path “C:PicturesPicture1.jpg” -Encoding Byte -ReadCount 0))
  7. Replace the “User Name” with your username. Replace “C:PicturePicture1.jpg” with the specific folder location of the uploaded picture.
  8. This adds the picture to your Active Directory schema, under a property called “thumbnailPhoto.”
  9. Replicate the new property to the Global Address List (GAL). If you have Exchange 2010 SP1, this should be done by default.
  10. If not, you’ll need to turn on replication for the “thumbnailPhoto” attribute. Visit this link: Adding photos to the Exchange 2010 Global Address List – Follow the instructions in the “Preparing the AD Schema” section.
  11. Lync acquires the picture from the GAL replication.

And that’s it! Your picture should now display in Lync. Even on a Mac.

Do you use Lync for Mac?  What are your impressions of its interface? Is it missing anything right now that you’d enjoy using?


What does a Cloud Version of Lync Server (Hosted by Microsoft) Mean for the Market?

By now you've seen the announcements.
Microsoft Announces Office 365 – PressPass
Microsoft Office 365 Bets on the Cloud

Office as a hosted service. Pretty big announcement. And there's another part to this too – namely that Microsoft ALSO announced they'll offer SharePoint as a hosted service. Same with Exchange 2010. And *drumroll*…Lync Server 2010.

Now, we already offer cloud versions of OCS and Exchange from our office. We'll have a Hosted Lync Server as well, very soon. (And our version will offer full enterprise VoIP – I'm not sure Lync Online will do that!)

But I'm actually happy about this announcement.

Why? Why would I be happy about Microsoft beginning their own cloud versions – when we, one of their partners, already have them available? (Images of Goliath's foot heading for David's head here…)

I'm happy because of classic old supply and demand.

Is OCS Too Expensive?

In a recent Osterman Research survey, it was found that OCS is perceived as too expensive for some organizations (

Despite high adoption rates, the up-front cost is still a big obstacle. So is lack of a business case. When OCS started out, the concepts of “Unified Communications” and “VoIP for everyone in the office” were still new. OCS had to sell them.

Now thanks to time and Lync Server, the need for selling may be diminishing. And demand growing.

Turns Out Lync Server is More Capable AND Affordable

Over half of the survey's respondents said that Lync Server's less stringent requirements (and its ability to run happily on virtual servers) makes it more appealing to them. (I'm sure the fact that more people understand Unified Communications and VoIP plays into this too.)

This is great news for Lync! And it demonstrates why Microsoft's cloud move is a viable (and timely) option for businesses.

More Interest in Lync = Good for All

Going back to the original point, we can see that Microsoft is responding to market demand. A faster, more capable communications solution with lighter physical requirements. And now a cloud option. (And a partner with a similar cloud option!)

The demand IS there.

That's why I'm happy.

It means more interest in hosted Lync overall. More cloud-based Lync Server setups for us. Lower costs for businesses to add enterprise VoIP and conferencing.

And more support needed from us, but that”s another thing…

Your thoughts? Are you considering Office 365,or the other cloud services? Why? No really,I'm curious.


Exchange Server 2010 SP1 Is Out – Here are Resources

This post is a little late, I know. We've been taking care of a few Microsoft partner requirements.

And speaking of Microsoft–Exchange 2010 Service Pack 1 is out!

If you haven't already seen it, Microsoft's Exchange Team announced the service pack on their blog. According to them and many beta users, OWA is the big beneficiary this round.

I also want to point out the release notes here. There are some things you should know before upgrading to SP1…things that affect OCS. (Naturally, given the nature of this blog!)

Release Notes for Exchange Server 2010 SP1 – Microsoft TechNet

If you plan to upgrade, let me make the following recommendations.

A. Do a Full Upgrade of the Unified Messaging Server. You have the option for a Partial Upgrade, which runs an Exchange 2007 UM Server alongside the 2010 UM Server.
Problem is, OCS 2007 R2 can't determine what version your users' mailboxes are, 2007 or 2010! So if it sends a call to an Exchange 2007 UM Server, but the user's mailbox is on a 2010 UM Server? The call will fail.
Avoid this by doing a Full Upgrade.

B. Run all hotfixes available for your .NET Framework before the upgrade begins. This avoids a potential error which could cause trouble with mailbox moves.

C. Planning to use OCS 2010/Communications Server “14” when it's released? You can (and should) install Exchange 2010 SP1 first. Its new UM Server contains tools that work with both OCS 2007 R2 and OCS 2010. For example, you can migrate SIP dial plans between servers.

Scott Lowe's “Servers and Storage” blog on TechRepublic has a nice screenshot-heavy capabilities overview on Exchange 2010 SP1. There's a lot of little improvements all throughout Exchange with SP1; a few extra references in your initial research will only help.

Already done your SP1 upgrade? Let us know how it's treating you. If you're planning one, what issues are you concerned about?


Backup Exchange 2010 Edge Transport With This Tutorial

Another gold nugget from the mine we call the Web. Exchange Server has posted a tutorial on backup/restore for Exchange 2010 Edge Transport Servers:

Exchange 2010 Edge Transport Server Backup and Recovery –

As most of us already know, Edge Transport is the server role that relays emails in and out of your organization. It also helps protect against spam and viruses getting inside your network.

Why is backing up this server important? Because if it goes down, the other Exchange Server Roles:

  • Can't send email
  • Are unable to receive email
  • Are at risk from spam/viruses that may have made it into the network (maybe that's what crashed the Edge Transport server).

The tutorial gives very thorough steps for two types of Edge Transport backups: importing/exporting Edge configuration files, and backup/restore of the whole Edge Transport server.

If you host your Exchange servers with an ISP or consultant (like us), this is a perfect way to verify that necessary Edge information is being backed up. Just ask what kind of backups they do, and refer to this tutorial.

If your Exchange servers are in-house, this is an excellent reference for setting up/updating backup routines. Good for keeping those nagging “did we remember to backup X?” thoughts at bay.


Upgrading from Exchange 2003 to 2010? Plan for These Changes

Among our Exchange 2010 upgrade projects, we encounter a few more clients still using Exchange 2003 than we do on Exchange 2007. We also see a lot of the 2003 clients struggle following a 2010 upgrade.

The differences between Exchange 2003 and 2010 are more severe than those between 2007 and 2010. Clients jumping from Exchange 2003 are faced with differences in administration, potential for backwards-compatibility issues, etc. For 2003 admins, it's like getting out of an SUV and getting into a racecar – some adjustment is needed!

Last week I came across this TechRepublic article. It lists 10 reference points for those moving up from 2003 to Exchange 2010:
10 Things to Consider Before Transitioning from Exchange 2003 to 2010

I wanted to highlight this for our blog audience, so future clients have some advance notice on changes they'll have to make.

In particular, I wanted to emphasize these points:

  1. Exchange Server 2010 is 100% 64-bit. 32-bit servers (such as those used by Exchange 2003) will not work.
  2. Your admins WILL need retraining. The difference in server roles between 2003 and 2010 alone merits it. Not to mention the new Exchange Management Console.
  3. In 2010, OWA is now located on the Client Access server. Setting up OWA is not required at first; setting up a Client Access server is.
  4. Plan to keep your 2003 Exchange servers active until the 2010 transition is made completely. If you remove the 2003 servers too early, users with Exchange 2003 mailboxes may not be able to get their email.
  5. And one point partially covered in the article: If you're running Windows Server 2003 or SBS 2003 and want to move to Exchange 2010, upgrade your primary servers too. 2008 versions of Windows Server and SBS are out; a clean upgrade on both sides is easier. And doing both at once just makes sense – saves you additional headache later.

This is a free warning from us ahead of time. Exchange 2010 is a big step ahead in terms of Unified Communications, new capabilities like Auto-Archive, etc. It just has a learning curve,like all rebuilt software.


A Basic Plan for Unified Communications User Adoption

Last week I said I'd go into more detail about UC user adoption. In keeping with that, I thought I'd write out an adoption plan from some of our OCS/Exchange deployments.

As you probably know by now, user adoption is the other half of a successful server installation. It”s one thing to get new systems up & running. And another thing entirely to convince/persuade/poke people into using them.

One way to push user adoption is, as I mentioned last time, to take away the users' existing option. I discuss this in Step 6 below. But if you do that, you have to give them something else. (It's kind of required.) That's what the rest of this plan is for.

Note: Technical specifications on implementing UC components (Exchange 2010, OCS 2007) will not be included here due to their length. Full implementation processes can be found in the following Microsoft resources.
Deploying Exchange Exchange Server 2010:
Deploying Office Communications Server 2007 R2:

Step 1 – Sketch out implementation plan.

Essentially, “plan out Steps 2-6 ahead of time.” Also, consider file transfer times. Factor out any offline time needed to build the new UC servers. Check on the Web for any possible hardware issues before and during implementation.

Step 2 – Determine a Switchover Point. Announce it.

Send 2 emails and make an internal communications post (forum, intranet, whatever you use). Announce a point at which the company will switch to Unified Communications. Make this unavoidable. (Someone WILL claim they didn't hear about it when it's too late.) Provide a brief how-to and benefits statement, so they know they're getting something good out of it.

Step 3 – Implement UC technology at server-level.

Self-explanatory. Refer to the above URLs for documentation.

Step 4 – Invite a group of users to test it.

Deploy all UC tools to a select group of people who are technically savvy. Preferably people from multiple departments and/or branch offices. Having them test for system errors accomplishes two things.
One,it tests the UC technology in real-time from different physical locations.
Two,testing creates a small group of advocates within the organization. (Make sure to tell the group ahead of time that people may ask them for assistance during adoption. And get their OK.)

Step 5 – Furnish all users with a training kit.

Instruct them to familiarize themselves with the new UC interface. Here's an OCS 2007 R2 Adoption and Training Kit from Microsoft. You'll probably want to add information about your organization's specific setup to this too.

Step 6 – Evaluate alternatives.

I refer to two things here when I say “alternatives.” One is your existing communication options. Which of these options should you phase out? When should you do it?

The following can usually be phased out following Unified Communications implementation:

  • Non-OCS desktop phones
  • Third-party IM clients
  • Fax machines
  • Voicemail systems
  • Third-party conferencing solutions

Two is Communicator Web Access (CWA). Will you need to implement CWA? I would say yes, as it makes a good backup when someone can't access their own system or is having trouble connecting with Office Communicator. CWA should be in place at switchover.

Step 7 – Remind users of Switchover Point.

Email all users again. Make it a short interval – 7 days, for example. Mention your advocates as people to ask if someone has a quick question. (This way people don't all hound one person–namely you.)

Step 8 – Switch Over to UC!

On the appointed day…
–Deploy the Unified Communications technology for all users.
–Deactivate the communication options being phased out. See previous post.

And prepare for the inevitable grumbling that comes with change.

Have you used a user adoption plan like this? Planning to use this one in future UC upgrades? Please let a comment and let us know. Same if there's something you think should be added here. I have an Edit button and everything.


Hosted Exchange VS. Google Apps: Which Works Better for Small Business?

I saw a great discussion thread on LinkedIn today (view the thread here) – about whether a consultant”s client should move to Hosted Exchange or Google Apps.

The replies leaned a bit more toward Google Apps than Exchange. Many good points about how much IT help is available/budgeted, “getting what you pay for,” simplicity of Google, familiarity of Exchange/Outlook, etc.

You'd think I would weigh in on the side of Hosted Exchange. It is one of our services (and a very popular one at that), but even we recognize that at times something simpler, like Google Apps, makes for a better solution.

See, when we get a client who wants to move to hosted services, there's a lot of factors to consider. Many of them are addressed in the thread: mobile users, growth potential, available budget,available IT expertise/extra support hours needed,and the client's needs for the service.

We weigh these between two prime factors: The size of the business, and what their day-to-day practices are surrounding email.

Can A Business Outgrow Google?

Let's divide up some factors between size and daily practice here. Under size, we can list things like:

  • How many mobile users a company has – iPhones, Blackberries, Android, etc.
  • How many Outlook users there are (and how often they use it).
  • What amount of on-site IT is in place, or do they rely on contracted IT support?

Both systems – Google Apps and Hosted Exchange – can sync with iPhones and Blackberries. (Androids MIGHT prefer Google, but I can't imagine why.) Outlook however leads more people to Exchange than away from it. One big intangible with email is how many users “live in” Outlook. True, Google Apps Premier Edition will sync with Outlook, but the difference is that those Apps accounts are on Google's servers, not hosted servers you contract. Which leads to the question of IT support. Who do you want to support your email? How fast of a response time do you need?

Under day-to-day email practices, we'll put these factors:

  • What are users' preferred communication methods?
  • How much email storage is needed?
  • How often do users share calendars?
  • Who's administering?

If email is the big communication tool (and it is for most businesses), then even a smidge of downtime is potentially catastrophic. We admit it, Exchange isn't perfect here…but then, nobody is. Google Apps does beat Exchange on default account space (25GB against 5GB). But shared calendaring brings us back to Outlook and its rich invite features.

We're back at the administration question. Many LinkedIn posters recommended contract IT support, especially if you're a smaller company. Of course Google provides support for Apps…but interfacing with other systems? Not so much.

What's the Verdict?

So where did we end up? When is Hosted Exchange a good choice, and when is Google Apps better? I'll give my answers in terms of the two prime factors I mentioned.

IN TERMS OF BUSINESS SIZE: For startup-level businesses, Google Apps makes more sense. Little infrastructure is needed, and it”s easier for a few people to adapt (they probably use Google already). Generally, the larger the business, the more likely Exchange will better suit them.

IN TERMS OF DAY-TO-DAY EMAIL PRACTICES: If a company already uses Outlook, we recommend they go Hosted Exchange. If they have an IT department already, so much the better. If not, and they don't want to spend much, then go Google Apps and get some local support in case integration hits a snag.

Of course, this is just one blog post. Do your research before contacting suppliers.

Which do you use, Google Apps or Hosted Exchange? Let me know in the comments.