Category: OCS 2007 R2

Upgrading Users from OCS to Lync? How to Correct the "Failed While Updating" Error

Joe, one of our Lync engineers, came to me the other day with a story. He’d run up against an error while moving a few users from an OCS 2007 R2 pool into a new Lync Server pool.

The error looked like this:

Lync 2010 Error:  Failed Updating User Pool

 

 

Image credit to ShyIT.WordPress.com (linked below)

Lync claimed he didn’t have sufficient access rights to perform the update. Even if you try to force it, the user update won’t go through.

Turns out the solution is pretty easy. Joe found it on the ShyIT Blog.
Lync 2010 Move User – 1 Error(s) Failed While Updating Destination pool :: www.ShyIT.co.uk

The problem isn’t strictly a Lync bug. It’s more of a bug in how Lync Server communicates with Active Directory.

If a user is in a protected Active Directory group, AD removes security inheritance for its account. Lync can’t move that user into its own pools without security inheritance. It must be re-enabled.

Re-Enable Security Inheritance, and Lync Server Welcomes the User

To correct the error and have Lync allow OCS users to upgrade into its user pools, you’ll need to modify that user’s Active Directory security permissions. Here’s how.

  1. Open Active Directory Users and Computers.
    • Click “View” and navigate to “Advanced Features.” These must be enabled before you proceed. They probably are, but if not, enable them.
  2. Locate the user you want to move. Open its Account Properties.
  3. Locate the “Security” tab.
  4. Click “Advanced.”
  5. Check the “Allow inheritable permissions from the parent to propagate to this object and all child objects” box.
  6. Click “Apply.”

Done! This re-applies the user’s security inheritance. Lync takes it as new, and lets the user on through.

Have you encountered this error? Or another error with upgrading users from OCS 2007 to Lync 2010? Email me, or leave a comment. I’d like to hear what you did!

Heads up; next week I’ll have a short Q&A post, since it’s Thanksgiving week. We had a question about sending Lync phone numbers via email. See you back here next week.

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Database Update Question for OCS

We’re bogged down with SharePoint work at the moment. So this week’s post will be a short Q&A.

A couple weeks ago I received an email from Eder. He had a technical questions about OCS 2007 R2. It went like this:

“Last year I ran the OCS2009-DBUpgrade.msi update patch. Now a new version of it is available. Should I run this newer patch before I do any OCS server upgrades? Or will the old patch be sufficient?”

He’s talking about the database patch listed in OCS 2007 R2 Hotfix 968802. It’s a group of the latest updates for Office Communications Server.

If you’re still running OCS, these are updates you should implement. Especially the database update patch Eder mentioned.

Run that first. Do it from the command line, as Administrator. After that, you should run your server upgrades for each OCS machine in the farm.

Out of curiosity, how many of you are still using OCS? Are you planning to switch to Lync?

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How to Send Bulk IMs in Lync: Special Post

I promised a special post about a new Lync tool last week. And here it is!

One of the main advantages in Lync Server is the interconnectivity of its communications tools. (It IS called “Unified Communications,” after all.) That's what I'm talking about today – a third-party tool that builds on Lync's interconnectivity.

The other day a Mr. Fred Natzke, an Australian software developer, emailed me. He's built a tool called psIMAlerts for use on Lync, and he wanted to let me know.

I took a look at this tool – and decided it was a great thing to blog about here!

psIMAlerts is a Powershell “cmdlet” that lets an administrator send bulk messages out over Lync's IM. (It also works on OCS 2007 R2.) If you're not familiar with “cmdlets,” think of them as Powershell mini-apps. They're script-based tools that execute specific functions using .NET. Makes for a lot of flexibility – as this developer has demonstrated.

Use IM Alerts for Announcements, Notifications, Emergencies

At first, the idea of sending out a bulk IM alert resurrected the “spim” notion of IM-based spam from years ago. But I looked through the information sent to me, and the developer's site (Blue Quality Studios) and was reassured.

In fact, the usefulness grew on me pretty fast. It goes right back to the Unified Communications intent: communicate with people when it's needed, using the best available channel. Sending a bulk email out doesn't work if you're warning everyone that the email server's down. But an IM would!

In fact,Mr. Natzke even listed out some uses for bulk IM alerts in a corporate environment when he contacted me. He gave scenarios like:
1,) An IT Admin sending alert to notify staff that an Exchange server isn't working properly. Anyone affected by this can simply IM him back for updates, instead of waiting on the help desk phones.
2) Auto-notification of log volume limits reached.
3) Important financial announcements that the finance (or Marketing) department needs to see.
4) Announcing a “Service Interruption” while IT fixes a broken T1 line.

Customizable, Interactive IM Notices

The psIMAlerts tool allows customization not only of the message, but of its template. Mr. Natzke has written 12 HTML-based message templates (included with the tool). I'm posting a couple examples to illustrate.

A bulk IM alert sent via psIMAlerts

A bulk IM alert sent via psIMAlerts


A test IM sent by the developer to show psIMAlerts templates

A test IM sent by the developer to show psIMAlert templates

It's important to note that all links in these IM alerts are active. So you can push out a URL to co-workers at the same time.

psIMAlerts Integrates into Lync Server

Because it's a Powershell cmdlet, there's no new desktop software. If you're running Office Communicator (for OCS) or Lync 2010 (for Lync Server) you're ready to use psIMAlerts.

You're able to run psIMAlerts from the Lync (or OCS) server, or from another computer running the Windows Management Framework. Fred has posted a tutorial on how to do this:
psIMAlerts Tutorial – Remote Use

You can download psIMAlerts for a free 14-day trial here. The tool costs 150 Australian (about $150 in USD) for full use. Order it here.

Yes, I've tried the tool out. It works flawlessly. Well worth it if you want to send out any kind of bulk notifications.

Thanks for the email Fred! Best of luck with your work.

Are you working on Lync-based software tools? Email me or leave a comment. I'd like to hear about it.

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What Does the Lync 2010 Attendant Console Do?

We interrupt the “Path to Lync Server” series to bring you a special post!

EJ from Texas emailed the Lync Insider with this question:

“I'm in the planning phase of our Lync implementation. One of my tasks is to know how the OCS R2 Attendant Console works with Lync Server.  Would you have any insight into this?”

Yep, I do. In fact I already answered his question. And he gave the OK to post both question and answer here. Since the question's focused and relevant, I'm sure some people are confused over the Attendant as well. Let's tackle it.

What's the Attendant Console For Anyway?

Back in 2009, I reviewed the OCS 2007 Attendant Console. In that post I described the Attendant as “taking over main-office call management.” It allows someone (a receptionist or call center manager) to receive and forward calls to others, depending on their presence status.

In Lync 2010 the Attendant Console received a few enhancements. Now you can:

  • Initiate conference calls
  • Prioritize calls
  • Use one-click operation for answering/transferring/holding

What's important to note here – and what I told EJ – is that one part of the Attendant Console isn't there anymore. See, the OCS 2007 Attendant Console operated in two scenarios – a manager/delegate scenario, where the call manager assigns specific people (delegates) to answer certain calls on the manager's behalf. And a receptionist scenario, where the receptionist managed & forwarded calls as they came.

When Microsoft upgraded the Attendant Console from OCS 2007 to Lync 2010, they removed the manager/delegate scenario.

Where'd they put it?

Delegates in Lync

Image courtesy of Microsoft Download Center.
Directly into the Microsoft Lync client app, that's where.

Anyone using Lync can add other users as delegates. Say Josh wants to delegate calls to you just in case he's sick. Lync tells you that you've been added as Josh's delegate. Now you have the ability to make/receive calls (or set up meetings) on behalf of the “manager,” Josh. There's even an automatic contact group that contains people for whom you're a delegate.

This isn't a one-way street though. Lync 2010 supports multiple managers with multiple delegates. The functionality's intended to speed up collaboration between individuals and departments. If you're not there today, but one of your delegates is,they can answer a question for you from another department. And that department can keep on working.

You can even share applications and transfer files in the same conversations.

The Attendant Console is Still Useful,Though

In a way, this reduced the importance of the Attendant Console. That's okay though – it increases the ease of collaboration overall. Net positive. And the Attendant Console is still there in Lync Server. (Reception can still put that pushy salesperson on hold for a few hours.)

If you'd like details on delegation in Lync, download this Microsoft Training presentation file.
Microsoft Lync 2010 Delegate Training – Microsoft Download Center

This blog's received quite a bit of traffic in recent weeks! Thanks very much to everyone who stopped by for some Lync reference. Email me or leave a comment if any of these posts are helpful to you. I'd love to hear success stories (and any stumbling blocks) that pop up with your Lync Server exploration.

I'll resume the “Path to Lync Server” series next week. See you then!

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Path to Lync Server – Step 4: Choose an IT Partner

Now that licensing has been addressed, let's talk about IT partners. Unless you're an IT agency, you're going to want some help with installing Lync Server. Rather than just call anybody (and deal with a dozen rapid-fire proposals), let's nail down what you should look for first.

Why Get a Partner?

–It's new technology. Complications are bound to pop up. Simple fact of modern life.
–You may need to make some changes to your existing network. Lync requires at least one physical server, with Hyper-V (more on this next week). It may also require additional bandwidth – particularly for Enterprise Voice.

(Disclaimer: My company, PlanetMagpie, is an IT agency and Microsoft Partner. That said, I'm holding us to the same scrutiny as I would any other IT partner.)

Factors to Consider

Let's say you have a few possible partners to choose from. What would they need to know? They'd need familiarity with Lync Server 2010 of course…but what else would help? Which factors would turn a good IT partner into a great one?

  • OCS 2007 Experience. Knowing the previous version goes a long way toward being prepared to handle the new. This factor alone should qualify an IT agency as someone worth talking to (or disqualify them, if they don't know OCS at all!).
  • Familiarity with Unified Communications. Unified Communications is more of a strategy than a specific solution. Understanding the tech behind integrating voice with IM, Outlook and smartphones will give you insight on how to best use Lync in your office.
  • Do they have a relationship with an Infrastructure and/or Device Partner? A great IT partner should have recommendations on what hardware will work for your Lync install. For example, PolyCom and Jabra have phones designed for use with Lync. Do they know these? Which would they recommend? Ask.
  • Virtualization Experts. Can't get around this one. They have to know Hyper-V inside and out. (I don't know how well VMWare would work with Lync, since it was designed with Hyper-V in mind. If you try it,let me know how it worked!)
  • Microsoft-Certified. Might be a no-brainer,but you never know.

Where an IT Partner's Involvement Helps

Ideally, your IT partner should be there when you're ready to tackle licensing. I put this step after the licensing step because the IT partner should be around throughout the rest of the installation process too.

The places an IT partner will be involved in future steps should include:

  1. Securing licensing from Microsoft
  2. Estimating necessary bandwidth, and upgrading to match this
  3. Installing the Lync Server software and any needed hardware
  4. Configuration of Lync Server and client apps on user PCs
  5. Supporting Lync connectivity to mobiles
  6. Troubleshooting the inevitable complications

This should give you a good idea of how to vet an IT partner for your Lync install. Remember, Lync Server is new tech – if someone claims years of experience in it, they're lying. Understanding the tech behind it + Microsoft skills + Hardware knowledge = The right IT partner to help you.

Next week I'll talk about what hardware you'll need for Step 5. See you then!

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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 (NetworkWorld.com).

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.

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OCS 2007 R2 Architecture Poster Available for Download

Last week Microsoft released a new version of the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Workload Architecture poster. You can download it here (free, MS login required):
OCS 2007 R2 Workload Architecture Poster

The timing on this might seem odd. After all, we're charging full-on toward Lync Server 2010's release right?

Even so, this is a handy reference tool to have. For OCS 2007 and for Lync 2010.

The reason I say that is because it divides architecture up into four distinct functions: IM and Presence Workload, Application Sharing Workload, A/V and Web Conferencing Workload, and Enterprise Voice Workload.

Having these functions split up does several things for you:

  • Easy reference for discussion
  • Implementation aid if you don't use OCS
  • Troubleshooting aid if you do use OCS
  • Preparation for Lync

Now, the architecture in Lync Server is bound to differ from this. What I mean BY well, anyommunications system like Lync will need.”

Lync 2010 will need fewer servers than OCS 2007, to boot. So it should be a simpler architecture.

Familiarize yourself with OCS' architecture and be pleasantly surprised when Lync rolls out!

A couple additional points I want to make about the OCS 2007 R2 poster:

  1. Make a list of all the ports you'll need to use and keep it handy during implementation (OCS or Lync). Port collisions can cause a lot of trouble fast; head them off ahead of time.
  2. Note the positions of the hardware load balancers. There are that many for a good reason.
  3. If there's a part of this that will change the most in Lync Server, I'd say it's “Certificate Requirements.” Virtualization, altered server roles,and the integrated PBX capabilities will all change that.

I recommend this to all companies who use OCS 2007 right now,as well as any companies considering Lync Server 2010. Download and keep it handy!

Any other downloadable OCS/Lync resources you know of? Post them here and I'll highlight them in future posts.

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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?

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Do Phone Calls Through Gmail Threaten OCS?

In case you haven't seen this yet: Google has now rolled out a “Call Phones from Gmail” service. It's an extension of their Gmail Voice and Video Chat – except now you can call someone's phone from within Gmail, instead of both of you being at the computer. Free.

Here's the official Google Blog announcement. If you already have a Gmail account, you can see the call service here: Gmail.com/call.

This being from Google (and being free for US and Canada calls) means one thing – somebody else is now under threat. Who?

Is OCS In Danger?

Since this IS the OCS Insider, naturally I'm tackling the question of OCS 2007/2010 coming under threat from this new Gmail service. Will free calls from within Gmail shrink adoption of Office Communications Server?

It seems possible. But I don't think so.

Why not?

Different Purposes.
OCS is a business communication platform. It isn't restricted to one app (or Web app). And its purpose is to provide multiple avenues for workers to communicate, not just phone calls.

This “Gmail Call” service could work very well for small businesses already using Google Apps. But…

No Google Apps Support – Yet.
The announcement indicates that Google Apps users won't see this service yet. Free phone service will be coming, but they don't say when.

It's not Internal.
Many organizations like (or need) to keep track of calls. This is easy with OCS' Conversation History. Not so easy with a third party service like Gmail.

OCS isn't Skype.
Skype is the world's #1 VoIP service. They're the top dog in the field at present. You're always the main target when you're at the top of the mountain.

And finally, No Mobile Support.
There aren't any plans for this from Google, according to a CNET review. You might be able to make Gmail phone calls work on a mobile, with a little tweaking. But as I've pointed out in the past, the Office Communicator client and Communicator Web Access (CWA) work on several mobiles already.

So no, I'm not worried about OCS. In fact, I think Gmail Phone Calls will make for a great consumer alternative! An easy,free introduction to VoIP tech. That only reflects well on future business use.

Planning to try phone calls out in Gmail? What's your impression?

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How Does OCS Get Voicemails to Your Inbox?

We had this question from a new OCS client recently. They were curious as to how OCS takes care of voicemails.

The answer's pretty easy – Exchange handles it. Specifically, its Unified Messaging Server Role. I would write out a step-by-step for this, but…

1,,) I'm going on vacation. (By the time you read this in fact, I'll be on the road!)
2) Someone has already done a great job of writing this up.

The venerable OCSPedia.com has just such a step-by-step article here: How OCS Selects the Exchange UM Server for Voicemail – OCSPedia.com

There's even a handy diagram. I showed our client this page while answering their question. Explanation successful!

See everybody next week. Maybe a new post on SBS Aurora…quite a lot of information coming out about it.

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