Tag: Archiving Server

2014 Reader Survey: What are Your 2015 Lync Plans?

It’s the last Lync Insider post of 2014! Hope everyone’s Christmas shopping is done and the workload is light.

It’s been quite a year for the blog. Add-ons coming out. Big announcements. Lots of updates & fixes. Lync is out there in a big way and getting bigger. Each month, over 20,000 readers visit the Lync Insider, and we’re grateful for all the conversations we’ve had.

Here’s a few of our most popular 2014 posts (in case you missed them!):

2 Surveys in 2 Minutes – Please Tell Us Your Lync Plans!

We’ll return to our regular posting schedule in early January. But what should we start with? What directions should we go next year?

Well, why not ask our readers these questions! If you’ll spare 2 minutes, please answer the following 2 surveys about your Lync plans. The results will inform our 2015 posting schedule.


[yop_poll id=”4″]


[yop_poll id=”5″]


We had 67 votes on our last poll…can we make it to 100 for these two?

As always, if you have a question or want to share a Lync story, please comment on a post or email me. PlanetMagpie is always happy to help business users with their Lync (or other!) support issues.

I just received a comment about Chat inside an add-on, in fact. (Paul, I’ll answer your question as soon as I’m able!)

The Blog Name Change – Decision Made

Thank you again, to all of our readers. We asked you what you thought this blog should be named, since Lync itself will change its name in 2015.

After reviewing the poll results and talking it over amongst ourselves, we decided that the blog’s name will be…

The Lync Insider.

We will stay with the name you already know. But! We’ll have other changes coming to reflect the Skype for Business changes.

What will they be? Well, you’ll have to come back to find out!

Subscribe via email with the signup box at top right, for weekly post emails. Many of you already have this year…and we hope many more will join us next year!

Until then, Happy Holidays to all, and have a safe New Year.


Third-Party Software for Lync Server: What are the Qualified Lync Applications?

The other day we went through a list of hardware approved for Lync use. (Lync Add-On Hardware for Client Enhancement and Server Capability: 10 Examples)

But third parties don’t just make hardware for Lync. There’s a whole host of third-party software too!

Thanks to Shaun, a reader, for sending me his Lync experience and this URL:
Qualified Lync Applications – Office TechCenter

On this page is a list of third-party software applications Microsoft has approved for use with Lync Server. They are designated as “Qualified Lync Applications”.

What do these applications provide?

  • New Attendant Consoles
  • Billing and/or better reporting tools
  • Extensions for Lync 2013 clients (including mobile)
  • A Contact Center
  • Persistent Chat enhancements (these particularly interest me)
  • Recording tools
  • Software-defined networking

And a few more. Let’s go through the list and see what we find.

Samroxx Attendant

A new attendant console for Lync. Very easy to install – I had a free trial downloaded and running in less than 5 minutes. Setup takes a little bit longer, as it appears (at least in the trial version) that you must enter contacts yourself, instead of relying on Active Directory. Samroxx did grab my account information from Active Directory though.


As you see from this screenshot, the Samroxx interface is very clean, and options are clearly listed. If you opt to use a third-party attendant console with Lync Server 2013, this is a pretty good choice.

Zylinc Attendant Console

Another attendant console. This one seems beefier though – it has more features, like calendar updating and statistics.


Image courtesy of Zylinc.com.

Plus it works for both Lync Server 2010 and 2013. This in itself could provide a useful transition from 2010 to 2013–the interface for reception wouldn’t change.

No demo option I saw. But they do offer a product sheet: Zylinc Attendant Console Product Sheet (PDF)

Verba Recording

Call Recording add-on for Lync Server. While Archiving Server does some of this, it does have its limits Extending recording capabilities is a huge benefit – not only does it protect against lost productivity from confusion, but it helps with legal & regulatory compliance.

Two things I particularly like about Verba:

  1. It records all calls, IM conversations, and videos – media Archiving Server doesn’t record.
  2. It’s a server-side solution. Nobody has to install software on their PCs, which means everyone is recorded by default.

I’ll book a Verba demo and report back on my findings soon.

MindLink Mobile Chat

Persistent Chat is one of my favorite Lync tools. However it suffers from one notable limitation – mobile access. Or lack thereof.

MindLink extends Persistent Chat onto mobile devices (phones and tablets). It also works on Mac and Linux computers, extending Lync’s chat capabilities across pretty much all platforms. MindLink even integrates with email and SharePoint.

I’m signing up for a MindLink demo too. Watch for a future post on this too.

Many More Third-Party Applications – Have You Tried One?

These are only a few of the 95 total “Qualified Lync Applications”. I’ll revisit the page later, go through more software, test the ones I can, and report back. Feel free to do the same (and let me know what you find)!

The idea that Lync Server 2013 would need “extending” might make some think the software is incomplete, or immature. Not so. One software application isn’t perfect for all situations. That’s why so many release APIs and work with third-party developers to create extensions. Firefox has its Add-Ons. WordPress has its Plugins and Themes.

Lync Server has Qualified Applications. Use them to make Lync run like you need it to.

Does your business use a Qualified Lync Application? Please comment or email me with the details. I’d like to hear about the application, what you use it for, and how well it works.


What Monitoring Server Monitors – and What It Doesn't (2013 Version)

As I mentioned the other day, I previously did a post on Monitoring Server for Lync 2010:
What Monitoring Server Monitors – and What It Doesn’t

With Lync Server 2013, a few things have changed.

Now you can home the Monitoring Server Role on your Front End Server. It doesn’t require a separate server anymore. Neither does its sibling service, Archiving.

I think this actually makes monitoring easier, both to set up and to retrieve information. The number and depth of Monitoring Reports were also increased for 2013:

  1. New reports on voice quality: Media Quality Comparison Report (compares quality between different kinds of calls), Conference Join Time Report (gives information on the time it takes users to join a conference).
  2. More details on video and application sharing. Now the Media Quality Summary Report has information on video calls and calls where you share apps. If there’s a problem with these call types, the Server Performance Report can help you pinpoint which server has the problem.
    1. You can look up video and application sharing data in the Peer-to-Peer Session Detail Report and Conference Detail Report too.

Speed of report generation & retrieval has gone up too. No big surprise, since it’s homed on the Front End Server.

With new reports and expanded current ones, does Monitoring Server have a farther reach than its 2010 predecessor? Does it monitor things Lync Server 2010 didn’t?


What Monitoring Server (Lync 2013 Version) Monitors

  • Usage information on all communication sessions. VoIP calls, conferencing, and IM.
  • Peer-to-Peer session information. Any two users communicating in any Lync medium (including application sharing and video, as I mentioned above).
  • Any failures in communication sessions (logged per user and in aggregate), including which failures occurred most frequently and where the failures originated.
  • Response Group Usage data.
  • Lists and data of Call Admission Control-restricted activities.
  • Metrics on call quality, signaling issues such as jitter, location data and devices used by Lync Server.
  • Details on calls made and received.

Pretty much everything it monitored before, plus some new reports on voice quality and expanded reporting for more developed services in 2013, like video calls and sharing.

Still, it doesn’t cover everything.

What Monitoring Server (2013 Version) DOES NOT Monitor

  • Since Archiving Server is still around, it’s responsible for contents of IM sessions, conferences, whiteboards and phone calls. Not Monitoring Server.
  • Monitoring for the Windows Servers on which Lync is installed. Sorry, it still doesn’t cover the Windows Server! Make sure to install a server monitoring tool.
  • Non-Lync Server application logging. If you have other services homed on the same server (which I don’t recommend!), Monitoring Server will not report on them.

Monitoring in Lync Server 2013 covers everything its 2010 predecessor does–as well as the new capabilities introduced in 2013. It does remain Lync-specific though. Which is good; focusing on the complexities of Lync processes means we have plenty of data for support and growth.

One thing to note: If you use the Monitoring Dashboard to keep track of Lync Server activity, remember that it only displays reports going back 6 months. Reports are NOT deleted after 6 months – they just aren’t shown in the Dashboard. Refer to specific reports if you need data older than that.


That’s it for 2013! We’re taking off for the next 2 weeks. PlanetMagpie wishes all our Lync Insider readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

I’ll see you all back here the week of January 6th, for a fresh start in 2014. Take care!


2 Results From (and 2 Warnings About) Monitoring Your Lync Servers

Byron Spurlock has put up a post about Lync Monitoring at WindowsITPro.com.
Why Should You Monitor Microsoft Lync Server 2013? – Windows IT Pro

The post is very well-detailed. It makes a solid case for deploying the Monitoring Server role in just about every Lync Server 2013 installation.

I insist that everyone read his post. Really, I can’t do a better job of explaining why admins should monitor Lync Server.

All I’ll do in this week’s post is list a couple ways Monitoring Reports have helped us out. And a couple warnings to keep in mind with regards to Monitoring.

2 Results Monitoring Helped With

RESULT #1: After we installed Lync Server 2013 earlier this year, some users reported trouble connecting remotely on their phones. We checked Monitoring Reports, and determined that remote access had enough bandwidth. In-office calls worked well.

Maybe it was a version problem? Sure enough, people with Lync 2010 on their phones couldn’t connect, while people with Lync 2013 could. We updated the Client Version Policy to encourage 2013 adoption, and everyone was fine.

RESULT #2: At a client site this summer, phone calls were frequently dropped. When they did connect, call quality was terrible. We checked the usual issues – low Enterprise Voice bandwidth, configuration – but it seemed okay. The client did not have Monitoring Server installed.

We added it to their Front End, and checked back a week later. The Monitoring Reports revealed that jitter was horrible – over 30ms, I think. The problem was in one of their wireless routers – it just wasn’t up to the job of VoIP. We replaced it and their jitter problems went away.

2 Warnings to Keep in Mind with Monitoring

WARNING #1: Adding Monitoring does increase the hardware requirements on your Front End server. And you’ll need to put SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) on your DB server. More server roles, more processing & memory power needed. It isn’t much more, but factor this in when laying out your topology.

WARNING #2: Monitoring doesn’t cover everything. In 2011 I wrote What Monitoring Server Monitors – and What It Doesn’t. In the post I mentioned that Monitoring Server does not report on the Windows Server Lync is hosted on, nor on non-Lync applications. This was in reference to 2010, but it still holds true.

(Hmm. I should write an updated version of that.)

That’s all I want to add. Byron, you did a great job with your post. Now that you’ve read mine, make sure to go read his!

Do you have Monitoring Server installed right now? What do you use its reports for the most?


How Many SQL Servers Do You Need to Run Lync?

Front End, Mediation, Monitoring, Archiving, Edge, Chat…with all these servers running, Lync Server 2013 must need a lot of database storage.

But how much is required? How many SQL Servers should a Lync administrator deploy?

Some of Lync requires a SQL Server database; some does not. But you’ll need to decide how many beforehand, because each SQL Server instance must be installed and available PRIOR to setting up their databases (via Topology Builder or PowerShell).

So let’s go through, server by server, and figure it out.


Standard Edition Front End Server

We start off easy. Standard Edition Server comes with its own database – SQL Server 2012 Express. It’s even auto-configured when you install Standard Edition Server.

SQL Server Instances Required (Minimum): 0


Enterprise Edition Front End Server

Of course, Front End requires a SQL Server instance. It needs a place to store the back-end database. Next!

Mediation Server

A critical server, many admins debate whether to collocate Mediation Server on a Front End Pool, or place it standalone. However, you don’t need a separate SQL Server instance for it.

Monitoring & Archiving

Since both the Monitoring and Archiving Servers can be collocated on Front End in Lync Server 2013, they can use the same SQL Server as Front End. They will each have a database to themselves (and you should install SQL Server Reporting Services too, for Monitoring).
–Placing these databases on their own SQL server instead would provide an extra security layer, if properly configured. But for most small or mid-size deployments, it’s not necessary.


Our friend the Director, standing guard against the tide of harmful access attempts. Since it has no users homed on it, it doesn’t really need its own database.

Persistent Chat

Persistent Chat stores your chat history, configuration and user provisions in a SQL database. You can install a second database to store compliance data, if you like. Both of these databases can reside in the same SQL Server instance as the Front End Server’s.

Edge Server

Remote access, enabling mobility…Edge Server must require a separate SQL Server for itself, right? To protect all that important connection data?

Well…Yes and No. Edge Server runs SQL Express Edition for a local CMS. Another instance of SQL Server is not required.

SQL Server Instances Required (Minimum): 1

(Reference: Server Collocation in an Enterprise Edition Front End Pool Deployment – TechNet Library)

Of course you can create multi-system SQL Server pools if you like.  Or use mirroring, or clustering for higher availability. I’ll cover those later on.

Oh, one last thing! Remember that Lync Server 2013 requires you use Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1, or Microsoft SQL Server 2012. Don’t forget!

How many SQL Server databases are you running in your Lync pools?


Persistent Chat: What it Is and How You Use It (Part 1 of 2)

While talking with our Lync team about training subjects to cover, I realized I hadn’t blogged about Chat in a while. And I should! It’s a very useful part of Lync Server (especially in 2013).

So, this will be the first of a double-post on Persistent Chat. The first post will go over what persistent chat is, and what’s been changed from Group Chat in Lync Server 2010. The second post will cover how to use Persistent Chat’s chat rooms, as well as some potential roles these chat rooms can play in your organization.

Ready? Open up Lync and let’s go!

Persistent Chat: Group Chat’s Stronger Successor

Last year I posted a ‘Group Chat 101’, saying Group Chat “provides text-based chat rooms where chats are recorded and searchable.”

Persistent Chat for Lync Server 2013 is still centered around this idea of recorded chat rooms. But it’s received some upgrades from the 2010 version.

Persistent Chat lets you create Chat Rooms within the Lync client. These Chat Rooms are spaces where you and other Lync users can share information. This information is archived in the Chat Room log. In the future, if you or someone else needs to refer to that information, they can look up the Chat Room log. And if necessary, update it with new information. Which is again archived for future reference.

Okay, so how is Persistent Chat different from Group Chat then?

The upgrades came in the form of integration. Group Chat was a separate download from Lync Server 2010. You had to use a separate client for chatting, too. Within the client you created a Chat Room, which users joined like they would a multiparty IM. Except Group Chat logs were accessible to everyone (who had proper permissions).

For those of you who used IRC (Internet Relay Chat), Group Chat was almost identical. But that same functionality also meant Group Chat was a less flexible, less dynamic communication tool than Lync’s Instant Messaging.

With Persistent Chat, a lot changed. Persistent Chat is now an included server role in Lync Server 2013. Install it via Topology Builder during Lync setup. (For a how-to, visit Matt Landis’ blog: Step by Step Installing Lync Server 2013 Persistent Chat Collocated on Standard Edition Front End – Windows PBX & UC Blog)

Chat Room functionality is also built into the Lync 2013 desktop client. You can access chat rooms as easily as you do IM.
Lync Nav Bar-Chat Rooms

See? It’s right there on Lync’s top nav bar, between Contacts and Conversation History.

Create a chat room in Lync, or access existing rooms (those you have permission to access, of course!). I’ll cover specifics on how to use chat rooms in the next post.

Right now, you may be wondering something.

“Why would we use Persistent Chat in the first place? It sounds a lot like IM already!”

Both are text-based conversations, yes. Both allow for multiple users to chat, share links or files, and so on. But Instant Message and Persistent Chat aren’t quite the same. And it’s their differences that make Persistent Chat valuable.

See, IM is a LIVE conversation. If someone’s offline, you can’t talk with them. Also, IM logs are stored locally, in your own Conversation History. If you want to review a conversation someone else had, you’ll have to ask them to send you the log. You can’t access it on your own.

IM conversations are, essentially, private. Persistent Chat conversations are not.

How are non-private chat logs valuable? Because Persistent Chat logs turn a business conversation into an information asset for everyone. Think of a chat log like notes from a meeting – valuable insight from those events, captured for everyone’s future reference.

Sounds pretty valuable to me!

Next post, I’ll show you how to use Persistent Chat in Lync, and list some potential uses you can derive from it. See you then!

Do you currently use Persistent Chat or Group Chat? What do you use it for the most?


Moving to Lync Server 2013: Build Out Mediation, Monitoring, Archiving and Edge (Part 6)

First off, hello to everyone at the Lync Conference!

I really wanted to make it down, but it just didn’t happen. Makes me sad…lots of Lync announcements (and goodies) I’m missing out on!

If you want to follow the action (like me), check out these people on Twitter:

Now, back to the Lync Server 2013 install process.

Last time, I mentioned that we had to upgrade Active Directory in order to acquire Certificate Services 2012. While we waited for it to install, Larry and I proceeded with building out Lync’s additional server roles: Mediation, Monitoring, Archiving, and Edge.

Mediation: In Place Already, SIP Trunk Needed

First up, Mediation. In Part 3 we’d selected the option to collocate the Mediation Server with the Front End pool. So it was already created. However, we needed to configure a SIP trunk for it.

We had already requested an IP for the SIP trunk; it came from a hosted SIP provider. To define it, we right-clicked “PSTN Gateway” in Topology Builder and selected “New IP/PSTN Gateway…”

Trunk Configuration steps are as follows:

  • Define the PSTN Gateway FQDN (The field will accept an IP address as well)
  • Enable IPv4 or IPv6. (We chose IPv4.)
    • Sub-Option: “Use all configured IP addresses” or “Limit Service Usage to selected IP addresses”. We chose Limit Service Usage, and entered an internal IP.
  • Define Root Trunk. We entered:
    • A Trunk Name (the same gateway IP)
    • A Listening port for gateway (the default is 5067; we changed it to 5068)
    • A SIP transport protocol (default is TLS; we changed to TCP)
    • Associated Mediation Server (we used the pre-set value)
    • Associated Mediation Server port (default is 5067; it changed to 5068 when we changed the listening port).

Click Finish. Trunk configured! We tested it (later) by making phone calls to a test number.

Install Monitoring & Archiving Servers

Since Monitoring & Archiving Servers are add-ons to Front End in Lync 2013, all we needed to do was create a new SQL database for them, and configure the servers in Topology Builder.

Larry had created a new SQL database already, so we proceeded with installing the Monitoring and Archiving add-ons.

(If you need assistance setting up SQL databases for Monitoring and Archiving, refer to the first half of this post:
Step by Step Installing Lync Server 2013 Monitoring Role Collocated on Standard Edition Front End – Part 2: Matt Landis Windows PBX & UC Report )

Right-click your Standard Edition Front End Pool in Topology Builder. Click Edit Properties.

The Properties window should open displaying General properties. Scroll down until you see the “Archiving” option. Check the box.

Click the “New…” button next to “Archiving SQL Server Store”. A new window will open.

We entered the SQL database name (formatted like this: sql01.domainname.dom). We chose a Named Instance, and labeled it “Archiving”. We left the mirroring values on defaults. Click OK and you’re done.

Below this on the Properties window is the “Monitoring (CDR and QoE metrics)” option. Click “New…” next to this as well. You’ll see the same new window as Archiving. We entered the same SQL database name, but labeled this one “Monitoring” to differentiate. All other values left on defaults.

Click OK to close the box. And OK again to close Properties!

(Don’t forget to Publish the topology once these changes are made.)

Installing Edge

Certificate Services 2012 still had not finished setup. So we logged into the designated Edge Server instead.

We ran Lync Setup. After specifying an install location, the core components installed, just like the main Lync install.

Next, the Deployment Wizard pops up. Like I said in Part 2, install Administration Tools first (for Topology Builder).

After that, click “Install/Update Lync Server” like before. We selected “Import from File” when prompted, and navigated to the saved topology file in C:Support.

1 Error: Prerequisite not satisfied.
Remember a few weeks ago, when I said to make sure Windows Identity Foundation” was installed? It wasn’t on this virtualized server. We opened Server Manager, added the “Windows Identity Foundation” service…and no more error.

Resuming Lync setup, I found that it auto-starts the prerequisite install. Plus it moves straight to “Install Edge Server”. You should see Installing Server.msi (Feature_Server_Edge) in the progress window.

Time to request a cert. We tried using the same cert as before (due to the multiple SANs listed within it). In the Certificate Assignment window, we deactivated “Edge Internal” for now (we’d need the local root from the new AD/Cert Services for that).

Right now, we’d just set up the External Edge certificate. We chose to “Import Certificate” from the saved text file; no problems. Then we clicked Assign.

Error! No certs appear in the list.

We tried this a few times with no change. Then Larry looked further into the cert structure. After many frustrating re-import attempts, he found the issue.

It turns out that the private key had not exported with the cert. Even though it was from the same server, we had to repair the key and re-export it before the Edge Server could see it.

*This was NOT a Lync-related error; it came from our own networking environment. I’m posting it in case you encounter the error as well.

Thing is, Lync Server 2013 DID give us an error right after this. A serious error that stopped us in our tracks.

I’ll devote the next “Moving to Lync Server 2013” post to it.

Until then, join me in following the Lync Conference!


Will we need to upgrade SQL Server for Lync Server 2013?

Welcome back everyone! It’s a new year, and time for new Lync Insider posts.

We’ll start today with a short one on Lync Server 2013 (because I have many, many emails to catch up on!)

Last month I asked a quick question – is SQL Server 2012 required to run Lync Server 2013?

If you’re wondering too, the answer is…No. But a 64-bit edition of SQL Server IS required.

Step Right Up and Pick Your Database Version, All Accepted

Lync Server 2013 (Enterprise Edition) can use the following versions of SQL Server:

  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition
  • SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition
  • SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition

But no matter which version you choose, it must be 64-bit. Like the rest of Lync Server.

(There’s also SQL Server Express, but it comes with Standard Edition so you don’t need to worry about it.)

And make sure you stay consistent! Don’t try to use a SQL Server 2008 database for the backend, and then install SQL Server 2012 for Monitoring. You’ll end up with DB issues aplenty (and I don’t even think mirroring will work!).

Can You Upgrade? Then Go For It! If Not, Wait a While

In our Lync Server installations, we’ve been moving toward SQL Server 2012 most of the time. Even on servers running Windows Server 2008. The performance is just smoother.

So if you can work a SQL upgrade in, by all means! It’ll do nothing but help. But if it’s too early in the year and you need to wait, that’s okay too.

Here is some reference documentation for you, on configuring SQL Server for use with Lync Server 2013.
Configure SQL Server for Lync Server 2013 – Microsoft TechNet

Which database server are you using (or planning to use) for Lync Server 2013?


Another Use for Lync Whiteboards

Now that Lync Server 2013 will Archive them…

Whiteboards are a handy tool in Lync Server. Anyone can draw or write on them during the meeting, making the whiteboard a great visual aid for common understanding.

But Lync Server 2010 had a serious disadvantage when it came to whiteboards: They were not archived via Archiving Server.

Problem: Whiteboards Not Archived. You could lose all the understanding!

Why Whiteboards were not included in Archiving Server for Lync 2010, I couldn’t say. Maybe the visual medium just didn’t lend itself well. Or maybe the data couldn’t be effectively stored without mangling it.

Either way, Microsoft decided not to archive whiteboards. Everything you wrote on them would be lost once the conference ended.

(Unless someone saved the whiteboard to their computer. But how often did you close the board…and suddenly realize no one did that?)

Fortunately for all of us who make good use of Lync Conferencing, the next version of Lync (2013) comes to our rescue. Whiteboards will be included in Lync Server 2013 Archiving.

Everything you draw – diagrams, idea maps, schematics, doodles. Everything attendees write on them – notes, reference numbers, URLs. Saved for later. Yay!

Thinking about this for a few minutes, I realized that this actually magnified the value of a Whiteboard. With their information preserved, other uses become available to Lync users.

4 Alternate Whiteboard Uses (Thanks to Lync Server 2013)

What extra value would an archived Whiteboard bring? Here’s 4 ideas I came up with.

1. Project Stage Reports.
Meetings are often called to discuss where everyone is on a customer project. Use archived whiteboards as “snapshots” of where a project is at the time.

2. Compliance Documentation.
Archiving is near-priceless to legal compliance. An archived whiteboard provides a canvas on which you can draw visual aids to your documentation.

3. Support Archive.
Since boards are archived, a support team can collaborate on solutions for one problem, and then archive the discussion (automatically) for later reference.

4. Questions Time Post-Presentation.
After you give a presentation using a Whiteboard, share it with participants who have questions. They can ask their questions, you discuss answers–and it’s all archived for you. So if someone asks a similar question later on, and you’re sure you answered that one in the presentation but it’s not in your notes…

If you aren’t using the Whiteboard, start when you move to Lync 2013

I think of Whiteboards as a visual complement to conference discussion (audio). They’re a great way to capture thought flow and ‘ideas as they come’.

Now that Lync Server 2013 will archive them, they’re even more useful. How will you use the Whiteboard next time?


Caution: Remember that Lync Server 2013 Preview IS a Preview

A Lync 2013 question has floated my way. I had one direct email, and a couple questions sent from various social media. (Yep, we’re on Twitter and Facebook. Even Google+ too!)

In the Lync Server 2013 Preview Edition, Monitoring & Archiving are add-ons to the Standard Edition Front End server. Which means more functions are loaded onto one physical server.

Is it possible to install the SQL databases for Monitoring and Archiving…on a SEPARATE server?

It seems possible. After all, you can do this in Lync Server 2010.

And there’s this line in the 2013 TechNet Library about installing Monitoring Server Libraries:

3. “In the Deploy Monitoring Reports wizard, on the Specify Monitoring Database page, make sure that the fully qualified domain name of the computer hosting your monitoring store appears in the Monitoring database dropdown list. (If you have multiple monitoring stores you will need to select the appropriate server from the dropdown list.) Verify that the correct SQL Server instance appears in the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) instance box (for example, atl-sql-001.litwareinc.com/archinst) and then click Next.”

Is it something we’d want to try in a Preview Edition though?

Is better performance worth modifying a Lync Preview Edition?

Let’s take a look at the installation process.

Fortunately, Matt Landis has another helpful post for this: Part 2 of his “Step By Step Installing Lync Server 2013” series. This one is focused on installing Monitoring Server.

The process is very straightforward: Log into your 2013 Preview Front End Server, install SQL Server 2008 R2 (or 2012 if you prefer), and configure its services for Lync Monitoring.

The important thing to note here is that the instructions have SQL Server being installed on the Lync 2013 Front End. NOT a separate instance.

Could it be done on a separate server? It does seem possible to me. But I admit; I’m not the office’s SQL guru.

So is this a smart thing to test with a Preview Edition? Would moving the Monitoring/Archiving databases net better performance than installing SQL on the same physical server?

I doubt it. In fact, I think performance is the wrong reason to modify Lync Server 2013’s configuration.

Experiment with Lync Server 2013…But Remember, the Full Version isn’t Here Yet

I’m NOT suggesting you shouldn’t experiment with 2013 Preview. That’s what it’s for!

What I AM saying is that the Preview Edition has limits, and while pushing those limits shouldn’t hurt anything, it’s not the best use of your time.

If your testing server meets the Lync 2013 hardware requirements, performance shouldn’t be an issue. Standard Edition, even with SQL Server installed, should work just fine for testing.

The best use of your time as an administrator is to become familiar with Lync Server 2013’s operations. Install it (Matt’s post series is a great guide), deploy test users and monitor its output.

Change a file store location. Add, then remove servers. Test different voice routes. Build dial plans you can use later.

All great uses of the Lync 2013 Preview.

But remember: this IS a limited edition of the software. Push it and it’ll break on you.

(That may be a useful learning experience! But reinstalling over & over is a waste of our valuable time, isn’t it?)


P.S. – If anyone out there has already succeeded in separating Monitoring and SQL Server between physical servers, please email in or comment! I’d love to hear how you did it.