Tag: OCS 2007 R2

Lync Usage Poll Results

Short post this week – We have a major site launch in the works, and another coming up right after it.

But I promised to return to the Lync usage poll I put up 2 weeks ago. So, here we are! I have some good results from the poll, and some reflection on your votes. Here are the poll results:

POLL – What type of Lync Server do you use?
Lync Server 2010 (On-Premise) – 7 votes
Lync Server 2013 (On-Premise) – 29 votes
Lync Server 2013 (Hosted) – 0 votes
Lync Online – 1 vote
OCS 2007 – 1 vote (write-in)

Thank you to everyone who did vote. I will leave the poll up here if you didn’t get a chance before.

Lync Server Usage: 2013 Most Popular, Some Surprises Between On-Premise and Online

That Lync Server 2013 (On-Premise) was #1 makes sense to me. It’s the latest version, with many more capabilities than the other choices.

I didn’t expect someone to write in OCS 2007 though. Lone reader/voter, I’d love to know why you’re still using it. Upgrade hassle? Does it fulfill a proprietary need? Please comment or email me!

I’m also a little surprised by the number of Lync Server 2010 users. I actually thought the numbers would be a little more even between 2010 on-premise and 2013 on-premise.

It’s one of those situations where I’m glad to be wrong! While Lync 2010 was a good system and had a lot of appeal, 2013 is much more powerful & flexible. The upgrade path isn’t as scary as some people have mentioned to me.

Zero votes for the Lync Server 2013 (Hosted) option makes me think I should have clarified that a bit more. By this I mean running a full-version Lync Server 2013 instance, in a hosted/cloud data center. You get the full power of Lync Server, but without installing extra servers on-site. We actually do this for a couple of customers now, via our Private Cloud Service.  Hope that didn’t confuse anyone!

Lastly, Lync Online. Only 1 voter for Microsoft’s Office 365 service. Given the rancor posted to NextHop about Lync Online’s service quality, this doesn’t surprise me either.

That said, I suppose now’s a good time to explain why we don’t recommend it to most businesses.

As I mentioned in “Lync Blogs are Disappearing,” on-premises Lync Server has more options & more power than Lync Online. Though we may see PSTN calling added to Lync Online soon, we don’t know when. And there are other capabilities Lync Server 2013 has which we may never see in Lync Online.

The same is true of Office 2013 overall vs. the Office 365 offerings. Many people will never use Word’s more advanced functions, but they’re there nonetheless.

I don’t blame anyone for wanting to save money up-front. In that respect, Office 365 seems appealing. However, its regular billing adds up over time. In the long term, you’re paying a lot for decreased capacity.

The only time I WOULD recommend Office 365/Lync Online is for a small-but-growing business who wants to temporarily test out the Lync communications system. In this case, Office 365 becomes a useful stepping stone into a full-version Lync Server implementation. Would it work for your business? Well, here’s a way to find out!

Again, thanks to everyone who voted. I will put up more polls in the future, so you can be heard more often. As always, the Lync Insider Blog welcomes feedback & questions!

Next time (provided I have enough time to make a solid post on it) we’ll discuss using Lync Server as an alternative to LogMeIn. Don’t forget to sign up for email reminders in the right column, so you won’t miss out!

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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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Know Where to Go for Help: 20 Tasks Every Lync Administrator Should Know

Admit it – sometimes we just can’t figure out what the heck Lync Server is doing. It’s not behaving and we don’t know why. We need help.

Every Lync administrator should have good documentation & support material around. (Like this blog!) It’s a necessary part of day-to-day practice. And even more crucial when something breaks.

I’d planned to save this post for the last of the “20 Tasks” series. But, a newly-published guide made me decide to go ahead. It’s #1 in the following list, so check it out!

The rest are all resources we’ve used at PlanetMagpie for Lync troubleshooting. These are all excellent places to go for help. Read and enjoy!

1. Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit

Always check the documentation first. And as of yesterday (August 16th), we have brand-new Lync documentation! Download the new Resource Kit here and keep it handy. Yes, Microsoft released the Resource Kit for free! (Thanks to DrRez for the announcement.)

2. Lync Server 2010 TechNet Library

This library has been partially supplanted by the Resource Kit (which is more up-to-date). But the library is broken up into more subtopics, so it’s easier to find helpful material at a glance. Check here while you’re browsing the Resource Kit; you’ll double your chances of running into a solution.

3. Lync Love – Lync Server & Unified Communications Blogs

Check with bloggers. If you’re having a problem, chances are someone else has too. Start with my Lync Love post for some good blog links.

4. Microsoft’s Lync Server Forums

THE forum for Lync (and OCS) questions. Every area of Lync Server has its own section, and hundreds of users sharing information. If you still have a question, ask it here. Chances are you’ll have an answer in no time.

Even a few minutes’ digging will show you how much information is contained within these resources. The Resource Kit alone is over 30MB of documentation!

Do you go someplace else for Lync help? What’s the URL?

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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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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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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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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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OCS on the iPad? You'd Be Missing Something

I'm not a huge Apple fan. But I've played with a couple iPads friends have bought in recent months. I sat down to write today's post and my thoughts trailed toward the iPad.

I thought, “Since OCS' Communicator will run on the iPhone, would it work on the iPad too?”

On the surface there's no reason why not. The iPad is larger. Better screen. It has a microphone and speaker built-in. Just about everything in Communicator DOES work on iPad – IM, VoIP, audio conferencing.

Except for one thing – video conferencing.

Why? The iPad doesn't have a webcam.

With a tablet, you'd expect the ability to do video calls. Sure, you could watch the other person talking to you if THEY had a webcam. But they couldn't see you – not without a webcam plugged in (somehow). Only hear you. And that's at best a clunky solution for an otherwise-slick mobile platform.

Why Consider OCS on the iPad/Tablets?

The iPad has kicked off a big interest in tablet PCs. At least some of the 3 million iPads sold are used by businesses already. (I saw a bunch used as slideshow displays at the Web 2.0 Expo.) With Dell, Samsung and other companies rushing for the tablet market, it's practically a given that tablets will be used as PC replacements in force.

When we get there though, will OCS be viable for communications on them? That's the question.

Conferencing/VoIP on Tablets – A Future Possibility

At this point it's largely a matter of speculation. Even on the current fast-track, companies probably won't embrace tablets for mobile communications soon. (Not while laptops & smartphones do the job.) I'm sure Microsoft will make OCS apps for tablets. But they may not see widespread VoIP or conferencing use, even if tablets go mainstream in business.

At least,until Apple puts a camera in the iPad.

What do you think? Are iPads (or other tablets) slipping into your workplace? Do you think they'd be viable communications devices,for everything from IM to Conferencing?

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No Response, Please Try Your Call Again

The OCS Insider will be back next week. I'm heading out for a business trip in just a few minutes. I'll be back in time for next week's post.

Speaking of, which of these topics would you like to hear more about?

  • OCS 2007 R2 Support
  • OCS 2010
  • Voice over IP
  • Using OCS for Conferencing (audio or video)
  • OCS-Related Hardware
  • Usability Tips

Leave a comment, or email me and let me know! Catch you all later.

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