I was tweeted the other day from a follower about how to migrate to Skype for Business from Lync 2013 and further searching social media it seems that us Skype for Business consultants / experts or enthusiasts have blogged with all excitement about the new in place upgrade method and somehow, other migration strategies have perhaps been lost in all the hype. Therefore, I thought I would write a quick post on the other migration strategies you can adopt and not talk about in place upgrade at all from this point on.
If you are considering migrating from your existing Lync deployment to Skype for Business then you must consider the precursor environmental requirements before committing yourself.
It should be with no surprise that Microsoft have indeed allowed N -2 native compatibility with Skype for Business. This means you can perform a migration to Skype for Business if you are currently running Lync 2010 or Lync 2013 within your domain. Native means, that you must not have a mixture of OCS 2007 servers in your OCS 2007 R2 topology, no OCS 2007 R2 servers in your Lync 2010 topology and no Lync 2010 servers in your Lync 2013 topology. All servers in your topology must be running the same version of Lync throughout.
If you have a mixed topology of legacy OCS or Lync servers, then you must migrate these servers to the required version that your topology supports. How do you do this? Traditionally, OCS and Lync migrations have been what we call Side-by-Side migrations. By this we mean you must stand up new physical or virtual hardware alongside your current deployment, add this to your topology as a Lync 2010 or 2013 Lync role and install the service using the deployment wizard. Once this server is up and running in your topology, you migrate the services over from your legacy server. Once complete, you must remove the legacy server from the topology and remove all components from that legacy server
UPDATE: If you have OCS 2007 R2, you have two upgrade options available. Option 1 is preferred, and is to upgrade to Lync 2013 and then perform an in-place upgrade to Skype for Business. Option 2, is to install a new Skype for Business pool and perform a hard cut over between OCS and Skype for Business. This option is less preferred as it involves users being disabled on OCS and enabled on Skype for Business. The effects of this are that users lose their contact groups, relationships, and future / re-occurring meetings.
Once you have done that and have your Lync topology all native in 2010 or 2013, you can now consider planning for migration to Skype for Business.
Migrating from Lync 2010 or 2013 native topologies to Skype for Business, follows the same side-by-side migration strategy you performed in decommissioning your legacy servers.
Some Skype for Business caveats and requirements:
- You must* use new physical or virtual hardware that meets the Microsoft supported hardware specification for Skype for Business Server 2015. (reference: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/dn951388.aspx)
- I recommend that you use at least Microsoft Windows Server 2012 for your Skype for Business Servers in order to take advantage of the latest Windows Fabric v3 for high availability. Server 2008 R2 is still supported, but not recommended and will surely be deprecated in future releases.
- You must be use SQL 2012 SP2 CU2 or newer for your central management store database but SQL 2014 is recommended and preferred for AlwaysOn. Note that while you can still use SQL mirroring, this is now deprecated and you should as a minimum use SQL clustering. For that you will need SQL Enterprise Edition.
- Important point, do not ignore! You can install the central management database to the same SQL cluster you have for your legacy Lync, as long as it is a separate instance. If you install Skype for Business CMS to the same instance you have Lync CMS installed on, you will overwrite the Lync databases with Skype for Business ones and break your deployment.
- If you have Lync 2010, installing Skype for Business will require Active Directory Schema updates. If you have Lync 2013, there are no schema updates
- Skype for Business does not support single-labelled domains. If you have a domain called domain.local, you will be fine. If you have a domain called just local, Skype for Business will not install. (nothing new)
- Skype for Business does not support renaming of domains either. Therefore once installed you cannot rename your internal Active Directory Domain – Ever! (nothing new)
- And, of course, all servers must be fully updated with the latest Windows Update patches.
So now that you have your new hardware setup, you can now proceed to perform your side-by-side migration, high level steps are:
- Install Skype for Business Front End and Edge Pools with other optional roles such as persistent chat, CQD etc
- Publish External URLs for the new topology
- Obtain trusted certificates
- Migrate users and user’s data from legacy pool to Skype for Business Pool
- Migrate conference data to Skype for Business
- Migrate CMS to Skype for Business
- Decommission legacy Lync pool and hardware
- Enjoy Skype for Business!
* = Can always do in place upgrade if you have Lync 2013 – Highly recommended (sorry had to mention it again)
Looking towards the future, it is pretty accurate to assume that this will be the last side-by-side migration strategy in the Skype for Business evolution. Microsoft have made it pretty clear they favour IPU over the traditional methods, so rather than a new full Skype for Business Server release, we will see small, continuous improvements and features through cumulative updates and hotfixes.