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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Skype for Business – Cloud Connector Edition – Is it right for you?

As Microsoft push towards a cloud first / only model for Skype for Business enterprise voice a new server role has come about. Cloud Connector Edition. What is it? What hardware do I need? What are the requirements? What is it used for? Do I need it? What if I already have Skype for Business on-premises? How does it integrate with my legacy PBX? – All these questions are very pertinent and critically, misunderstanding the technology can lead to large scale business impacts if not fully understood. Let’s take a look by answering these questions below.

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Managing SIP Identities in Skype for Business Online

As we prepare for the migration from on-premises Skype for Business to Skype for Business Online, there are a few important considerations to bear in mind before you take the leap. I will be covering these in a series of posts (hopefully), today I want to share with you a common scenario we will face while preparing for migration.

We are well aware of the pre-requisite for Office 365 that demands an Active Directory synchronised user must have a publically routable User Principal Name (UPN). So critical is this requirement that it is now engrained in every consultant’s mind and increasingly customers are becoming more aware of this without us even mentioning it. However, this can often produce its own unique challenges.

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Skype for Business Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling – 5 Steps to Success

We are all waiting with a mix of excitement and trepidation for when Microsoft reveal Cloud PBX generally available. It’s coming, December 1st 2015 will be key milestone date for everyone with an enterprise Office 365 tenant. We are about to experience probably the largest technology shift the IT world has seen since virtualisation became mainstream almost 10 years ago. Telephony has traditionally been an on-premises only solution from every vendor. There have been some attempts (even by Microsoft) to deliver a hosted telephony model in the past that have either failed miserably, or not scalable or reliable enough to support hundreds / thousands of endpoints.

However, all this is about to change as the Microsoft juggernaut is about to unleash it’s latest cutting edge solution – Cloud PBX. Leveraging the power of the infinitely scalable Office 365 platform and the additional horsepower Azure provides, there is absolutely no doubt Cloud PBX will be a massive success for Microsoft, but it will also signal a tectonic shift in the future direction of telephony. Competitors such as Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel to name a few will ultimately have to embrace this technology shift and acknowledge that a hosted PBX model is now the most viable and cost effective solution to deliver enterprise voice capabilities. Microsoft, have just been brave enough to do it first and hats off to them for taking the jump.

In the past, a hosted model hasn’t been the best model to adopt for telephony. The reasons for this were mainly down to scalability, consistency, reliability and of course quality. There was a significant lack of an end to end, single vendor solution that could guarantee all these requirements from the user’s desk to the PSTN over a hosted platform. Microsoft made the decision a few years ago to go cloud first and become less of a OS vendor and align more towards a IaaS and SaaS provider. The service subscription cost model means consistent and increased revenue and Microsoft use this for designing their cloud infrastructure and service offerings without the hindrance of customer on premises equipment or budget. This means Microsoft are able to develop and invest in new features and services rapidly which ensures they stay ahead of the curve. As a result, Office 365 has matured, services that were not possible in the cloud a year ago have now not only been made available, they have surpassed their on-premises equivalent making Office 365 the de-facto choice for many productivity work streams.

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Configuring and Controlling Skype Broadcast Meetings using PowerShell

Skype Broadcast Meetings (BCM) are just around the corner. They will be going live and generally available to all Office 365 enterprise tenants before the 2015 is out. At the moment, the service is still in global preview and I have to say, super excited for when this service becomes production ready. Up to now the integration between BCM hybrid and online only environments is a bit messy if I am honest. Microsoft will be working on making BCM integrate more seamlessly with Office 365 for its GA release (I hope and expect).

However, I was busy updating my Skype for Business Online HLD template I use for work and when connecting to my tenant to grab policy information, I discovered that there are new PowerShell commandlets for controlling broadcast meetings.

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Skype for Business Client Sign in Workflow Chart (External)

There are some great deep dive articles on the internet about the Lync / Skype for Business sign in process. I wanted to add to these by looking at the process from a client perspective. What is the actual workflow and behaviour of the client when a user attempts to login from a workstation?

In an attempt to explain this process I have put together a workflow chart that lists all the key decision / request points the client makes on its journey to sign in the user which we will come to later (If you don’t want to read – scroll to the bottom). First, to gather the behaviour I interrogated the local application log file and followed the log from client launch to first instant message. (Apologies in advance for the abundance of screenshots).

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