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Skype for Business and Establishing Media Deep Dive

Following on from my blog post on the basics of SIP call setup, I wanted to build on that to incorporate how media is negotiated between clients. Again, this topic has been blogged by others and the purpose of this is to put my understanding into my own words so that I understand and if it helps you, then great!

When a user initiates a call to another endpoint to begin the conversation a SIP INVITE is sent from the calling party to their SIP Proxy which forwards that request. I covered the SIP portion of the message in my previous article here, but SIP in itself will not fully establish the call flow, it will simply connect two or more endpoints together for communication. For voice to pass between endpoints a media stream is required. Whether this is direct between clients, known as P2P (Peer to Peer), or via a media relay server such as the Skype for Business Edge Server, or Mediation Server.


Skype for Business – Snooper and SIP Deep Dive Refresher

This blog is mainly for myself but it may serve anyone who needs a refresher or who is beginning to enter the world of SIP and Skype for Business. Coming from a traditional Microsoft background, when I started with Lync I had no conception of voice, or SIP and spent the best part of my early career actively avoiding anything to do with the subject.

I have never been officially trained on Lync or Voice over IP. All of my knowledge has been a mixture of trial and error, death by fire and reading other people’s blogs. Some might say this is the best way to learn, and while I agree to a point, there are times where I am in a room full of people and feel like the novice still. There are still some areas where I feel I have gaps in my “data bank” as it were. As a result, I often find it difficult to grasp some concepts on how things work outside of Lync / Skype for Business. I have never deployed or administered a Cisco or Avaya PBX system for instance because I just haven’t been in a situation where I have needed to. I am Microsoft, why would I have this experience? But as a Skype consultant you’re expected to have knowledge of these systems to some degree if you are to integrate voice especially.


Skype for Business DDI Number Management using SharePoint Online [BETA]

This year I set myself a little project to see if I could use some of the tools and platforms provided in Office 365 to create something mildly useful. I wanted to start with something basic and achievable without having to spend months and months of trial and error experiments and thought that Phone Number management could be that starter project.

I will preface this blog by stating that there are already various number management solutions out there, some paid and some free and this hasn’t been created to compete with them. It is a project that enables me to learn and develop new skills but also has some use cases that may benefit you, hence the reason for sharing.

Often when I speak with customers and ask them about their number management solution, they invariably say Excel. They’d like to move towards a more suitable product but those offering these solutions are sometimes out of reach of the budget available. Using a basic Excel sheet has it’s own problems, but mainly keeping the thing up to date with all adds, moves and changes. So I thought there must be a way to leverage what is available in just an E1 Office 365 licence to create a middle ground. Something in between Excel and the paid apps must surely be possible?


Skype for Business Conference and “Mute Off” with Plantronics (and others) Headsets

I was browsing the Microsoft Tech Community last night and came across a post by a user saying “Is it possible to stop Skype from announcing Mute Off in meetings” as it was causing them to miss conversations or a chance to interject. This behaviour is not native Lync / Skype for Business. When you go into a mute state the default sound is played, which is a emphasised beep. You can find the actual WAV file in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\15.0\Media folder (or wherever your Office program is installed). The file you are after is LYNC_muting.wav.

When you come off mute, Lync / Skype for Business doesn’t actually play a sound at all, meaning you can interject immediately and miss no parts of the conversation.


Boss / Secretary Scenarios with Anywhere365 – Part 3

In part 2, I described the end user / secretary experience. In this part I wanted to go through more of an advanced scenario. One of the problems with Lync delegate ringing is that when a call comes into the boss, all their delegates will simultaneously ring. For some customers and secretaries, this is a problem because bosses may have a direct secretary that should answer their calls, but equally the secretary has a hierarchy of other bosses secretaries who can answer the call in their absence. For instance, boss 1 mandates that secretary 1 should answer their call as a top priority. Other bosses secretaries should not be disturbed at this point. If secretary 1 does not answer the call due to either being away, or busy on another call, then boss 2’s secretary should answer the call and so on. How do we create this scenario?

(Easter Egg at the end of this article)


Boss / Secretary Scenarios with Anywhere 365 – Part 2

In part 1 of this mini series focussed around boss / secretary scenarios we looked at how to create a simple call flow that would enable secretaries to answer calls originally destined to the boss without the boss every knowing that they had a call. We took this further and created exceptions to allow some people to call the boss directly, but prevented everyone else. In this part, we are going to look at the experience from the secretary’s perspective.

So when the secretary’s client rings, the toast message looks like any other Skype for Business toast. Except that we don’t immediately see the caller ID as we do in a normal toast popup.


Boss / Secretary Scenarios with Anywhere 365 – Part 1

If you are running Lync Server 2013 or later, then there is a boss / admin role built-in to the core that allows you to configure delegates for a boss or manager. However, in order to do this you need SEFAUtil, but more recently in Skype for Business these commands have been introduced into native Powershell. The standard offer from the system for boss / secretary role does not always suit the scenario you are trying to configure for. By default, when enabled the boss’s endpoint will still ring at the same time as the delegates. However, the delegates can pick up calls for the boss using their endpoint (client or desk phone). The delegates can also place a call on hold and the boss can pick up the call on their endpoint. Another feature is that the deleagte can place calls on behalf of the boss.

Now for most situations this functionality is sufficient, but what happens if the boss does not want their endpoint to ring? What about if there is a dedicated secretary for a boss, but if they are not available a secretary of another boss should get the call? These scenarios become more challenging to configure that increase system admin effort, and also the end user experience is less than desirable.


Skype for Business – Niggle Notes – Login & Routing Performance

I wanted to share with you some notes from the field as it where. The most common problems I see in deployments that where either PoC’s come production or just bad habits. I am not sure the reason why so many fall foul to these common mistakes, but they seriously impact the performance of Skype for Business. This post is a collection of a few of these that I have come across, and hopefully will help you not make the same mistakes.


Microsoft Teams is nothing new and Skype for Business or is it Skype? Understanding the message

At first glance you may be thinking that this post is going to be a scathing review of Microsoft technology. Well sadly for you, its not. The title is simply to grab your attention and at least make you read up to about here…. right?!?

In all seriousness, this is a contentious topic of which I am going to place my ten pence worth down on now. A lot has happened this Autumn (or fall for my American cousins). We have seen the introduction of Microsoft Teams and the announcements around Skype meetings, Skype Meeting Broadcasts and new Skype clients for the Apple family.

Those eagle eyed followers will notice that the last sentence lacked the words “for Business”. That’s not because I am lazy. In fact, I am disappointed because it means that most of my blog posts are going to be about 200 words less from now on! No, the reason is that Microsoft have been dropping the “for business” when delivering marketing messages around the Skype for Business (one last time). This has left a lot of us and our customers confused on what Microsoft are trying to convey with this.


Porting Numbers to Cloud PBX–What the blogs don’t say

There are many good blogs out there that detail how to port numbers to Cloud PBX, Microsoft pretty much have it organised in this article https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/Transfer-phone-numbers-to-Skype-for-Business-Online-47b3af8e-4171-4dec-8333-c956f108664e. However, if porting numbers is a new thing to you, there are some things you need to know when transferring your customer numbers to Cloud PBX.


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