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Moving On…

I’ve not blogged on this site for quite some time, in fact a year now. Logging into the site to post this was a challenge in itself. As probably you can imagine, the blog is now retired. Trying to put aside the time these days for a personal blog is impossible with my other ventures and work.

I have not left the community, far from it, I’ve even recently been reawarded MVP but my endeavours are now solely with Commsverse. 

I do occasionally blog technical content when I can, but that will be on the Commsverse blog. If you are wondering what Commsverse is, well its a Community Tech Conference about Teams. Perhaps you will head over there and attend an event in the future.

For now, though, this blog is now here for archive purposes. I won’t be adding to it or responding to comments on articles anymore.

Thank you for your support over the years here, I’ve enjoyed it. Maybe I will come back to this in the future, who knows.


Until then,

Peace Out!

Creating a Cloud Auto Attendant or Cloud Call Queue for both On-Premises and Teams Only Users

With Exchange Unified Messaging being removed from Exchange Online In February 2020 and being already removed from Exchange Server 2019, organizations have to be actively planning a replacement for all Exchange UM Auto Attendants that is currently in use. This guide will explain what is required, how to configure Cloud Auto Attendants and Cloud Call Queues, and how to validate the newly created Cloud Auto Attendant(s) and/or Cloud Call Queue(s).

NOTE: This guide pertains primarily to organizations that are using Skype for Business Server on-premises with Exchange UM, not cloud-only customers.

This guide will be broken down into four main sections:

  • Planning & Prerequisites

  • Setup Process

  • Testing & Validation

  • Clean Up

Planning & Prerequisites

What is happening?

Exchange Online UM is to be turned off in February 2020 and after that, all Auto-Attendants will no longer work. Voicemail services that are currently provided by Exchange UM will be automatically migrated to the new Cloud Voicemail service, however, Auto Attendants need to be manually migrated. The goal of publishing this guide is to make users aware of Exchange Online UM’s impending doom and to push for the need of migrating to the new cloud services to prevent down-time for one’s organization. This guide will take an existing Exchange UM Auto Attendant, remove it from the environment and provide the steps to use a modern Cloud Auto Attendant.

In regards to Cloud Call Queues, there is no major need to migrate to the service if you are wanting to keep all existing users on-premises with Response Groups. Where they become extremely useful is for migrating users to Microsoft Teams as Cloud Call Queues can be used to dial both Microsoft Teams Users and Skype for Business Server/Online users.

Benefits of Cloud Auto Attendants and Cloud Call Queues

This is a cloud built application that works with both on-premises and cloud-based users

  • Useful for organizations not moving to Microsoft Teams over-night and need to retain interop with both on-premises and cloud-based users

  • No need to convert audio files to a single-channel WAV format

          • Audio sounds a lot more crisp due to this

  • If Teams Direct Routing is used, they are free as long as a single Phone System license is added to a Microsoft 365 Tenant.

Which features no longer exist?

A few features no longer exist in Cloud Auto Attendants/Cloud Call Queues that used to exist in Exchange UM Auto Attendants

  • Direct Dialing of E.164 phone numbers (Coming Soon)

  • Direct Dialing of Extensions (Coming Soon)

NOTE: Many other Exchange UM features no longer exist such as Subscriber Access, Fax, and more. These features do not pertain to Auto Attendants but pertain to Exchange UM.


A few prerequisites need to be addressed before the resource accounts can be created:

Skype for Business Server Software Version

  • Skype for Business Server 2015 – CU8 or Higher (Current Version is CU10 HF1)

  • Skype for Business Server 2019 – Any version (Current Version is CU1 HF1)

Must have hybrid connectivity to Skype for Business Online

  • Includes Azure AD Connect

• Licensing Requirements

  • At least one Phone System license purchased (Included with a E5)

  • Once at least one Phone System license is purchased, free Phone System – Virtual User licenses can be obtained

  • Users must have a Small Business License with Business Voice, Enterprise E1 or E3 with an additional Phone System license, or E5 IF they are cloud based. If on-premises, no additional licensing is required

Must have Microsoft Teams Direct Routing configured or a Cloud Calling Plan

  • Refer to my Deploying Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams guide! – CLICK HERE

Setup Process

Step 1: Create an on-premises resource account

On a Skype for business Front-End Server or a Trusted Application Server, run the following PowerShell cmdlet but with using different variables. The Display Name is How the Auto Attendant or Cloud Call Queue will appear within the Skype for Business Client, the SIP Address is the SIP Address, and the OU is where the account is to be created. Make sure that this created in an OU that is part of the Azure AD Connect Sync Group.

New-CsHybridApplicationEndpoint -DisplayName OH1_RA_AA1 -SipAddress sip:OH1_RA_AA1@msftnettest.co -OU “ou=Resource Accounts,ou=MSFTNET Test,dc=msftnettest,dc=co”

Step 2: Assign a phone number to the resource account

Use the below cmdlet to set the Line URI for this account IF Microsoft Teams Direct Routing is being used. Note that this is not needed if this auto-attendant is a nested auto-attendant in either scenario. Additionally, if the cmdlet prompts and states that the phone number is not unique, the Exchange UM Contact or the response group will need to be deleted or another user account has that phone number assigned. Follow the steps at the end of this guide to remove the ExUmContact.

Set-CsHybridApplicationEndpoint -Identity OH1_RA_AA1@msftnettest.co -LineURI tel:+13305768835

Step 3: Force sync the account to Azure AD (Optional)

To speed up the process of generating the online application instance and not wait up to 30 minutes, the newly created account can be force-synced to Azure AD. On the server that runs Azure AD Connect run the following two PowerShell cmdlets:

  • Import-Module ADSync

  • Start-ADSyncSyncCycle -PolicyType Delta


Step 4: Assign a Virtual Phone System License to the Resource Account

Now that the account exists in the cloud, a Phone System – Virtual User license needs to be assigned to the resource account.

1. Login to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center as a Global Administrator at https://portal.office.com

2. Click “Admin”, then “Users”, and then select the newly created Resource Account

3. Click on the “Licenses & Apps” tab, select the Phone System – Virtual User license and then click “Save Changes”

Step 5: Connecting to Skype for Business Online

At the time of writing, on-premises phone numbers cannot be assigned to resource accounts via the Microsoft Teams Admin Center. If a Calling Plan will be used for the AA or CQ, do not use the following steps. This is potentially an upcoming feature, but I am not sure if this will ever come to the admin center. To begin, a connection to Skype for Business Online PowerShell is needed. Follow the below steps setup the necessary prerequisites to connect to SFBO:

1. Install the Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant

2. Install the Skype for Business Online PowerShell Module

3. Enable script support on the local computer by running the below PowerShell command as a local administrator.

  • Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

Now that the prerequisites are now satisfied, it is time to connect to Skype for Business Online. There are differences in this process depending on how a global administrator account is configured. Run the commands below that option that matches how authentication is setup for the account:

Option 1: The Account does not have Multi-Factor Authentication Configured

  • Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector

  • $userCredential = Get-Credential

  • $sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession –Credential $userCredential

  • Import-PSSession $sfbSession

Option 2: The Account has Multi-Factor Authentication Configured

  • Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector

  • $sfbSession – New-CsOnline Session

  • Import-PSSession $ sfbSession


Step 6: Assign a Teams Direct Routing or hybrid number to the Resource Account

If an on-premises phone number is being used for the newly created account, run the following PowerShell cmdlet to assign the on-premises phone number:

Set-CsOnlineApplicationInstance -Identity OH1_RA_AA1@msftnettest.co -OnpremPhoneNumber +13305768835

NOTE: The Application Instance can take up to 24 hours to be created! Use the Get-CsOnlineApplicationInstance cmdlet to see if Microsoft 365 has created the instance or not.

Step 7: Create a Cloud Auto-Attendant or Cloud Call Queue

Now that things are good to go from a resource account perspective, an auto-attendant or cloud call queue can be created. This guide will not cover the specifics of each, but when creating each, select the newly created resource account as show below:

Testing & Validation

With the Cloud Auto-Attendant(s) or Cloud Call Queue(s) created, functionality can be tested.

Call into each Auto Attendant and verify that:

  • Any custom greeting(s)/automated messages play

  • Voice commands work (If enabled)

  • All menu options are pronounced correctly and can be reached

  • Business hours work (If applicable)

Call into each Call Queue and verify that:

  • Any custom greeting(s)/automated messages play

  • The selected routing method works correctly

  • All members on-premises and in the cloud are able to be reached

  • Business hours work (If applicable)

Clean Up – Exchange UM

This section really only applies to organizations that have Skype for Business Server and have just created a replacement for their Exchange UM Auto-Attendant. The following steps need to be taken to remove the Exchange UM Contact in Skype for Business Server and remove the former AA from Exchange Server. This step has to be completed first if the same phone number is being reused or last if a new phone number is being used.

Step 1: Remove the Exchange UM Contact

On a Skype for business Front-End Server or a Trusted Application Server, run the following PowerShell cmdlets but by using different variables. First we need to identify the SIP address of the Exchange UM Contact that we wish to remove by using Get-CsExUmContact cmdlet. Once the SIP address has been identified, fill that in on the below cmdlet

Remove-CsExUmContact -Identity sip:OldExchangeUMAddress@msftnettest.co

Step 2: Remove the Auto Attendant from Exchange Online

In the Exchange Online Admin Center, click Unified Messaging > The UM Dial Plan > Single Click the AA you wish to remove > Click the Trash Can > Confirm the Removal. Note that this step is optional

Clean Up – Response Groups

This section only applies to organizations that moved from a Response Group to a Cloud Call Queue. Remove the RGS Workflow, the Queue, and the Group from the Skype or Business CSCP Control Panel. This step has to be completed first if the same phone number is being reused or last if a new phone number is being used.

Special Thank You!

I want to give a special thank you to anynode for giving me a license to use their SBC for this guide. Be sure to check out their amazing product at https://www.anynode.de/

Feel free to reach out to by commenting below or via twitter @EricMarsi if you have any questions!

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