“The era of the PBX, folks, is over”

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

The quote above from the Lync Server 2010 launch event in NYC is provided by Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate Vice President Microsoft Corporation. I have spent most of the past few weeks having “constructive” discussions with colleagues, customers and Microsoft about why I think Lync Server is a game changer.

First, Microsoft is a software company. This release wasn’t about enhancing your experience with the PBX by providing conferencing and click to call capabilities. It was meant to be a full service suite of workloads that are all integrated to enable users to communicate in the 20th century. The is the crux of the consumerization of the enterprise. The millennials don’t use email or the phone; they use SMS, IM and Social Media which is what Microsoft’s Wave 14 is based on.

Second, Imitation is the Finest Form of Flattery. This isn’t often talked about with Microsoft, but they got it right with Windows 7 and they must have got it right with Lync because other are developing their UC applications to look eerily like Lync and just happen to announce it one day before the Lync launch.

Third, I have always recommended to my clients to implement “best of breed” solutions. I am and have been a Cisco certified voice and data engineer for years, and believe Cisco makes the best network devices. This does NOT mean that because I recommend Cisco routing, switching, security and wireless solutions for my network that my recommendation for IP Telephony or UC would be based off a single vendor methodology would be foolish.

Fourth, don’t forget about or underestimate the cloud. Integration with not only dedicated hosted services like BPOS-D but with multi-tenant environments like Office 365 is going to be mandatory for success. Requiring an all or nothing approach will also not work. Seamless integration between on premise and cloud based solutions is key.

Fifth, standards are important. Microsoft’s participation and leadership in the UCIF is evident as Lync Server 2010 is released with support for third party phones, headsets, servers, gateways and integration with many SIP trunking providers out of the box.

Finally, a little fun. I believe there was a Roman Proverb that goes “He who owns the inbox will win the battle.”

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Categories: Lync

Happy Windows 7 Phone Launch Day

October 11, 2010 1 comment

Fans of the Windows Phone (myself included) who may have recently diverted to another platform (or stuck with WM6.5) are rejoicing today as Microsoft prepares to release the new Windows Phone 7. There have been a number of device manufacturers that have awesome looking handsets like the HTC HD7, the Samsung Omnia 7 and the LG Optimus 7. The launch event will take place today at 9:30am eastern with devices announced to be available to at&t, tmobile and a multitude of providers across the pond. The only bad part about this is that I have Verizon (for now), if Verizon doesn’t launch a Windows 7 Phone by early H1 2011 as previously announced. I will gladly pay the cancellation fee and jump ship! I get the whole being upset about the Kin thing, but get over it and serve your customers!

 


        

 

In a Lync related event, Communicator Mobile will not be supported on Windows 7 phone at launch.

Categories: Lync

I am an OCS MVP!

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Today I received one of the best emails ever “Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2010 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in Communications Server technical communities during the past year.”

I am very excited, honored and humbled to get this award. I will share over the next few days what this means to me and what is means to me to be a MVP. But for now, I am celebrating this award!

Thank you to all that follow my blog and those that listen to me evangelize Microsoft Unified Communications!

–Mark

Categories: Lync

Integrating Lync 2010 with Exchange 2010 SP1 OWA

September 17, 2010 16 comments

One of the most exciting features of Exchange 2010 OWA is the integration with Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and now Microsoft Lync Server 2010. There are plenty of articles out there showing the integration with OCS 2007 R2 and Exchange 2010, but I wanted to focus on this integration with Lync Server 2010 and Exchange 2010 SP1.

Many of the steps are the same including the installation of the OCS 2007 R2 Web Service Provider Files available for download here:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=ca107ab1-63c8-4c6a-816d-17961393d2b8&displaylang=en

On the Exchange 2010 CAS Server

The only install you need to run (from an elevated command prompt) is the CWAOWASSP.msi file which does the following:

  • Creates the registry key HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\services\MSExchange Owa\InstantMessaging\ImplementationDllPath={Exchange Install Directory}\ClientAccess\OWA\bin\Microsoft.Rtc.UCWeb.dll
  • Places the file Microsoft.Rtc.UCWeb.dll in the above referenced ImplementationDllPath

You will also need to verify that the UCMA update from KB968802 is applied to your server or you will have trouble with two way IM communications from OWA.

We now will enable Instant Messaging on the OWA Virtual Directory and set the Instant Messaging Type to Ocs via the following command:

Get-OwaVirtualDirectory -server SERVERNAME Set-OwaVirtualDirectory –InstantMessagingType Ocs

 

Now run Get-ExchangeCertificate. You are looking for the Thumbprint of the certificate used for IIS, shown below where the services enabled include the “W”. You should copy this thumbprint to the clipboard.

Now for the difference between Exchange 2010 RTM and SP1:

We will no longer make changes to the web.config file for Exchange 2010 SP1, the changes are made to the OWA Virtual Directory on the CAS Servers, those steps are shown below:

Get-OwaVirtualDirectory | Set-OwaVirtualDirectory –InstantMessagingCertificateThumbprint {Thumbprint from previous step}

Get-OwaVirtualDirectory | Set-OwaVirtualDirectory –InstantMEssagingServerName {FQDN of Standard Edition Server or Pool FQDN}

Now you should do an iisreset /noforce from an elevated command prompt on the Exchange 2010 CAS server(s)

On the Lync 2010 Front End Server

The configuration changes on the Lync Server are just as easy as they were with OCS 2007 R2, however the changes are not available from the Control Panel. On one of your Lync Front End server navigate to the Lync Server Management Shell. You should note the Subject or Common Name of the Exchange certificate used for IIS on the Client Access Servers. In our instance, that is mail.unplugthepbx.com, that will be the Identity of the Trusted Application.

We now need to find the SiteId of your Lync Site, to do so, run the following command: Get-CsSite

As shown above our Site ID is 1.

Now we need to create a new Trusted Application Pool for Lync Server by running the following command:

New-CsTrustedApplicationPool -Identity cas-server-FQDN -Registrar yourpool-FQDN -Site your-site -ThrottleAsServer $true -TreatAsAuthenticated $true

For us that will be: New-CsTrustedApplicationPool -Identity mail.unplugthepbx.com -Registrar upxlync.unplugthepbx.com -Site 1 -ThrottleAsServer $true -TreatAsAuthenticated $true

 

After the Trusted Application Pool has been created, we must now create the trusted application for OWA by running the following command:

New-CsTrustedApplication -ApplicationId OWA -TrustedApplicationPoolFqdn cas-server-FQDN -Port 5061

For us that would be: New-CsTrustedApplication -ApplicationId OWA -TrustedApplicationPoolFqdn mail.unplugthepbx.com -Port 5061


Now the changes must be committed to the topology by running: Enable-CsTopology

 

Now you should be able to see your contact list when signing into Outlook Web Access!

 

Categories: Exchange, Lync

Adding Domain or Enterprise Admins to Lync Server 2010

September 14, 2010 2 comments

If you are like me, you already have your Lync Server 2010 RC environment up and built! While I had the Beta and Beta refresh environments already I just needed to see that Lync Logo!! Anyways, if you are also like me, your accounts in your lab environment are all Domain admins! Well, when you try to enable a Domain or Enterprise Admin for Lync you get the error below:

Now, you probably have already added your account to the CSAdministrator group like the install told you to, and you obviously have access to the CSCP and can enable other users, so why not users in the Domain Admins group? I had that same question when I was deploying Exchange Server 2010 in beta a while ago and this seemed far too familiar.

First, here is a small security related disclaimer… It is recommended and best practice to give your administrators at least two accounts, one of them should be their everyday account which they log into their PC with, is associated with Exchange and Lync and another account that they use for tasks that require elevated access such as AD related tasks, Server maintenance etc.

With that being said, this issue can be resolved for both Exchange and Lync by performing the following:

 

First, Open AD Users and Computers; you will need to turn on Advanced Features by navigating to View – Advanced Features. Now locate the user account that is a Domain or Enterprise Admin. Select Properties on the user and navigate to the Security Tab as shown below.

Now select “Advanced”

You will notice that unlike every other user in your environment that is not a Domain Admin, these users will not have “Include inheritable permissions from this object’s parent” checked. In order to propagate the necessary permissions for Lync you should select this checkbox as shown below:

Next, you can retry enabling that user for Lync and it works!

 

For a very detailed explanation of the issue and the resolution, the Microsoft Exchange Team has posted this blog. While it is directed at issues with ActiveSync and Exchange Server 2010, the issue is the same.

http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2009/09/23/452595.aspx

Categories: Lync

Welcome Microsoft Lync 2010

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

 

It was just a short time ago that I received an email from the Partner TAP program informing me that Live Communications Server was being rebranded to align with the Office platform and would now be called Office Communications Server. Just a short 3 years later we now have what I hope is the final name change for a game changing product! Microsoft Communications Server “14” is now Microsoft Lync!

 

Lync will be the new branding for the entire product line including Microsoft Lync Server 2010, Lync Online, Lync Client and Lync Web App (ala Outlook Web App).

 

So Why Lync and Why Now? First the word Lync is a combination of the words “link” and “sync” which are two descriptive words of what Microsoft is trying to do with their Unified Communication platform, bring people together efficiently and in a cost effective manner which can include voice, video, instant messaging, desktop sharing and application integration. When I first heard about the name change I was apprehensive, I of course asked why now? OCS had gained a considerable amount of market share and if any name change was in store, I thought for sure it was just going to be called Communications Server. But this product is so different than its predecessor that it needs to be differentiated, and everyone calls their product “communications server”

After a long week of stewing on it, I am starting to like the name! Not as much as I like this product yet, just wait until you get a hold of it and you will see why! This product and Exchange Server 2010 was the reason for which this blog is named UnplugThePBX! It is truly time to evaluate your legacy and IPT environment to see if Lync is right for your business, I think you will be surprised at what you will find.

The release candidate is available here:

 

Categories: Lync

Server 2008 R2 – OCS 2007 R2 “Function not available when RTCSrv is not running”

July 30, 2010 2 comments

I have run into this issue a number of times now when installing OCS on Server 2008 R2 hosts. When I start to work on phone number normalization for the address book server I get an error when I try to run abserver.exe –regenur or abserver –syncnow. I have not found a good blog yet on how to fix this issue but after working with a colleague that was experiencing the same issue with SharePoint we decided we needed a good spot to go to remember the “fix”.

The Issue:

When running OCS 2007 R2 or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 on Windows Server 2008 R2 which is now supported, when you try to run abserver.exe to regenerate the address book you get the error “function not available when RTCSRV service is not running. Start the RTCSRV service.” (In SharePoint this happens when you run stsadm –o spsearch –action fullcrawlstart which does a full crawl for the search service) Obviously the RTCSrv (Front End Service) is started… so what’s the deal?!

Well… Windows Server 2003 SP1 introduced loopback checking as a security feature to cover an exploit in IIS and this was enhanced with Server 2008 R2 to provide loopback checking on all connections even local.

The Resolution:

Pretty simple here, disable loopback checking. The exploit in IIS has been resolved for many years and loopback checking is no longer required.

Add a Dword value called DisableLoopbackCheck to HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa and set to 1

Retry abserver –regenur for OCS and for SharePoint restart the osearch.exe service.

Categories: Lync