Last week, Justin Morris wrote a post about deploying Lync Group Chat multi-server environment. He made two very important points about Group Chat that I didn’t make back in my post in May on setting up & administering Group Chat. (More on those later.)

After reading his post, I thought it was time for a Group Chat revisit!

Lync Group Chat 101: What it Is, What it Does

Group Chat is an additional role for Lync Server 2010. It provides text-based chat rooms where chats are recorded & searchable.

  • Group Chat is a separate download from Lync Server
  • Comes with its own client (see screenshot)Lync Group Chat Window
  • You’re sharing knowledge in a format people can look up later
  • Use Group Chat for both internal and external discussions, thanks to federation and public sharing
  • Simple setup – add the server in Topology Builder, DNS configuration, push out clients
  • Create chat channels organized by topic, department, etc.

Necessary Components for Group Chat

  1. Group Chat Server Role download
  2. DNS A Records
  3. SQL Database
  4. Client Software
  5. License: If you’re licensed for IM/Presence, you’re licensed for Group Chat

Here’s the 2 key points Justin made (be sure to read his post too!):

A. The SQL database is the key here. It holds Group Chat’s configuration and channel data. Group Chat is basically a pair of services (Lookup Service, Channel Service) which both plug into SQL.
Make sure your SQL Server has plenty of space and solid performance. Consider deploying a separate SQL instance (you’ll have to if you run Lync Standard Edition).

B. When you obtain certificates for your Group Chat server, DO NOT USE ANY SANs! Any Subject Alternate Names listed in a Group Chat certificate causes the Channel Service to work improperly. As in, it will make some Chat users invisible to others–even if they’re in the same channel.

Uses for Group Chat

As I mentioned in my post in May, “Administer Group Chat”, Group Chat works best for project discussions and meetings.

You could also think of it like a constantly-updating FAQ. Support teams can use it to share customer solutions between themselves. Co-workers at different offices can use it to communicate.

Group Chat sits comfortably between IM and email. If you need to share information with multiple people, and you need it accessible later, then neither IM nor email are the best choice. Go with Lync’s Group Chat.

Want to try Group Chat? Head to Microsoft Downloads for the three main components (must have Lync Server installed):
Group Chat Server
Group Chat Admin Tool
Group Chat Client

Group Chat – A Refresher
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