Browsing the archives for the configuration tag.

Licensing for Skype for Business 2015: The Details

Skype for Business

Back in November I asked the question, “Will Skype for Business have the same CAL structure Lync Server 2013 does?”

Turns out that yes, it will!

Now that Skype for Business Server 2015 is on its way out into the world, I decided to look at its licensing. Surely by now we’d know what kind of licensing you must use.

And to a large extent we do. I came across several pages, Microsoft and otherwise, with licensing details.Skype4BLicensing2

Skype for Business team here at Microsoft. Ask us Anything! – Reddit.com: An entire Reddit discussion with the Skype for Business team. Wherein they answered a lot of questions, from licensing to security to “Why does Skype not close when I click the X?”

The licensing topic itself is a little buried, so you can head to this link instead for that: Skype for Business Licensing: The Issues – Mirazon.com. A nicely-collected summary on licensing structure.

To make it even easier for our readers, here are all the details I’ve collected.

The Skype4B Licensing Details

For on-prem versions, Licensing for Skype for Business Server stays the same as Lync Server 2013.

  • Each Front End server requires a server license.
  • Each user (or device) requires a standard CAL.
  • Add an Enterprise CAL for conferencing & desktop sharing, a Plus CAL for voice & call management, or both.
  • Client licenses are required for using the Skype for Business client. (These are included in Office 2013 Professional Plus, too.)
  • You’ll find a Licensing Guide on the Skype for Business IT Pros page.

Do you have Software Assurance? Then your licensing is taken care of. From Microsoft’s Skype for Business FAQs Page:

“How do current customers get Skype for Business?
Current Lync Server customers with Software Assurance will have rights to deploy Skype for Business. Office 365 customers with Lync Online will receive automatic updates as part of the subscription service.”

For Lync admins, this is good news. No huge licensing changes means a simpler upgrade path. Fewer hassles to deal with. Those of us with Software Assurance are in great shape too.

The Bad News

You knew it was coming. Fortunately, the bad news doesn’t have to do with licensing itself, but with license costs.
Pricing is still hard to obtain.

As anyone who’s worked with Microsoft software knows, nailing down pricing for licenses is a bit…challenging. (Okay, it’s like trying to keep 10 cats in a full bathtub.)

I’d planned to have pricing details available for you in this post. But I’m still chasing down the numbers, and I didn’t want to hold this licensing information back that long.

So now you know what we’ll blog about next week. Shhh, don’t tell…wait, no, tell everyone you know!

Have you installed Skype for Business Server 2015 yet? Testing or production, either way. I’d love to hear your experiences so far, with licensing and everything else. Please comment or email your thoughts.

And don’t forget to come back here next week!

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Lync Web App Doesn’t Like Chrome (or does Chrome Not Like Lync Web App?)

Lync 2013 Client

While running a test on our Lync Conferencing, I came across a curious little error.

The Meeting itself worked fine (of course!). Logging into it from Internet Explorer, no problem. Logging in on Chrome? Hmmm. Well, the computer downloaded the Lync Web App plugin. But I see no prompt saying it’s been installed.

I check the computer’s Event Viewer – Lync Web App Plugin installed successfully. Yet Chrome didn’t give me a prompt?

I switched to Firefox. Even re-downloaded & re-installed the Lync Web App plugin. It sweeps right through install and brings up the Lync Meeting.

So no issues with the Lync Web App plugin itself, right? We have some sort of issue with the Google Chrome browser.

When I commented on this to my co-worker, he mentioned a Microsoft Update made within the December 2014 Cumulative Update. Here’s the details:

“Google Chrome no longer supports Lync Web App” message when you join a Lync meeting by using Google Chrome – Microsoft Support

Evidently, after you install the December 2014 Cumulative Update, you can see this error in Chrome when you try to load Lync Web App:

Lync Web App on Chrome

Image courtesy of Support.Microsoft.com.

You can still copy the meeting URL and switch to another browser.

Microsoft also recommends installing an additional update from December 31 (direct download page) as a fix.

However, I did not see this message at all. Lync Web App would not come up in Chrome, yet I see no indication of why on the Meeting page.

Under “More Information” there’s a link to the Chromium Blog from late last year. The post linked talks about Google removing NPAPI plugin support.  The Final Countdown for NPAPI – Chromium Blog

What Does NPAPI Have to Do with Lync Web App?

Here’s the overview on NPAPI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPAPI

It’s an old plugin architecture, used for over a decade now, and in many forms. You’ll find NPAPI plugins in use for Java, Flash, Google’s own Google Earth…and Microsoft Silverlight.

Yes, the same Silverlight you need to run Lync Web App.

The Google announcement stated that in its April 2015 Chrome release (version 42), NPAPI support in Chrome is disabled by default. It can be reactivated, but in September 2015 NPAPI support goes away permanently.

I went back & checked. Sure enough, I had Chrome 42 running. That was why I couldn’t load Lync Web App in Chrome…they don’t like each other anymore!

Would an HTML5 Lync Web App Resolve This?

Google essentially made an executive decision against NPAPI and in favor of HTML5. Now that is their right; HTML5 is a promising technology. And given that they made the original announcement in late 2013, they did give lots of notice so vendors could change their plugins.

Microsoft has at least issued a server-side fix to help. If you’re a Lync administrator, make sure you have the December 31st Update installed.

But a move from NPAPI toward HTML5 raises another question. What about Skype for Business’ web app? Would IT work in Chrome when it’s here?

What about Skype for Business Web App?

I read through some updated documentation about the Lync/Skype for Business Web App. I wanted to see if Microsoft plans an HTML5 version of its plugin.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much. One may be in the works – there’s this mention on the Skype Blog of a “Skype for Web” launched in beta November 2014. But for now the documentation only contains updates discussing the name change & the new Skype-integrated features.

I did find a list of supported platforms though: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg425820%28v=ocs.15%29.aspx

(The last modified date is April 13th. I’d have thought that meant they updated it to mention Windows Server 2012, and up-to-date version numbers on the browsers…)

Anyway, the important point: The “32-bit Version of Chrome 18.x” column says NO on Lync/Skype for Business Web App support, while the Internet Explorer 11 and “32-bit Version of Firefox 12.x” columns say YES.

Chrome Does Not Like Lync/Skype for Business Web App. Plan Accordingly.

Judging by the recent comments on the Chromium Blog post, I’m not the only one who’s not too happy with Google over this. Deprecating support for a widely-used plugin is their right, and it’s not hard to see why.

That said, this essentially means we have to tell clients not to use Chrome in the office. It doesn’t support Silverlight, Java, Flash, etc. as of last month. Anyone joining their Lync Meetings must be informed of this too – if they normally use Chrome, and try to join a Lync Meeting with Lync Web App? They’ll hit a snag.

What’s your opinion on Google deprecating support for NPAPI plugins? Please comment or email. And don’t forget to join us again next week!

P.S. – We’re making some changes on the blog to welcome in Skype for Business. I want to hear everyone’s thoughts as the changes roll out.

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How to Change the Lync 2013 Client Into Skype for Business 2015 (With One Cmdlet)

Lync 2013 Client, Skype for Business

Ladies and gentlemen, Skype for Business is arriving now!

The April 14th Microsoft Update contains the Skype for Business client. You can download it here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2889923

With this update, Microsoft gives us the choice of displaying the new Skype for Business 2015 client interface, or continuing on the Lync 2013 UI. Depends on your users – are they quick to adapt? Are they familiar with Skype? If so, you can safely switch them to the new UI.

Otherwise, it might make more sense to keep them on Lync for now.

Switching between interfaces is done through PowerShell. With a few cmdlets you control which client version your users see.

How to Change Between Lync & Skype4B Clients

2015-04-22_13-32-58
CsClientPolicy is the cmdlet we’ll work with for changing between Lync 2013 and Skype for Business 2015. Here’s how you make the magic happen.

To change All Users to Skype for Business UI:
Set-CsClientPolicy -Identity Global -EnableSkypeUI $true

To change All Users to Lync 2013 UI:
Set-CsClientPolicy -Identity Global -EnableSkypeUI $false

What if you only want to change the UI for a certain group of users?
It’ll only take 2 extra cmdlets, in the same sphere.

First you create a new client policy by which to identify this group of users. Let’s call them “SkypeTesters”.
The cmdlet will look like this:
New-CsClientPolicy -Identity SkypeTesters -EnableSkypeUI $true

Then you collect users & assign them to this new SkypeTesters policy. You can collect users via department, AD group, etc. I’ll use a Marketing Department for this example.

To collect users: Get-CsUser -LDAPFilter “Department=Marketing”
To grant them the new client policy & enable Skype for Business UI: Grant-CsClientPolicy -PolicyName SkypeTesters

(Of course you can pipe these two cmdlets together & save time. I split them up just for clarity’s sake.)

More instructions on UI switching are available on TechNet: Configure the Client Experience with Skype for Business – TechNet

NOTE:  According to this page, the Skype for Business Client even works for Lync Server 2010! I didn’t expect that, but it’s a nice surprise. Any 2010 users out there, please consider an update soon. Comment or email if you have questions about it.

What if I use Lync Online?

Not to worry! Lync Online users will still get the Skype for Business UI (though it might take a little longer). You’ll also use PowerShell to switch the interface, but the cmdlets & switches are a little different.

To enable Skype for Business UI for all users, you’d enter this in Remote PowerShell:
Grant-CsClientPolicy –PolicyName ClientPolicyEnableSkypeUI

To keep the Lync UI for all users:
Grant-CsClientPolicy –PolicyName ClientPolicyDisableSkypeUI

To enable Skype for Business UI for a single user:
Grant-CsClientPolicy –PolicyName ClientPolicyEnableSkypeUI -Identity [User’s Name]

Additional switches & details: Switching between the Skype for Business and the Lync client user interfaces – Office 365 Support

Microsoft is phasing the Skype for Business client into use over the next couple months. I didn’t find a specific schedule, but most sources say it should arrive both for Lync Server 2013 and Lync Online/Skype for Business Online users by the end of summer.

There’s one easy way to tell if you’ve received the upgrade (note: this is for Lync Server 2013 users). Do any of your users’ clients report that their taskbar icon changed to Skype’s – but the client still looks like Lync?

Voila, you have the Skype for Business update. Just need to turn on the UI.

New Skype for Business Users: Please send in your thoughts & impressions of the new client! I’d like to hear what my readers think of the changes.

Next week, we’ll talk versioning and upgrade priorities. See you then.

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Are Lync Conversations Preserved by eDiscovery?

Lync Server 2013, Security

If you’ve followed political news lately, you’ve heard about Hillary Clinton using a private email server during her term as Secretary of State.

Not only did this throw suspicion on her actions in office, it illustrated several dangers in using personal email for work purposes.

We wrote a newsletter article on the dangers. You can read it here: Corporate Lessons from the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal – PlanetMagpie WOOF!

I bring this up here because there’s one specific danger that relates to Lync Server environments: the question of eDiscovery.

What is eDiscovery?

A simple (but clear) definition of eDiscovery is:

“The process of finding, preserving, analyzing, and producing content in electronic formats as required by litigation or investigations.”

(Courtesy of “Intro to eDiscovery in SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync 2013″ – Office Blogs)eDiscovery Papers?

Pay special attention to the last part: “As required by litigation or investigations.” eDiscovery is a legal protection. Businesses use it to preserve records in case they’re needed by law enforcement or the courts.

Many larger businesses must keep records in paper format in case of litigation. eDiscovery occurs for the same reason, just in electronic formats. (Using personal email for work escapes eDiscovery—which is why it’s dangerous to businesses.)

What kind of records are kept? Typically emails, office documents, database data, sometimes videos and internal webpages.

That brings us to records from Lync. Are those considered “legal records” by eDiscovery? And if so, what do we have to keep?

The Legal Value of Lync Conversations

On Microsoft platforms, eDiscovery runs primarily on Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Office 365. You’ll find more details on the versions and how they operate here:
eDiscovery FAQ – TechNet

Down a little ways you’ll see the question, “Does the eDiscovery Center work with different product versions?” In its chart, we see “Lync 2013 (when archived in Exchange 2013)” listed. It’s included in Search, In-Place Hold and Export categories.

It looks like Lync Server is included in eDiscovery all right—via Exchange. The question is, if Lync records are considered legally valuable…which records is it preserving?

Which Lync Records are Preserved by eDiscovery?

The answer to this question took a little digging for me to clarify. I’ll save you that trouble.

  • Archived Lync instant messages are preserved through In-Place Hold. (In-Place Hold is present in Exchange Server, which stores the Lync messages.)
  • Documents shared during Lync Meetings are also archived in Exchange mailboxes, and thus protected by eDiscovery.
  • Lync phone calls and video are not included in eDiscovery.

It goes back to what can & can’t be archived by Lync. If we go back to What Archiving Server Archives…and What It Doesn’t, we find that this list pretty much matches the record types preserved by eDiscovery.

Remember though, Archiving is not enabled by default. You must enable it, and configure it properly, if you want to/need to archive Lync records for eDiscovery. Defining Your Requirements for Archiving in Lync Server 2013 – TechNet

A quote from this page: “The archiving database is not intended for long-term retention and Lync Server 2013 does not provide an e-discovery (search) solution for archived data, so data needs to be moved to other storage [in Exchange].”

The MS Exchange Blog has a thorough article series discussing Exchange’s eDiscovery features.
Exchange 2013 In-Place Hold and In-Place eDiscovery (Part 1)

Lync cooperates with eDiscovery for IM conversations and meetings. Factor this into your Records Retention.

As of yet, I’ve heard nothing on whether Skype for Business will alter this eDiscovery preservation method. Offhand I’d say no. The content archiving process is relatively straightforward, and we aren’t getting a new Exchange version (yet).

All the same, I want to stress the importance of preserving Lync conversations for legal discovery. If you’re in a business which must keep records for Legal, take a look at these statistics: Overview of Microsoft Office eDiscovery with Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync 2013 – Quentin on Compliance, eDiscovery

90% of corporations were involved in litigation last year! Yikes. Now that we know Lync conversations are included in eDiscovery (if you configure Lync to archive with Exchange), maybe we can breathe a little easier.

More on eDiscovery, courtesy of Wikipedia.org: Electronic Discovery

How do you preserve records for legal purposes? Please comment or email your experiences. This is a meaty topic; I’d love to hear how you tackle it.

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How to Add DNS Suffixes to Edge Server – and Why Lync Needs Them

Lync Server 2013

I had a post scheduled talking about eDiscovery. But I got an email from Larry, our senior Lync team member, describing a Lync troubleshooting project he’d just finished for a client.

Well, we just have to document that one for our readers, don’t we?

The Scenario: Everything’s Installed, But is Edge Configured Properly?

Larry was on-site with a client who had some Lync Server 2013 components already installed. However their Edge Server was not communicating with the Front End. What was the problem?

He found no issues on the Front End Server itself. (FYI: Lync Server 2013 Enterprise Edition, Enterprise Voice and Monitoring roles installed.)

So he looked at the Edge Server. It must have a configuration issue, but what kind? He logged directly into the Edge Server and looked through its properties. The Lync Server software was up & running, DNS names were in place…

Wait a second. The Edge Server had a local name only (“companydomain”). What about its suffix?

The DNS Suffix: Necessary for Lync Server Topology

A DNS suffix is required for Edge Servers to communicate with the rest of Lync Server. Topology Builder requires a FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name), but by default Edge Servers use short machine names.

Configure the DNS Suffix for Edge Servers – TechNet

The client’s Edge did not have a DNS suffix. This must be why the topology couldn’t communicate with it. We had to add the suffix.

Here are the steps to adding a DNS suffix on an Edge Server:

  1. On the Edge Server, click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties.
  2. Under “Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup” settings, click Change Settings.
  3. On the Computer Name tab, click Change.
  4. You should see the “Computer Name/Domain Changes” screen. Click the More… button.
  5. The “DNS Suffix and NetBIOS Computer Name” window will pop up. In the Primary DNS suffix of this computer field, type the name of your internal domain (for example, lync.companydomain.com).
  6. Click OK to close the windows.
  7. Restart the computer.

DNS Suffix

(Apologies for the blurring. I used a testing server to create the screenshot, so there’s little risk of hacking. But, better safe than sorry!)

*Important Note: Make sure you restart the server before going any further! Larry did not immediately restart after implementing the DNS suffix (the client asked a question). It took him a moment to realize that THAT’S why he still had communication issues.

Add DNS Records for Edge Lookups

Once the DNS suffix had been added & Edge Server restarted, Larry was able to add the Edge to the existing Lync topology. Time for configuring some DNS records.

DNS records are required for external DNS lookups, perimeter networks and internal client lookups. Some of this was already in place, but Larry had to reconfigure so Edge was fully supported in the Lync architecture.

Here are details on DNS for Edge Servers in Lync Server 2013: Configure DNS for Edge Support in Lync Server 2013 – TechNet

The steps to creating a DNS SRV record:

  1. On the DNS server, click Start, & open Control Panel.
  2. Click Administrative Tools, and then click DNS.
  3. In the console tree for your SIP domain, expand the “Forward Lookup Zones”. Right-click the domain your Lync Server 2013 uses.
  4. Click Other New Records.
  5. Under “Select a Resource Record Type”, type Service Location (SRV), and then click Create Record.
  6. Provide the necessary information to populate the DNS SRV record.

Then, to create a DNS A record:

  1. Follow Steps 1-3 above to reach the Forward Lookup Zones on your SIP domain.
  2. Click New Host (A).
  3. Provide the necessary information for the new DNS record.

Lo and behold, communication worked between Edge and Front End! The client was happy.

DNS Suffix: A Small Addition, but Critical to Edge Communications

If you have trouble with your Edge Servers not cooperating with the Front End, make sure they have FQDNs in place. Otherwise DNS won’t understand proper lookups, and your topology won’t function.

Have you encountered a DNS error with your Edge Server? If so, please comment or email your story in. Did you solve it? Was it a DNS suffix issue, or something else? I’d love to hear about it.

Speaking of hearing about it, I’m a little behind on responding to reader support questions. Not ignoring anyone, I promise. Just wanted to reassure everyone.

Join us here again next week for that discussion on eDiscovery.

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Make Lync Stop Bugging You – How to Shrink its Powers of Distraction

Instant Messaging (IM), Lync 2013 Client

Sometimes, Lync is annoying.

You’re working away, accomplishing something, and then…DING! Incoming IM. DING! They typed again. DING! Oh, meeting request. DING!

I’ll be the first to celebrate Lync’s benefits. But now and then, it makes me want to “DING” my computer with a hammer.

Why? Distraction.

Always-on communication is, unfortunately, always on. You can be totally focused on a report or marketing campaign…and one message disrupts your concentration. Now your mind needs to re-focus. Which takes time. Oh wait, more distraction coming in!

Fortunately for my sanity (and yours), there are ways to minimize Lync’s powers of distraction. I have documented 4 options in today’s post. You can use each one separately, or together.

They involve making changes to the Lync 2013 client software, instituting certain policies, and a combination of both. You can do this on your own, or implement office-wide. It’s up to you.

Option 1: Turn off the annoying “Ding!” sound when an IM comes in.

First thing to avoiding distraction? Turn off distracting sounds. You have three ways to do this for Lync 2013. Each one is more powerful than the previous one.

A. Turn off Alerts: Find Lync Options by clicking the arrow next to the gear in the Lync 2013 client. Go to Tools -> Options. Click “Alerts”.

lyncoptionsalerts

These options let you determine for which Lync activities you’re alerted. New conversations, invites, contact list additions. Turn these on or off as you desire. To minimize alerts*, use the options checked in the screenshot (but uncheck the box under “General Alerts” too).

B. Turn off Sounds in Lync Options: Alerts not enough? You can turn off sounds too. Still in the Tools -> Options window, go to “Ringtones and Sounds”. You’ll see these options.

lyncoptionssounds

In this screenshot, you’ll see that this box is unchecked: “Play sounds in Lync (including ringtones for incoming calls and IM alerts)”. Normally it’s checked.

If you uncheck it, the “Ding!” sound goes away.

If you don’t quite want to get rid of ALL sounds, you can leave it checked and check/uncheck the options below it. For instance, keeping sounds to a minimum when you’re set to Busy or Do Not Disturb. (More on this below.)

C. Turn off the “New Message” sound in Windows Sound Options: This is the most powerful option. Instead of unchecking boxes in Lync Options, open the Windows Control Panel and click Sound. In the “Sounds” tab, look under Program Events for Lync. It has a bunch of associated sounds. The “Ding!” when a new IM comes in is assigned to “New Message.” Click that one and select “(None)” from the dropdown.

Click OK. You have now completely removed* the “Ding!” sound from Lync Instant Messages.

There’s a great post on exactly this topic over at the Inside Lync blog: How to Stop Lync from Chiming In So Much

*NOTE: Turning off Lync IM alerts completely means you will no longer hear *anything* when an IM comes in. If you aren’t paying attention, a potentially-important message will go unnoticed. Make sure you’re okay with this – nobody wants an angry boss who’s been ignored for 2 hours!

Options 2: Designate Non-Lync Time.

Set aside a certain time each day (or week) where you will focus on your work and not respond to any communications (barring emergencies of course). Call this “Non-Lync Time.” Block it out in your calendar.

When you’ve decided on “Non-Lync Time,” advise everyone else on your team. “I will be unavailable due to working on X for this period of time. Please only contact me if there’s an emergency.” That sort of thing.

If someone disrupts your Non-Lync Time with an IM or meeting request, gently remind them that you are not taking messages. This can be done by either ignoring the window for a while, sending them a quick email, or a quick phone call. It’ll take time for the message to sink in.

Option 3: Make Use of Presence, and Detail Your Status.

Make it a habit to keep your Presence status updated. It helps tell others not only what you’re doing, but whether or not they should try to talk with you.

For instance, if you’re in Non-Lync time, post a Presence status like this: “NON-LYNC TIME, NO RESPONSES UNTIL 3:00 PM”. When you’re not in Non-Lync Time, you can say: “Available for Conversations”.

Option 4: Remember the Difference between Busy and Do Not Disturb.

The Presence options aren’t just there to change the color bar next to your photo. They also effect changes in your reachability.

If you’re set to “Busy”, hopefully your colleagues know not to bother you. But they can still send you IMs and meeting invites. And you’ll still see them.

If you’re set to “Do Not Disturb” though – you will NOT receive conversation notifications. Colleagues cannot bother you.

However, this requires your effort as well. You must remember you’re set to “Do Not Disturb”, and turn it off when your don’t-disturb-me task is complete. Otherwise you’ll be unreachable the rest of the day!

(Remember: your Lync administrator can also set custom Lync Presence statuses. Maybe ask for one for Non-Lync Time?)

Communications are Important. But so is Concentration!

Lync is disruptive by default. And there’s some value in that – after all, urgent messages need your immediate attention. But for those times when you need to concentrate? We can make Lync stop bugging you.

What do you think about Lync’s distraction-ability? Please comment or email. If you have another solution you use, please share it!

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Encountering a Persistent Chat Error? How to Resolve the “500 Internal Server Error” After December 2014 CU

Persistent Chat

This past week we encountered a Lync Server error internally. We found a solution online, thanks to a fellow Lync blogger. I’m blogging about it today to document how we handled the troubleshooting process, and to showcase the blogger, a Mr. Graham Cropley, for his helpful content!

The Situation: Adding a Cumulative Update

We run Lync Server 2013 Standard Edition, with Persistent Chat and a SIP Trunk. This past week our engineers had the time to implement the December 2014 CU (I know, I know…).

persistentchatdeniedHowever, once the update was in place, two employees noticed something right away. They couldn’t create a new Chat Room. Persistent Chat wouldn’t work.

The Error: Persistent Chat Fails

To quote the following blog post, Persistent Chat – December 2014 CU – 500 Internal Server Error at the Lync Exchange – UC Blog:

“After applying the latest December 2014 v2 Cumulative Update, the Persistent Chat webpage didn’t work externally, it just returned ‘500 – Internal Server Error’.”

One additional thing which isn’t mentioned in the post – not only does the Persistent Chat webpage fail, but so do existing chat rooms. Essentially all of Persistent Chat is unresponsive.

(Not to take away from Mr. Cropley’s good work here. Just adding our own observations for a more complete picture.)

According to his research/experimentation/glaring at the server, he determined this:

The culprit is in the web.config file from the later [December 2014] CU in %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Lync Server 2013\Web Components\PersistentChat\Ext, which includes these extra lines inside the element:

<system.webServer> <modules> <remove name=”PreAuthModule” /> <add name=”PreAuthModule” type=”Microsoft.Rtc.Internal.PreAuthModule.PreAuthModule,Microsoft.Rtc.Server.WebInfrastructure, Version=5.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35″/> </modules> </system.webServer>
1 <system.webServer>
2     <modules>
3         <remove name=”PreAuthModule” />
4         <add name=”PreAuthModule” type=”Microsoft.Rtc.Internal.PreAuthModule.PreAuthModule,Microsoft.Rtc.Server.WebInfrastructure, Version=5.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35″/>
5     </modules>
6 </system.webServer>
This would seem to ensure that anything called PreAuthModule that may be there already is removed, and the Microsoft.Rtc.Internal.PreAuthModule was registered instead. Also by removing it first, this won’t cause an error from that module already being added.

How to Fix the Error: 3 Potential Fixes, We Chose to Convert the Persistent Chat Directory to an Application

At first we went through some of our own troubleshooting steps. Server restart, internal/external tests, etc. No change at all. Persistent Chat remained down, even though all other Lync Server Roles worked perfectly.

Next up, looking at the last change made. The December 2014 Cumulative Update. Did that break Persistent Chat? A few searches, and voila – it did indeed. Mr. Cropley’s post came right up in results. Clear and directly addressing our issue.

We opted for “Fix 1″ of the 3 listed. For the same reasons he did – it has the least impact.

And it worked perfectly. The image above shows my Chat Rooms webpage (I added the red X), taken this morning. All Chat Rooms are working again, as is the Persistent Chat webpage on the server.

Thank You to Our Fellow Lync Blogger!

A big thank you to Mr. Cropley for his post! His work saved us a lot of troubleshooting time. The post is what I love to see in the blogosphere – solid, clear how-to documentation from people working with the technology.

Here’s the link again, if you too are faced with Persistent Chat failing after the December 2014 CU:
Persistent Chat – December 2014 CU – 500 Internal Server Error [Lync Exchange – UC Blog]

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Prepare to Support Skype for Business with a New Lync/Skype Troubleshooting Guide

Skype for Business

Okay! Back to talking about Skype for Business 2015.

I attended a Lync Users Group Meetup 2 weeks ago, where we discussed Skype for Business Server 2015. I’m not able to share specifics yet, but I can talk about the Meetup itself. It was very well-attended–Lync partners, third-party vendors like Sonus, and UC industry experts.

The preparatory process for Skype for Business has clearly begun.

It was in this same vein – preparing for Skype for Business’ arrival – that I wrote today’s post. Last month Thomas Poett, a Microsoft Lync MVP, released a troubleshooting guide (free download). Both for Lync Server 2013…and for Skype for Business 2015!

Troubleshooting Guide, Skype for Business and Lync – Thomas.Poett@UC

Who’s the Guide For?

ThSupporting Lync Servere guide is meant for systems administrators, Lync Server administrators and Exchange Server administrators. It isn’t spelled out exactly, but the subject matter clearly delineates admins for its target audience.

As you’d expect from the title, Thomas’ guide covers troubleshooting methods for resolving issues within Lync Server 2013 and Skype for Business 2015. It addresses topics like the following.

  • Support tools to use, such as Snooper and OCSLogger
  • Testing configurations for IM, Voice/VoIP, Conferencing
  • Analyzing calls for session problems
  • SIP troubleshooting
  • And much more

Things to Consider

–This guide is focused on troubleshooting, NOT on setup. Please read it with that in mind.
For instance: 21 pages are devoted to analyzing SIP data from one Lync call!

–This is a low-level technical guide. Expect to see Snooper logs, PowerShell cmdlets and session diagrams. If you are not already familiar with the Lync Server infrastructure, I suggest saving this for later. (May I suggest previous posts on this blog instead?)

–More attention is paid to Lync than Skype. No surprise here – Thomas does have access to the TAP, but there are strict privacy controls on Skype for Business information right now. And will be for a few more months.

Thomas was clever; he wrote a “universal” Troubleshooting Approach on pages 7-8 which can be applied to Lync, Skype for Business, Exchange Server, and even Office 365. I do not want to take away from his guide, so I will only quote a small part of the Troubleshooting Approach:

4 Major Quality Issue Areas:

  1. Network
  2. Core Performance
  3. Gateway
  4. Devices

Configuration/Environment Setup Regions to Check When Troubleshooting (in order):

  • Voice Setup (Dial Plans, Normalization, Routes)
  • Gateway Configuration
  • Exchange Unified Messaging Integration

Speaking from our Lync experience, this approach holds up. Network issues affect Lync more often than its own Server Roles hitting a snag. Which happens more often than a gateway failing to communicate. Which happens more than a device outright failing (only had that happen a couple times).

Why You Should Read the Troubleshooting Guide

I’m reading this for one reason: Identifying similarities between Lync Server 2013 and Skype for Business Server 2015’s support processes.

Thomas has done some good work here. He’s provided details for troubleshooting a software platform, before it’s commercially available, using its currently-running predecessor. It’s a document intended to help you transition from one to the other.

I’m sure in time we’ll have more documentation, both for setup and for support. But right now, we have a Skype for Business 2015 resource available. Avail yourselves of it – after all, it’s free!

Here’s the direct PDF download link at TechNet.

What steps are you taking to prepare for Skype for Business 2015? Please comment or email your thoughts. And join us back here next week for more!

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How to Access Lync Server Management Shell Remotely

Lync Server 2013, Reference

Welcome to 2015! Let’s start the year off with some helpful how-to’s.

The other day I was off-site, and a request came in to update the Web Conferencing branding. (I blogged about this at “Branding Your Lync Server”.)

Normally I’d just log into the server and make the change, either via PowerShell or in Control Panel. But I was off-site. My normal login wouldn’t work! I’d have to log in remotely.

IMG_1270a

Now, all you sysadmins who do work from 3 different locations (office, the couch, the coffee shop), you know what’s required for this: Remote Access to the Lync Front End Server. However, I had discovered that SOMEone on our Lync team had disabled remote access!

(Ordinarily that’s a sensible precaution. Unmonitored remote access to any server is a serious security risk. Keep that in mind when using the following instructions.)

After I returned to the office and re-enabled Remote User Access, I was able to access Management Shell remotely & enter the cmdlets I wanted. I’ve already given you the cmdlets themselves, and what they do (the link above).

Today, I’m talking about the process used to make this possible. Steps to access Lync Server Management Shell remotely.

Remote Management Shell Access, Step 1: Enable Remote User Access on Lync Server

WARNING: The following can leave your Lync Server vulnerable if your security does not address remote access. Check your network security configuration BEFORE attempting.

  1. If your Lync user account is a member of the RTCUniversalServerAdmins group (or is an Administrator), log on to your computer within your company network.
  2. Open a browser window, and then enter your Lync Server Control Panel’s administration URL. (This can be done via Remote Desktop Connection as well, if you prefer.)
  3. In the left navigation bar, click Federation and External Access. Then click Access Edge Configuration.
  4. On the Access Edge Configuration page, click Global / Edit / Show Details.
  5. You should be in Edit Access Edge Configuration.
    1. To enable Remote User Access, check the “Enable remote user access” box.
    2. To disable Remote User Access, clear the “Enable remote user access” box.
  6. Click Commit.

You can also do this via cmdlets (see this page for help: Enable or Disable Remote User Access in Lync Server 2013 – TechNet

I prefer doing so via Control Panel though, as it means you know where to go to enable/disable in the future. And you can switch it off whenever it’s not in use!

Step 2: Configure Policies

Enabling Remote User Access is not enough. You may also need to configure a policy allowing remote users to communicate back to Lync’s Front End.

  1. If you are still logged into Lync Server Control Panel, click External User Access in the left navigation bar.
  2. Click External Access Policy.
  3. Which policy you edit depends on which level you want to use.
    1. For the Global policy to support Remote User Access, click the Global policy. Click Edit, and then click Show details.
    2. To create a new Site policy, click New, and then “Site policy”. Select the appropriate Site from the “Select a Site” list and click OK.
    3. To create a new User policy, click New, and then “User policy”. Create an appropriate name under Name (“AllowRemotePowerShell” for example).
    4. If you want to change an existing policy, click it in the table, click Edit, and click Show details.
  4. To enable Remote User Access for the policy, check the “Enable communications with remote users” box.
  5. To disable Remote User Access for the policy, clear the “Enable communications with remote users” box.
  6. Click Commit.
  7. Exit out of Control Panel and log off.

More information is here: Configure Policies to Control Remote User Access in Lync Server 2013 – TechNet

**NOTE: As the comments below discuss, this step may in fact not be necessary. I will try removing our policy configuration & testing remote access afterward. If you want, you can skip this step and go right to Step 3. If you do experience an error, try configuring policies and see if that resolves it. If not, you’re good.

Step 3: Open PowerShell & Create New Session

Now you’re set on the server-side for remote access. Here’s how to log in via the client side.

  1. Copy down the FQDN of your Front End Server. Take this with you (but keep it secure!).
  2. When at a remote location, connect to the Internet. Open PowerShell.
  3. Enter the following cmdlet using your FQDN:

$session = New-PSSession -ConnectionUri https://lync.domain.com/PowerShell -Credential (Get-Credential)

Make sure you have the correct FQDN for your Front End Server! Otherwise you will see a Connection Failure error like this.

powershellFQDNfailure

You will be prompted to enter your credentials. Enter your login and password.

Once you’re authenticated, enter:

Import-PSSession -Session $session

This will create the new session.

Johan at Lync-Blog.nl has additional details on this page: Multiple Ways to Manage Your Lync Server Environment – Lync-Blog.nl

I also came across a script to speed up the process, here: #Lync and Remote PowerShell – Phyler’s Blog

After this, you should be there! Logged into PowerShell remotely and set to enter cmdlets.

When done, don’t forget to end your sessions with:

Remove-PsSession $session

P.S. – You May Need to Log Into Your Company VPN

Like many businesses, we use a VPN for external access. I was initially rebuffed from my remote PowerShell login. Logging into our VPN corrected this issue.

Depending on your network configuration, you may need to log into your VPN as well. Check with your network administrator for remote access rules.

========

Remote PowerShell access is a great help for admins who travel. Not every cmdlet will work from off-site (Johan mentioned that Enable-CsTopology will not, for instance). But you can create/disable users, get reports and restart some Lync services.

Thank you to everyone in our 2014 end-of-year polls! I’ll share the results next week. If you haven’t voted yet, I’ve extended the polls until Saturday the 10th. Please go here and vote: 2014 Reader Survey: What are Your 2015 Lync Plans?

How do you prefer administering your Lync Server? Please share your thoughts. We’ll see you again next week!

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How to Brand Your Lync Server

Lync Server 2013

We’re starting in on some end-of-year upgrades for our datacenter. While we’re doing the work, we took another look at our Lync Server. Right now we run Lync Server 2013 Standard, with a SIP line and Persistent Chat.

Given our explorations earlier in the year into using Lync Server as a LogMeIn replacement, we’re implementing a few changes to make that easier. Which is where today’s Lync Insider topic comes from.

What I Mean By “Brand” – Identify Your Lync Services to Employees and Customers

Lync Server, like most server applications, is designed to look the same across every installation by default. But it includes methods by which you may brand it.

Chances are most of you know what “branding” is. In this case, I’m referring to tagging all elements of your Lync Server users see with your company name, logo, etc.

Why would you want to brand a Lync Server? Well, we’re doing it for two reasons:

  • Internally, this is a helpful measure to avoid confusion. People see their employer’s name on the Lync tools, they know this is what they should use.
  • Externally, branding fulfills a marketing function. Customers, prospects and partners whom you invite to use your Lync tools – they see Lync, yes. But they also see who’s providing Lync services to them.
Image courtesy of Simon Bleasdale on Flickr.

Image courtesy of Simon Bleasdale on Flickr.

Below you’ll find 5 branding changes to make. One you should already have. One you’ll find right here on the blog. The others are links to blog posts which give a good how-to. I’ve included short versions to familiarize you, but I do encourage you to visit the other blogs for more detail.

NOTE: The following applies to Lync Server 2013 installations.

Basic naming: Domain-based URLs

Creating Lync URLs using your domain is done during the Lync Server setup. Particularly when setting up your Edge Server for external user access. Meet.domain.com, dialin.domain.com, etc. This is a fundamental branding element – nobody else has your URL.

Set up/modify the Lync Meeting invitations

Customizing the Online Meeting Add-in in Lync Server 2013 – TechNet
Short Version: Including a logo, custom footer text, and links to your Help or Support pages in every Lync Meeting invitation. Accessible via Lync Server Control Panel, under Conferencing/Meeting Configuration.

Change the logo image on the Lync Web App page

Customizing the Lync Server 2013 Meeting Page – Ehlo World!
Short Version: Change the image on the Lync Web App page from “Lync Web App” to your company name (or whatever phrase you want to put in an image). Replace the “Lync Web App” image in the Lync Server’s Images subfolder. Then restart the Web Conferencing service using this PowerShell cmdlet:
Restart-Service RTCDATAMCU

Customize Lync Presence options

Want to add custom Presence status options to your users’ Lync 2013 clients? We’ve covered two ways to do this in the past. Here are the blog posts you’ll want to reference.
Lync Add-Ons: Lync Custom Status Tool
How to Create Custom Lync Presence States

Customize the Lync Dial-In Page

How to Customize Lync Dialin Page – ExchangePro.DK
Short Version: Editing the Dial-In Conferencing page’s HTML. Add in your logo, or adjust the page formatting. Not the biggest location for branding, but you can alleviate some external users’ confusion at the same time.

Small Changes, Big Visibility Improvement

None of these changes should take you long to make. They work within Lync’s standard setup, either via Control Panel, Management Shell or direct folder access. But the result is far-reaching – once you’ve made these branding edits, everyone will see your logo & information.

Every time you invite someone to a meeting.
Every time your users change their Presence.
Every time you run a conference or webinar.

Every time, they see your name.

How’s that for branding?

Have you branded your Lync Server? Did you use a different method from these? If so, please comment or email me. Always like to hear what work our readers have done.

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