Browsing the archives for the video conferencing tag.

Is the Unified Communications Market Crowded?

Unified Communications

The other day I came across this article:
Microsoft pushes into crowded Unified Communications market – ComputerWorld

It says that Lync Server 2013 is pushing into an already-crowded Unified Communications market. And that it doesn’t really stand out from its competitors…or show any real innovation.

Are these valid concerns? Is the UC market really crowded?

All due respect to the article’s author (it’s still a good read)…but I don’t think it is. And I think Lync Server is well-suited for the future of communications. Let’s explore the market a little, and see what we find.

The Current Providers

As mentioned in the article, the major Unified Communications providers right now are:

  • Cisco
  • IBM
  • Avaya
  • Siemens
  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • Mitel
  • ShoreTel
  • Microsoft Lync

8 major IT players. Definitely some healthy competition going on here.

That by itself doesn’t mean the market is crowded. Crowded implies the market is glutted, or the current providers are offering solutions the market doesn’t want.

Not even close. In fact, businesses are moving to more UC technology, not less.

The Current State of UC: 51% and Growing

According to a 2012 IDG Enterprise report, Unified Communications adoption is at 51%. Half the organizations out there.

Plenty more room for UC expansion. And in fact, 90% of organizations DO plan to invest more into Unified Communications & Collaboration solutions over the next 3 years, starting in 2013.

The most popular UC solution in use? Web conferencing (76% of organizations). Followed by IM (72%). VoIP is at 52%. (“The State of Unified Communications Adoption”, Osterman Research 2010) Again, plenty of room for more service adoption.

The BYOD trend is helping to accelerate adoption too. The enterprise is accelerating UC investment due to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets.

Because employees are buying such equipment themselves, they’re essentially giving enterprise businesses ready-to-use UC endpoints. (Just be careful of security!)

Finally, consider that the market is not universal. We do have the enterprise, mid-market and small business segments. Are the current providers focusing equally on all three?

No. According to their websites’ UC content, they’re concentrated mostly on enterprise-level:

  1. Cisco – Enterprise, Mid-Market
  2. IBM – Enterprise, Mid-Market
  3. Avaya – Enterprise
  4. Siemens – Enterprise
  5. Alcatel – Enterprise
  6. Mitel – Enterprise, Mid-Market, Small Business
  7. ShoreTel – Enterprise, Mid-Market
  8. Microsoft Lync – Enterprise, Mid-Market, Small Business

Clearly, there’s plenty of room in the small business and mid-market space. And this is where the ComputerWorld article slipped – it appears to characterize Lync Server as an enterprise product only, like the other providers’ offerings.

Lync is more adaptable than that. In fact, far from “not showing innovation,” Lync Server is one of the very few which can provide Unified Communications to ALL market segments!

Unified Communications is Spreading Out, Responding to Market Demands

BYOD, almost half of the market still open, UC expansion continuing, most providers concentrated on the enterprise…I don’t think the Unified Communications field is crowded at all. I think it’s undergoing metamorphosis.

One final statistic: Right now, there are more cellphones than people in the U.S. (327 million phones, for 310 million people). And they’re still buying more!

In light of continuing phone & tablet proliferation, some of these providers will change their offerings. Some may drop out of the space, or be bought out. As mobile access speeds improve and business adapts to changing information flow, Unified Communications will provide necessary channels.

Perhaps that’s a little optimistic. But we’ll see, very soon!


Exploring (and Ranking) the New Features in the Lync 2013 July Update

Lync 2013 Client

Last week Microsoft released an update for the Lync 2013 client. Lync receives a few updates every year, for security patches and the occasional new feature.

This time however, we have not one new feature, but four!

So after implementing it, my boss asked me to test all the new features. Make sure everything’s working. Check for issues. And document it for the blog.

Having spent a few hours doing so yesterday and today, I now have my experience documented. But you’re not just getting a bland list of the new features, no no. This wouldn’t be the awesome blog it is if I did that!

I’m also ranking the new Lync features on usefulness. You’ll have them all when you add the July updates…but which will you use? And how often? That’s what I’ll answer here. Strap in!

The 4 Newest Lync 2013 Features, Ranked for Usefulness

#4 – IM Mute

Running a presentation, and want to keep to the audio/video side only? IM Mute does exactly that – mutes the IM side of the presentation. Participants will not be able to type questions/comments in the IM window. This helps to keep distractions low, so the presenter can focus on giving a clear presentation.

IM Mute Option

Usefulness: Low. While it’s a well-intentioned add-on, I think there’s a flaw in muting IM here. Not in the functionality (that works perfectly); in the motivation. Most webinars I’ve attended will mute the attendees, so they can’t hear chatter over the presenter. Muting IM, along with muted audio, effectively silences the attendees. I know some presentations aren’t intended as discussions, but totally removing the ability can hamper business meetings.

#3 – Embedded Images

IM conversations are fast and useful. Ask a question, answer one, check in and then get back to work. But when you run up against a limitation of IM – say, not being able to show someone an image – the conversation tends to derail.

Embedded Images fixes that, by adding in the ability to put images into your conversations. As simple as copy-and-paste, you can now toss an image into your IM window, and the other person(s) sees it. Just like this!

Embedded Image in IM

Usefulness: Moderate. While being able to stick an image into an IM on the fly IS handy if you need to show something, I don’t think I’ll use it much. Conversations that are detailed enough to involve images often branch into email and file transfer.

#2 – Meetings Menu

Meetings is a new choice available on the Lync client’s top navigation. You can see it her (far right, the pie chart):
Meetings View on Lync 2013
Clicking it brings you to a list of your scheduled meetings. If a meeting is blue, you can join it straight from Lync by clicking “Join”.

Usefulness: High. Having a list of Meetings right in Lync (instead of having to go to Outlook) alleviates some confusion about when the next Lync meeting is scheduled. Joining them only takes a click. And since you also see the day’s Calendar events, you can avoid scheduling conflicts.

#1 – Q&A Manager

Now THIS I like! Q&A Manager creates a space during presentations to ask questions, and receive answers, in a structured manner. All you do is enable Q&A from the Presentations menu…

Q&A Manager Option in Presentations

And a Q&A tab appears for all participants. They ask you a question, you type in an answer, and it’s all displayed in a clean, tiered layout for all to see.

Usefulness: High. Right now this is only available on Lync 2013 Desktop and Lync Web Access. That still covers the majority of Lync meeting users…which means my concern about discussion during presentations up in #4? Taken care of. You could even assign one presenter to give the speech, and another to man the Q&A.

To download the July update for your Lync client (2013 only), click here: Security Update for Microsoft Lync 2013 (KB2817465)
(Make sure your Lync Server is updated too: Updates for Lync Server 2013)

For further reference on the new features, Richard Brynteson’s post on Mastering Lync is a great run-down.

Which of these updates do YOU think you’ll use the most? And how? Comment or email me, and let’s discuss!

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Lync 2013 Hits the App Store – Ideal for Mobile Meetings

Lync Server 2013

The Lync 2013 Client for iOS is now in the App Store. Time to celebrate!

I’ve been using Lync 2010 with our new Lync Server 2013 system for weeks now. It does the job, but I was missing out on several things. Like making calls out. So I eagerly awaited the 2013 upgrade.

Microsoft has not disappointed.

What to Expect: Calling Features, Video, Everything You Like About Lync

Just a few minutes of fiddling with Lync 2013 on my phone has shown it has all the Lync features available:

  • Making/receiving Enterprise Voice calls
  • Video calls
  • Instant Messaging
  • Chat
  • Presence awareness
  • Attend Lync Online Meetings

Everything you’d expect from the Lync 2013 desktop client. The interface is almost identical too – clean and functional.

Simultaneous Ring works perfectly. Video calls are so smooth, they reminded me of the subspace conversations from Star Trek!

Search for “Microsoft Lync 2013 for iPhone” to find it in the App Store.

The iPad version was also released. Between the two, I actually like the iPad client better. Since it has more screen space, the interface makes full use of it.

The screen is split into 2 vertical columns. On the left you have contacts. Touch one and full Lync contact options pop up in the right column. Call, IM, video, email.

Here’s a screenshot of the contact details (on a dummy account we have set up):

Lync 2013 on iPad 2

Access your own info from the Lync icon at top-left. As well as IM, Chats and your phone.

Lync 2013 for Mobile Requirements

  • Your phone/tablet must be on iOS 6, at least.
  • And you have to have CU1 installed on Lync to get the new version to work
  • You will need Mobility Services enabled in Lync Server 2013 to fully use the iPhone client.

Take care of those requirements and you’re set. I’m running Lync 2013 on an iPhone 3GS and an iPad 2, both running iOS 6.1.2. Zero issues.

Lync 2013 has been released for Windows Phone 8 too. But it looks like Android users will have to wait a little longer.

Conferencing: Jason Perlow Calls Lync “Telecommuter’s Dream” (And I Agree!)

The new mobile clients are great for staying in touch. But what I – and Jason Perlow – really appreciate about them is the Conferencing capability.

Jason has discussed Lync’s value on his Tech Broiler blog for ZDNet:
Why I love Lync 2013: A telecommuter’s dream come true – ZDNet

In the piece (which is already making the social media rounds,) Jason praises Lync 2013’s conferencing abilities as invaluable to telecommuters like himself. Great points on how Lync makes communication easy, no matter where you are or what medium you’re using.

We have engineers in the field all day. We use Lync to communicate back and forth, and for conference calls with clients.

As soon as our engineers are back in the office, I’m bugging them about updating to Lync 2013 on their phones.

How will you use Lync 2013 for Mobile? Please share your experiences!

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Who Uses Lync Server?

Conferencing, Instant Messaging (IM), lync server 2010, Microsoft Lync, Unified Communications, Voice over IP

It’s not just businesses

Lots of people are talking Lync these days. (Seems like I’m fielding questions via email and Twitter every other day!)

Some news articles about Lync adoption this week got me thinking about this. About all the places these conversations come from.

You might assume businesses would make up the vast majority of Lync Server inquiries. (I did at one point.) But, you’d be wrong.

Yes, businesses are adopting Lync Server every day now. But other organizations are as well – and the variety of reasons they have for choosing Lync Server are all over the place.

So today’s post is about the non-business organizations who use Lync Server. What types of organization they are, and what benefits they draw from adopting Lync.

Not sure if your organization should try Lync out? Uncertain of how its tools would help you? Maybe these examples will give you some ideas.

(I won’t name names, unless I’ve already been given permission, or media citations exist. PlanetMagpie protects the privacy of our clients and our prospects.)

Organization Type 1: Schools & Universities

The University of the West England in the UK has deployed Lync Server 2010. Primary reasons? Use of voice telephony, and meeting collaboration. Perfect for large university campuses.

Even high schools are getting in on the action. Remember our recent guest post on Custom Presence Status? Mr. Christie, its author, works for the High School of Dundee in Scotland. They’re deploying Lync to make communication between teachers and offices much easier. (IM doesn’t disrupt students too much during class.)

Organization Type 2: Religious Organizations

There’s a lot of structure to religious organizations. It makes sense that they’d need a solid way to keep in touch with constituents, and fellow organizations.

We’re working with a Catholic office which is looking at Lync for giving presentations and VoIP. It’s a lower cost than using a PBX, and having on-the-fly presentation ability in-house saves them time when hosting guests and running classes.

Organization Type 3: Non-Profits

Non-profits exist in many shapes and sizes. The number we’ve spoken to have Lync needs just as varied. A charity is implementing Lync to bridge a communication gap between its main office and three branch offices. A hospital on the East Coast asked us about which Lync phones are best in high-traffic environments. We even had a non-profit which ran all Macs and iPads asking us about Lync Server!

Organization Type 4: Governments

Last month, the Argyll and Bute Council in Scotland adopted Lync Server for use across 60 separate locations. According to this TMCNet article on the adoption, the Council wants to use Presence and video conferencing for flexible remote work.

More locally, a county Transportation Authority here in California told us that they’d switched to Lync. They wanted training help on all Lync aspects. That was part of reason I blogged about the Lync Training Package (Part 1) (Part 2).

Organization Type 4: International Firms

Almost half of the emails to this blog come from overseas. Hong Kong, Europe, South Africa, you name it. The organizations vary from businesses to non-profits to charities.

VoIP is the big request with these firms. Especially when it comes to Skype. The recent purchase & integration announcements have either encouraged Skype-using international firms to consider Lync…or they’re a bit nervous and want some reassurance they’ll still have Skype’s functionality post-integration!

I find the international attention really encouraging, since it means so many more organizations worldwide are exploring Lync Server.

Many Organizations, Many Uses for Lync Server

When potential clients come talk to us about Lync Server 2010, they’re usually zeroed in on one aspect of it. We want the VoIP, they’ll say. Or, we heard Lync does web conferences.

It’s fun to watch their eyebrows rise when we tell them everything ELSE Lync does.

If you don’t have Lync Server yet, did this post give you ideas on what benefits Lync can bring? Which service are you most looking forward to?

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What Archiving Server Archives – and What it Doesn't

Instant Messaging (IM), lync server 2010, SQL Server 2008

Archiving Server provides a repository for information exchanged via Lync Server. Why? Two reasons:

  1. It gives you a log of Lync activity everyone can draw upon. How many times have you tried to remember what Jane said about the Michaels project? Thanks to Archiving Server, you have a saved copy of that IM conversation.
  2. It helps you fulfill legal compliance requirements. Many organizations must keep track of project steps, client files, and so on to meet compliance regulations. Since Archiving Server tracks automatically, its archive database acts as a regulatory resource.

What DOES it track though? It’s important to know what is and is not archived by Archiving Server. Otherwise, you might assume it just grabs everything. It doesn’t.

What Lync Archives on the Archiving Server

  • Instant messaging conversations (both person-to-person, and between multiple parties)
  • Content uploaded in Web conferences
  • Conference events (joins, parts, etc.)

What Lync DOES NOT Archive on Archiving Server

  • File transfers
  • Conferencing annotations and polls
  • Audio & video for person-to-person IM and conferences
  • Application sharing for IM and conferences
  • Diagnostic reports for session failures (those come from Monitoring Server)

Caution – There’s a Time Limit on Archived Materials

It’s important to note: Archiving is NOT intended to work indefinitely! As you can imagine from the above lists, storing uploaded files and daily IM logs will fill up space fast.

The server will keep archives until one of two things happens:

  1. You tell it to purge old archived files.
  2. Its storage fills up.

Obviously, you don’t want to reach #2.

In the Lync Server 2010 Control Panel, there’s a setting that dictates when to purge old archive files. You can control the time interval for this under Archiving Configuration. How long you keep archived files depends on your legal compliance requirements. 1 year, 2? Talk to Legal.

Then head to this page for a how-to: Enable or Disable Purging for Archiving – TechNet.


Want to add Archiving Server to your Lync setup? Use this deployment guide to help you.

If you’re having trouble with Archiving Server (e.g. conversations aren’t showing up in Conversation History), use NextHop’s “Troubleshooting Archiving Server” post as a guide.


Do you use an Archiving Server? What’s the big value from it, for you?

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Jabra BIZ 620 Headset: Making Lync Calls Even Easier (Review)

Conferencing, Microsoft Lync, Third-Party Lync Products, Unified Communications, Voice over IP

On Monday my boss handed me a new Jabra headset and said, “Here, we got a bunch of these in. Try it out. Let’s put a review up.”

Sure!Jabra BIZ 620 USB Headset

Image courtesy of

Starting With a Headset OverviewJabra Call Control

I’m using a Jabra BIZ 620 USB mono headset (one headphone, for the right ear). The mic arm is adjustable, and moves up to 270 degrees.

In other words, up alongside your head when you want it out of the way.

The headset has an integrated call control knob on the cord (right).

The buttons are (from top to bottom):

  • Answer Call
  • Increase Volume
  • Lower Volume
  • End Call (Pressing this button when not in a call will mute your mic)

There’s also two LEDs on the call control. One green LED to indicate that the device is in use; one red LED to indicate that the headset is muted.

The BIZ 620 is a USB plug-and-play headset. No drivers are required. Just plug it in and you’re ready to talk.

Supports Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Also support Mac OS 9.0.4 and up.

Putting it On

The call control knob is a little heavy, causes headset to tilt if it’s not adjusted. I had to keep the band fairly tight to balance out the weight on the cord. Once I did that, the headset was very comfortable.
The ear piece is well-padded, so it sits very lightly against the ear.

The mic is adjustable. Jabra recommends putting it about two finger-lengths away from your face.

I’ve had the headset on for about an hour now. No discomfort whatsoever. (In fact I stood up a moment ago, forgetting it was on!)

After I plugged the headset in, Lync automatically recognized it and switched my audio devices. (Note the headset icon in the lower-left corner.)
Jabra Headset Recognized in Lync 2010
Right here!

That’s all the configuration I had to do. A test under Options/Audio Device reveals that the headset volume is set to about 40% by default. Just tap the “+” on the call control knob to raise it.

From here, it’s just a matter of clicking a contact (or entering a phone number) and hitting Enter.

Making Calls in Lync 2010

Rubber meets the road time!

I tested the headset on four calls: two to internal contacts, and two to outside clients.

I didn’t tell any of them I used the headset.

Both of the outside clients asked if I had a new phone. When asked why, they said I sounded much clearer. (I’d spoken with them before using my laptop’s built-in mic.)

It’s always better listening to voices through headphones than laptop speakers. The Jabra headset improved sound quality for both of us. No static, no pauses, no issues.

Final Verdict: Great Headset for Lync Users

The Jabra BIZ 620 USB is optimized for use with Lync Server. It’s one of Jabra’s Unified Communications products, made for their partnership with Microsoft. lines comes in mono (one headphone) and duo (two headphones) versions. USB and MS connectors available.

I really like how simple this headset makes things. There’s no setup, and no extra steps in Lync. Click to make a call, and this headset handles the rest.

The Jabra BIZ 620 USB headsets are available through several distributors and resellers. Jabra maintains a list on this page: Jabra BIZ 620 Series – Authorized Distributors and Resellers

Do you use a Jabra headset with Lync? Which model? How’s it working for you?


Redirect Live Meeting Users to Lync: 20 Tasks Every Lync Administrator Should Know

Conferencing, lync server 2010, Microsoft Lync, Unified Communications

Live Meeting’s functionality was absorbed into Lync Server. Since Lync had Web Conferencing (and the Dial-In Conferencing service!) built in, it made sense to equip the software with Live Meeting’s anyone-can-join capability too.

With Live Meeting, people wanting to join a conference (as guests, outside your network) would join in by downloading the Live Meeting Client. In Lync Server, you have two new choices: Lync Attendee, or the Lync Web App.

Meeting Option #1: Lync Attendee

Lync Attendee is a downloadable client for external users to join Lync meetings. In other words, it operates just like the Live Meeting Client.

However, it doesn’t allow for Presence, or scheduling meetings on its own. (You need the full Lync client for those.) Attendees can enter a meeting as a Guest or as an Authenticated User, with their own corporate credentials.
Download Lync Attendee here.

Meeting Option #2: Lync Web App

The Lync Web App is a Silverlight-based app for people who don’t have Lync 2010. It enables remote connection as a guest – same functionality as Live Meeting, just in a Web-based app.

The Web App doesn’t allow for Presence either. But it *does* include IM. And all the collaboration features you’d find in Lync 2010 or Lync Attendee: PowerPoint presentations, the Whiteboard, polls, etc.

(Using these features may prompt attendees to download a plugin. Warn them beforehand.)

NextHop has a thorough run-down of the Lync Web App here.

So Which Should You Use for Meetings?

If you’re reasonably sure attendees are on newer computers, use the Lync Web App. Silverlight is newer technology; the latest systems will support it easily.

Also, use the Web App if you’re inviting people on Macs and/or smartphones.

Otherwise, go with Lync Attendee. It’s a good all-around client for meetings, and it’s easier to use than Live Meeting.

A Note About Conference Scheduling

Scheduling a web conference in Lync is pretty easy. Lync users can begin a meeting anytime (what’s called an “ad-hoc meeting”) by right-clicking on another contact.

However, when it comes to scheduling meetings, the Conferencing Add-In I mentioned will likely get more use. Being integrated into Outlook, it’s literally right there.

You’ll see a “New Online meeting” button (with the Lync logo) under Calendar. Click that and enter the meeting details.


This should clear up a little confusion. I’m sure there’s a lot more to discuss when it comes to meetings in Lync though.

Have you had trouble scheduling or attending one? Let’s hear about it!


Microsoft May Position an Integrated Skype-Lync as the SMB Communication Platform of Choice

lync server 2010, Microsoft Lync, Unified Communications, Voice over IP

In May I wrote about Microsoft’s Skype acquisition. I speculated a little on 4 ways Skype could affect Lync Server.

Microsoft gave us some answers at the WPC conference in late July. (Yes, I’m late to the party here. I was on vacation!)

Looks like my “all of the above” thought was on the right track. Lync will “thoroughly integrate” with Skype once the acquisition deal is final. We don’t have a lot of details beyond that. But the WPC announcements did shed more light on Microsoft’s goals.

See Steve Ballmer’s quote in the article:

“One of the great motivations in acquiring Skype is to enable the enterprise to have all the control it wants in communication and collaboration through Active Directory and Lync, and yet be able to connect people within enterprises to consumers, businesses and trading partners around the world. Lync … with Skype is a strategy that will allow the consumerization of IT to really proceed with full vim and vigor.”

Take another look at that last statement. (Not the ‘vim and vigor’ part, that’s just Ballmer trying to sound British.)

“Consumerization of IT.”

That makes me think. About the connectivity options available at different levels of business.

And my thinking makes me want to place a bet.

Bet on SMB Positioning for Lync

I’m betting the Skype-Lync integration will create a composite app that gives Lync functionality to the SMB level of business.

Lync’s highest adoption rate came from enterprises. They (for the most part) know what it can do.

But smaller businesses?

The SMB market is more familiar with Skype, not Lync. But there’s functionality they could use that Skype doesn’t have – UC connectivity with Office apps, for one.

I could be off. Heck, I could be restating an obvious development. But it still strikes me as a good bet to make. A blended Lync-Skype application would bring Lync capabilities to the small-business and mid-market business spheres.

Plus, it would make “Lync in the Cloud” easier to adopt.

Will the Positioning Hurt Current Skype Users?

Thousands of businesses already use Skype as a low-cost phone system. Does the Lync integration hurt them?

Maybe. Depending on how MS conducts the software integration, they might have to buy Lync Server (in some form) to use full UC capabilities. A composite app could be a middle-of-the-road…or a required upgrade.

It’s all speculation right now. We’ll have to see how right I am–eventually!

What do you think? Am I on-target with these integration speculations?


Sneaking into a VoIP Webinar: Advice I Found for Lync Admins

Conferencing, lync server 2010, Unified Communications, Voice over IP

Yesterday I attended the “Best Practices for Successful VoIP/UC Deployments” webinar put on by Enterprise Connect. I expected to receive some technical information that would be useful to Lync administrators. And I wasn't disappointed.

As I promised last week, here are some of the highlights I found relevant. If you want to see the whole webinar, there are slides and audio available at

Network Performance is Crucial

The issue of performance was central to the webinar. Not surprising, considering their prime considerations were bandwidth-heavy apps like VoIP and video conferencing!

There's a chart on Slide 6 that's worth the download right there. It lists out good performance metrics for five high-bandwidth services: VoIP/UC, Cloud Services, IP Storage, VDI and Video Conferencing. (I was a bit surprised that VoIP/UC was on the *low end*, but hey.) The metrics included minimum available capacity, latency, maximum loss and a few others. Useful when setting up Lync front end servers.

Next came a very Lync-relevant reminder: There are parts of any network connection that we don't control. Loss can occur in any of those parts and affect network performance. A WAN connection, router disruption, carrier latency…any of these can slow down your VoIP call.

The Problems Affecting VoIP and Unified Communications

Next up the webinar presenters (John and Matt) got more technical. They listed out common network problems affecting performance,from QoS configuration errors (something I don't think I've covered before) to an overly-busy router. Each problem was identified,and possible resolutions given.

For example, one presenter mentioned Call Admission Control as a possible cause of insufficient bandwidth. If certain users have consistent trouble with dropped calls, CAC may need adjusting of its max bandwidth for voice.

Should We Measure Performance All The Time?

I know, that's kind of a given. Measuring was a big focus of this webinar though; reminder after reminder about its importance. Especially since application servers like Lync deploy as services. Continuous measuring makes catching performance problems easier (not to mention less stressful for the admin!).

The webinar ended with discussing the PathViewCloud measurement tools from Apparent Networks. I'm not sure how useful it would be for Lync servers. But I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention it. And this webinar was certainly detailed enough to merit good attention.

Best Practices for Lync Admins

Before that though, the presenters gave 7 best practices for remote site UC deployments. I'm posting the 4 that looked right for a Lync Server admin to employ.

1. Prioritize key services/applications first and then expand – don't bite off too much at once. (Good advice. Roll out Lync's basics first as a test. Then try the VoIP.)

3. Define the location(s) that will leverage/be impacted by the new application/service, and understand the network performance to/from these locations. (You'll need to know bandwidth requirements between remote offices if you want to configure the Survivable Branch Appliance correctly.)

4. Establish baselines of what's actually happening today, before making ANY infrastructure changes. Understand what “levers” affect delivered performance. (Good advice to follow before adding any new servers. But particularly Lync Server, given how integrated with the whole network it can be.)

7. Understand performance from both directions; your central office out to remote locations AND vice versa. (If a certain office has trouble receiving email before Lync is deployed, don't ignore it.)

Performance Tools are Good. Lync Performance Tools are Better!

Let me finish by pointing out that there IS a software-based Lync Server 2010 Performance Tool available. It doesn't test web conferencing or Group Chat, but you'll get some numbers on how well your network handles VoIP, application sharing and other services.

Do you have a performance tool designed to work with Lync? Let's hear about it. Maybe I can blog about it next week.

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Path to Lync Server – Step 8: Train Users


On to Step 8 – training your users on Lync. Now we're away from the server and over to the Lync 2010 client.
Lync 2010 Client App
Lync 2010 image courtesy of Can't post screenshots of my own yet – darn client confidentiality!

Obviously, it looks a lot like your typical IM client. This works to your advantage – chances are you co-workers know their way around IM already. (You might have caught them IMing from work…)

In today's post I'll present materials to help you prepare for training your users on Lync. There's a combination of training materials, videos, and my own observations.

Training Materials for Lync

First thing to do is go here:
Lync 2010 Training – Microsoft Downloads
And download the training package. It contains 7 PowerPoint presentations that introduce the reader to each aspect of the Lync 2010 client. The following 3 are especially helpful for everyone who'll use Lync:

  • * Conferencing and Collaboration Training

  • * IM and Presence Training
  • * Voice and Video Training

Either use them to create your own training materials, or distribute them as an introduction to Lync features. You'll need more detail to train effectively though. So, here's a few more resources. All are freely available.

Using Instant Messaging

Lync 2010 starts with a blank window. Like any IM client, users will need to add contacts.

Adding Contacts: Here's that two-click add I mentioned before. Lync 2010 Help – Adding Contacts (video)

Adding External Contacts (outside the organization): Doing this isn't much different from adding an internal contact. Type the contact's email address in Lync 2010's search field. Right-click the search result, and then click Add to Contact List.

Once users have their contact list set up, they'll need to know about Presence.

Changing Presence Status: Easy. Have the user type what they're doing in the “What's Happening Today?” field atop Lync 2010. Then, below their name, they should select what their status is – Available, Busy,Away,etc. There's a handy reference table here with all the Presence Status options.

Making Calls Through Lync

Before a user tries to make a call, they should verify that their audio devices (speakers, mic, headset) work with Lync 2010.

I suggest pairing users up to test their audio. Use the first three steps on this guide to verify that they can make and receive calls:
Select Audio Devices, Place a Voice Call – Quick Start

Once they're sure they can use voice, this quick video works for a step-by-step reminder to making calls.

Join a Conference

There are guides for joining conferences, of course.

But the best way to do this (I think) is to run a conference yourself, and invite people in. (See the next paragraph for how to do that.) I'd recommend small groups at a time, so you can answer questions without getting overwhelmed.

Start and Run a Conference

This Quick Start Guide will show users how to schedule a conference, or start one unscheduled.
Quick Start: Set up, Start, and Join an Online Meeting

If users want more control of the conference, they can read about more advanced options – record the meeting, add video – in this guide.

Lync Training for the Masses

That's most of the standard user actions you””””ll come across. If you'd like more, browse this list of Lync Help videos.
I'll post more how-tos as they come up.

Speaking of coming up – is there something specific in Lync 2010 you'd like me to cover? Leave it in a comment, or email me with your idea. We're already starting work on our own Lync Server/Lync 2010 Client guide. Ideas will be blogged, and (if you give permission) added to the guide as applicable.

Next week I'll pause the “Path to Lync Server” series again, to bring you a special post. I've been told about a new Lync tool…and I think you'll want to hear what it does. See you then.

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