Browsing the archives for the video conferencing tag.

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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Walking Through the Lync Server 2010 Planning Tool

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

Yesterday I read that a planning tool was available for Lync Server 2010 RC. No way I'd pass something like that up for a blog post. You can download the Planning Tool here:
Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Planning Tool RC – Downloads

Installation takes only a second. A server isn't required (which is good, because I don't have access to one right now!).

I thought I'd do something a little more intense this week–a walkthrough of the entire planning tool. Give everybody some ideas on how Lync is set up, and what's needed from you to make it happen.

Below are brief descriptions of what's on every window, and how it fits into Lync Server. Plus screenshots I took of each window as I went through. Enjoy!

(This is a LONG post with big images. So I'll put a “Read More” here to make it load faster.)

Continue Reading »


Lync Server Roles and What They Do


The other day I was reading J. Bruzzese's excellent piece on, Microsoft Lync 2010: Finally, a Communications Server Worth the Effort. I happen to agree, but one thing jumped out at me.

The new Lync Server Roles were mentioned, though not in great detail. I thought, “What information is out there on the server roles? I should check.”

So I did. And I found out that while some server roles are discussed a bit, others have been left for IT people to simply figure out at install.

Let me fix that – at least in part. Here's an overview of each Lync 2010 Server Role, focused on their intended function in the Lync family (or “site” as the new terminology goes).


Archiving and Monitoring – Just like the name says. This server role monitors your Lync Server usage. Archiving archives IM conversations, Group Chat and conference logs.

Audio/Video Conferencing – Conferencing is integrated into Lync Server; a separate client (like Live Meeting was) isn't necessary. This server controls that integration.

Central Management – Main configuration server. The Central Management Store provides a master configuration database that sends configuration information out to all the servers deployed.

Director – The Lync Director server regulates user pools. It's usually on the front-end server.

Edge Server – Like they did before, Edge Servers make communications with external users possible. Lync Edge servers have also added DNS Load Balancing (helps reduce the need for Hardware Load Balancers).

Group Chat – The Group Chat feature allows users to discuss topics over time, with those discussions saved and searchable. Think of it like a bulletin board or discussion forum, built right into Lync.

Lync Web Application – Maintains the new Silverlight-based Lync Web App client. In case you conference with non-Lync users who'd like to join in without installing extra software.

Mediation – Handles mediation between servers and gateways. If there's a break in Lync's communication,the Mediation Server Role allows the call to bypass itself and flow from the Lync Server directly to a gateway or IP-PBX.

Reach Application Sharing – As the name implies,this role handles sharing of applications between users while chatting or conferencing. Information was hard to find, but I presume the 'reach' means this role also allows application sharing with third parties not using Lync.

Survivable Branch Appliance
– This role helps keep remote offices connected. If there's a break in communication (say the network goes down), the Appliance Role will route calls through a local gateway out to the public phone network. So calls can continue even while the network's being fixed.

Unified Communications Application Server – This one was the hardest to get specific information on. As you might expect, it helps with recording voicemails & passing them to Exchange. I'll have to go into more detail when it arrives.

Web Conferencing – Provides a foundation for hosting Web conferences (with integrated audio/video from the Audio/Video Conferencing Server).

Rest assured, this is only a preliminary. I intend to get first-hand information on all of these server roles soon. When Lync Server is RTM, I'll be recording everything I can for future posts.

Speaking of, what do you think? “The Lync Insider” or “Lync-Updates”? Which sounds better for an OCS/Lync blog like this?

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OCS 2007 R2 Architecture Poster Available for Download

Conferencing, lync server 2010, OCS 2007, OCS 2007 R2, Reference, Unified Communications

Last week Microsoft released a new version of the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Workload Architecture poster. You can download it here (free, MS login required):
OCS 2007 R2 Workload Architecture Poster

The timing on this might seem odd. After all, we're charging full-on toward Lync Server 2010's release right?

Even so, this is a handy reference tool to have. For OCS 2007 and for Lync 2010.

The reason I say that is because it divides architecture up into four distinct functions: IM and Presence Workload, Application Sharing Workload, A/V and Web Conferencing Workload, and Enterprise Voice Workload.

Having these functions split up does several things for you:

  • Easy reference for discussion

  • Implementation aid if you don't use OCS
  • Troubleshooting aid if you do use OCS
  • Preparation for Lync

Now, the architecture in Lync Server is bound to differ from this. What I mean BY well, anyommunications system like Lync will need.”

Lync 2010 will need fewer servers than OCS 2007, to boot. So it should be a simpler architecture.

Familiarize yourself with OCS' architecture and be pleasantly surprised when Lync rolls out!

A couple additional points I want to make about the OCS 2007 R2 poster:

  1. Make a list of all the ports you'll need to use and keep it handy during implementation (OCS or Lync). Port collisions can cause a lot of trouble fast; head them off ahead of time.

  2. Note the positions of the hardware load balancers. There are that many for a good reason.
  3. If there's a part of this that will change the most in Lync Server, I'd say it's “Certificate Requirements.” Virtualization, altered server roles,and the integrated PBX capabilities will all change that.

I recommend this to all companies who use OCS 2007 right now,as well as any companies considering Lync Server 2010. Download and keep it handy!

Any other downloadable OCS/Lync resources you know of? Post them here and I'll highlight them in future posts.

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Lync-Updates: Pricing, New Mac Client, Web Client

Conferencing, lync server 2010, Microsoft Lync, Unified Communications

“Lync-Updates.” I kind of like that. Sounds catchy.

Anyway, I promised to post more on Lync Server 2010 as information became available. And so it has – lots of new information. Important stuff like pricing rates, licensing, and new Lync communication clients. Things OCS users and planned Lync users will need to know.

Lync Pricing

Lync Server is offered in Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition. Standard Edition requires that all the server components (and its database) be kept on one PC. What you'd expect for SMB configuration. Enterprise Edition allows you to separate the server components & database onto multiple PCs, using load balancing for better speeds. Very useful for larger businesses communicating via multiple offices.

Lync Server Standard Edition will cost $699; Enterprise Edition, $3,999. That doesn't include setup time of course. But these prices are holding steady at the same rates OCS 2007 R2 had.

With Lync, Microsoft lowers price of Office Communications Server – ITWorld

Also, the cost of individual licenses isn't included. Like all Microsoft server apps, there”s a license to use its client software. Or in Lync's case, three licenses.

The 3 Lync Licensing Levels – Standard, Enterprise,Plus

OCS 2007 had the Standard and Enterprise CALs. Lync Server 2010 is adding a third – the Plus CAL.

Standard CAL – Your basic individual license. It grants instant messaging,Presence, conferencing and PC-to-PC calls. You must purchase a Standard CAL before you can purchase an Enterprise or Plus CAL though.

Enterprise CAL – This license adds in more conferencing capabilities. Multi-party video conference, application sharing, support for joining a conference with a PBX or PSTN phone…that sort of thing.

Plus CAL – The Plus CAL licenses much of the voice capabilities in Lync. Like receiving calls from a PSTN line, call forwarding, and initiating a multi-person audio conference (Lync and PSTN lines).

Another great thing about these licenses is that the price for Enterprise and Plus CALS is only $107 – as opposed to the $139 you needed per OCS 2007 Enterprise CAL.

Microsoft's Lync Server Pricing / Licensing Page

New Clients for the Mac and the Web

Let us all welcome the Mac to the Lync family! Coming with Office 2011 for Mac will be a new Lync client. Communicator for Mac will ship with the new office suite (also available as a free download if needed) as part of Microsoft's strategy to bring real-time communication features into Office for Mac.

According to ZDNet, a new Web client is coming as well. OCS had CWA (Communicator Web Access), of course. The new web client for Lync however will be Silverlight-based. That should translate to a fast-loading client you can use on almost any machine (including mobile).

Microsoft to add Communicator client for Mac to its Lync line-up –

There's the big news so far. No delay announcements that I've seen, so I'm still assuming we'll see Lync Server 2010 by the end of the year!

Any other news about Lync? Maybe you have some input of your own? Leave us a comment and let's talk about it.

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