I was all set to expound on some reader feedback, when I saw what happened Tuesday.

Lync Server 2013 is now out on Preview.

That’s right folks, the next version of Lync Server has begun its journey into the IT world! Download it here.

Justin Morris has a “quick look at what’s new” here. I might be as excited as he is – or at least close.

His characterization of Conferencing’s new Gallery View is hilarious as well as accurate – Brady Bunch View! (Anyone feel old when they recognized that? I did…)

There’s a slew of changes to Lync Server in this preview. I encourage everyone to read the Preview Page to start out. Me, I went to the TechNet library pages and started digging.

And I found quite a few things!

The First 5 Lync Server 2013 Feature Changes to Take Note Of

The Lync Server 2013 Preview Planning Tool is 32-bit. So you can test it out without using a 64-bit server.

Lync Server 2013 Front End now incorporates Monitoring Server as an optional feature. Now, TechNet specifies that this is the case with 2013 Preview only. It may well be the case for full-version Lync Server 2013; nobody can make the claim 100%. Yet.

That said, I think this is a great evolution of Lync’s monitoring capability. It may be an ‘optional feature,’ but most smart organizations will surely take advantage of a minimal-overhead, no-additional-server-needed monitoring option.

DNS Load Balancing loses ground, in favor of hardware load balancers. On the DNS Load Balancing TechNet page for the 2013 Preview, several situations are discussed where DNS load balancing can be used, but with limitations. I noted this one:

Using DNS load balancing on your Edge Servers causes a loss of failover ability in the following scenarios:
* Federation with organizations that are running versions of Office Communications Server released prior to Lync Server 2010.
* Instant message exchange with users of public instant messaging (IM) services, such as Windows Live, AOL, and Yahoo!, in addition to XMPP-based providers and servers, such as Google Talk and Jabber.

These scenarios will work as long as all Edge Servers in the pool are up and running, but if one Edge Server is unavailable, any requests for these scenarios that are sent to it will fail, instead of routing to another Edge Server.

Much of the page’s content appears to frame DNS load balancing as a way to reduce impact on hardware load balancers. It’s only a subtle shift away from how it was referred to in Lync Server 2010. Given 2013’s increased service capacity, it even makes sense. I’m curious how this will shape up once we see the full version of 2013.

Multiple trunks between Mediation Servers and gateways are now supported. One given reason for this is interconnecting different telephony systems, such as hooking an IP-PBX into a PSTN gateway.

However, another use (and a potentially bigger one) is redundancy among voice routing. Will need to dig more into this later.

Lync 2013 is federated with Skype! Huge benefit to Lync Server AND to Skype users. The existing Skype network will connect with Lync Server-enabled organizations. Seamless voice, IM and presence sharing.
(My predictions are once again vindicated!)

There’s many more changes coming in 2013. I’ll blog about as many as I can (as well as test them!) in the coming weeks.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pester my colleagues about installing the 2013 Preview…

Lync Server 2013 Preview – 5 Feature Changes Coming
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