Lync Server - Collaboration Benefits

In concert with Microsoft Office 2010 and Sharepoint 2010, Lync Server is the lynchpin to a successful enterprise collaboration strategy.

Improved Web Conferencing Experience
Possibly the most significant change to, and benefit of, the new collaboration tools in Lync Server is the deprecation of the live meeting client. Lync Server users can join and manage live meetings through their Communicator client. Help desk personnel no longer need to explain which client to use for what kind of call. Simple, tight integration of scheduling and managing conferences provides a huge confidence boost even for inexperienced users. With just a few clicks, users can schedule, manage, and provide content for a meeting. Conference invitees, who do not use Lync Server, can join Lync Server web conferences by using a new lightweight client, the Lync Server Attendee online client.

Administrators looking to provide limited communicator web access to non-Windows or remote users in OCS deployed Communicator web access (CWA). CWA was a dedicated
server role in OCS. In Lync Server, this role is deprecated and replaced with the
Communicator web app, which is a service running on the Front End Server.

This topology change benefits to administrators and users alike. Administratively speaking, eliminating this server role offers a reduced overall Lync Server server footprint and simplifies management responsibilities. Lync Server users accessing CWA can share their desktops, and manage inbound and outbound calls no matter what OS they used to access the CW application.

In previous versions of OCS, only Windows users could share their desktops; users could not receive calls. By bringing these additional options to the CWA experience, non Windows Lync Server users are provided with an improved experience.

Lobby Experience
With Lync Server, after joining a conference, it is possible to apply a new experience to attendees that enhances the meeting join experience. This is known as the lobby. When a nonpresenter joins a meeting that has not started, she is placed in the lobby until the presenter joins. In addition, the lobby mode can be used during a call to avoid the disturbance of people entering and exiting a conference. The presenter can control when lobby users are admitted to the conference. This enables a presenter to maintain control of a meeting, especially one with several attendees.

Multiple Language Support
Users at multinational enterprises benefit from this new Lync Server feature. Each Lync Server site can have its own language for meeting prompts. When users join a meeting, they hear prompts in the language of their site, regardless of the site of the organizer.

Simplified Join Experience
If you have ever had a difficult time getting users to connect a live meeting and were confused by the obfuscated meeting URI in previous versions, fear not. The new simplified meeting URIs make the meeting-join experience quicker and more reliable. System administrators can set a simple URL (for example, HTTP:// that will be used by all meetings. This simple URL cleans up the body of the default Outlook message so that even those unfamiliar with joining a live meeting can join easily.

Visual Conference Calls
Sometimes, a simple audio conference is all that is required for quick collaboration. If users frequently attend audio-only meetings in Lync Server, they will be presented with a familiar, clear, and concise listing of users who join their conference. Users can manage their audio conferences with confidence, using the same interface from which they make individual calls.

Mute All, DTMF, and Roll Call
Users conducting large conferences benefit from the mute all option. Using the simple, familiar Communicator interface, a meeting organizer can mute attendees to gain control of a meeting or conduct a press conference-type meeting. Meeting participants can control their meeting status using the dialpad. This also enables mobile users to have full control over their meeting experience. When conducting larger meetings, Lync Server meeting organizers can obtain an audio roll call of meeting participants. The recorded name or text-to-speech spoken name is played to only the organizer, enabling administrators to keep track of meeting participants.

Meeting Content Control
Collaboration power users can skip ahead in uploaded content shared in meetings. If you have ever been in a meeting where the presenter spent too much time on content you already knew about, you will appreciate this feature. A simple mouse click returns you to the content currently being shared.

Join from PBX
Users who are not Enterprise Voice–enabled can still participate in meetings with Lync Server Communicator. Users who have their extension homed to their corporate PBX phone can click the simple meet URL in a meeting invite. Communicator can be configured to call the meeting participants at their PBX number. This enables non-Enterprise Voice users to enjoy the benefits of Lync Server’s advanced UC features as well.

Source of Information : Pearson-Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Unleashed

Lync Server - Client-Side Benefits

Lync Server takes huge strides to improve the client experience. Based on hours of user testing, the Microsoft team released an improved client in terms of functionality and usability.

Pre-Call and In-Call Quality Feedback
Lync Server users can determine, in advance, what kind of call quality to expect on a given call based on real-time feedback from within Communicator. Familiar bars icons, such as on a cell phone, tell users at a glance how their network is performing during a call. This provides, for example, a user currently connected through a public Wi-Fi network the knowledge that the available bandwidth might not provide a quality experience, enabling him or her to consider other options for the call.

With location services, Lync Server has the capability to determine whether multiple users are joining a conference call from the same physical location or a location that can cause poor conditions, including feedback. During a call, Lync Server alerts users, through a pop-up, that they might be causing call quality issues and suggests actions to resolve the problem, such as going on mute.

Lync Server users who need to confirm the quality of a call prior to initiating it can make a test call to an audio test service. This functionality is built into the client and provides users who deploy a new audio device or roam to an unknown network a chance to test their call by calling the test service, recording a short sentence, and playing the message back.

Private Lines
Lync Server users can have a private line for incoming calls. This enables calls from important business contacts and family members to be easily identified and receive priority handing. Calls to a user’s private number are uniquely identified on the incoming toast and with a distinct ring. Calls to private lines override DND and other redirection settings to ensure that they always route to the user.

Call Parking
Have you ever placed a call on hold and picked it up somewhere else, but didn’t transfer it because you knew you couldn’t get to the other phone in time? Well, that is a situation for which Call Park was invented. Now users can park a call in an orbit number and go to another client to retrieve it. By combining Call Park with a third-party overhead paging system, an attendant can answer a call, park it, and page the requested person. Enterprises that have mobile internal users, such as shop floor or manufacturing employees, have been using park-and-page for many years. Now Lync Server users can enjoy the same feature.

Common Area Phones
When considering a PBX replacement, not every existing phone location can have a PC.
Hallways, lobbies, and transient worker areas are locations that can benefit from the concept of common use phones. The expense of providing a Tanjay-type device and the access control requirements (domain account, and password or fingerprint) made OCS 2007 R2 ill-suited for this task.

With Lync Server, endpoint devices are available that provide simple calling features by being plugged in and provisioned by an administrator. These phones retrieve parked calls and make internal calls without users signing in to Lync Server.

On recovering from a power failure or being unplugged, common-use phones automatically reregister with the registrar. Calling rules for default behavior can be set using the same management tools that other CS users are managed. Common-use phones have their own domain accounts in Lync Server.

Hot Desking
For transient areas, common use phones can be logged in to with a standard user’s account, enabling the user to make and receive calls wherever logged in. By using a PIN code or pairing the phone with a PC, transient workers can have all the benefits of a fully functional Lync Server endpoint wherever they need it. By signing into a phone designated as a hot-desking location, a Lync Server user gets a contact list, recent calls, and other contact-related information where he or she signs in. Hot-desking phones revert back to their common-use configurations based on a configurable timeout, allowing for a touchless user experience. Hot-desking options are easily managed by group policy settings similar to all other CS users.

Source of Information : Pearson-Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Unleashed

Enterprise Voice Benefits

Perhaps some of the most tangible, new, and exciting benefits of Lync Server are those related to the Enterprise Voice set of features. With the new release, Lync Server competes with the voice features provided by traditional PBXs. In fact, at VoiceCon 2010, Lync Server won the Voice RFP competition competing against the major PBX manufacturers.

Mediation Server Role Collocation
In prior versions of OCS, the Mediation Server was a dedicated role and required a one one relationship between the server and the gateway. OCS configuration enabled only a single, next-hop configuration from the Mediation Server to the media gateway (PBX, PSTN, and so on). Although certain gateway manufacturers were able to load-balance calls from the gateway to OCS, OCS was limited to only the single next hop. In Lync Server, the mediation role now runs on the Front End Server as a service. This concept of mediation server collocation provides tangible benefits from a topology, administrative, and user perspective.

With Lync Server, each Front End Server can have its own mediation service, enabling pools to route to gateways instead of the mediation servers. This enables multiple mediation servers to route to the same gateway or multiple gateways to route to a single mediation service.

This capability provides tremendous flexibility to design engineers and enterprises with a large number of PBX/PSTN trunks at a single site or many smaller sites. In previous versions of OCS, these scenarios required a mediation server at each location. In addition to a tangible reduction in servers, this topology change provides greater resiliency, more flexible routing choices, and more options for media flow.

Media Bypass
One of original roles of the mediation server was to transcode between RealTime audio (RTAudio) and G.711 to integrate with standards-based media gateways and PBXs. With Lync Server, calls can be sent using G.711 directly to a supported gateway or PBX. Although low bandwidth signaling (SIP) still traverses the mediation service role, higher bandwidth media (RTP) flows directly from a Lync Server endpoint to the GW/PBX, bypassing the Mediation Server role.

This change provides several benefits, including
. Removes a potential single point of failure that a mediation server introduced
. Reduces the overall server footprint of OCS
. Reduces the number of hops a media stream takes

In addition, in scenarios where a branch appliance is deployed, calls from PBX users at a branch to Lync Server users at the same branch, media now remains at the branch. Prior to Lync Server, an extra mediation server at the branch was required to enable similar call flow.

Optional Dedicated A/V Conferencing Role
In scenarios that require heavy conferencing resources, or MCUs, the A/V Conferencing role can be split off from the Front End Server role. Multiple A/V servers can be placed in a pool and this A/V pool can be designated as the conferencing resource for many other pools. This topology offers a distinct advantage enabling conference-centric enterprises the capability to provide a highly available conferencing resource to the users, but also keeping this resource-intensive application isolated from the day-to-day IM presence and telephony services. Additionally, this enables an enterprise to virtualize basic telephony services while providing physical hardware for A/V services.

Call Admission Control and DiffServ
Although RTAudio is a flexible payload codec, many larger enterprises believe that Lync Server should support call admission control, or CAC, as well. Already a fixture in many
VoIP communications servers, call admission control is now configurable in Lync Server. With Lync Server, network managers can control the amount of bandwidth voice and video calls consume on a given link. By configuring the bandwidth policy service to control a specific site, calls can be rejected or rerouted to the PSTN when sufficient bandwidth is not available to complete the call. This ensures quality audio or video sessions. Enterprises can garner tremendous benefit from planning their CAC strategy prior to deployment.

Lync Server users benefit from its capability to leverage the concept of differential services code points (Diffserv—or DSCP) for audio and video traffic. By separating port ranges for audio and video, Lync Server enables network administrators to provide different per-hop behaviors (for example, EF or expedited forwarding) for these streams. This enables latency sensitive traffic to route ahead of web or other non-real-time traffic. Windows 7 and Vista desktops can leverage Windows-based QoS. This enables them to be provisioned to apply DSCP markings to packets based exclusively on application and port ranges.

By combining CAC, DSCP, and Windows-based QoS policies, network administrators can rely on Lync Server to adhere to the policies they create and deploy on their network to enable all packets to arrive as required and ensure a quality user experience.

Primarily developed for North America, enhanced 911 (E911) allows for additional information to be presented to the public service answering point (PSAP) that enables emergency personnel to obtain details about the specific location of an emergency call. These additional attributes are a building number, mailstop, cubicle number, or any other specific attribute that can save precious seconds in an emergency situation. Because VoIP is mobile, simply relying on a telephone number is not suitable for IP communications. The new location information service (LIS) role in Lync Server enables network identifiers such as switch ports, subnets, and wireless BSSID information to be matched up with location information and transmitted to the PSAP when setting up a 911 call. In addition to regulatory compliance benefits, e911 allows for a safer telephony environment. With Lync Server’s E911 service, end users trust that calls made to a 911 service will provide the vital details to emergency personnel.

Location can be set through the policy or manually. Visual indication of the current location is presented directly in the Lync Server client. E911 can also be configured to enable other onsite users to be automatically conferenced into an emergency call, enabling corporate first responders to be aware of 911 calls as they happen, which coordinates with police, fire, and other emergency services as they arrive.

Malicious Call Trace
When a Lync Server user receives a call that she deems is harassing or threatening, she can flag it in the call database. By alerting system administrators of this fact, they can quickly determine the source of the call and trace it back to its origin for evaluation by security personnel.

Caller ID Controls
Lync Server allows for a user’s caller ID to be modified dynamically based on the destination of the call—internal or external. This enables an enterprise to maintain full reverse name lookup to the corporate directory for internal calls, but provide a uniform departmental or location number to be presented when making external calls. This is used in certain situations such as outbound call centers, support desks, or any other situation where it is necessary to block caller ID digits to external parties. This can be set at a user level or by policy.

Anonymous Agents
Lync Server response group agents can be placed in anonymous groups. This feature enables help desk personnel to participate in a response group without providing a name and number to internal users. Prior to Lync Server, users calling a response group saw the agent they were connected to in their Communicator client and frequently then bypassed the response group on subsequent calls, defeating the purpose of the group by failing to leverage the available pool of agents. Lync Server response groups in anonymous mode are suitable for use in scenarios where the agent’s number needs to be kept private.

On-Net and Off-Net Voice Routing
For an enterprise to benefit from a large geographically dispersed voice network with many PSTN egress points, the capability to route calls through these points is crucial. However, when the points are located in different cities or countries, each point can require different dialing formats, prefixes, or other access codes. This can add tremendous complexity to a corporate dialing plan. Fortunately, Lync Server provides central alternative routes and number-formatting changes to manipulate the dialed number prior to routing to a PBX or the PSTN.

Media Gateway Certification
Beginning with OCS 2007, Microsoft developed the open interoperability program (OIP) for PBX and gateway vendors to enable enterprises to determine whether a particular piece of hardware or software version is certified to work with OCS. Beginning with Lync Server, audio quality and performance testing is included in OIP certification. This enables systems engineers to design a solution that will perform properly for all communication modalities.

Source of Information : Pearson-Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Unleashed

Benefits for Lync Server Users

UC solution begins with the end-user experience. Lync Server’s newly designed Communicator client provides a concise, seamless, and logical view to enable users easy access to all communications modalities.

Lync Server provides many new, yet familiar, ways to interact, learn about, and communicate with colleagues. The clear view of many data streams enables the user to choose the proper modality to communicate with another user. Users can save time when locating resources because they can search for others using keywords as well as names. Even with incomplete information, users can locate and communicate with others.

Lync Server also leverages the concept of social networks. Live contact cards, photos, and spoken names enable users to recognize and discover more about the people in their social network that matter to them most.

Users can save time and be more granular when searching, thanks to SharePoint skill search with address book service web queries (ABS-WQ). By simply placing a mouse over a contact, the hover card provides a consistent view of vital user data across all Office products, including Lync Server, enabling users to be more productive and save time by not switching applications as often.

Users that are part of a large enterprise might be overwhelmed by team-level or corporate wide changes by having users’ photos and their spoken name populating the OCS contact list. In this way, users can become familiar with their evolving social network. Users can become better corporate citizens by learning how a new colleague’s name is pronounced prior to meeting or speaking with him or her. You can now quickly see updates from all your contacts in a single concise view, called the Activity Feed.

Contact management is simpler thanks to the unified contact store. Lync Server now utilizes Exchange 2010 for its contact list, so users save time by not having to manage contacts in both Lync Server and Exchange. When the Outlook Social connector is deployed, users can search across their entire social network, such as Facebook from within Communicator.

Users now have easy access to the history of their communication with a particular contact, enabling them to easily determine the context of a conversation and eliminate the need to catch up on a conversation, for example, when usually just a simple IM can answer a question. Similarly, when starting new conversations, a user can easily provide context to a session to further streamline communications.

Managing Communications
Although there are many ways to initiate a call to a contact, users that are transitioning to Lync Server from traditional PBXs will benefit from having an easily accessible dialpad. In the previous version of OCS, the dialpad existed but was not easy to find.

Lync Server users migrating from simple instant messaging and presence on previous versions of OCS to Enterprise Voice on Lync Server will benefit from being able to conduct communications using any modality from a familiar, consistent interface.

When coupled with exchange unified messaging, users can now have a simple-to-view visual representation of each voicemail message. Lync Server users save time by easily managing voicemails within Communicator.

Panoramic Mode
Lync Server clients can leverage the panoramic video of roundtable devices, allowing for a more comfortable face-to-face video experience. This emulates a telepresence environment that integrates well with commodity desktop hardware.

Activity Feed
Users of common current social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on) will immediately recognize and be comfortable with the new activity feed in the Lync Server Communicator client. With a simple glance, you can receive updates (notes) and pictures from those in your social network.

Privacy and Presence Enhancements
Executive users benefit most from the new privacy enhancements in Lync Server. By adding enhanced privacy to a pool, users added to a contact list appear as offline until granted permission by the added contact to see their presence updates. This is valuable, for example, to create ethical walls between departments or divisions. Even if this setting is applied to a pool, users can opt out, enabling all others to see their presence.

Audio and Video to MSN PIC Contacts
Although public instant messaging communication (PIC) has always been a benefit of OCS, Lync Server takes the PIC story a bit further by enabling one-to-one audio and video exclusively to PIC contacts that are homed to the MSN service. This change enables corporate users with a strong MSN presence outside of work to reduce the need to run a separate client on their corporate workstation, yet maintain a robust communications experience.

Source of Information : Pearson-Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Unleashed

Cloud storage is for blocks too, not just files

One of the misconceptions about cloud storage is that it is only useful for storing files. This assumption comes from the popularity of file...