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]

No Comments

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!

No Comments

Device Review: Jabra Motion Office Headset

Third-Party Lync Products, Voice over IP

Today we have another Jabra headset to review. Not an over-the-ears devices like the Evolve 80 though – no, this is one of their Bluetooth headsets. The Jabra Motion Office unit.

Device Page: JABRA MOTION OFFICE – Jabra.com

I admit to a little reservation when starting the review. Bluetooth headsets and me don’t tend to get along.

Well, until now.

Initial Impressions

The Motion Office is more than just the headset. There’s also a charging/connectivity stand with a small touchscreen. And a headset case. And cables. And a Bluetooth adapter.

Jabra Motion Office Unit

This isn’t just a headset. It’s an extension to your Lync client. Irrespective of the platform on which you use Lync.

Seting Up the Unit

After the unboxing, you connect the headset to the base & plug it in. The touchscreen says the earpiece needs to charge for 20 minutes. And while you wait, why don’t you run through Setup?

motionofficesetup

The touchscreen provides instructions from then on. First it asks if you want to connect this headset to your desk phone. I did, connecting a given cable to the Polycom. It asked me to call a Jabra support number to complete the phone connection.

motionofficeinstructions

After that, it asked if I wanted to connect to a Softphone (PC)? Sure, why not? I plugged it into my laptop’s USB hub. The touchscreen suggested downloading the Jabra PC Suite for additional capabilities, at www.jabra.com/pcsuite. I did so.

PC Suite contains “Softphone Integration Modules” – these enable call control for third-party softphones. It’s a thorough list too – Skype, Cisco, NEC, Lync, ShoreTel and a couple more. I disabled a few that I know I’ll never use.

After the PC Suite installed, the touchscreen asked me, “Connect to mobile phone?” I said No to this one, for now. Didn’t need it, and I was curious when I’d see an option to connect it later.

Next up, Personal Preferences. Screen brightness, dimmer timeout, ringtones, volume controls. The touchscreen then kindly refers you back to the Quick Start Guide for Headset Use 101.

motionofficecalloptions

Making Calls

The headset/earpiece, when fully charged, has an 8-hour talk time. Enough for a full workday.

As I did with the last Jabra headset, I tested this one out by making some calls.
Test calls came:

  • From Lync
  • From cellphones
  • To Lync
  • To cellphones

Call quality was as clear as the Jabra Evolve 80 – which is impressive on its own, considering that had two wrap-around earpieces and the Motion Office only has one in-ear piece.

The calls are so sharp that, when I called a co-worker in the same workspace, the earpiece could pick up his voice through the phone AND spoken! (Which caused a funny echo effect in my ear. Moving away made it disappear.)

motionofficeheadset

Touchscreen

We’ve had touchscreens on our Polycom desk phones for a while now. The Motion Office’s touchscreen is smaller, and has one disadvantage: No ability to dial via touchscreen. However, that isn’t a requirement. Dialing through Lync or your phone works perfectly.

The touchscreen also lets you switch quickly between devices. Remember how I didn’t connect Motion Office to my cellphone at first? When I did (via the Call Options button on top-right), I could switch between it, my desk phone and my computer with a touch. They’re all represented by icons.

Which means I can choose from which location I take my call, within Lync. Forward calls to cell? Pick up with the earpiece. Simultaneous Ring? All devices will give the call to the earpiece.

Voice Commands

Using voice commands with a Lync headset…about time! To find out which voice commands are available, tap the Voice/Mute Mic button when you’re not on a call. When you hear “Say a Command,” say “What can I say?”

The headset will give you a list of voice commands. The ones I received were:

  1. Pair New Device
  2. Battery
  3. Cancel

Speak up; it needs clear instruction.  I had a few funny looks while I walked around shouting, “What can I say?  What can I say??”

The Bluetooth Adapter

The Motion Office headset will work without the base too. All you need is the Bluetooth adapter. Plug this little guy into your computer and poof, it pairs up. I took it and the headset out of the office for a test.

motionofficebluetooth

However, when I did, I encountered an issue.

Snags/Issues

ISSUE 1: When I plugged in the LINK 360 Bluetooth adapter, my computer saw the adapter just fine. But I couldn’t use the headset. I tried pairing, connecting to the headset, switching USB ports…nothing worked.

I tried using the Bluetooth adapter on another computer though, and it worked right away. There is a warning in the Jabra Get Started Guide – “The Jabra Link 360 and the base should not be plugged in at the same time.”

They weren’t plugged in, but I did install the base before I tried the Bluetooth adapter. I suspect this is what caused the issue.

ISSUE 2: Also, I did encounter a pause when the Motion Office base first connected to my laptop. It lasted long enough to make me think the installation had failed, and I eventually closed the window.

But a moment later the “Motion Office” icon showed up in my taskbar. All was well.

This was likely just my system taking its time on install. But I document it here in case others encounter it.

Final Thoughts

I’ve tried Bluetooth headsets in the past. None of them lasted. Either they were too flimsy & kept falling off my ear, or they had spotty call quality.

The Jabra Motion Office headset is much better on both counts. It takes me a second to get the thing on my ear, but once I do, it’s not going anywhere!

And neither is this headset. I really liked the comfort of the Evolve 80. (So did a co-worker, because he asked for it after reading my review!)

But the Motion Office? I’m keeping this one.

Next week we’ll return to Skype for Business 2015. But what will we cover? You’ll have to come back & find out.

No Comments

Skype on iPad vs. Lync 2013 on iPad: Dual App Reviews

Lync 2013 Client, Skype for Business, Voice over IP

Continuing the reviews today, we move to the iPad!

Today I’m reviewing 2 client apps – Skype (latest version) and Lync 2013. I don’t use Skype much on here; I have a webcam on my main system for that. But it’s still fully capable. So is Lync.

In fact, my overall results of these tests were higher-quality than the iPhone. Let’s see.

(FYI: These tests were conducted on an iPad 2.)

Skype on iPad – The Facts & Features

Skype on the iPad does pretty much exactly what Skype on the PC does: Make Calls and Video Chats. The interface is more stripped-down than the PC version (not surprising for an iPad app).

Skype Profile Window

MAKING CALLS: I only have a few people on Skype – mostly friends, as we don’t use this for work. (Yet!) So I called two of them & explained why.

If you’ve ever used Skype, you know it has its own protocol for voice: the SILK codec. Skype for Business will take advantage of this codec too. I don’t have any exact measurement tool for sound quality – just a good headset (see my previous Device Review) and my ears.

To these tools, Skype’s audio sounds just as clear as Lync’s. Depending on the other party’s connection, even clearer.

Skype Number Pad

VIDEO CHAT: I tested video chat with a co-worker who worked from home yesterday. Now, Skype is well-known for making video chats easy. Easier than Lync 2013 in some respects.

That said, having mostly used Lync for video calls, the lag time and jitter in my Skype video chat was disappointing. Neither of us was on a VPN, or a low-bandwidth connection. Yet my co-worker’s face kept jerking & going out of sync with his own words.

USER IMPRESSIONS: Perhaps my video sync issue was isolated. When I talked with other Skype users and read reviews on the App Store, it was not among the chief issues reported.

The most frequent complaints were Dropped Calls and Lack of Three-Way Calling. The latter is partly understandable (see “Limitations” for why). Dropped calls is partially explained by the varying connection speeds in use at the consumer level. The same issue affects some of our clients’ remote Lync users. It’s annoying, and there’s only so much compensation you can do with your network bandwidth.

LIMITATIONS: Skype’s Group Video chats are not accessible on mobile devices like iPads. Three-Way Calling (audio only) is possible on mobiles, but you can’t start one from an iPad. A Skype user on a PC or Mac must start it. Hence why user frustration is understandable – you have to message someone from your iPad and ask them to start a three-way call with you!

The Question of Skype Subscriptions

I followed a link from the Skype app to their Rates page: http://www.skype.com/en/rates/

For years now, people have paid for Skype to call non-Skype numbers. It’s a cheap and good-quality way to keep in touch with everybody.

But I saw nothing on the page about the impending changes wrought by Skype for Business 2015.

Which makes me wonder – WILL there be any changes on this side? Will Microsoft dare to poke the beast that is Skype’s Worldwide Market?

We’ll find out soon.
=============

Lync 2013 on iPad – The Facts & Features

Lync 2013 on the iPad is almost identical to Lync 2013 on iPhone. Though it benefits greatly from the iPad’s larger screen. Much easier to navigate its functions and carry on conversations.

I’d argue that using Lync 2013 on an iPad is even easier than on a desktop. This is one instance where Microsoft took full advantage of a mobile device’s size.

Lync iPad Contacts

The Lync 2013 screen has 5 main windows available: Contacts, Chats, Meetings, Phone, and Profile. These correspond to the desktop client exactly.

  • Make calls & review voicemails from the Phone window (these are synced from the Lync Server)
  • View contacts’ Presence and initiate conversations from the Contacts window
  • Review Meetings scheduled in your Outlook calendar in the Meetings window
  • View Conversation History (local to iPad) under the Chats window
  • Update your own Presence and Lync options in the Profile window

CALLS AND MEETINGS: IM conversations on the iPad go smoothly, and have for months. I initiated a Lync Call to two co-workers (one the remote worker I mentioned earlier). Both calls were comparable to the Skype Call. I used the same Jabra headset.

Lync Calls

To test Meetings, I scheduled a meeting on my laptop, and joined it on my iPad. The two co-workers invited joined as well, one from their laptop, and one from their phone. We had a bit of tinny background noise for the first 2 minutes. But it cleared up. I did not notice any other jitter or lag.

USER IMPRESSIONS: There’s a notable user impression in the Lync 2013 Reviews pane I should mention. This user says that, if the device runs iOS 8, Lync 2013 becomes unstable and will crash.

Now, this iPad has NOT been updated to iOS 8 yet – it’s old enough that the update would lead to a serious performance slowdown – so I don’t see this error. (In fact, Lync didn’t give me any trouble at all.) But a stability question, possibly dependent on the OS involved, merits mentioning.

Otherwise, impressions indicate a few complaints on connection issues adding people to Meetings. I didn’t find much on poor call quality or dropped calls. Given that Lync is more often used while on a corporate network, this isn’t surprising.

LIMITATIONS: Lync 2013 has the same limitation on the iPad it does on the iPhone – Conversation History is limited to conversations using the iPad.

Lync Conversation History

I hold out hope that this will be resolved, eventually!

Verdict: Lync Slightly Ahead of Skype, Integration Should Favor Lync Usability

Microsoft’s claim for Skype for Business 2015 is that Lync Server will take on more of the Skype UI. Thus making it more appealing to a wide audience, simpler to navigate, and consistent across all devices.

In the iPad/tablet sphere, I think Microsoft should reverse this script. Here Lync is the more intuitive UI, with the more responsive controls. Building Skype look & feel into the interface, go for it. But keep as much of Lync’s app-level functionality as possible. It does the job very well.

What’s your experience using Lync 2013 and/or Skype on the iPad? Please comment or email your thoughts.

Next week I have another Device Review…and you’re definitely going to love this one. See you then!

No Comments

Device Review: Jabra Evolve 80 MS Lync Stereo Headset

Lync 2013 Client, Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business, Voice over IP

In the past, we’ve reviewed a couple Jabra products here on the Lync Insider. I try to avoid all bias when reviewing hardware – the Jabra equipment just keeps delivering high quality.

This week, I received the Jabra Evolve 80 headset (MS Lync Stereo model). Well, I couldn’t pass that up for a review, now could I?

Jabra Evolve Series Page on Jabra.com

Initial Impression

The Evolve 80 MS Lync model has full over-the-ear headphones with an attached mic arm. The earpieces and headband are well-padded. The headset comes in a neoprene case. Easy to store & travel with.
jabra-case

Jabra Evolve 80 Lync Headset

The Controller

The headset comes with a detachable controller. Connect via USB to a PC, or headphone jack to a mobile device (without the controller). The controller buttons gives you these options: Answer Call/End Call, Volume Up/Down, Mute. The center ring/Busylight lights up in red as a “Busy” indicator.

Jabra Evolve 80 Controller

Charging

The headset needs to charge for full use of its functions. It will do so automatically when plugged into a PC. Or you can connect a micro-USB cable directly to the left earpiece to charge. The built-in battery powers these functions:

  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Listen-In
  • Busylight

Noise Cancelling

The right earpiece has a switch to turn on Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). These are already quite muffling of outside sound, but with noise cancellation built-in? I made a call, and couldn’t even hear my co-worker talking less than 10 feet from me.

Making Calls

The controller reminds me of the Jabra SPEAK 410 Speakerphone. Same kind of circular design, and a light indicating calls in progress.

Call quality is superb. Better than my previous headset (the Jabra BIZ 620 from my last review!). No latency on either Lync-to-Lync or Lync-to-Cell calls noticeable.

One thing to point out: The Evolve headset intelligently took over my sound output. Calls came through the headset right away. But music didn’t. It only assigned itself as default for Lync 2013, not the whole computer. I found that valuable–this headset knows not to overextend its reach!

(Of course I switched default devices under Sound, and music played through the headset too. The test song came through nuanced and with clear balance.)

Multiple Call Handling

Now this is fancy. The Jabra Evolve 80 can manage multiple calls at once!

Here’s how it works: If you’re on a call and another call comes in, hold down the Answer/End button for 2 seconds. It puts the current call on hold and answers the incoming call.

To switch between the calls, hold down Answer/End for 2 seconds again.
You don’t want to answer the incoming call? Double-press Answer/End and it’ll stop bothering you.

Listen-In Button

If you’re using ANC, hearing something other than the call you’re on is pretty difficult. But if you press the Listen-In button on the right earpiece, it mutes music and/or calls.

Calls are NOT paused though–and your mic is still on when in Listen-In Mode. Don’t use Listen-In as a Pause button!

The One Snag I Found

One caveat to this headset. Both earpieces will fold flat. Makes it easy to lay flat on your desk. However, when they’re folded flat, the mic arm sticks out away from the headband. It cannot move flush with the headband; just doesn’t go that far.

Now this isn’t much of a big deal. But it is something to keep in mind. I can see someone catching their sleeve or a cable on the jutting-out mic arm, and sending the whole headset flying by accident.

With a headset this high-quality, that’s definitely not something you want to do!

mic-arm

Verdict: Impressive Piece of Lync Hardware!

Jabra continues to make top-tier devices. This headset is comfortable, with sharp call quality and more useful features. Finally, I don’t see any reason why this won’t work with Skype for Business 2015 as well as it does with Lync 2013.

out-of-box3

Next week we’ll be back to our software reviews. Up next: Lync 2013 and Skype on the iPad, point-by-point comparison.

What headset do you use with Lync?

1 Comment

A Refreshing Walk Through Lync 2013 for iPhone

Lync Mobile

Last week I said I’d do some reviews for Lync and Skype on mobile devices. Good way to know which features are available – and which we need in Skype for Business’ mobile apps.

I’ll start out with Lync 2013 for iPhone.

Now, full disclosure: I don’t use the Lync 2013 client on my iPhone often. I have my laptop for day-to-day work conversations. (It’s a Lenovo Ultrabook–instant Windows 8 tablet with a button-press.) Lync forwards after-hours calls to my phone. Worked so far.

So, this is a bit of a refresher for me too. Haven’t used Lync 2013 on an iPhone before? Join me in exploration!

Logging In

Important Note! This client is used for Lync Online and for Lync 2013 users. Since I’m the latter, I had to enter my username in the proper domain format. You’ll see a reminder of this in the client.
lyncphone-login

As always, your login username/password conventions may differ slightly.

Reviews on this Lync client vary widely. The App Store has plenty of good and bad in the Reviews section. While I go through the features, I’ll mention frequent complaints I found therein.

What Works

Ostensibly, Lync 2013 for iPhone can do everything the desktop version can do, with a few exceptions:

  • Managing contact groups
  • Share Desktop/Program
  • Use of meeting tools (the whiteboard, controlling PowerPoint, etc.)
  • Manage team calls & call Response Groups

(Full Mobile Client Comparison tables are here: Mobile Client Comparison Tables for Lync 2013)

But the main functions – calls, IM, meetings – are front and center. I tested them all and had no problems.

lyncphone-phone1

Lync calls went out, and were received, just fine. So does IM (in fact I may have annoyed a couple co-workers today). My Outlook calendar appointments also come up under the Meetings tab, nice and clear.

What’s Not Right

App Store reviews mention that cell calls will interrupt Lync calls. I asked a co-worker to call my cell from his while I spoke with another co-worker via Lync. It didn’t interrupt; the cell call went to voicemail. Could be our configuration, but I wanted to note that I didn’t duplicate the interruption reviewers mentioned.

However, other mentioned errors did turn up. A review from November mentioned that chats “randomly disappear” and “so do missed conversations.”

I found this to be true on my phone. Here’s my Chats screen:
lyncphone-chats1
Only one conversation, right? Wrong. I had another IM chat via this phone, less than 2 weeks ago. Where is it? Nowhere – not on my phone, not in my Conversation History in Outlook.

Two Conversation Histories – Laptop and Phone?

Then a curious thing happened. While logged into Lync on my phone, I received an IM. The client buzzed at me…but the IM window opened on my laptop. Where I was also logged into Lync 2013.

Why? Well, I was typing on my laptop at the time. Not in Lync, but on the same machine. Lync interpreted me as being active “here” and sent the IM to the respective client.

I wrote about this behavior 2 years ago: Doubling Up: Does Lync Allow Multiple Logins?
(Please do note Peter J.’s comment and my own response for all the details.)

This isn’t so much “not right” as “open for improvement”. Nothing wrong with funneling a conversation to the Lync client with the most-recently-active system!

However, this made me think of a would-be-nice for the Skype for Business iPhone client…access to full Conversation History within the client. I don’t know how many times I’ve consulted Conversation History for dates, numbers, etc. If I could do that on my phone & find conversations from my laptop? Major timesaver.

This is already noted as missing in Microsoft’s documentation:

“The conversation history on Lync for iPhone is not synced with Microsoft Exchange. This means that conversations that occur on your Lync mobile device will only be displayed on that device’s conversation history and nowhere else. Also, when you delete a conversation on your mobile device, that conversation is permanently deleted.”

Limitations Aside, Lync 2013 is Good to Have on the iPhone

Are there issues with Lync 2013 for iPhone? It appears so. I did not experience an app crash, as several reviewers reported, but I don’t doubt they did have Lync crash on them.

That said, having a Lync 2013 app is an overall benefit to users. As I review other mobile clients, I’ll see how they stack up to Lync 2013 for iPhone.

Hmmm, maybe I should “borrow” my co-worker’s Android phone next…

What do you think? Would full Conversation History access on your phone help your work? Please comment or email your thoughts. And check back next week for more reviews!

No Comments

The State of Lync Users Heading into 2015

Instant Messaging (IM), Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business

I apologize for anyone who was confused by last week’s post. Seems a few of you were confused – and not without cause – on the steps involved.

I thought about removing it until I can make 100% sure I have the correct details. But I promised a results discussion on the Lync Insider Reader Survey polls for this week.

Soon, I *will* revisit the Remote PowerShell topic. I’ll leave last week’s post up for now and urge anyone who has issues to email me here.

For now, let’s go through the results of my 2-minute Reader Survey Polls posted last month.

We had 80 responses to our polls, with another 7 people emailing or tweeting their thoughts. (Not quite 100, but closer!)

The Most Useful Lync Service

According to all of you, the most useful Lync service is Instant Messaging/IM (15 votes), followed closely by Enterprise Voice/VoIP (13 votes).

For some reason Persistent Chat had zero votes. I just felt like pointing that out.

What I find interesting about this result is that these are the most “immediate” services. ‘Instant’ Messages and Phone Calls are right-away communication. Those Lync services which usually involve a bit of planning, like scheduling a Web conference, weren’t as highly rated.

This strikes me as people incorporating Lync into their pre-Lync routine, instead of adapting the routine to take advantage of Lync. No big surprise (who has time to learn new workday routines?).

Lync Plans for 2015

The #1 response to what your Lync plans are for this year was, Migrate to Skype for Business Server 2015 (from existing Lync setup) at 15 votes.

The same plan PlanetMagpie has (after testing of course). We’ll be sure to post on our testing & upgrade progress, to help you out with yours.

Those of you planning to stay on Lync Server 2013, don’t worry. I’m still planning plenty of Lync 2013 posts this year. Many businesses will move to or stay on Lync Server 2013 due to its maturity and stability. It will remain a fully viable platform for at least until 2016, possibly 2017 too.

What Does This Mean for Skype for Business?

This sort of user feedback is “the bar” by which Skype for Business 2015 should be judged. The newest version must meet the needs described by its current user base.

-Integration with daily communications choices, like IM, phones, and texting.
-Absolute minimal disruption of workday routines.
-Simplifying the VoIP setup/operations process to what I’d call “Skype-level”.

The new Skype-like interface will help for these. Some users will merely continue their familiarity. Regular Lync users will adapt.

How quickly they adapt depends on two as-yet-unknown factors:

  1. What kinds of phones are in use at your office. Lync Phones should have patches ready by the time Skype for Business is released (if they don’t, they’re in trouble). Re-using Lync 2013 Phones would be the smart business play, at least at first.
  2. The robustness of the Skype for Business mobile/tablet apps. Both Skype and Lync for the iPad are reportedly unstable and missing features. Skype on the iPhone is better-rated, but Lync is not. Microsoft needs some serious work to make these platforms appealing to business users.

Honestly, it’s been a little while since I used the iPad app. Think I’ll do some reviews in a future post.

What service are you most looking forward to (or are anxious about) in Skype for Business 2015? Please comment or email. And join us again next week!

2 Comments

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!

6 Comments

2014 Reader Survey: What are Your 2015 Lync Plans?

Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business, Unified Communications, Voice over IP

It’s the last Lync Insider post of 2014! Hope everyone’s Christmas shopping is done and the workload is light.

It’s been quite a year for the blog. Add-ons coming out. Big announcements. Lots of updates & fixes. Lync is out there in a big way and getting bigger. Each month, over 20,000 readers visit the Lync Insider, and we’re grateful for all the conversations we’ve had.

Here’s a few of our most popular 2014 posts (in case you missed them!):

2 Surveys in 2 Minutes – Please Tell Us Your Lync Plans!

We’ll return to our regular posting schedule in early January. But what should we start with? What directions should we go next year?

Well, why not ask our readers these questions! If you’ll spare 2 minutes, please answer the following 2 surveys about your Lync plans. The results will inform our 2015 posting schedule.

===================

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 2014-12-16 09:13:57
end_date 2015-01-10 23:59:59
Poll Results:
What is the most useful Lync service? (Choose up to 3)

===================

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 2014-12-16 09:13:57
end_date 2015-01-10 23:59:59
Poll Results:
What are your Lync-related plans for 2015?

===================

We had 67 votes on our last poll…can we make it to 100 for these two?

As always, if you have a question or want to share a Lync story, please comment on a post or email me. PlanetMagpie is always happy to help business users with their Lync (or other!) support issues.

I just received a comment about Chat inside an add-on, in fact. (Paul, I’ll answer your question as soon as I’m able!)

The Blog Name Change – Decision Made

Thank you again, to all of our readers. We asked you what you thought this blog should be named, since Lync itself will change its name in 2015.

After reviewing the poll results and talking it over amongst ourselves, we decided that the blog’s name will be…

The Lync Insider.

We will stay with the name you already know. But! We’ll have other changes coming to reflect the Skype for Business changes.

What will they be? Well, you’ll have to come back to find out!

Subscribe via email with the signup box at top right, for weekly post emails. Many of you already have this year…and we hope many more will join us next year!

Until then, Happy Holidays to all, and have a safe New Year.

5 Comments

Moving Versions or Staying Put: How Should You Prepare for Skype for Business in 2015?

Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business, Unified Communications

Look out, Christmas is coming at us!

At several of our clients’ offices, plans for 2015 are in full swing. People are considering what to do next year, where to spend their budgets, what software to update.

With each new year we see new Microsoft software. In the case of Lync Server though, the change is more pronounced. A full rebranding, new features, interconnection with the 500+ million Skype user base…this is a BIG change coming. 2015 Planning Commences!

How should businesses approach Skype for Business? Should they wait, or jump forward? At what point should they transition–and does their current communications software factor in?

After reading some blog posts & reader emails, as well as brainstorming and staring at our own Lync Server a while, I came up with the following recommendations. Each recommendation depends on what version of Lync Server you’re running now (if any). I’ve even included some thoughts for Skype users too.

If you run Lync Server 2010…

According to Monday’s No Jitter post, in-place upgrades aren’t available from Lync Server 2010 to Skype for Business.

No big surprise; the hardware requirements rose between Lync 2010 and 2013. Lync Server 2010 users actually have a unique opportunity: They’ll have to upgrade either way, so moving straight to Skype for Business is a viable option. (If any businesses do this, I’d appreciate an email. Would love to hear how the transition goes for you.)

There’s only one caveat: make sure your Windows Servers are up-to-date before you try any upgrades. In fact, I’d say build a 100% fresh server group and test on there.

If you run Lync Server 2013…

Make sure you have your Cumulative Updates, but otherwise, you have the luxury of time. Lync Server 2013 will remain usable for a while.

We even received a new feature this past week – video calling between Lync and Skype clients.

Start a Skype for Business evaluation when scheduling/budget permits. I’m hoping to do this by summer 2015.

If you are evaluating Lync Server 2013 (and like it)…

Plan to deploy when you’re ready. Don’t worry about, “Should we wait for Skype for Business?” Go ahead and implement Lync. The hardware used can (at least as far as we know) be re-used when you do move to Skype for Business. No need to rush.

If your office uses Skype…

A change from Skype clients to Skype for Business Server is arguably the largest change on this list. Your users would gain a lot of functionality–and a whole new level of complexity to their communications.

If you do plan to transition in 2015, begin advising users of the change as early as possible. Invite test user groups to evaluate Skype for Business – more than once, if you can. You might even direct users toward this blog! I will endeavor to provide useful transitioning content next year.

If you do not have either Lync or Skype…

Interested in the Unified Communications world, huh? Glad you could join us!

2015 will provide you with a choice: Deploy Lync Server 2013 or Skype for Business Server 2015. If you choose Lync 2013, you can begin evaluations right now. If you want Skype for Business, you’ll have to wait a while until we at least see a beta version.

If you have no Lync experience, I would suggest going for Skype for Business. Use the first half of 2015 to read up on Voice over IP, Lync Server’s main Server Roles, blogs discussing Skype for Business features, etc.

===========

I hope these recommendations help my readers (and your businesses) plan well for 2015. Remember also that we should see a new version of Exchange Server in 2015 too. Lots of changes for which we must plan!

Next week we’ll close out 2015 with a reader survey and Q&A. If you have questions you’d like answered about Lync, Skype, Exchange or Unified Communications in general, please comment or email them to me. See you then!

No Comments
« Older Posts


  • Lync Insider Email Updates

    Skip the visit - get Lync Insider posts in your inbox! Emails delivered every Friday.

  • About the Lync Insider Blog

    The Lync Insider is a blog about the technology we use to communicate in business today. Here we talk about Microsoft Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business Server 2015, Unified Communications, Voice over IP and related technologies like Exchange Server. Written by Chris W., MCSE in Communication and PlanetMagpie IT Consulting's Tech Writer.
  • Categories

  • Archives