Browsing the archives for the configuration tag.

Third-Party Software for Lync Server: What are the Qualified Lync Applications?

Third-Party Lync Products

The other day we went through a list of hardware approved for Lync use. (Lync Add-On Hardware for Client Enhancement and Server Capability: 10 Examples)

But third parties don’t just make hardware for Lync. There’s a whole host of third-party software too!

Thanks to Shaun, a reader, for sending me his Lync experience and this URL:
Qualified Lync Applications – Office TechCenter

On this page is a list of third-party software applications Microsoft has approved for use with Lync Server. They are designated as “Qualified Lync Applications”.

What do these applications provide?

  • New Attendant Consoles
  • Billing and/or better reporting tools
  • Extensions for Lync 2013 clients (including mobile)
  • A Contact Center
  • Persistent Chat enhancements (these particularly interest me)
  • Recording tools
  • Software-defined networking

And a few more. Let’s go through the list and see what we find.

Samroxx Attendant

A new attendant console for Lync. Very easy to install – I had a free trial downloaded and running in less than 5 minutes. Setup takes a little bit longer, as it appears (at least in the trial version) that you must enter contacts yourself, instead of relying on Active Directory. Samroxx did grab my account information from Active Directory though.

samroxx

As you see from this screenshot, the Samroxx interface is very clean, and options are clearly listed. If you opt to use a third-party attendant console with Lync Server 2013, this is a pretty good choice.

Zylinc Attendant Console

Another attendant console. This one seems beefier though – it has more features, like calendar updating and statistics.

Zylinc-Attendant-Console_EN

Image courtesy of Zylinc.com.

Plus it works for both Lync Server 2010 and 2013. This in itself could provide a useful transition from 2010 to 2013–the interface for reception wouldn’t change.

No demo option I saw. But they do offer a product sheet: Zylinc Attendant Console Product Sheet (PDF)

Verba Recording

Call Recording add-on for Lync Server. While Archiving Server does some of this, it does have its limits Extending recording capabilities is a huge benefit – not only does it protect against lost productivity from confusion, but it helps with legal & regulatory compliance.

Two things I particularly like about Verba:

  1. It records all calls, IM conversations, and videos – media Archiving Server doesn’t record.
  2. It’s a server-side solution. Nobody has to install software on their PCs, which means everyone is recorded by default.

I’ll book a Verba demo and report back on my findings soon.

MindLink Mobile Chat

Persistent Chat is one of my favorite Lync tools. However it suffers from one notable limitation – mobile access. Or lack thereof.

MindLink extends Persistent Chat onto mobile devices (phones and tablets). It also works on Mac and Linux computers, extending Lync’s chat capabilities across pretty much all platforms. MindLink even integrates with email and SharePoint.

I’m signing up for a MindLink demo too. Watch for a future post on this too.

Many More Third-Party Applications – Have You Tried One?

These are only a few of the 95 total “Qualified Lync Applications”. I’ll revisit the page later, go through more software, test the ones I can, and report back. Feel free to do the same (and let me know what you find)!

The idea that Lync Server 2013 would need “extending” might make some think the software is incomplete, or immature. Not so. One software application isn’t perfect for all situations. That’s why so many release APIs and work with third-party developers to create extensions. Firefox has its Add-Ons. WordPress has its Plugins and Themes.

Lync Server has Qualified Applications. Use them to make Lync run like you need it to.

Does your business use a Qualified Lync Application? Please comment or email me with the details. I’d like to hear about the application, what you use it for, and how well it works.

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No Post This Week – Join Us for More Next Week

Lync Server 2013

Hello Lync Insider readers! Remember last week when I said I’d have a post on stress-testing Lync Servers today? Well, it’s not quite ready yet. I’d like to do a few more tests before I can call this topic well-researched. So I’m postponing this another week.

Join us next week though! It’ll be worth it, I promise.

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Read Up on Lync, SharePoint, Office 365 and More with Free Microsoft eBooks

Lync Server 2013

It’s happened again. Microsoft released a trove of ebooks about their various software products:
Largest collection of FREE Microsoft eBooks ever, including: Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Office 2013, Office 365, Office 2010, SharePoint 2013, Dynamics CRM, PowerShell, Exchange Server, Lync 2013, System Center, Azure, Cloud, SQL Server, and much more
(Yes, that’s the post’s real title!)readingbook

I think this is the third time such a giveaway has occurred in the past 2 years? Fourth? Either way, I’m grateful to Microsoft for releasing all these titles. And to Mr. Ligman for compiling them.

This latest collection is huge – and it contains more than enough Lync Insider-relevant books for me to mention it. Here’s a list of what I downloaded right away for brushing up.

  1. Office 365 Midsize Business Quick Deployment Guide (DOCX)
  2. Quick Start to Office 365 for Small to Medium Businesses (ZIP)
  3. The Wiki Ninjas Guide to SharePoint 2013 (PDF)
  4. The Wiki Ninjas Guide to SharePoint 2013 – Part II (PDF)
  5. Windows PowerShell 4.0 Language Quick Reference (PDF)
  6. The Big Book of PowerShell Gotchas
  7. Lync Server 2013 Stress Testing Guide
  8. Microsoft Lync Server 2013 Step By Step for Anyone (PDF)
  9. Microsoft Lync Server 2013: Basic Administration – Release 2.1 (PDF)

There’s a couple more Lync-related books in the post, so go check it out. But I’d like to talk about these last 3 today.

Microsoft Lync Server 2013 Step by Step for Anyone
Written by Matt Landis
Matt’s on the list! Looks like he has converted a series of posts on setting up Lync Server 2013 from his blog into an ebook. We’ve covered this material here in the past.

The book walks you through a Lync Server 2013 Standard Edition install. It also has several additional how-to’s, such as “Using Microsoft Lync Server with SonicWall Firewalls” and “How to Configure Lync Server 2013 Live Messenger PIC to Enable Skype Federation.”

At 258 total pages, it’s too big to print out. But it’s a great reference to have on hand if you’re running an installation offline (e.g. for a test project). Maybe put it on a tablet while you install Lync Server.

Microsoft Lync Server 2013 Basic Administration
Written by Fabrizio Volpe
This is a basic overview of Lync Server 2013 for administrators. It has a narrative approach, which would make it great for those newer to Lync and potentially unfamiliar with the scope of its capabilities. Good high-level detail on Lync’s structure and workings.

What I do like about it is that it includes information on:

  • Cost mindfulness when deploying server roles (p. 15)
  • Firewall rules & access requirements (p. 82)
  • Verification tools [which include TRIPP and Remote Connectivity Analyzer!] (p. 90)

It would make a good catching-up reference for new hires entering a Lync environment.

Lync Stress Testing Guide
Written by the Lync Server 2013 Virtualization Team
This one is just fun. It talks about conducting stress tests on your Lync installation with the Lync Server 2013 Stress and Performance Tool (LSS). Since this guide focuses on one toolset and one purpose, it’s very focused & heavily detailed. (I didn’t even know it could do some of these tests!)

It does recommend you run stress tests in a lab environment. NOT on a live deployed Lync Server system. If you do run it while live, don’t be surprised if you knock everyone offline!

I’ll do a full post on stress testing later. The contributors did a thorough job documenting the process; it deserves more attention. Pick this guide up and see for yourself.

Go Forth and Download – But Come Back for More Details!

Both the strength and the weakness of Microsoft free ebooks are that they are basic guides. Intended to introduce you to software, how to run it, how to work efficiently with it. Nothing at all wrong with that – in fact I think it’s a great way to foster knowledge – but it has its limits.

In books like these, gritty-details administration, troubleshooting, advanced modifications & developments are not usually covered. You need to rely on experience, more specialized manuals, and online resources. Like this blog!

Is there an upcoming Microsoft software release you’re waiting for? New version, an update or a fix? Please comment or email me. Let’s see what’s coming soon for all of us.

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Reader Question: Call Transmission in Lync Server vs. Lync Online

Lync Online, Lync Server 2013, Office 365, Voice over IP

To everyone who responded on last week’s Usage Poll, thank you! We already have quite a few responses. I’ll leave it open another week (go here if you haven’t voted yet).

In the meantime, I received an email from a reader. Jose was curious about Lync call transmission methods. He asked (in part):

“We are planning to deploy Lync on-cloud. But I wonder if the audio-call or video-call is established directly peer-to-peer or is it always depending of an internet connection?”

It’s a good question to ask before you deploy Lync – in any form! When I replied, I asked him what form of Lync deployment they were considering. This will become important in a moment.

How Lync Transmits Calls Across the Network and Out to Phones

But first, let me answer the question of call transmission method. There are three types of calls to consider here: Peer-to-peer Lync calls, PSTN/Enterprise Voice calls, and conferencing.

Peer-to-peer calls use existing network bandwidth. Internally, so do conferencing calls. They use different audio codecs to facilitate their connections, and they have specific bandwidth requirements for those codecs.Lync Call Transmission Methods

Here’s a list of those codecs and their requirements: Network Bandwidth Requirements for Media Traffic – TechNet

(Obviously, conferencing will require more bandwidth to transmit video!)

PSTN/Enterprise Voice calls are a bit trickier. Since these need to communicate with the worldwide phone network, they must be translated into a signaling medium compatible with our phones. To do this in Lync Server 2010 and 2013, you need two things: the Mediation Server Role, and either a PSTN gateway or SIP trunk.

Here’s an overview page on Mediation Server: Mediation Server Component – TechNet
There’s also some information PSTN gateways and SIP trunks.

Through configuration in your Lync topology and Mediation Server, you dictate how voice calls are transmitted to & from the PSTN. It takes some setup, and you must make sure you have enough bandwidth available! But the system works once it’s in place.

I communicated this to Jose. And I asked him a question of my own:

“You said on-cloud – do you mean a hosted Lync Server installation, or Lync Online with Microsoft? Lync Online does not include Mediation Server, the component which governs communication with PSTN gateways.”

Good thing I did. Jose responded by saying he was interested in Lync Online instead of a full on-premises Lync Server. He added:

“Is there any way to create some sort of hybrid environment to have Lync Online with the Mediation Server capabilities? I’m trying to get this scenario because Lync Online is cheaper than a full on premises implementation.”

This is also a very good question. It’s true that Lync Online is cheaper than on-premises Lync Server 2013. But you’re making a trade-off when you opt for Lync Online – its calling capabilities are severely limited. Why? Because Enterprise Voice is not included. No Mediation Server. No PSTN calling capability.

Lync Online requires an Internet connection? Yes, to start. But what about PSTN calls?

Now, let’s go back to Jose’s original question. He wanted to know if Lync Online required an Internet connection for direct peer-to-peer calls. I cannot answer this with complete certainty, as I don’t have Lync Online right in front of me to test. (Really need to get myself an account…)

However, after consulting Office 365 Help (Set up Microsoft Lync Online), I feel confident in saying that Lync Online requires Internet access to establish peer-to-peer calls. But it uses existing network bandwidth to facilitate them once established.

Lync Online runs off of Microsoft servers. It makes sense that the Lync client would store contacts on those servers, and need to call back to those servers when a Lync call or conference is started.

But what about PSTN calling?

It’s here that Lync Online stumbles. It has no Mediation Server component available. No Enterprise Voice capability. At least, not yet. Microsoft has recently stated that PSTN calling functionality is coming. Lync Online users are clamoring for its addition…but for now, they have to wait.

In the meantime, is there a hybrid solution like Jose asked? Yes. I do know of one option:
Telephony Support for Lync Online or Office 365 – Sangoma Express for Lync

Sangoma offers a Lync gateway to add VoIP to Lync Online. From the page:

“Express for Lync is the ONLY Lync server appliance with a built-in VoIP gateway and SBC, both of which are qualified and tested for Lync. It is the easiest and most convenient way to deploy Lync with telephony support for Office 365, for a branch office or for a complete PBX replacement using Lync for installations of less than 1,000 users.”

1,000 user limit…while I’d strongly recommend organizations with 1,000 users and up use on-premises Lync Server, it’s good that we have an option for smaller organizations.

I hope this helped Jose with his questions. And his future Lync rollout, whichever form it takes.

Did this post help you with understanding Lync calls? If so, please comment or email. Oh, and don’t forget to vote in the poll! We’ll return to it next week. See you then!

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3 Solutions to Office 2013 Issues After the Windows 8.1 Update

Lync 2013 Client

I had intended on writing a response to this article today:
How PSTN Voice in Lync Online Will Bring Unified VoIP to the Masses – BetaNews
I don’t 100% agree with it, but it makes some great points.

Instead, today I’m posting about the severe software issue I encountered.

Here’s the scene: Yesterday, I installed the Windows 8.1 Update on my computer. Took about 90 minutes in all, but it went smoothly. At least until today…when I tried to open Word.

Lync 2013 opened just fine. But Word – and every other Office application – refused. They only displayed the following error:

“This update package could not be opened”

Hey now, what’s going on here?

Problem 1: Disrupted Office 2013 Installation

So I tried to repair Office 2013 via Control Panel. No change.
I decided to try uninstalling…but the uninstall failed.

Okay, to the Web for some answers. According to this Microsoft Answers thread, many people have a similar problem.

Apparently Windows 8.1 will sometimes throw an update error into Office 2013. The solution – at least the one that worked for me – is to uninstall Office completely and install fresh.

If your Control Panel uninstall option won’t work, use the Microsoft Fixit Tool here: How to uninstall Office 2013 or Office 365 – Microsoft Support. It did the job for me.

Problem 2: Registry Prevents Reinstall

Now, to reinstall Office 2013. I downloaded the ISO from our network store, mounted it locally, and ran Setup.
…And just as it started copying files, it froze up.
“Setup cannot find office.en-us officelr.cab”

OfficeSetupError

What?! The file is right in front of me! How can it not find the CAB file?

Back to Google. The problem wasn’t with Office Setup; it was with the computer. Specifically, the Registry already has an Office entry in it, and it was blocking a new install.
Most of the solution is here: Setup cannot find Office.en-us\OfficeLR.cab – FixYa.com
The site is ad-heavy, so here’s a short version: Copy the Office 2013 Setup files to disk. Open RegEdit. Locate the following folder:
Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office
Delete the entire folder. Re-run Setup.

However, I had to do some permissions changes to make it work. RegEdit refused to delete one of the keys in the Office Registry folder.

If you face this, here’s what you do: in RegEdit, click the key you want to delete. Go to Edit -> Permissions. Select every choice under “Group or User Names”.
Under Permissions below, check “Allow” by Full Control. For every choice, ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES down to Users.
Click OK. Now you should be able to delete the keys, and the “Office” folder itself.

(Don’t worry; Office Setup will put this back later.)

Problem 3: Outlook Thinks it Needs the License Key Again (But it Doesn’t)

After I removed the registry folder, Office 2013 installed fine. I opened Word, Lync and OneNote with no problem.

However…

Outlook loaded, but immediately displayed an error. “Microsoft Office cannot verify the license for this product.”

And of course, Outlook closes when you click OK.

Again I tried repairing the (brand new!) Office 2013 installation in Control Panel. Rebooted twice. No other problems but this one.

Returning to Google a third time, I found the solution. Turns out Outlook doesn’t have a problem with the license key…it’s somehow put itself in Compatibility Mode!

Documentation & Solution here: Error: “Microsoft Office cannot verify the license for this product.” – Microsoft Support

I followed the steps and found Outlook was indeed set to run in Windows 7 Compatibility Mode. I unchecked the box…and NOW Outlook works.

All of Office 2013 works again. Though my Lync client never once had a problem through all of this. A little odd, but I’m just grateful I didn’t have to fix it too!

If I’d had any inkling of what would happen after, I’d have postponed the Windows 8.1 Update for a few weeks. These sorts of errors are extremely frustrating! I ran the update to improve my system, not mess it up.

I hope documenting this issue will help my fellow Windows 8 users & administrators. We’ll be back next week with more Lync discussion!

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Trying Out Lync Plugins: 4 Examples of Add-On Functionality from CodePlex

Lync Server 2013

Last week we talked about Lync add-ons. One of the new URLs I came across was the CodePlex list of Lync plugins.

This week, I decided to look through those plugins, and try out a few.

Several plugins are either in alpha and don’t have downloads available, or they’re built for Lync Server 2010 only. Couldn’t test those.

I did find 4 which I could test. Here’s what I did, and their results.

1. Lync Presence & Chat Widget

http://lyncwidget.codeplex.com/
What it Does: Shows Lync users’ Presence information on your website. Visitors can start conversations right from the webpage.

Test Results: I’ve written about this widget before, back in November (Is There a Way to Use Persistent Chat as a Web App – Without a Lync Account?). We tested it then, and it worked very well.

This is a true extension to Lync Server – it provides a means to connect with an organization’s employees directly. Seriously, the capability is good enough to include in the next version of Lync Server. You still taking suggestions, Microsoft…?

2. LUMT – Lync User Management Tool

http://lumt.codeplex.com/
What it Does: Administrators can manage contacts and privacy settings on behalf of users. Add/remove contacts, change relationship levels, and set privacy preference settings.

Test Results: Unable to test. This gave me a version conflict error – my 32-bit system is not acceptable. Plus, LUMT appears to require server installation.

3. PressToCall

http://presstocall.codeplex.com/
What it Does: Initiate a call by pressing a key.

Test Results: This plugin functions as a mini-app running in the system tray. It adds one new function – pressing one of the Function keys (default is F8) in order to initiate a Lync call.

Now, the CodePlex page says you can call a phone number by typing it out, selecting it and pressing F8. PressToCall does indeed do this. But what if you press F8 without a number selected?

I tried it. Turns out the plugin brings up a new Conversation window, and asks who you want to invite!

PressToCallInvite

So with or without a phone number, PressToCall helps you to start conversations with one button. Nice bit of extra functionality.

4. SpotifyLync

http://spotifylync.codeplex.com/
What it Does: Puts your current song on Spotify in the Lync “What’s happening today?” line. Also lets you control Spotify playback, and allows for remote access from another PC running SpotifyLync.

Test Results: Couldn’t be simpler. Just double-click the SpotifyLync.application download, and you’re up & running.

This is definitely a ‘fun’ plugin, as reading Spotify’s information is pretty much all it does. But hey, it works! (I prefer Pandora though.)

I will have to revisit this topic again later, when I can access the Lync Server and test out the LUMT plugin directly.

Do you use a Lync Server plugin regularly? Which one, and for what purpose? Please comment or email, and let’s talk about it!

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Add-Ons for Lync 2013: Exploring Plugins and What They Do

Lync 2013 Client

The other day, a reader emailed me asked about plugins. I’ll call him J. J asked about add-ons for extending the Lync 2013 client.

So I went looking. And it turns out there’s quite a few. Now, I have profiled a couple of third-party plugins here in the past:
Can You Change Lync’s Incoming Call Popup?
Is There a Way to Use Persistent Chat as a Web App – Without a Lync Account?
2 Ways to Configure Lync Call Forwarding

But people are always developing more! Here’s some new plugins I came across:

  1. Integrate Lync into your intranet sites using the NameCtrl plug-in – Tom Hollander’s Blog. Integrates Lync connectivity into intranet sites.
  2. The SIPE Project. Lets users of Pidgin, Miranda and Adium connect with Lync users.
  3. The Lync 2013 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Plug-In. Use Lync 2013 in a Virtual Desktop environment.
  4. CodePlex – Lync Server Plugins. A list of Lync plugins, everything from “SpotifyLync” (adding Spotify features into Lync) to “LyncTalker” (speaks incoming IMs). Might have to try a couple of these myself.

J asked about one area in particular though – Conversation History. He cited the old MessengerDiscovery plugin for Windows Messenger, and SkypeDiscovery for Skype.

Now, I wasn’t too familiar with either of these. So here’s a list of the features those plugins offered:

SkypeDiscovery: Change the color of Skype, Encrypted conversations, Event log, Chat log viewer, Webcam recorder, Ad removal, Window transparency, run Skype multiple times, etc.
MessengerDiscovery: Open more than one copy of Messenger, Webcam capture, Contact management, Ad removal, Listen to messages out loud, Receive alerts, Message tracking, etc.

The bolded features are the ones I think J was interested in for Lync 2013. Do plugins exist for building such enhancements into Lync 2013? Let’s find out.

Event Log/Chat Logs/Message Tracking

Plugin not necessary. Lync 2013 records its text conversations. Archiving Server will store chat logs, and Monitoring Server will give you reports on them.

There was a Microsoft add-on for Lync Server 2010 which accomplished many of the above-listed functions though – the Lync Adoption and Training Kit. I wrote about it a while back.

However, it appears the kit is not yet available for Lync Server 2013. To be fair, some of its functions (i.e. Tabbed Conversations) were blended into the Lync 2013 client. So we may never see a separate kit.

Webcam Capture

Plugin not necessary. Lync 2013 will record video of conversations and meetings if you tell it to.
Client-side Recording: Lync 2013 – TechNet Blogs.
Record and Play Back a Lync Meeting – Office Support.

Listen to messages out loud

Not native to Lync, but Microsoft has a solution: the Speech Platform. This will read out text for you (albeit somewhat mechanically, depending on the voice you choose!).

Where does that leave us? Most of the MessengerDiscovery/SkypeDiscovery functions are either deprecated or incorporated into Lync 2013 already. Are there even any plugins dealing specifically with Conversation History?

Not that I can find. In a sense, Conversation History itself is a plugin – it’s an add-on to Outlook which displays Lync IM conversations.

I’m not sure how you’d extend that kind of functionality. (Which is one reason why I’m not a developer.) Examining information ABOUT your conversations, however, is already part of Monitoring Server. Its reports will tell you whatever you want to know.

Either way, there’s quite a few plugins for Lync 2013. And more are coming, I’m sure! J, I hope this helps you (and all our other readers) out!

Do you use a plugin in your Lync Server infrastructure? Which one? Leave a comment with the plugin’s name; I’d love to hear what you’re using.

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Follow Along With the Lync January 2014 Update Process

Lync Server 2013, Reference

Before I get into today’s post, I want to point out – we now have an email subscription option for the Lync Insider! The latest posts delivered to your inbox, every Friday. Enter your name and email in the boxes to the right.

—————

We installed a series of Lync updates last week. The full list is here:
Updates for Lync Server 2013: January 2014

As you’ll see, the updates included patches to Core Components, Conferencing, Front End Servers, Mediation and several others. Like many other Microsoft support packages, it also includes updates previously released for completion & dependencies. Which is helpful if you haven’t already done the July or February 2013 updates.

I don’t have to tell you how important it is to keep your Lync Server up-to-date. (At least I hope not!)

So why a post on following an update process? Isn’t it pretty much self-explanatory?

While there are instructions – and we should all follow them – it’s useful to have perspective on people actually doing the process. There may be snags you encounter. Steps you don’t need to take. Alternate ways to install components.

And if nothing else, having our process laid out here can provide you, our readers, with another reference point.

So with all that in mind, here’s how we installed the January 2014 Lync Updates.

The Updating Process: Prep

Log onto your Lync Server as Administrator.
From here, go to the Update page. Download the updates manually. Microsoft offers them as separate files, so you can install the updates you need. Most are in .msp format. We grabbed all of them, just in case.

Leave the Updates page open, so you’ll have instructions & details handy.

(One point to make here: We did not always specify certain criteria. The reason was, not doing so encourages the servers to put existing values into the updates. For example, auto-detecting our SQL Server. You’ll see this later.)

At this point I need to clarify something on the Update page. There are two install processes – one for Standard Edition, one for Enterprise Edition. They are clearly marked. Use the set which corresponds to your Lync Server!

(We followed the Standard Edition instructions below.)

The Updating Process: Running Step by Step

(Important Note! Make sure this takes place during a maintenance window. The Update Installer WILL bring down Lync services while it works.)

The update process begins at Step 1, with running the LyncServerUpdateInstaller.exe file on the Front End. Run it directly, not through Management Shell. And make sure to run it as Administrator if you have UAC on. Otherwise it will error out.

The installer will examine your system for its patch status. It then shows you which updates are needed with red icons. If an update has a green check icon, it’s up-to-date and will not be messed with.

The Update Installer, when you tell it OK, will apply the necessary updates to your Front End Server. The easy part. Sit back and relax a moment.

Once the installer is done, reboot the Lync Server.

Step 2 is to apply database updates. The SQL database will drop as you do. Once the server is back up, you’ll need to update your backend database via the Management Shell.

The cmdlet to use for this in Standard Edition is:
Install-CsDatabase -ConfiguredDatabases -SqlServerFqdn SE.FQDN -Verbose

Enter the SQL Server’s FQDN where you see SE.FQDN in the cmdlet above. If you don’t remember it, open up Topology Builder. (We’ll reference Topology Builder in a moment anyway.)

The backend databases updated without a hitch for us. I hope they do as well for you.

Next, the Persistent Chat databases. Run the same cmdlet again, with some different parameters:
Install-CsDatabase -DatabaseType PersistentChat -SqlServerFqdn PChatBE.fqdn -SqlInstanceName DBInstance -Verbose

Remember what I said earlier about letting servers fill in values? You can try this here. Try leaving the PChatBE.FQDN value blank and see if it works. Same with the DBInstance name.

Another thing to note: When we first ran this cmdlet, it failed. We took the SQLInstance name off, and it worked by auto-detection.
And finally for Step 2, we re-ran the cmdlet for the Monitoring store.
Install-CsDatabase -ConfiguredDatabases -SqlServerFqdn SQLServer.FQDN -Verbose

Placing the Monitoring Server’s FQDN in for SQLServer.FQDN. (If you need to recall the Monitoring Store FQDN, you can check in Topology Builder.)

The Monitoring Store may already be updated by the backend database update. If so, Management Shell will say “already up to date.” It’s still OK to do this; you won’t hurt anything.

Step 3 is to apply the Central Management Service (CMS) Update. We did not do this.

Why not? Because we’d already done the February 2013 Cumulative Update. If you did too, then you can skip Step 3. If not, follow the instructions!

And now, Step 4 – enable the Mobility service again. Very simple – just run:
Enable Cs-Topology
No parameters needed.

The Update Process: Verification

Step 5 is titled, “Enable the Unified Communications Web API.” Essentially, it wants you to activate Lync Services and verify that they’re running. To do this, we run Bootstrapper.exe.

If you haven’t run the Bootstrapper before, there are two ways to access it: via Management Shell cmdlets, or via the Deployment Wizard. We opted for the Deployment Wizard here, as it’s an easy process.

(I’ll do a post on Bootstrapper.exe later on.)

In Deployment Wizard, go to “Install/Update Lync Server System”. Run the “Install Local Configuration Store” command. You should see green check icons pop up for the window’s listed commands. Bootstrapper has done its job.

Note: Bootstrapper.exe creates an HTML log file of its activity. If you experience any errors, look in the log file. If you use Bootstrapper.exe via Management Shell, you’ll see the log file’s name and location. This is not displayed within Deployment Wizard (but the log file still exists).

Repeat for Edge Servers

This update process must also be run on every Edge Server in your topology. (Sorry.)

The good news is, it’s the exact same process. Just follow the instructions as we did above. Our Edge only needed 3 of these updates, and one reboot.

When Edge Servers reboot, you’ll drop outside connections like phones. Again, do updates within a maintenance window!

The instructions do not say to, but we ran Bootstrapper.exe again on the Edge Server. It may not be needed, but we covered the base. Making sure all components are updated.

As before, we opened the Deployment Wizard, running “Retrieve Local Replica Store.” It should work fine, since it’s a live, communicating environment.

Lync Server Now Up-to-Date!

All updates are complete! Your Lync Server should be back up and purring. This update took us a little less than 1 hour to complete. Provided there are no serious snags, yours should take about the same time.

One final recommendation: Check your Services.msc on the Windows Server. Verify that all Lync Server services are Running.

Have you experienced a snag with Lync Server updates recently? If so, please comment or email me! Let’s talk about the stranger errors we find, and what we can do to solve them.

See you next week!

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Examining Lync's Connection Tools: MOSDAL

Lync Online, Office 365

Welcome to the second in our post series on Lync connection tools. This week we’re talking about MOSDAL. Like TRIPP, it helps administrators figure out what’s gone wrong with Lync Online. And Exchange Online. And Office Web Apps. And a bunch of other Microsoft online services.

Let’s see what we’ll get from all this!

What Does MOSDAL Mean?

MOSDAL stands for “Microsoft Online Services Diagnostics and Logging”. It’s a support toolkit intended for diagnosing Office 365 and BPOS operational issues.

(I believe it’s pronounced ‘moz-dahl’. Had to think on that one.)

What MOSDAL Does

Microsoft’s description of MOSDAL:
“(MOSDAL) performs network diagnostics and collects system configuration, network configuration, and logging information for applications that are used to connect to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS-S) or to Microsoft Office 365. The logs and diagnostic information that the tool generates provide data that helps technical support professionals troubleshoot configuration, network, installation, and other service-related issues.”

Though they deal with the same arena – Office 365 services like Lync Online – MOSDAL has a much broader focus than TRIPP.

MOSDAL Window

A detailed list of which services MOSDAL covers, and what information it compiles, is here:
The Microsoft Online Services Diagnostics and Logging (MOSDAL) Support Toolkit – Microsoft Support

Essentially, it runs a series of tests on the service you request, hands you the test results and says, “The problem’s in here someplace. Good luck.”

What Kind of Information MOSDAL Gives You

Once you’ve selected a service to test, entered your login & password (not required every time) and hit Run, MOSDAL will take a few moments to conduct its tests.

When done, you’ll receive reports in the form of text files grouped in folders. I ran a test on my Active Directory connection as an example. (I don’t use Office 365 on this machine, but I do have a live Active Directory connection!)

The folders are:

  1. Admin_Applications
  2. Network_Tests
  3. System_Information
  4. User_Applications

Each has subfolders and sub-subfolders, to identify specifically what the text file they (eventually) contain talks about.

The end result is a large group of text files with huge amounts of system & network data in them. Being plain text, it’s easy to search through them for whatever issue you’re having with your Lync Online or DNS setup.

However, the sheer number of files & folders is frustrating. There’s no overview report, no callout of a big issue…nothing like that. MOSDAL creates an information dump. Which may not be what you want when you’re scrambling to find & fix a single issue.

For instance, here’s the sum total of the “O365_Sign_In_Assistant” log file:

Starting MSO IDCRL Sign-In Assistant Configuration Data
Microsoft Online Services IDCRL Not Installed – No registry key
Completed MSO IDCRL Sign-In Assistant Configuration Data
Module Execution Time was: 0 minutes and 0 seconds.

This file was 3 folders down.

MOSDAL is a very useful tool for collecting diagnostic information. Its only caveat is that it leaves sifting through all that information up to the administrator.

Where to Find MOSDAL

The support toolkit is a free download:
Download MOSDAL Support Toolkit

You’ll need the .NET Framework 4 to run it. But you already had that, right?

NOTE: You’ll also find a training file at the URL above. I suggest downloading it as well – it has some useful reference points for where MOSDAL stores data, and a couple ways to make sense of it all.

Coming up we’ll have a post on either:

  • Online Directory Synchronization
  • OCSUMUtil

Have you used MOSDAL before? What for? And did you find the information you needed to resolve the issue?

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Examining Lync's Connection Tools: TRIPP

Lync Online, Voice over IP

I’m kicking off a new series of posts this week. We’re examining the connection tools available to Lync Server and Lync Online administrators.

These tools are made to help you identify many different connection & issues between clients, Lync Servers, Exchange, the PSTN and so on. As such, they’re extremely important for new Lync systems. Help you iron out any kinks lingering in the connections.

In the “Examining Lync’s Connection Tools” series, we’ll cover:

  • TRIPP
  • Online Directory Synchronization
  • MOSDAL
  • OCSUMUtil

(Not necessarily in this order.)

Today we’re focusing on TRIPP.

What Does TRIPP Mean?

TRIPP stands for Transport Reliability IP Probe.


It’s meant for use with Lync Online subscribers.

When You Need to Use It

At some point, every Lync user has experienced a garbled call or a video conference that lost picture. When you experience poor audio or video quality in Lync Online, TRIPP will help you locate the problem.

What TRIPP Does – Tests Connection Quality

TRIPP runs a trio of tests on your Internet connection to the Lync Online datacenter. These tests measure connection speed, bandwidth, available ports, routing, and so on. TRIPP looks for potential obstacles to a good solid VoIP connection, such as packet loss, jitter, closed ports or bad routes.

Where to Find TRIPP

TRIPP is an online tool. (Handy; no install required.) Microsoft has placed it on several websites. Use the one closest to you from this list:

What Kind of Information TRIPP Gives You

I ran a test on my own connection to the Singapore TRIPP page. Now, I don’t use Lync Online, and Singapore’s pretty far away from California. I did this just so we could see the potentialities of connection trouble.

Here are my TRIPP results:

The Consistency of Service result was 59%. It’s marked in yellow. Which means TRIPP thinks my connection to the Lync Online service is all right for VoIP, but calls may break up now & then.

Everything else is green – good to go!

Like many other Microsoft tools, TRIPP focuses on a specific type of issue: Voice over IP connection speed and quality for Lync Online. Lync Server’s connections must be tested by another tool.

We’ll get to that as the Connection Tools series continues! Join us here next week for the next post.

Lync Online – Transport Reliability IP Probe (TRIPP): Technet Blogs

“You experience poor audio or video quality in Lync Online” – Microsoft Support

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