About Me

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TsooRad is a blog for John Weber. John is a Skype for Business MVP (2015) - before that, a Lync Server MVP (2010-2014). My day job is titled "Principal Consulting Engineer" - I work with an awesome group of people at CDW, LLC. I’ve been at this gig in one fashion or another since 1988 - starting with desktops (remember Z-248’s?) and now I am in Portland, Oregon. I focus on collaboration and infrastructure. This means Exchange of all flavors, Skype, LCS/OCS/Lync, Windows, business process, and learning new stuff. I have a variety of interests - some of which may rear their ugly head in this forum. I have a variety of certifications dating back to Novell CNE and working up through the Microsoft MCP stack to MCITP multiple times. FWIW, I am on my third career - ex-USMC, retired US Army. I have a fancy MBA. One of these days, I intend to start teaching. The opinions expressed on this blog are mine and mine alone.

2016/07/14

AudioCodes IP Phone Manager Express

Yes, Matilda, another supporting software piece to examine and run through the Tsoorad Lab Experience.  This time AudioCodes released a FREE tool to help you manage your AudioCodes phones.  Previous to this, the AudioCodes EMS required some cabbage up front; this tool is FREE.  Up to 500 managed devices.  No SBC, SBA, or MPxxx management, but hey…

The EMS package allows you to manage all of the AudioCodes family, SBC, analog gateways, 4xx phones, and SBA’s too.  The IP Phone Manager Express does just the phones.  But, this may be very attractive to you.  Let’s take a look.

You can download right here. The basic documentation is included in the download.  The installer, once you have a suitable host SERVER, runs with zero issues.  I would think that something like this tool would be perfect for running on a workstation, but that is not what the documentation calls for.  To whit, the IP Phone Manager Express calls for a clean install of Server 2012R2.  Hmmm.  I suppose you could run this on a virtualized instance on your workstation…I, of course, am running it in virtual in my lab.  I also ignored the resource allocations called for in the documentation.  I used a single core and 2GB, and things appear to be hunky-dory. I imagine if you need to manage more than a few devices your resources might need to increase just a tad.

Here is the official market-speak on the features:

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Also note that AudioCodes thinks that you can step up to the “Pro” version (part of the EMS) with one button click.

You can download the applicable documentation here.

For a quickie comparison of the different flavors offered, take a look at this.

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The Install

</Rant> I would like to see this tool run on something other than a brand new server.  I see SQL Express and IIS getting installed…isn’t there anyway to get this running on something other than a new build? Not everyone has an environment leveraging Datacenter where you can load up as many servers as the hardware will handle Using an existing server would make this tool really free instead of incurring the server license. Or work out a way to get this into an admin workstation?</rant off>

I built on a clean 2012R2 server, patched (250+ of them – yikes!) it up to snuff, and then simply executed the installer.  I think I may have clicked on a few license boxes or “yes” selections, but I did nothing other than defaults.  It wanted a reboot.

After reboot, you can go to http://serverIP/IPP and you are in.  Install done.  Even I got it right the first time through.  That will change in the next section.

The Configuration

Note:  some manual editing of cfg files is needed.  For some weird reason, notepad on my server presented the cfg files as one long line.  Yucko.  I installed Notepad ++ and it worked as expected.  Don’t know what the issue is, but I know how to get around it!

Following along with page 13 of the aforementioned admin guide, I modified my DHCP server to present option 160 as follows:

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If you are modifying a previous entry for your AudioCodes deployment, be aware that the previous entry was most likely FTP, not HTTP.  Ergo, my comment from above.  Using FTP (like I did) results in things not working as expected.  OOOPS.  This time I even read the documentation first, and yet I still managed to screw it up.  Just a heads up.  I know that my gentle (genteel?) readers would never make such a sophomoric mistake.  I also took the liberty of restarting the DHCP service to make sure things were right.

Back to the voluminous instructions on page 13, plug in your phones.  In my case, being POE, I just pulled the Cat5 and replugged it effectively restarting the phones.  After you get this tool setup, you will be able to perform that magic trick remotely to every phone in the org.  You can send messages to the individual phones - the practical joke prospects are endless.

Look and Feel

Pretty slick.  I might suggest changes to some of the GUI, but in the overall scheme of things, the entire tool works really well.  The navigation tree on the upper left gives access to everything, but you can do the clickety thing on various elements on the center and right sections and that works equally well.  Being able to do mass actions is an enormous plus.

Here is my new tool.  Use the secret squirrel code from page 13.  And then change it to suit your security policy.  You do have a security policy, right?

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At any rate, here is our interface in all its glory.

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I think the buttons in the middle could be a different size… but the automatic refresh makes up for it.  Note that I have the one 420HD phone registered.  Interestingly,  the IPP Manager ships with firmware files… and apparently the 420HD.img that came with was newer than what was on my phone.

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I noticed this because as the phone was booting, it flipped into upgrading its firmware.  Nice, in some cases.  Maybe not so nice in others.  Just something to be aware of, I guess, if you start doing magic tricks in the middle of the day.

I downloaded the newest 405 IMG available, changed it’s name and pushed it up there for my 405 to discover when it restarts.  I have cleverly avoided that moment until now, because I want to use it as the demo for this article.  Here is the 405 before restarting it to pick up the new DHCP Option 160:

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Note the firmware version.  And the incorrect Option 160 information.  You can’t see it, but rebooting the phone at this point resulted in the phone snaking the new firmware and working through the process to update itself.  And now we have this:

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And in the IPP Manager we now have two devices – the unregistered part means that no user is logged into the phone.

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If you get the dhcpoption160.cfg file correct (and use HTTP not FTP) rebooting phones will result in them showing up in the interface – its as easy as that.

Now What?

Log in to the phone silly!  IPP Manager handles the device…SfB/Lync handles the users.  Using the phones’ web interface (which, btw, you can access right from the IPP Manager), I did an extension+PIN login, and now we have this:

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Update Firmware

One of the nice things here is that system-wide firmware updates can be done centrally.  Upload the new firmware file..

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and tell the phone to update…

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There might be a better way to accomplish this task, but, gee, it worked for me.  You could have a boatload of one model, upload one file, select the appropriate checkboxes, and tell them all to reset at once. At any rate, we now have two devices, both operating the same firmware whereas before we had two different firmware versions.

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Configuration Files

You can work with configuration files en masse, or individually…If you need to see what a configuration (cfg) file can do, take a read of this document, or go searching for LTRT-11950 which will probably require a visit to www.audiocodes.com.

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Conclusions

If you have more than a few Audiocodes phones, or even if you do have only a few phones, the new Audiocodes IP Phone Manager Express is a great piece of kit.  It does, however, require a server platform – but you can get around that with some virtualization.  Offering one-stop device management and visibility into the devices without having to go to a user’s desk, the IPP Manager can streamline bulk operations or allow you to get as granular as you want.  Just the firmware tracking and updating makes it worth looking closely at this tool. I would like to see it run direct on an existing server and not require its own server; ideally it would be nice to have it run on a desktop.  But, even with the implications of needing a server, free is a very good price.

I guess to be fair to all the other systems out there, I should mention that this tool manages Audiocodes IP phones, and is not restricted to just SfB/Lync environments – but why would you want to use another VOIP solution other than Skype for Business?

YMMV

2016/06/30

YADR–Logitech H820e (dual)

OMG.

I had forgotten.  Back a few years ago, May of 2013 to be exact, I reviewed this headset.  I used it for a few months, and then other headsets came and went, and I kept going back to it.  About a year ago, it broke.  Not the headset’s fault, but a *&^%$# cat incident.  So I used other solutions.

The other day a box showed up with some new toys from Logitech, and one of them was a squeaky new Logitech Wireless Headset Dual H820.  DECT.  No software needed.  Plug n Play.  And no, not Plug n Pray, it really just jacks in and works.

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Here is the official Logitech market-speak

SfB Connection

I have to say something.  uhm… it works perfectly.  Optimized for SfB/Lync, certified on the OIP.  What else can you say about a product that plugs in and your application goes “blink bonk” and starts to use it?

 

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Comfort

Much as I remembered, oh so nice.  No wires tethering my skull to the laptop. I consider this to be a HUGE plus.

Audio Quality

Dang but this is a nice piece of gear for voice. And with the slider in the WB (as opposed to NB) wowzer!  For the unwashed, WB and NB is Wide Band and Narrow Band.  In the DECT world, this somewhat equates to signal quality and range.  And maybe battery life.  Music is pretty excellent also. 

Back to SfB Connections

SfB client will do stereo to this headset.  Oh yes.  For those of us who suffer from a previous lifetime that caused hearing loss, having an over-the-ear, or on-the-ear solution with actual speakers in cups rather than some microdot in a ear canal thing is a real bonus.  ooh ooh ooh.

Noise cancelling mic standard.  One of the problems I see with SfB/Lync is that the devices pick up every last little noise.  And when the audio stream is literally silent if no one is talking, then the ambient noise on either end can be a real distraction.  Logitech wizardry to the rescue.  This headset ignores just about everything except what is right in front of the mic boom.  Really well done.

Build quality is right up there in the excellent to superior bracket – as you would expect from Logitech.  Comfort – yep.  Range?  Dang, I can wander all over and not lose signal.  Another HUGE plus.  That makes two of them.

Summary

Build quality, SfB/Lync certified, comfort, features, functionality. After having used at least six different headsets over the last 18 months, I hereby declare the H820e as my favorite.  There are others that offer more widgets, more wires, more software, or are customizable to the nth degree, but none of them perform the core task of being a VOIP headset and delivering audio to your gourd nearly as well the H820e.  

And, you can still get your very own H820e right here.

YMMV

And in the darkness bind them – O365 PowerShell

A nifty quote, and only partially applicable here, but I have wanted to use that phrase for a long time, so this seemed like a good time.

Office 365, with Azure, MSOnline, Sharepoint, Skype Online, Exchange Online, all of that good stuff.  But managing the various interfaces can be a bit of a challenge. The web interfaces work OK, but for any serious, scaled out work, you will want to leverage PowerShell.  Now, we can do this via individual windows, but they all get jumbled up, and what is what?  And you need how many?  Just ONE won’t do?

Microsoft themselves offers up a TechNet article on how to get all the Office 365 services in a single window…. good luck keeping track of that.  Part of that article also shows the various single window methods.  Even I can figure out that part.  But there must be a better way.  Or perhaps a solution that better matches how I want to work.  As slick as the TechNet guidance is, that just don’t work for me.

Enter Brad Stevens, the Resident Bright Boy (RBB) on my team.  In conversation with him, the idea surfaced of creating a script that would open all the PowerShell requirements at once, label the windows, and possibly even give you the options of opening just what you wanted, yet remain ready to connect to the others.  Keep in mind that this script is his work, not mine.  I can write psuedo-code and create the concept all day long; actually coding the idea into reality is way past my skill set.  But, not his apparently!

A walkthrough

First off, I always run PowerShell as “administrator”  - it just solves so many problems!

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Set your execution policy.  I always run my laptop in “unrestricted” – which is not the best choice for the uninitiated.  For this RBB script, you will want unrestricted.

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Then, simply navigate to your script location and call it.  You will want to do [R] Run Once…

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You will get this handy-dandy pick box to choose your level of functionality, and for entering those all-important credentials.

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For the purposes of this article, I am going to hit them all, but the SPS window is going to have some red in it as I don’t have SharePoint setup in my tenant…

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Selecting the “connect” button results in this:

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You can close the windows individually, work in them all at the same time, etc.  Way better, IMHO, than having only ONE window and I am always having to open another while doing something else.  Why not have them all at once?  And they are cleverly labeled so you can look at the title bar and figure out what you are doing.

Remember that you can select one, like Skype, and then go back an redo things and select Exchange… the interface will stay open for you…

You can get it for yourself

The RBB has now posted the script on his blog so you can enjoy the goodness for yourself.

YMMV

2016/06/17

Array Networks vAPV Review

Have you looked at the Lync Server/Skype for Business Server Open Interoperability Program (OIP)  and wondered who some of the qualified providers are?  I know I have.  And then with the advent of virtualization a few years back, I started to ponder whether or not a vendor who is qualified on the hardware list but not on the VM list would function the same.

For the last two months I have been putting the Array Networks vAPV through it’s paces.  For the above reason, I have the virtual edition rather than the physical appliance.  Just so we are on a level playing field, I have been working with this right here. Array has been on the OIP since the Lync 2010 days, and the qualified firmware version for the appliance is 8.x.  The vAPV with which I have been working is 8.5.1.6. I also have a running version of APV.8.6.0.14.  Gee, lots of periods there!

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One of the things I have discovered is that Array is aimed a tad higher up the food chain than the SMB market.  This is not a bad thing, it just is.  In fact, I can easily make a case for this being a great thing. Price-wise, I would say that they are very competitive even for the SMB customer. Picture a company that is a bit above the SMB space, but below the “enterprise” space.  The needs are the same -  in fact even an SMB can have enterprise needs.  Array Networks has feature set in spades.  Very comprehensive – including some I had not thought were useful until I played with them.

Feature Set

Market-speak

:

The vAPV runs as an entry, small, medium or large virtual application delivery controller on Array’s AVX virtualized appliance to flexibly enable on-demand, full-featured load balancing and application delivery with guaranteed performance.

More Array Networks market speak: 

Local server load balancing, as well as both global server load balancing (GSLB)and link load balancing (LLB) ensure application uptime in the event that servers, ISP links, network segments or data centers become overburdened or unresponsive.

Upfront, this is the list of features that are available:

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Specifications may be important to you also.  The capacity ramps up quickly – and you can see where I say that the APV is aimed at a higher market segment than the SMB (however, my previous comments still hold).

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If you don’t like virtual load balancers, then guess what?  There is a range of physicals as indicated.  Bon appetit!  Bottom line, you need to read through this Array Networks information to get the full list of things the vAPV (or APV) can do for you.

What about me?

Well, what about me?  You’ve read the marketing material, I have presented some opinions, but what did I experience during the install and configuration and operation of the vAPV?

Installation

Because I am using VMWare workstation for my lab, I had to convert the OVA download into vmdx format.  No biggie once you have done it.  Here is the list of supported hypervisors.

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Once that was done, there is a defined install guide that walks through the initial base configuration and then it is on to the good stuff.  Simple.  Worked first time through. What could be better?

In my time with this exercise I screwed up the entire mess.  So the support engineer had me check a box and restart.  The end result is that the box recovered with the previous known good.  So nice.

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Speed

Speed is not an issue here.  The web UI is very snappy. Content delivery was noticeably faster than competing products.  I like that – I have zero patience for slow stuff when the resources are not being overtaxed and something is slow just because.  Array does not seem to have that problem.  Fast fast fast.  Did I mention content delivery was zippy?  And it got better with compression enabled.  I like it.  “nuff said.

Configuration

One of the issues administrators run into is configuration.  Sometimes just reading the documentation is enough, sometimes formal classroom training is almost a prerequisite to success.  The vAPV fits somewhere in between the two extremes.  Getting into the GUI and poking around was easy enough, and seeing the basic administrative function was clear also.  At that point, neither of my brain cells could figure out what was needed.  Maybe I am just a bit dense.

Luckily, there is this built-in “quick start” feature where there is an outline of the steps needed to do tasks.

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But still, Array has so much to offer that the granularity gets in the way of the KISS method I like.  Even when using the list shown above, I was at a loss to divine the steps to get things working.  See below for “SUPPORT.”  Configuration will be much like using an AlphabetNumber product.

For you CLI types, Array also supports a full CLI that will allow you to script your configuration and work that way.

VS and Reals and Groups

Here is what we need Mr. vAPV to do for us:

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Granular is the word of the day here.  Think of each service you need for your system.  You will need by IP by port.  So, 1.1.1.71:443 is NOT the same as 1.1.1.71:8080 – each of those needs to be separate.  And the common name is going to need to be unique also.  <sigh>  Each of these services, just for a DNSLB setup in SfB required the following.  Yes, I have my SE web services going through here also as I wanted to play with the content redirects.  Figure out your naming convention per layer before you start.

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After you make the real servers up, you then need to lump them into groups.  Reals into groups; groups into virtual services.  Think ahead.  Maybe some UML work might be in order before you start?  Oh yes, you cannot put TCP reals into an HTTP group and hence an HTTP service.  Or, at least I could not figure out a way to do so.

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Once you get past the real server and group setup, then you need to worry about the virtual services.  For my environment, here is what I came up with.

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Logs

The APV has logs everywhere.  Which is right handy at times. For instance, you can drill into a group, and down at the bottom there are some basic stats listed for that group.

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Included in the unusual plethora of admin tools is a copy of the running configuration for you CLI afficianados. And to get you really into it, the display is separated into startup config and running config.  So nice.

Monitoring of the entire mess gets granular as well.  Statistics exist for every layer of the construction.

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Graphs?

Are you visually oriented?  You want pretty pictures to show that your virtually shiny appliance is in fact doing something?  Well, APV has you covered.

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And you can choose from the following pre-defined graphs…notice how the pre-defined collection has our configured real, virtual, and policy connections listed.  *I* did not do that – the system saved me my lunch break.

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You can also make your own definitions.  I put this beauty together in about 30 seconds. Such an artist am I.

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Content Redirects

Near and dear to my heart is content redirects.  Not every customer of mine has entire class B subnets to work with in their public space – so we try to conserve IPV4 space as much as possible. If you read the link there, you will note that there was syntax involved, and you had to know what you wanted before you started.  Not a problem for ME…might be for an un-initiated hard-charging techie.  APV has you covered here also.  The content re-direct policy stuff in the vAPV was done on the fly, with no syntax needed other than knowing the called URL from the client perspective.  Sa-WEEET!  What you see here took about 10 minutes from start to finish.

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Routing

Would you like to route stuff around your network?  Would you like some content to go via certain routes?  APV has you covered

(I just realized I have been using that phrase a lot.  But, in truth, APV does have all the bases covered, and then some.  Every time I look at it, there is more to appreciate.  Simply a very well done product that is continuing to evolve and get better.)

Adelante!

There is more in that networking section (basic and advanced) than my little pea-brain comprehends, but I showed this to a few networky-techy-nerd buddies, and then had to clean up drool from the monitor.  Their excitement over the possibilities was palpable.

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Compression

Would you like some of your content delivery to get compressed and some not?  FWIW, this makes OWA 2016 pop on screen rather than ooze up there. As in a LOT faster.  I did not measure as I have no facility to do accurate measurements – Array claims 500% improvement over non-compressed.  I don’t know about that, but I know OWA flies up on screen.  OOS and OWAS scream into being rather than just oozing.  According to my setup, there has been an “87% compression ratio of compressible data” – whatever that works out into improvement percentage I do not know.  But seat-of-the-pants – mucho mejor.

IPv6 support – NAT64

When enabled, the APV can translate ipv6 to ipv4.  Or ipv4 to ipv6. You can’t mix the two in a group, but you can have both inside and both outside – you just can’t mix the group. I can think where this will come in handy down the road just a bit as (supposedly) the IPV4 pool is now exhausted.

SSL

Yes Matilda, the vAPV does SSL.  My configuration is decrypting and inspecting, then re-encrypting and sending to the real servers.  All faster than you can type about it.  The certificate import process was easy as it took .cer format directly.  I had some moments with the configuration, but read below in “support”  - we got through it.  After having it explained to me in kindergarten terms, even I grasped the simplicity (when you think about it) of how the SSL is handled.

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Support

Take a look at the wealth of deployment guides here.  The only problem I see on the deployment guide page is that the Lync 2013 guide is for the full load balance solution, whereas I only deploy in that fashion when I am pushed into a corner for some business or technical reason – otherwise I am going to advocate and deploy DNSLB.  In working with Array support engineers, I am told that the SfB documentation will include both methods.

I had some difficulties due to the extreme levels of granularity of the APV. My friendly (he never cursed at me – not even once!)(and I gave him plenty of reasons – there are times I am just stupid beyond belief…) support engineer showed me how to get multiple ports into the virtual service so that you could theoretically define a real service with port 0 and then create virtual services with any ports you want.  so if you had some generic needs, like RPC Endpoint mapper and port 80, you could handle that with one assembly.  Not the most obvious solution set, but when you look at the granularity model, it makes sense.

So they get a frowny, a smiley, AND a straighty.

Sad smileSmileDisappointed smile

I will reiterate, even in the midst of my personal issues, my assigned Array Networks support engineer was extremely helpful and patient. I am not the easiest person to coexist with; whoever that guy is deserves a medal.  If the rest of the folks at Array are anywhere close to this guy, it speaks well for them as a company/staff.

The SfB / Lync Connection

I would not be doing this homework if it was not for wanting to make my customer’s Skype deployments better.  That’s the bottom line.  After configuring the APV as shown above to match the environment shown below, SfB was happy as can be.  Internal and external web services were flawless. No issues.  OWAS as mentioned popped up on screen.  LWA worked perfectly.  Mobile clients went tearing through. I saw no issues whatsoever – let alone anything that could be attributed to the compression.  Web services with the compression were “seat of the pants” faster.

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The Array Networks installation/deployment guide does a fine job of laying out the requirements and the “how to” part of the vAPV deployment to support Lync/SfB.  I have not yet had the chance to convert to a full load balance solution (nor do I really want to), but I would imagine that the results would be the same.

Conclusion

Let’s face it.  If you have an organization that is big enough, or perhaps small but needing the services of a load balancer – be it application delivery or just simple reverse proxy, then almost anything will work.  However; should you want to control the beast, and use your deployment for something other than just a one off, you need something more sophisticated.  As your traffic load grows and expands to cover more than just one workload, the underlying network devices become more and more important.  Enter Array Networks. The Array vAPV (and the physical APV for that matter) presents some very interesting feature sets for discussion.  Do you want simple or do you want granular control?  Are you willing to accept some sluggish performance or do you want screen-popping speed? Local load balancing is needed and you want global load balancing options for the future? If you went the caviar route on those questions, then Array Networks needs examination.

For a load balancer/application controller that offers a great feature set, is granular (seriously granular!), along with being wicked fast, then Array networks vAPV should be on your short list. 

You can get your very own vAPV here.

YMMV

2016/06/06

WebConf modalities not working for internal users after server patching

This falls into the “oh wonderful” category…

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/ms16-065.aspx breaks Office Web Apps for internal users.  External users seem to be unaffected.

Conferencing modalities no longer function in Lync Server 2010, Lync Server 2013, or Skype for Business Server 2015 after you install Security Bulletin MS16-065Here is a fix workaround:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3165438

And people wonder why I always advise waiting 90 days or so before patching Lync and SfB host servers.

The documented update in the article is KB3156757, but the actual KB installed was KB3156756.  Which also is associated with MS16-065.

YMMV

2016/04/30

Yealink SIP Phone Review

Edited 2016-05-02

Yealink has already answered one of the login issues highlighted below – login from outside the edge server.  It would seem that the PKI is not trusted – I assumed it was not as I never put a copy of the trusted root on the device.  So disabling that security requirement allows the device to login from outside the edge server.

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end 2016-05-02 edit

Yealink, in their infinite wisdom, shipped me a few units to play with.  When the box arrived, I found the following three SIP phones:  T42G, T46G, and a T48G.  Oddness is the different labeling depending on where you look.  On the boxes for each unit it says “Ultra-elegant Gigabit IP Phone SIP-T4xG” whilst on the web screen for the phone it says “Gigabit Color IP Phone SIP-T48G”; the T42G claims it is a “Enterprise IP phone SIP-T42G”; the T48G and the T46G claim “Gigabit Color IP Phone SIP-T46G” – I love the consistency between the box labels and the internal programmed labels eh wot?

Here are the three devices in the hot seat for this round of testing:  From the left:  T46, T42, and T48.  The 46 and 48 have a color screen, the 42 is a bit smaller with a monochrome display.  The 46 has buttons around the screen, the 48 is completely touch on the screen.  The 42 also has buttons around the screen.  Like the 46, some of the buttons on the 42 work, some do not.

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Initial Impressions

I want to get on the record with one thing:  I like these phones.  A lot. There are some issues as you will see; but do not let that detract from that first concept – these are nice pieces.

Coming out of the box, all three devices feel solid, well-constructed, and the various ports are well laid out, marked legibly, and everything fit together as expected.  I am sure glad I have a PoE switch handy, or I would have been hurting as none of the devices came with a power brick.

The buttons push as expected, the screens are crisp and have a good layout.  As a Skype-compatible device, it would seem that Yealink has engineered their own GUI interface for the phones for Lync.  As I got the phones, they were SIP Phones, generic.  I had to flash the firmware and upload a license to enable them for Skype.  I expected this, as these units are pre-release, and the fine folks at Yealink had sent me instructions in advance.

Initial setup and login went about as expected. Attaching to internal worked perfectly.  The phone unlock code is nice touch.  User SIP and UPN and PIN login works as expected. 

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On dial out, the phone does not start the call until pressing OK. I am used to seeing a Lync phone take 10 digits and start the call.  Or take 4 digits (or whatever) and start the call.  Other devices in the Tsoorad Test Lab do exactly that.  Mashing the ‘#’ key sends the call as expected. Something to do with a configuration perhaps?

Yes!  Found it.  Settings | Preference| Live Dialpad –> set to enabled.  Yay!  I am told that the documentation for the newest firmware is coming with the GTM which is supposed to be June-ish 2016.  Having documentation will make this sort of thing easier to sort.

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Choosing your ringtone could be onerous.  When using the web interface, you have to choose one, then save it, then make a phone call to determine what is what.  Driving into the touch screen on the phone itself plays the ringtone for you in real time.  So, choose your management interface and learn it.  When doing ringtones, 6, 7, and 8 are interesting.  And according to choices in the web interface you can upload your own ringtones. 

OTOH, you can login to the phone as admin while someone is logged into the phone as a user.  I like that.  A lot.  A flip side to that is the web interface times out on a very short cycle, and I could never figure out where to lengthen that out to like several hours.

To get the phone to be the correct time, I had to set it as shown.  Using DHCP time did not work, it came up an hour off.  A competitor phone got the correct time from DHCP. 

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T48G

Sample calls both inside and outside of the Tsoorad Test Labs facility were flawless.  Audio quality is really very nice impressive. The 7 (seven SEVEN) inch screen is really nice.  Touch.  Color.  I like it.  Here is the T48G.  Check out the color screen.  In phone terms, huge.  My old eyeballs have no issues reading the screen on the T48G.

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T46G

The T46 has a smaller color screen than the T48 and the layout is different.  The functionality is the same, just things are in a different spot due to the interface being different.  Call quality, materials, and look and feel remain in the “dang this is a pretty nice unit” category. The T48 is all touch-screen and the only buttons are the dial pad and buttons down there; The T46 has buttons all the way around the screen – but only some of them are operational with the Skype firmware.  If you broke out Mr. Tape Measure, the T46 is also somewhat smaller overall.

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T42G

The T42 is the smallest of the three, with a monochrome display.  Other than Skype sign-in, this unit it pretty much just punch the numbers and make calls.  I never did figure out how to do a conference call with the T42 even though the option is clearly presented.  The T42 is smaller than the T46, but the audio quality and build quality seem to be just as good as the larger units.

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The Skype Connection

Obviously, or maybe not so obviously, I have only one reason to use a phone handset device like these.  To whit, I work with customers and their Skype projects and I get asked what handsets to use so I have to know.  For myself, I would not use a handset; I have my headset and I am good with that. But for others, a handset is requirement of life.  Therefore, we have Skype phones.  And they need to work to MY satisfaction. 

With the Yealink units, after flashing the firmware on all three phones, the Skype connection was entirely painless.  I inputted my user name and password and the phone signed right into the pool.  You cannot ask for more than that.  PIN login is equally painless. 

I could not get these phones to login to my lab from outside of my firewall.  Claims they cannot find the web server.  Funny.  Other vendors phones work just fine when attached outside of my Edge server. 

A lingering bug in the Yealink software will also prevent you from connecting to your organization from outside your domain and when your account is actually in a resource domain.  For instance, in my real world work, my account is actually in a subdomain of the larger forest.  And the Yealink phones don’t particularly like this arrangement.  I am told that the fix is a firmware revision that is coming with the anticipated Microsoft approval of these phones for use with Skype.  But on this list here the T48G is already listed…so I am now confused.  Which is really unfortunate, as these phones rock with Skype.

BToE

Better Together over Ethernet.  A little splice that goes onto your desktop and joins your phone at the hip to your full Skype client.  Pretty doggone handy for those without a CX phone.  Like me.  I installed the software on a Win8.1 machine and was up and running with the phone is less than 5 minutes.

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After installing, all you need to know is the phones’ IP and the pairing PIN…

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…voila!…

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…and we are magically transported to EV-land, where the Skype client can operate as a softphone, a full web conference client, a desktop share client, a consumer, a producer, and a traditional telephony device user. 

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So sweet. The Yealink BToE software is clean and well thought out and did not give me any hint of trouble.

Summary

Aside from a software/firmware thing that gets in the way of the phones being successful in two login scenarios – these Yealink Ultra-elegant GIgabit IP Phone units are easily on par with any other vendor device.  Provisioning via FTP is available.  Fellow MVP Grieg Sheridan seems to think that you can update these phones via CSCP tools…I could never find a ucupdates.exe for Yealink – but I also admit I did not look very hard (in my defense, I have one of those pesky customers that expects me to actually do things for them and not sit around dreaming up things to say in a blog article).

I found the materials, construction, and overall quality to be at least on par with all the other vendors out there in phone-land.  And two of these are COLOR.  Squirrel!

Documentation on these devices is extensive.

T48G firmware, docs, user guides, admin guides

T46G firmware, docs, user guides, admin guides

T42G – I am told by my “SFB Sales Engineer” who must remain nameless, that June 2016 will see complete SfB related documentation.  Which I hope applies to the T48 and the T46 also!

I really want to like these phones.  The market needs the competition.  Yealink has done a credible job on producing Skype versions of their existing (beautiful) phones.  So kudos to them for jumping into the fray.  Let’s hope they can iron out a few niggling firmware items and then they will have solid winners for the Skype environment.

You can get your Yealink phones right here:

T48G

T46G

T42G

YMMV