About Me

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TsooRad is a blog for John Weber. John is a Skype for Business MVP (2015-2016) - before that, a Lync Server MVP (2010-2014). My day job is titled "Technical Lead, MS UC" - 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.

2015/09/25

AudioCodes Updates phone firmware 2.0.11.194.10.2

AudioCodes has just released a firmware update for their popular 4xxHD series handsets.

An updated firmware version for AudioCodes’ Lync-compatible 400HD Series of IP Phones is ready. Herewith is a general outline of things, with maybe a few comments from me.

Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) PC application version was not updated in this release:

Firmware Version name:

  • UC420HD_2.0.11.194.10.2.img
  • UC430HD_2.0.11.194.10.2.img
  • UC440HD_2.0.11.194.10.2.img

This version introduce several new features:

 

USB Headset beta

(supported only by 430HD and 440HD IP Phone models). The following USB headsets are supported:

<jmw> It’s about time! Feature parity with the competition is a worthy goal.  As soon as I have another 430 or 440 I will try out other headsets.

  • Jabra UC-150
  • Jabra Speak 510+
  • Jabra Speak 410
  • Jabra MOTION OFFICE
  • Jabra PRO 9470
  • Microsoft LX-3000
  • Plantronics C-310M
  • Plantronics C-320M
  • Plantronics HW720

 

Block Sign-Out for Common Area Users

Administrators can now disable end users from signing out of a common area phone. To support the feature, the new configuration file parameter, voip/common_area/enhanced_mode has been added. The default is 0 (disabled). When enabled, the Sign out soft key is not displayed on the LCD.

image

image

<jmw> YES!  Finally!

 

Sign-in through Web

A new Web page has been added that allows users to sign-in through the phone's Web-based management interface.

<jmw> This could be set in earlier builds, but that did not work as well as this new method.  I like it much better.  The functionality is much improved, and when tied to the blocking of the Common Area User concept removes a goodly percentage of help desk calls asking how to log in to the phone.

image

And then there is this little gem in the “new features” section of LTRT-08267…

 

AudioCodes' enterprise voicemail servers are now supported as an alternative option to Microsoft Exchange Server.
<jmw> We are checking on what exactly this means.  Gotta love those developers who work up something but never tell anyone about it.

There is a blurb in the same LTRT that I found: 

Voicemail is supported for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and later. A version supporting Voicemail for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 will be provided upon a specific request.

But I don’t this is meaning the same thing.  I think this means accessing the local Exchange Server user mailbox to listen to voice mail. Again, I am working with an internal AC engineer to determine what the “new feature” is meant to be.

Smile 

Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) PC Application (1.0.20):

  • Support for Microsoft Windows 10
  • Compatible with Skype for Business
  • GUI enhancements

Disable Local Three-way Conferencing

Administrators can now disable the local three-way conference capability. By default (when not in BToE pairing mode), when phones are in call state, the phone's LCD displays options to enable local three-way conferencing. To support the feature, a new configuration file parameter, lync/local3wayConf/enabled has been added.

Allow Users to Display Phone or Extension Number

Administrators can now allow users to define whether to display their telephone or extension number on the phone's LCD. This is only possible if the enterprise's Active Directory includes both telephone and extension numbers. To support the feature, the new configuration file parameter, lync/sign_in/line_type_display/ext has been added. The default is 1 (extension number is displayed).

Core Dump file generation can be enabled and downloaded through the phone's Web-based management interface.

For the complete list of new features & known limitations, please refer to LTRT-08267 400HD Series of IP Phones for Microsoft Lync Release Notes Version 2.0.11.pdf.

Related docs

  • LTRT-08267 400HD IP Phone Series for Microsoft Lync Release Notes Ver. 2.0.11.pdf
  • LTRT-09937 400HD Series IP Phone with Microsoft Lync Administrator's Manual Ver. 2.0.11.pdf
  • LTRT-11897 420HD IP Phone with Microsoft Lync User's Manual Ver. 2.0.11.pdf
  • LTRT-11935 430HD and 440HD IP Phone with Microsoft Lync User's Manual Ver. 2.0.11.pdf
  • LTRT-11842 420HD IP Phone for Lync Quick Guide.pdf
  • LTRT-11960 430HD IP Phone for Lync Quick Guide.pdf
  • LTRT-11980 440HD IP Phone for Lync Quick Guide.pdf

Clearly, at least two of the “new” items will require that you prepare configuration files for your handsets.  But that is trivial, IMHO.  You already have your TFTP ready to go, right?  Aren’t you just dying to try out this new firmware?  You can get it here!

YMMV

2015/09/22

Plantronics Voyager Focus UC B825-M

This has been a great month for toys showing up at my door.  For the last week I have been mucking around with this new Plantronics headset.  Oh so nice to have nifty toys to play with on a regular basis.  Even better when the toy fits in with work, and better still when they are great toys instead of the alternative.

image

Let’s take a look at the Plantronics official blather about this B825-M:  The initial claim is “Certified for Skype for Business” and also “Optimized for Lync” and then we have the top line come on:

Keep the focus on your conversation, not background noise, with the sophisticated noise canceling and immersive stereo sound of the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC Stereo Bluetooth headset.

The B825-M certainly does that.  Excellent audio; stereo separation is equally good, and the tone quality is outstanding.  ANC works as good as any other offering.  Solid controls, Great battery life.

A Few Upfront Observations

Wow.  The headset announces battery time when you turn it on.  12 hours.  That’s all day folks.  And it plays out in testing.  I don’t think I ever did 12 hours straight, but I did have this thing clamped to my gourd for several all-day sessions.  Comfort during those marathons was quite good.  And the battery did not die, so that was good.

There is no user guide in the box.  So minus 1 for OOBE.  However, you can get the guide here.  Which is different from the location quoted on the kindergarten instructions attached to the headset as it comes out of the packaging.  Moving on.

The stand is just for charging.  D’oh!  Or you can charge with a separate USB cable (supplied).

After finding the appropriate set of instructions (page 5) of the aforementioned user guide, I had my Nokia and my computer connected and answering calls, making calls, and doing Pandora within just a few minutes.  But I had to read the guide to figure out the controls.  I must be a meathead because whoever puts the packaging together obviously thinks that initial setup should have been transparently evident.  No so in my case.  I had to read.

Sad smile

When doing all this, keep in mind that simply plugging the USB dongle into your computer results in pairing up with SfB/Lync perfectly.  Pairing to your cell phone is headset to cell directly.  Which means that you can take your headset to lunch if you want to, but leave your computer behind.

Smile

SfB/Lync Impact

With my Nokia streaming music, the SfB receives a call.  Phone mutes, answer the call.  Talk away.  When you disconnect the call, the whole mess goes back to music.  Sweet!  And the device is doing this, not some convoluted Windows O/S machinations that loses its’ grip on reality every third day.

Controls in SfB/Lync work as expected with zero reading on my part.  After plugging in the BT adapter, total configuration time for SfB/Lync was about 20 seconds to get to this point here and be ready to rock.

image

You cannot go wrong with “plug it in and it works” – Plantronics has this part all figured out.  So nice.

Range

The literature claims a 150 foot range.  For you metric folks, that would be 45.72 meters, or for the group that likes big numbers, 4572 cm.  I don’t think I got that much range.  Maybe I have a bunch of stuff in my walls, which would certainly be a mitigating factor.  But I could wander about the Tsoorad Atrium and you would never know it.

Sensors

Plantronics has this sensor thing dialed in.  When a call shows up, the act of putting the headset on your head answers the call.  I love this.  If you are in a call, or music is streaming, taking the headset off your head pauses the music or puts the call on hold.  What’s not to love about that?  And yes, refitting the unit to  your gourd un-holds the call and puts you back into the action.  Nice job Plantronics Engineering Team!

Aural Evaluation

Very good to excellent.  George Thorogood had great tone quality – and its better with the ANC on.  The headset ships with the ANC “on” and I cannot see why you would want to turn it off.  You can tap the center of the left ear cup to pause audio feed so you can hear the world.  But dang, isn’t one of the main points to this headset is that you can isolate yourself from those horrible outside world events (and people)?  Having said all that (which wasn’t all that much) I think the aural quality is right up there with the best – although some engineer who listened to a lawyer did not allow the volume to get high enough on the Db scale to please me.

Quality Statement

Build quality and overall fit and feel are excellent.  Typical Plantronics. Ho hum.

image

Conclusions

With the range caveat acknowledged, this one is a keeper!  ‘Nuff said.

You can get your very own piece of goodness right here.

YMMV

2015/09/21

Lync/SfB Storage Service 32054

Jeremy Silber solves another one.  Deep stuff with a simple fix.

http://silbers.net/blog/2015/09/18/storage-service-had-an-ews-autodiscovery-failure32054/

YMMV

Change SfB Dial in Conferencing Access Number

Have you ever been REQUIRED to change a Dial in Conferencing Access number SIP URI?  I cannot figure out why, but if you need to do so, keep in mind that this is not supported.  A picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case, a few hundred.

image

YMMV

2015/09/18

Plantronics Savi W745

Another new toy.  That makes two this month so far.  Any more coming my way?  Time will tell.  This time we have the Plantronics Savi W745.  Actually, I got a W745M – with the M meaning what you think it might mean.  Yes, Skype/Lync optimized.  And, a special bonus.

This item right here.

image

My first complaint? The box is HUGE. I actually felt compassion for the poor delivery guy as he struggled to my door from the truck. But so much goodness exists inside.  Adelante!

The quality of the boxing material was quite good.  Almost as good as the quality of the contents.  Plantronics did not skimp on the Savi W745M in any sense.  Nice.  Even the ear piece fake leather feels very nice.

Jibber-Jabber

Let’s take apart the Plantronics market-jibber-jabber and see if the claims stand up to hardships that are the Tsoorad Test Lab.

“Choose the style that's right for you with more wearing style choices than any other wireless headset system on the market. Convertible (over-the-ear, behind-the-head, over-the-head), over-the-ear and over-the-head (monaural and binaural) designs available.”

My comment?  If you cannot find something in the Savi 745 box that works for you, then you must look like SpongeBob.  There is more options than you can possibly fathom.  The package has a “fit kit” that has multiple ear thingies, and there is also the wire-strappy thing that goes around the back of your head, and multiple doohickey’s for sizing your ear canal.  I ended up with this after trying all the options.

image

“With one-touch call answer/end, vol+/-, mute and flash, manage calls from any connected device up to 350 feet from the charging base. Automatically routes mobile calls to the mobile phone or headset – whichever device is within easy reach. Transfer audio between headset and mobile phone with a press of a button so you can leave the office and take the mobile call with you.”

A Boeing 737 flight crew should have so many buttons to push!  Options?  You got it.  Want to connect to your cell and SfB/Lync at the same time? No sweat.  Transfer calls?  Nobody would call me, so I had to do it myself, but it worked.

“Three-way connectivity lets you easily switch and mix audio between desk phone, PC and mobile phones with one intelligent, wireless headset system. Ideal for office professionals who use multiple devices and require best-in-class sound quality for their business communications.”

I have to say, I was forced into reading the Quick Start Guide to get everything sussed out.  But, in the end, it works.  I did not download the software that enabled the cell phone to SfB/Lync UC presence feature, but I hate software add-ins.  I have too many of them already.  And I can tell when my battery is dead because the headset dies.  And I don’t want another “something” in my system tray, it’s already full.

And the Added Bonus

image

That’s a second battery Martha!  And it hot swaps!  Be still my beating heart.  This means that in the midst of the all-day marathon customer call, my headset is battery-survivable.  And it is W745M only.  So something just for us SfB/Lync homies. Sold!

SfB/Lync Compatibility

I have the “M” model – as in this unit bears the “Optimized for Microsoft Lync” imprimatur.  How does that work out?  Well, let’s just say it took longer to unbox this thing and get it plugged in that to get to this point here:

image

At which point, as expected, everything in my SfB client was golden.  I mean, it all worked and I did not have to do anything.  That is the way it should be.

Conclusions

  • Quality product?  Check.
  • Comfort?  Yep.
  • Controls?  Check.
  • Audio? Check.
  • SfB/Lync logo product?  Check.
  • More instructions for “how to use” than the obligatory safety briefing?  Oh yes.  How nice.  Finally.
  • Extra battery included?  Awesome.

Now, I could use the word “epitome” as in “…the Plantronics Savi W745M is the epitome of SfB headset functionality.”  But I won’t.  Primarily because I have not had the opportunity to test the binaural version.  If that ever occurs, I might very well have to update this article.

The 745 has so many wearing options that you can easily get confused.  But, in the end, the DECT capability, the comfort, and the aural quality make this – dare I say it – the leader in headsets for your UC needs.  And when you consider that the Savi W745M works seamlessly with SfB/Lync and your mobile at the same time, I think you have a winner.

You can get one right here.

YMMV

2015/09/16

Sennheiser SP 20 ML

Another new toy.  You know I love them.  So bright and shiny; full of supposed goodness; replete with stuff the average user is just dying to have at their fingertips.

In this case, Sennheiser has produced their version of the speakerphone “hockey puck” – optimized for Lync, and capable of doing the same for your average “mobile device.”  That could be right handy – my Nokia must have the world’s smallest speaker.  Which is odd, because the alarm function will blow the wax out of your ears, but the volume for the phone call has you wondering if the phone is even turned on!

First off, the Sennheiser rep who squirreled this little puppy away for me was absolutely glowing about the SP 20.  Not being a huge speakerphone user, let’s take a look at this device from the viewpoint of someone who don’t know Jack.  Which would be me.  How lucky, eh wot?

Here is the official, in-the-wild, Sennheiser market-speak for the SP 20.  Note that the website thinks there is some difference between the pedestrian SP 20, and the oh-so-much better SP 20 ML.  It’s like watching Khan from the “Wrath of…”  Ah well.  there is your obscure movie reference if you wish to have a partial explanation of  where my brain goes sometimes.  My SO says I usually off in space somewhere, but we won’t talk about that.

Designed for Unified Communications business professionals on the move using softphone via PC, mobile phone or tablet. Users who travel light and demand excellent conference sound will appreciate its user-friendly functionality and exceptional design. Compatible with major UC providers and softphone brands such as Skype for Business, Avaya, Cisco and IBM.

Here is the obligatory pretty picture from the previous link.  Note the attached cables.  None of this separate cable stuff here. No sirree!  And they have a nice storage slot on the bottom of the SP 20 also.  Along with an arrangement to hold the end connector solid so that you don’t pull this out of your bag with it looking like the reavers from the Matrix® series.

image

Here is the real thing, in a real call, muted.  The controls and lights and all seem very top-notch.  Overall construction quality seem equally nice and solid.  The attached cables are, according to my Stanley tape measure, 30 inches.  That will be 76.2 cm, but only if you are wired into that metric thing.

image

SfB/Lync Optimized?

I guess so!  I did nothing but plug the SP 20 into the first available USB port, and presto!  It was working.  How can you go wrong with that?

image

Starting with the SP 20 in the box, to get to the point where my SfB client showed the SP 20 as an audio device option took about 30 seconds.  Audio quality is somewhere in the excellent category.  Controls worked as expect, with button pushes being reflected in both SfB and the operating system – like the volume slider going up and down.

Now on to the Fancy Stuff

Sennheiser would have you believe that the the SP 20 can connect to your cell phone and via the SP 20, connect into a Lync/SfB call.  Please wait while I wade through the extensive documentation that came with the SP 20.  While you are waiting, you should consider the concept that the SP 20 ships with a “Safety Guide” that comes in 17 (!!) languages and is easily three times the size of the user guide.  At least they did not warn me not to take the SP 20 into the shower.  But they did warn about everything else!  Gotta love them lawyers.

Wow.  Just discovered “music mode”  Nice. At one point I had the SP 20 answering calls from Lync whilst still playing muzack from my Nokia.

There is software to download, which I did not seeing as how everything I tried worked.

Conclusions

I like it.  In my usage, I used the SP 20 ML with SfB with zero issues.  Plug it in and it worked.  Great quality build, great audio, attached cables, and it works on my cell.  So much to like in such a small package.  According to Sennheiser marketing:

“A CONFERENCE CALL IN YOUR BRIEFCASE...Turn any room into your office...No more searching for an available conference room. Set up an impromptu conference or share a call with high quality sound – in any room.”

I can see that this unit will easily enable a small conference room.  You can get one right here.

YMMV

2015/09/14

Skype for Business Hybrid with O365 telephony

Compelling.  According to Merriam-Webster: (adjective) com·pel·ling \kəm-ˈpe-liŋ\:

  1. : very interesting : able to capture and hold your attention
  2. : capable of causing someone to believe or agree
  3. : strong and forceful : causing you to feel that you must do something

As of July 1, 2015, Microsoft announced their intention to provide PBX-in-the-cloud features to Office 365 subscribers.  For details of that announcement, see this.  These feature sets will be combined with a new O365 licensing model that includes a deprecation of the E4 license in favor of an E5 license.  For details on this development, see this.

What does this mean to the average organization using Skype for Business Server 2015 or Lync Server 2013 deployed on premises?  Simply put, it unchains that organization from constraints that may have stopped that company from making a move into the obvious advantages of using Office 365 for those organization users for whom it makes the most sense.  Furthermore, by providing PBX functionality to the O365 user, the organization now finds itself in the best of both worlds: on premises users can be moved into O365 where that move creates a monetary advantage for the organization – namely, leveraging existing telephony investments until EOL, and then moving totally into the Microsoft O365 environment; and this also, and to the point of this article, creates an entirely new solution set for servicing branch office scenarios.  With the constant movement towards telecommuting and distributed organizations, these new developments create a compelling reason to reexamine Office 365 from the telephony point of view.

The intent of this article is to examine the branch office reasons from a monetary point of view. Certain assumptions have been made to create a baseline in terms of cost and technology. These assumptions are for illustration purposes only and may or may not be accurate for the reader’s application.

Scenario and Assumptions

Warning: Do not attempt to use these numbers without cross-checking for yourself. These numbers are accurate based on MY research and past projects. YMMV.

Scenario [Sample Company, Inc.]

A medium size company with ~1000 users, of which ~600 are in one location, which the organization owns/leases. The other ~400 users are either pure road-warrior sales types, or knowledge workers in a branch office. The average branch office is 10 users, and the largest is 20 users. To make our scenario a little easier to grasp, Sample Company, Inc. is projecting zero growth. The sales types have a desk at one of the branch offices or at the home office. The home office has lobby phones, elevators, conference rooms, and a reception area. The ACD team is located at the home office, but has representatives that work from home or in one of the branch offices. Sample Company’s PBX is located in the home office server room, with PRI and SIP provided by the same carrier that provides the MPLS. Branch offices have a mix of separate internet connections and MPLS.

Assumptions

Existing Telephony Environment:

  • PBX centrally located with SIP Trunks.
  • Branch offices with 10-20 users
    • Branch offices have mix of independent PRI, some with ISR to home office, some with standalone PBX
  • SfB is deployed inside the home office with Edge and dial-in conferencing
  • Media gateway (SBC) is deployed in the home office upstream of the PBX and is making routing decisions based on LDAP lookup.
  • Costs shown are first year only
Business requirements
  • Replace PBX with SfB.
  • Provide full SfB on-premises including Enterprise Voice
  • Must maintain existing PBX due to contractual obligations and to allow a phased approach to replacing the existing ACD solution.
  • Provide full telephony service for branch office scenario
  • Allow users to keep their existing DID
SfB article assumptions
  • VM space already exists in Branch Offices
  • VM is Hyper-V already existing on Windows Server DataCenter install (no additional server license needed)
  • VM capacity is such that SBS or SE with Edge and Reverse Proxy can be added with no performance impact
  • Dial tone is desired in central site PBX outage or Branch Office PRI outage.
  • Survivable outbound path is desired in network outage
  • Network is MPLS; Branch offices have internet connections that are a mix of MPLS and separate data feeds.
License costs are hard to figure
  • Client CAL is needed, it may or may not be part of the license agreement
  • Office package is needed to accomplish any meaningful knowledge worker output
  • Office and SfB user licenses can also be Office 365 licenses (but at that point why not just put the users up on O365?)
Random Technical Items
  • SBA provisioned with T1 and SIP
  • SBS needs ISR and SBC
  • If decision is made to go with a full user pool at the branch, then the SE option is chosen
    • If SE, branch office needs ISR, SBC, Edge, Reverse Proxy.
  • SBC could possibly provide both SIP and PRI negating the need for ISR.
    • This will depend on existing telephony solution at branch office
  • Calculations for cost of SBA and SBC will not be accurate if more than 20 users due to SIP channel costs
  • Remote Install Assistance from SBA/ISR vendor not included in calculations
  • Call Center solution not determined at this time

What does the SfB O365 solution NOT provide based on these requirements and assumptions?

The only requirement not met is the dial tone being available in the event of case of a branch office network failure. In this event, I submit that the popularity of the personal (or corporate-supplied) cell phone reduces the risk of losing business to this outage to an insignificant minimum. After all, no matter what is done, the risk cannot be reduced to zero. So it becomes a tradeoff of costs.

Comparing each of the three scenarios for the “traditional” Lync/SfB solution, the Office 365 SfB Voice solution comes out at 41.5% of the cost of the least expensive (SBA) solution.  Yes, I know that the numbers could float higher and make that difference less dramatic; but I think this is a close estimate.  And keep in mind that using O365 licensing comes with your Office package licensing which would shift CAPEX to OPEX and make the O365 more attractive.

Cost Estimates

So, let’s take a quick look at the costs so that you can get an idea of the layout for each scenario and, more importantly, why Office 365 Hybrid Voice solutions are making me use the word “compelling.”

Here is our sample data put into a quickie spreadsheet, just to see what ONE site would look like.  As you can see, each scenario has its’ own colum using elements as needed to create the solution.  Some of the cells get a 12x multiplier – because, duh, there are 12 months in a year.  

image

If your math is anything like my math, that works out to about 58.5% less expensive (6400/15400 if you are interested), and meets all the requirements except the dial-tone-surviving thing.  Based on overall SBA sales, I submit that requirement is turning out to be not that important to business executives.

For Sample Company, Inc,, who is needing approximately 20 of these sites, what does that look like?  Well, the 41.5% number still carries through, as you would expect,

image

Conclusions

My numbers might not match your research or your empirical numbers from your providers.  However, I think that the ratios won’t change that much and I could have easily increased the cost for the branch office deployment by including such things as remote install assistance for the SBA, ISR, and provisioning costs for the internet and PRI feeds.  Also, remember that the licensing costs can be shifted over to the O365 subscription which would shuffle cost, but not increase the O365 cost.  And where you buy your license, and who you buy from might change all of that also.  As a final thought, there is also the MAC (move,add,change) costs that are incurred with PBX maintenance and traditional telephony providers that are not being considered here.  We also did not include the costs of establishing the on-premises SfB presence.

All in all, I think Office 365 Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling creates a compelling (there’s that word!) reason for you to take a close look at the O365 SfB Voice features, costs, and how that picture matches up with (or against) your existing solution; and then consider where you are going in the future.

As always, YMMV.

SfB Default AD Containers

Scenario You know how those tin-foil-hat types are… If it can be changed to “enhance” security, then by golly!  Let’s do it!  The problem, o...