Friday, December 9, 2011

Lync Mobility Deployment - Part I

The big day has come. I will install and configure Lync Mobility Support in my lab. When done, I should expect my environment to have three new services:

  • Mobility service,  new virtual (Mcx) directories under both Internal and External websites of my Front End Server(s). This service will support various mobile devices and provide IM, presence, contacts etc.
  • Autodiscover service – new virtual (Autodiscover) directories under both Internal and External websites of my Front End Server(s). This service will be used from mobile device to locate the internal and external services which supports mobility.
  • Push Notification Service – This actually is a cloud-based service located in Lync Online datacenter. Because devices based on Windows Mobile and Apple iOS are designed to go in “suspended state” when not active, those cannot actively respond to new events (while suspended) and notification to “wake up” the application must be supplied somehow. This process will be described in later post.
*****I would like to emphasize on the importance of utilizing Autodiscover service. As we will see later, using Autodicover is not mandatory and users can manually specify the mobility service URL’s (internal and external). While this is relatively simple task, we as Administrators or support team members should be prepared for increased number of support calls (simple typo while entering the service URL will cause the signup process to fail) shall decide not to deploy Autodiscover service.

With this in mind, let’s proceed with introducing Lync Mobile device support to our environment.

First, I will need to make the necessary DNS entries. I already decided to use Automatic Discovery and for that, I will make an entry in my Internal DNS for ‘ pointing to the IP address of my only Front End server. Now, I do not use Director Role in my lab, else I would ponit to either the Director pool.

***I could also use CNAME record pointing to the FQDN of my FE server (or Director as described above), but this would mean an extra hop since after obtaining the FQDN, a second call to the DNS server will be made to discover the IP address of the server. Both records are valid scenario and it is up to you to decide which model to use.

Next, I will make an entry in my External DNS (currently hosted with GoDaddy and will not be shown here). I will point this record to the IP address of my Reverse Proxy, where new listener will be created on later stage.

Moving along on with the prerequisites. The new web service requires “Dynamic Content Compression” role service on our Web Server. This can be done either via Add/Remove roles or Lync Management shell by issuing the following commands:

Import-Module ServerManager
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Server, Web-Dyn-Compression

***If you are using IIS7.0, refer to the product manual for additional configuration steps.

***Before proceed further, it is imperative that you already installed “Cumulative Update for Lync Server 2010: November 2011” a.k.a. Lync CU4. Once installed, Lync server will be extended with new features.

In order to install the Mobile Support bits, I must set the ports for the Internal and External Web Services via Lync Management Shell:

Set-CsWebServer –Identity FQDN –McxSipPrimaryListeningPort 5086
Set-CsWebServer –Identity FQDN –McxSipExternalListeningPort 5087
…and run Enable-CsTopology –verbose to make the change.

***Note that this must be done on each Front End and Director in your environment where Mobile devices will be supported.

Navigate to "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Lync Server\Deployment\cache\4.0.7577.0\setup" and drop McxStandalone.msi there.

In Lync Management Shell, navigate to "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Lync Server 2010\Deployment" and run Bootstrapper.exe. At this point, we will see the two new web services installed.

So, I now have the virtual directories but what about the certificates? Indeed, I need to request and assign new certificates from my Internal CA to include the new DNS names I added above. Fortunately, with CU4, Lync Deployment Wizard become "smarter" and will do this for me.

Now I can test the deployment as described in the Deployment guide:

So far, so good. Later today I will deploy new listener on my TMG server and meanwhile hope the clients will be published soon...

Lync Mobile devices support

The greatly anticipated support for mobile devices has arrived (bits and deployment guide) and… I sense great disturbance in the force already. “Voice and video over Wi-Fi Microsoft did not provide?!? How embarrassing… how embarrassing”. I did too fall to the dark side for about… 30 seconds.

We are professionals. We travel all over the country. We spend time on airports, in hotel rooms, and other places where Wi-Fi access is provided. Let me ask as professional – How satisfied are you with the quality of service? How often you had to turn off the wireless capabilities on your phone to get your email over 3G or 4G? What business value an application that “works over Wi-Fi”, but actually prevents you from doing business has? Who would be to blame for that missed call i.e. missed business opportunity?

Fortunately, we have an awesome feature called “Call via Work”. The way it works is - our mobile application instructs Lync server to dial the destination number, then dials our device (could be mobile number or a landline) and bridges the call. The number presented to the called party is our Tel-Uri i.e. Business phone. Why is this important? First - I don’t want to reveal my cellphone number to everyone I call. Second - because the Caller ID shown to the called party will be my office phone number, returned calls will terminate in my office. From my employer’s prospective, if I (an employee) leave the company, my former number will be assigned to my successor and calls for me (my position, that is) will be answered from the new person.

And, of course, there is something else we do not talk about, but must be taken in to consideration. If you are reading this post – you are Lync Administrator or an user the least. You or your organization has selected Lync as Unified Communications platform because of the business value and the quality of system as a whole. Now, if adding “perks” were to require rewriting of parts or entire modules of such complex system, are you willing to take the risk of jeopardize  your business operations? There must be a reason why voice and video over Wi-Fi was omitted in this release and the sooner Microsoft come forward and explain those reasons, the less any “disturbance in the force” will keep us away from what we should do in first place – stop bitching, grab the manual and make sure we understand the new functionality of Lync Mobile Support as it is now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lync 2010 CU4 is out

Hurray, the long anticipated Cumulative Update is out. You can download it here: Of course, I would recommend to use LyncServerUpdateInstaller.exe, unless you have special reason to omit some role update.

Description of the fixes can be found here:

Now, was I disappointed Mobility was not included in this package – not really. I do believe, however, that Cumulative Update 4 introduces the changes necessary to support mobility. I am facing the fact Mobility is not yet available philosophically – “It will be ready when it is ready”.

Lync is now an enterprise grade system and we should no longer expect something that will require “fixing” right away. Like I always said “Patience is a virtue” ...especially when comes to dial tone...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

United States is (still) a great country...

…for many reasons. Yesterday I added another one to list.

Twelve years ago I arrived on Atlanta airport with my lovely wife, two kids, eight bags, poor English, and a lot of hopes for better life.

Today I can proudly add “Microsoft Lync MVP” to my list of achievements.

While this can be considered “personal” recognition, in my case I view it as combination of family sacrifices (well, I am still married), countless sleepless nights and… a lot of fun. I would love to think of it as of (yet another) proof that no matter where you’re born, no matter what language you speak and, what basic skills you have – the sky is the limit in the this great country!