Thursday, June 18, 2015

MS Ignite BRK3140 - The Voice of Skype for Business

As promised in my Microsoft Ignite 2015 - Sessions, Venue, Expo post, here comes another summary / review of one of the Ignite Skype for business sessions.

Presented by Jamie Stark, Product Manager at Microsoft. (This is one of the sessions I also attended in person.)

Real-time broadcast meetings translated into several different languages on the fly is a feature that is being worked on right now. The Skype translator is already available with English, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin in the preview, as well as 50 written languages for instant messaging translation. Skype Translator uses machine learning, so the more people use the technology, the better the experience for everyone, i.e. download it now! Today the Skype translator is a "modern" Windows 8.1 app, but later this year it will also be available as a regular windows executable. In the session we got a demo of Skype for business with a translator while it transcribed what Jamie was saying into English and immediately translated it into Mandarin. This demo triggered a spontaneous applause from the audience. Like Gurdeep said in the keynote: You can't get this stuff if you are using ten year old technology.

Lync / Skype for business works over the internet without the need of any VPN, and in the client we have the familiar "bars" to tell us if our network connection is strong or weak. User feedback on the call quality can easily be collected and stored in a database for reporting using the "Rate my call" feature built into Skype for business.

Another demo using a Jabra Evolve headset and the Jabra Direct software was shown to demonstrate the "Jabra intelligent call transfer." It is a feature that will monitor your headset during an ongoing Skype4B call and if the headset is disconnected it will automatically transfer the call to your mobile telephone.

The overview continued with call forwarding, simultaneous ring, call handling in Exchange UM, location, MCT (Malicious Call Tracing, not Microsoft Certified Trainer), calling from Office and webpages.

I guess there should have been a demo of the Yealink SIP-T22P phone, but it was acquiring an IP-address so it did not happen. More enterprise voice features were discussed: delegation, call park, group pickup and shared line appearance.

Shared Line Appearance (SLA) is a coming feature that will be available later this year for both Skype for Business as well as for Lync 2013. SLA allows multiple devices to share calls and state information, it is a signaling application that scales well. An incoming call will arrive to the SLA application which will alert at multiple devices at the same time and the call can be picked up from anyone of the configured devices. When answered the line state is shown on all other configured devices.

SLA rings on multiple devices.


ACD (not Contact center functionality, but for internal helpdesks) is available in Skype for business through Response Group services.

Enterprise Voice in Office 365 - PSTN calling services in Office 365 provided by Microsoft is coming soon (US - 2015, EU - 2016). This feature includes DID numbers and possibilities to port numbers into Office 365 calling services.

Another service called "On-premises PSTN Connectivity" will be released in 2016 which will enable organizations worldwide to use Office 365 voice features with existing (on-prem equipment) trunks. (It looks like the discontinued "Hybrid Voice" is resurrected.)

Hybrid makes sense!

Questions

Can the call-via-work feature be enabled/disabled via policies?
Yes, and in addition it is possible to configure what number the call back should go to. (The call back can go to a PBX phone or any PSTN number really.)

Will the rate-my-call feature use any information coming from the client software?
No, the rate-my-call is the users perception only, the actual MOS-values for the call in question is not populated into the dialog or the feedback submitted by the user.

How will SLA be administered?
Using PowerShell (90% sure of that answer.)

Will SLA be available on "Aries" devices? 
No, only on the Polycom VVX series, and only on one specific device to start with. More devices will be added further on.

Will the Persistent chat feature become available in Office 365?
No plans for that currently. Persistent chat will remain in on-premise versions. Rather than moving Persistent chat into Office 365, maybe Office 365 groups could extended in the future to cover similar functionality.

Will there be a new Lync phone edition in the future?
No, Lync phone edition will stay the same, but it works fine with Skype for business and is supported. It will not be rebranded "Skype for business phone edition". Use 3rd party phones instead.

Will the Skype translator be available for on-prem installations?
No, not right now, but maybe it could become available as a cloud service in the future.

Will the SILK codec be available for conferencing in Skype for business?
No, it is being rolled out slowly across the portfolio. First for Mobile, now in the rich client as well, next MCUs.

Are there any changes in CAC in Skype for business compared to Lync 2013?
No.

Is Remote Call Control deprecated in Skype for business?
Yes.

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