Thursday, March 26, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (10/15)

Yesterday I joined the tenth session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast 
Series and the topic for today were New Meeting and Web Investments Overview.
The Webcast was recorded and is available online from the link above.

A fast content filled presentation by Ali Rohani (@pleazd)!
Meetings, invites, room systems, room PC view, Surface hub, Round Table 100, Office 365 groups and meet now for Office 365 groups were discussed. Also the EnableHighPerformanceP2PAppSharing parameter of the Set-CSClientPolicy cmdlet came up.

Here is the QnA session, 22 questions and answers, enjoy!

New features

In Lync meetings it is very difficult to find a dial pad, any improvement in the new GUI?
Yes, we can find the dial pad by clicking on the call control icon at the bottom of the window.

Will UCWA API allow audio/video features to be accessible from custom in-house Web sites for instance?
There are ongoing plans for that, no exact ETA available now.

Can we have more control in large meetings, such as suppressing the list of attendees only to presenters or leader?
In Large meetings, specifically for 75 attendees and above, the roster will only be visible for Presenters.

Will existing Lync Mobile clients be upgraded from app stores when the Skype for Business mobile client is available?
Correct, there will not be separate apps, the Lync 2010 mobile app will be still there.

Will Skype for Business require Office Web Apps 2016 or could it work with Office Web Apps 2013?
S4B works with Office Web Apps 2013 as well as 2016.

Can we have VIS in hybrid configurations, on premise and Office 365?
VIS cannot join a meeting hosted outside of the on-prem deployment. However, Office 365 and federated clients can join an on-prem meeting with a VTC.

Unchanged features

Can a user join a voice \ video meeting if no Microphone is installed?
The user would only be able to join the IM modality, as long as he/she selects to join the meeting without audio/video.

Using the OneNote roster, will the roster be updated if some attendees are late?
Yes, this is true even with Lync 2013, the OneNote attendee list keeps updating till the meeting is finished.

Do large meetings still require a dedicated pool?

Can we still force to use the web app with appending ?sl=1 to the meet URL?
Yes, append ?sl=1 to the meeting URL to see the web app.

Is there a file size limit on the embedded videos in PPTs?
Office Web App server is limited to 50MB for embedded media in PowerPoint. We can edit a Office Web App server setting to increase this limit.

Is the web app still a conference client, not a stand-alone web-based client, as the OCS Web client was?
Correct. The Web App is still a conferencing client only.

Features "missing"

Can we customize meeting invitations (like forcing or suggesting the use of Web App instead of heavy client to ease the attendees experience when joining the meeting)?
No, nothing is new in this area.

What is the plan on using native browsers without add-ons for web participants?
A plug-in is still required across different browsers to provide audio/video.

Is there an easier way in S4B to present video content then to embed it into a PowerPoint and upload the file?
No, no improvements here, desktop sharing as a workaround is the only way right now.

Will Skype users be able to join S4B meetings through the Skype client?

Will the Web App be compatible with browsers on tablets (iOS, Android) or do attendees still have to download the dedicated app?
Yes, they need to use the dedicated apps.

Can we install VIS alongside Lync 2010 servers?
No, VIS must accompany a Skype for Business pool.

Will the S4B Mobile Android client be able to consume the content sharing in a meeting?
No, not available today but coming soon (no ETA.)

Is it possible to do screen sharing with Tandberg endpoints with VIS using BFCP for example?
No, at this time only audio and video are supported with VTCs joining via VIS.

Will the VIS be available in S4B Online?
No, VIS is a On-Premise role only.

If we join a S4B meeting from an iPhone and someone calls, the phone will put your Lync meeting on hold as the call comes through. So, we have to remember to put the iPhone in "Do Not Disturb" mode prior to the meeting manually then remember to turn it off after the meeting. Is there a way for the S4B mobile app to invoke DnD on the iPhone when in a meeting?
No, not as of now, but a great feature request!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (9/15)

Today I joined the ninth session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast 
Series and the topic for today were Hybrid Configuration Deep-dive.

The Webcast was recorded and is available online from the link above.

Kaushal Mehta were presenting and showing demos on how to move users up and down from the cloud.

Here is the QnA session, 18 questions and answers, enjoy!

New features

Do we have to do any tasks in our Lync 2013 on-prem (hybrid) environment after the online part is switched to S4B Online?
No, no change to a Lync Server 2013 Hybrid deployment is needed when Lync Online rebrands to Skype for Business Online.

Can Azure AD Sync be used instead of Dirsync?

Unchanged features

Why does the front-end servers need Internet access, and which ports?
It is needed for managing users between on-prem and online for Skype for business, https/443 is the only port the FE would need open to the internet.

Can we also move users back from S4B Online to on-prem?
Yes, if they originated in on-prem, this is the same as in Lync 2013, but it is still not possible to move a user first created in Lync Online to On-prem. Users should be created in on-premises first but if you deployed Lync Online before deploying on-prem you can reference Moving users from Lync Online to Lync on-premises in Lync Server 2013 on how to move users from online to on-premises.

If we already have Lync 2013 hybrid set up and we upgrade on-prem to S4B, is the hybrid configuration automatically detected or do we need to run through the setup again?
If Hybrid is already configured, no need to reconfigure.

Is there integration with Cisco call manager in Hybrid Skype for Business or it is still not there as in Lync Online?
No, no change compared to Lync 2013 (no cisco call manager support for Lync Online.)

What type of data loss can occur while moving users to S4B Online?
The limit for contacts for Online users is 250. Any contacts beyond that number will be removed from the users contact list when the account is moved to Online.

In a hybrid setup in Lync, the on-premises server resources were authoritative for all users (SRV & lyncdiscover records pointed to on-prem servers). If the on-prem infrastructure were to become inaccessible, all users, including online users, would experience disruption. Is this still the case?
Yes this is still the same.

Does the DNS requirement for Hybrid still require the External Lync Edge and Federation records to be resolvable inside the corporate LAN?
Yes it is still a requirement that the Edge server can resolve DNS records for Edge FQDNs and Federation records. If your Edge server is resolving DNS records from public DNS and can resolve SRV and Edge server FQDNs, then you do not need to add DNS to internal DNS zones.

Are the DNS pre-requisites the same between Lync hybrid / Skype for business hybrid?

What are the DNS pre-requisites for hybrid Skype for business?
Federation SRV DNS record(s) for all supported SIP domains resolvable to on Premise Edge Servers. Federation SRV and Edge external interface A DNS records must be resolvable by Edge server.

Do the users need to have the Office 365 E4 plan to be able to use Hybrid?

Missing features

Is the S4B Control panel still using Silverlight or is it HTML5?
Control panel itself is Silverlight, PowerShell is being executed in the backend.

In a hybrid scenario, can we host only the dial-in Audio conferencing in the cloud and host everything else including Web Conferencing On Premise?
No, this scenario is not available.

Can Office 365 users use the Enterprise Voice of the on-prem Skype for business (aka. Hybrid Voice)?
No, that configuration is not available now. Users homed in Office 365 will only have peer to peer calling capability at this time.

When moving a user from on-premise to online, does it automatically move the dial plans as well?
Online and on-premises policies require separate configuration. We cannot set global policies that apply to both.

What happens to the users scheduled conferences once they have been moved from on-prem to Office 365?
Conferencing data, meeting content and scheduled meetings are not migrated with the user account. Users must reschedule meetings after their accounts are migrated to Lync Online.

Can the sign in to Office 365 be automatic?
No, in the Skype for Business Control Panel it is not possible to "save" credentials. They must be entered each time you want to manage online portal features.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Skype for Business External Security

My friend Mika Ullgren who runs a good blog on Lync and security at
have demonstrated PointSharps "Mobile Gateway for Lync" for me.

This product is a reverse proxy for Lync / Skype for business on steroids! You can replace your current Lync reverse proxy with this special one from PointSharp, or use it from day 1. Nothing needs to be installed or configured on the clients, and all types of external clients (using the reverse proxy) are supported. Please note that Lync mobile clients are always logging in via the reverse proxy and can therefore always be regarded as external no matter if they are using an internal WiFi network or not.

The reverse proxy (Mobile Gateway) will catch login attempts from clients and can do various functions with the request before passing in on to the internal front-end server(s). This allows the gateway to add functions such as application specific passwords, two factor authentication and device control. If the user is supposed to only use an iPhone to login to the system, the gateway will check this with an internal PointSharp server and deny the request if it is coming from another type of device. Each device is registered by the PointSharp system and tied to an authenticated user, creating a partnership that is validated continuously.

Also a specific password used only to login to Lync/Skype for business can be assigned to the user. This way the external user does not need to use the actual AD password or store it on a mobile device. Two factor authentication can be achieved by using a static application specific password and a code from some type of two factor token. Lockouts of AD accounts due to "password guessing" via the Edge server / reverse proxy can also be stopped by locking the application specific password after x erroneous attempts.

For more information on this solution - please check out PointSharps public information.

The GUI below is from the coming 4.4 version, and support for both Skype for business as well as for Lync is coming to the product soon.

Stay safe out there!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (8/15)

Today I joined the eight session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast 
Series and the topic for today were Core Server Reliability and Patching Deep-dive.

The Webcast was recorded and is available online from the link above.

Patching is easier in Skype for business compared to Lync.

Fadi Al-barghouthy started with a quick look back at Lync 2010 and 2013 architecture, discussed Windows fabric and its impact on patching the servers. The presentation the continued with discussing the changes made in Skype for business. Windows 2012 R2 is the recommended OS for Skype for business server due to the newer Windows fabric version. Invoke-CsComputerFailOver stops and disables all S4b services (but is not supported for 2 FE pools, 3 or more!) Invoke-CsComputerFailBack starts services and notifies Windows Fabric that the server is back online. These commands does not require Windows fabric v3 and can be used on Windows 2008 as well, they also have "progress indicators" in a nice Powershell format of course. (Windows Fabric v3 is not supported on Windows Server 2008 R2.) Following the short intro was a complete patching demo showing the workflow of patching a 6 front-end Skype for business pool.

Here comes the QnA session, 6 questions and answers, enjoy!

New features

Is a restart always required after patching a server?
No, a restart is not specifically required unless it is required by the updates themselves.

If a Front-end is rebooted after patching, is there still a need to use Invoke-CsComputerFailback?
Yes, a failback has to be done after a computer failover.

Can the failover/ failback commands be used with S4B on Windows 2008 R2?

Is there any noticeable difference for admins or end users if you have S4B running on an OS with Windows Fabric v2?
No, not to noticeable to admins, however, v3 has improved handling of network latency between other pool members.

Can you explain the difference in Invoke-CsComputerFailOver from Stop-CsWindowsService -graceful?
Invoke-CsComputerFailOver proactively moves the routing groups. It has the same "-graceful" behavior, but will not break quorum.

Should we patch one server at the time or multiple Front-end servers at the same time?
One at the time, but this is still much faster than in Lync Server 2013.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Skype for business Technical Preview

Today a Technical preview of the coming Skype for business client was released.
You can read more about it in the official blog found here, and download the actual software here. You have to use a Microsoft account to login and register to download.

After the install your Lync 2013 client will turn into a Skype for business client. The start menu icon will change to Skype for Business 2015 and the icon in the system tray also displays the blue Skype "S" together with a presence indicator.

The version number in the about box will read:
Microsoft Lync 2013 (15.0.4707.1000) MSO (15.0.4707.1000)

I immediately got the chance to test some of my favorite Lync apps with the new client.

Among many new nice features in this new client are
  • New look and feel
  • Call via Work
  • Skype directory integration
  • Dual user experience
  • Call Monitor
  • Rate My Call
  • Quick access to call controls
  • Emoticons

And you can read more about them and the client here.

The client will work with your current Lync 2013 Server or even Lync 2010 server. Some of the new features and functions will require the Skype for business Server 2015 or the forthcoming changes in Office 365 to rewamp Lync online into Skype for business online.

Happy testing!

Skype for Business Readiness Series (7/15)

Today I joined the seventh session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast 
Series and the topic for today was Server Core Improvements Overview.

The Webcast was recorded and is available online from the link above.

Rick Varvel was presenting a Skype for business that is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It was also good to hear that all presenters and moderators in the readiness webcasts are already using a S4B client!

The Server Side Conversation History (SSCH) were discussed in detail today.

Here comes the QnA session, 25 questions and answers, enjoy!

New features

How will the S4B client be available? with Office 2013 version or standalone?
The S4B desktop client is an update to Office/Lync 2013. It is available as of today in preview

We have office 365 Exchange online and Skype for business on-premise, is Server Side Conversation History (SSCH) available in this configuration?
Yes, it is possible to enable communication between exchange online and on-prem S4B pools which will make SSCH work. On-prem Exchange 2010 is supported with S4B server and S4B clients can connect to Exchange 2010 for Free/Busy but some of the features won't be available (such as Server side conversation history)

How does the conversation history treat conversations between the same users carried out via different clients, e.g. first mobile client and then continuing the conversation on your workstation?
The conversation will be displayed in both mobile and desktop, it should be the full conversation history.

Is the conversation viewable in a sip trace when server side conversation history is enabled?
No, it is not displayed in the server SIP trace due to privacy purposes.

Is the client side conversation history supported as in Lync 2013, if only Exchange 2010 is available?
Yes, saving Conversation history to a mailbox from a S4B client will still be supported with Exchange 2010.

Can we force a sync and/or increase/decrease the polling time for Server Side Conversation History?
No, but a user can manually use the new option "refresh conversations" on a Windows Phone to achieve this, on iOS and Android it is swiping down.

Will conversation history on mobile devices be saved for later submission to the server if a client loses connectivity (like the spooler for conversation history on PC client)?
The mobile client does not write to conversation history for every IM exchanged. So if there is a network glitch those messages would be still locally cached, they are not "lost". Having said this, we have not received negative feedback around this in TAP.

Once migrated to S4B, will end users have to reschedule their recurring meetings?
If upgrading from Lync 2013, or Lync 2010 to on premise S4B, there would be no need to reschedule recurring meetings. As long as there is no change in the simple Meet URL, there is no requirement to reschedule meetings.

What's the default expiration time for a meeting?
One year.

What mobile OS are supported for the S4B mobile clients?
iOS, Windows Phone, and Android will be released.

What is lost if we do not use Exchange 2013 or Exchange online?
Server Side Conversation History, Archiving Lync/S4B data to Exchange, High Definition Photos, Unified Contact Store, Scheduling Online Meetings within Outlook Web App.

Will S4B have its own 2-factor authentication or is it dependent on In-Tune or AAD?
S4B redirects the user to a passive auth URL so it does not provide a native 2FA or MFA, but relies on ADFS or similar options.

Does Multi Factor Authentication require ADFS, or just Server 2012 R2 WAP?
ADFS, WAP, Azure based, are all options for accomplishing Multi Factor Authentication. There are also 3rd party vendors (not officially supported) that provide Multi Factor Authentication.

Will there be at form of keep-alive mechanism to timeout "lost" (no Network) mobile devices?
UCWA maintains the connections with the Lync/S4B FE server on behalf of the mobile devices, so even if the mobile device is in a no-network zone the FE would not disconnect.

Are there any requirements for enabling the auto accept on the mobile client?
No, not except for (1) use latest mobile apps (2) S4B server and (3) Exchange 2013 or Exchange Online. There is no other setting to control this.

We have seen Lync 2013 clients pound the Exchange servers with EWS requests, any improvement on that front?
It will be the same in the S4B client but you can change the sync interval if you need.

Will S4B require a SPN to be hold in a computer account for Kerberos to work?
Kerberos configuration for S4B is the same as for Lync 2013.

How is Invoke-CsComputerFailOver different than Stop-CsWindowsService -graceful?
There are few differences. Invoke-CsComputerfailover will disable/stop services on the targeted server, so it completely takes the server out of the pool. The services will not start if you reboot the server.

If the Lync Server 2013 global AD settings are stored in the System Container, will it still work with S4B?

Is there a roadmap tracking when S4B will be released by the SBA OEMs?
No, usually SBA images are released by vendors around 90 days post RTM, but this is a qualified guess.

Missing features

Will any of the Mobility improvements be applied to Lync 2013 updates?
No, they will require Skype for Business Server 2015 or Skype for Business Online.

Will unified contact store work from on-prem S4B to Exchange online?
No UCS is not supported between S4B on premise and Exchange Online. (There was some conflicting information around this) Here is a good article about how Lync 2013 handled this: How to integrate Exchange Online withLync Online, Lync Server 2013, or a Lync Server 2013 hybrid deployment.
Would Single Sign On with ADAL work for on-premises versions of Exchange and Skype for Business?
No, the first support would be for Online or Hybrid only. This is true as of today and subject to change.

Does Skype Federation work for conferences (more than 2 peers) in S4B?
No, that is not possible at this point.

Will there be a new release of the Attendant Console?
No, the current client will be supported with S4B.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (6/15)

Today I joined the sixth session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast  Series and the topic for today was SQL Always On Deep-dive. The Webcast was recorded and is available online from the link above.

Bryan Nyce did a good job presenting this topic. Nevertheless, I felt a bit like...

 Check out a good introduction here: SQL Server AlwaysOn for Dummies

SQL Server Always On Availability Groups require SQL Server enterprise edition. The licensing cost for SQL Enterprise to use the SQL Always On feature might even be higher than the licensing cost for a Lync Front-End, unfortunately. However, SQL Mirroring and clustering are still supported just as in Lync 2013 for us with limited funds.

Here comes the QnA, 13 new answers:

New features

Can the Secondary Replica be present in a Different Datacenter (or Geographic region)?

No, this will not be supported at RTM. All replicas in a SQL Always On Availability Group for a S4B pool must be connected to the same subnet.

Can SQL Always On also be used for SQL Server Reporting Services for monitoring reports?
This will not be supported at RTM, Microsoft plans to investigate it sometime post-RTM.

Can SQL Always On be used with a clustered share volume using scale out file server to connect to media?
This has not been tested, so as of now is not supported.

Are SQL Always On availability groups supported between different SQL versions?
Yes it is supported to add backend databases of S4B pools to AO Availability Groups hosted on either SQL Server 2012 SP2 CU2 or SQL 2014.

SQL Always On leverages windows clustering, with an even number of nodes, do we need a file witness?
Yes, a file witness is required.

Are all Databases updated simultaneously?
Yes, if we do a failover (automatic or manual), all databases are failed over together as a group to one of the replicas.

Is the Primary in an Always On the only server than can "vote" in an even numbered Front-end Pool?
Not the Primary, but rather the Active replica that own write access to the databases.

What is the recommendation regarding number of replicas?
1 active + 2 secondary replicas is supported, but only one of the secondary replicas can be an automatic failover target.

From a S4B point of view, what is the benefit of having 2 replicas instead of having only 1 replica?
Having one additional safe copy of the databases. Failover to the third SQL server (second replica) in the event of an outage of both of the other replicas would however not be automatic.

Is there a two-node Always On SQL offering based on SQL Standard Edition?
Yes, it is called Always On Failover Clustering Instance (shared disk). We can have up to two nodes using SQL Standard Edition. This is one of the supported SQL HA solutions for S4B.

Do we need to have the Availability Group Listener FQDN already configured in DNS prior to running the deployment?
Yes, all the required DNS records should be in place prior to deployment.

For SQL Always On Availability Groups, do we need a separate load balancer or does SQL handle that?
This is handled by SQL, no HLB required.

Can a single SQL Always On Availability Groups host multiple pools backend databases?
No, this is not supported.

Skype for Business Readiness Series (5/15)

So, the day before yesterday I missed the fifth session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast Series and the topic was In-Place Upgrade Deep-dive.

Thanks a lot, daylight savings hour :-( and why do we not change time at the same time all over the world? I guess I need to use my meeting planner more regularly in the future.

The Webcast was recorded and will be made available offline within a month from today and also the slides will be available for download one month post the session.

In-place upgrade looks real easy!

Here comes the QnA from the session, 23 new questions and answers, enjoy!

New features

Did the server name change?
Yes, the name has changed to Skype for Business Server 2015.

Can the S4B upgrade be uninstalled once it has been installed?
No, upgrading is a one way move. We would need to rebuild the 2013 pool if we want to roll back.

Can the Lync 2013 and S4B admin tools co-exist on the same system?
No, not on the same system because there are other updates like upgrading the Lync online powershell, etc.

We do not have Internet access on our servers, can we download and use the necessary updates to get them on the servers prior to the S4B install?
Yes this can be done prior to starting the upgrade.

Are there any new certificate requirements for S4B?
No, unless we are changing names or URLs, the same certificates can be leveraged.

What is the Minimum free disk space needed?
On a Front-end server it is 32GB of free space minimum.

Can we start the setup.exe /inplaceupgrade on all servers in the pool at the same time?
Yes, we can. 1) Stop services on all FEs, 2) Kick off the in-place upgrade, 3) Update the backend databases, 4) Start services by running Start-CsPool.

Can we perform in-place upgrade for only certain components, e.g. do side-by-side upgrade of the pool, but use in-place upgrade for mediation/edge/pchat?
Yes, both methods are supported.

For a three server 2013 enterprise pool, do we run the upgrade on all three servers at the same time, or stagger the install?
All Pool Server services must be stopped to do in place upgrade on any server in the pool, and then we need to upgrade all pool servers in the pool before they will be functional.

Can we do in place upgrade in a Standard Edition paired pool scenario?
Yes, in-place upgrade for Paired SE servers is supported. Pool pairing can be enabled during the upgrade, but failover to an in-place upgraded pool is not supported.

During co-existence, can we run mixed versions within the pool?
No, mixed Versions within the pool are not supported

Is Cumulative Update 5 a strict pre-requisite?
Yes, CU5 on 2013 servers is required to do in-place upgrade to S4B server.

About Set-CsClientPolicy -EnableSkypeUI, will this be available in the Office 365 tenant BEFORE the client update will be released?

This is a server side policy and will be available on the tenant through a specific CsClientPolicy that we apply using the Grant cmdlet. There is no ETA on when this new CsClientPolicy will be available in Office 365.

Will Lync 2013 mobile clients work with Skype for business after the upgrade?
Yes, Lync 2013 mobile clients will continue to work with S4B Server.

Will Lync 2010 mobile clients (mcx) work with Skype for business after the upgrade?
Yes, Lync 2010 mobile clients (mcx) will continue to work with S4B Server.

Is any reconfiguration required for integration with Exchange Server 2013 UM after an upgrade?
No, no reconfiguration is required for the Exchange UM integration.

Is SQL AlwaysON an Enterprise Edition feature?
SQL AlwaysOn Availability Groups are an EE feature, but a two-node Failover Clustering Instance (FCI) is allowed on Standard Edition.

Do we need to index our Lync/S4B databases regularly to improve performance?
Normal SQL Application database maintenance should be done on Lync BE databases except for Shrink Database. It is recommended not to select the option to shrink the Lync application databases, primarily because automatically shrinking databases on a periodic basis leads to excessive fragmentation and produces I/O activity, which can negatively influence the performance of Lync Server.

After the reboot that is required after installation, will not the CS services be running and require stopping?
No, if we are required to reboot during the in-place upgrade, the services (if they are still installed) will not attempt to start again automatically.

Features "missing"

Is there an upgrade path for Lync 2013 Hoster Pack v2?
No, there is no upgrade path for LHPv2.

Will MACs clients have persistent chat functionality now?
No, this is not planned for in this release.

Is there a Stop-CsPool cmdlet?
No, there is no Stop-CsPool cmdlet.

Would it be possible to manually upgrade SQL 2012 to SQL 2014 on Front Ends prior to running in-place upgrade?
No, this is not supported since SQL 2014 is not supported for Lync 2013 pools.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (4/15)

Today I joined the fourth session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast Series and the topic for today was the Manageability Improvements Overview.

The Webcast was recorded and will be made available offline within a month from today and also the slides will be available for download one month post the session.

Lynn Roe covered the in-place upgrade procedure and discussed the traditional migration which apparently is referred to as "swing migration." A full in-place upgrade was demoed in power point and in parts in a real environment.

The multi-homing issue, when a Front-end server have more than one IP, is not  solved in S4B. Lync 2013 have some problems and Microsoft recommends using a single IP address on any Front-end Server. Microsoft are considering releasing a KB article to list the workarounds so that dual NICs/IPs can be used.

A graphical user interface for CLS were demoed and it looked a lot like the good old OCSlogger.exe, and a demo with a SQL AlwaysOn fail over finished today’s session.

Here comes the QnA, 32 new answers:

New features

What will be the best practice / recommended approach: In-Place Upgrade or  Swing Migration?
Depends on your business requirements and hardware availability.

Is it possible to still use the "swing migration" method to introduce S4B, e.g. setup a new S4B pool, and then migrate users to the new pool?
Yes, we can still do swing migration method in S4B.

Can we do a swing migration from Lync 2010?
Yes, swing migration is the option to migrate from Lync 2010 to a S4B pool.

What is the upgrade order we have to follow when doing the upgrade?
Typically: 1) Front End Pools / Standard Edition Servers, 2) Directors, 3) Mediation, Persistent Chat, 4) Edge

Assuming multiple Lync 2013 pools and we are doing an in-place upgrade, should we upgrade the pool hosting the CMS first?
No, the pool hosting CMS does not need to be upgraded first.

Is there any fallback scenario for in-place upgrade, if something goes wrong?
As long as you maintain a copy of the topology before it was upgraded and a backup of the backend databases, you can uninstall/remove S4B and reinstall Lync Server 2013.

For an in-place upgrade, how long is the outage?
This epends on several variables like the number of pools, number of FEs in a pool, DB size, SE vs EE.

Are all meeting reservations and meeting content preserved by the in-place upgrade process?

On a standard edition server, at which stage of the in-place upgrade are the users disconnected?
As soon as the in-place upgrade starts on the standard edition server.

Do we have to unpair paired pools first before an in-place upgrade?
No, no need to unpair the pools.

We have an active pool and a paired backup pool that contains no users unless we are failed over to it. Would it be reasonable / supported to update the backup pool first?
Yes, we can update the pools in any order we prefer.

What Cumulative Update is required on Lync 2013 to start upgrading?
Minimum of the August 2014 cumulative update for Lync Server 2013, but  strongly recommend is the latest public update.

Are there pre-checks to ensure all required prerequisites are in place before launching an upgrade?
Yes, the in-place upgrade process has a prerequisites check that will block install until all prerequisites are met.

Will Skype For Business 2015 work with OCS 2007 R2 edge servers?
No, OCS 2007 R2 is not supported with Skype for Business Server.

If we have a pool with three servers in a pool, does all three servers have to be upgraded at the same time for the pool to come online again?
Yes, all servers in a pool have to be upgraded at the same time.

We have Lync 2013 in Hybrid mode can we stay at Lync 2013 on premise when the Office 365 version becomes Skype for business online?
The hybrid environment for already moved users should be supported but if we move an on-prem user to online (which runs S4B) then there might be loss of user data because of different server/service versions. There is a warning shown in the control panel when you perform this step.

Is Start-csPool like reset-fabric?
Yes, Start-CsPool does a similar job. The cmdlet is also better adept at handling failures and startup services.

What does Windows fabric v3 provide that v2 does not?
Windows Fabric v3 handles rebuilds on slower networks much better, better resiliency of services when some fabric services were offline, fixes for crashes that occurred during replica movements, ability to enable remote copy of winfab logs, ability to control the size of winfab traces, better handling of internal communication.

Do trusted applications e.g. OWA/IM, Watcher Node add-ons need to be uninstalled prior to publishing the topology for S4B?
No, no changes needed on Trusted applications.

Have CLS (Centralized Logging Server) been improved in S4B?
There are a number of CLS fixes, including a new CLS UI tool called CLSLogger.exe.

Can we do in-place upgrade for a Lync 2013 pool that uses a SQL 2008 R2 Back-end?

If we do an in-place upgrade of a pool using a SQL 2008 R2 Back-end, can we upgrade the SQL Back-end to 2012 later to take advantage of the SQL always on feature?

Is SQL Always On required for in-place upgrade to work?
No, SQL always On is not a requirement for in-place upgrade.

Can we change into SQL AlwaysOn configuration during the in-place upgrade process?
No, but it is supported changing the SQL High Availability model AFTER the pool has been upgraded to S4B.

Are the SQL Enterprise Edition or SQL-Enterprise CALs needed for a 2-node Always-On-System, or is Standard sufficient?
Depends on if Availability Groups (Enterprise Edition) or a two-node Failover Clustering Instance (Standard Edition) is being used.

If we want to migrate from SQL mirror to SQL AlwaysOn. Do we just make SQL mirror instance offline and copy the database to SQL Avalability group instance?
Migrating from SQL Mirroring to SQL AlwaysOn requires that you break the mirroring relationship first.

Can we do the SQL Always-on failover with PowerShell from a S4B server?
There currently is no database failover cmdlet for SQL AlwaysOn Availability Groups in the S4B Management Shell. However, there may be a cmdlet to do this in the SQL PS module.

In order to complete the in place upgrade, do the local servers need to run SQL 2012 SP1?
Skype for business supports a SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 backend, but SQL 2012 Express SP1 is needed on the local instances. The In-place upgrade will update the databases and Microsoft recommends using Test-CsDatabase to check that all databases are updated.

How long time does the initial publish after an upgrade take in larger environments?
It depends on how large your file stores are (content-wise). Following the initial publish of the upgraded topology, the Enable-CsTopology process will re-ACL all of the contents of the associated file store. Depending on the number of items, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Unchanged features

Is database mirroring still supported in SQL 2014?
Yes it is still supported in SQL 2014, TechNet states that it will be removed in a future version.

Can a S4B pool be paired with a Lync 2013 pool during a coexistence phase?
No, pair the pool with a similar version.

Having a pool on Windows 2008 R2, we want to leverage Windows fabric 3.0, can we take one Front-end out of the pool, upgrade it to Windows 2012 and add it back to the same 2013 pool again, ending up with a mixed OS pool?
No, mixed OS pool is not supported.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Skype for Business Readiness Series (3/15)

Today I joined the third session of the Skype for Business Readiness WebCast Series and the topic for today was Reference Architecture and Design Considerations.

The Webcast was recorded and will be made available offline within a month from today and also the slides will be available for download one month post the session.

Today Thomas Binder was presenting. He started with some general guidelines around planning and then continued with going through all the different server roles and details around pools, routing groups and topologies.

When you have a new idea on how to implement Skype for business: think "is it a good idea", rather than "will it work". Just because something works does not automatically mean it is a good idea.

Some future features will require some sort of connection to the cloud, which is why hybrid solutions might be more commonplace in S4B than in Lync.

And as one of the persons answering the questions stated: "things may change anytime around RTM."

Anyhow, here are the 45 QnAs I collected today:
(Updated information in pink.)

New features

Is SQL Server Enterprise Edition required for the new Call Quality Dashboard?
No, the SQL server edition can be Standard, Enterprise or BI. There will be some differences in performance, and more info on this will come in the documentation. There is no technical restriction on collocating CQD with other S4B backend servers. Administrators can make the decision based on the spare capacity available on the S4B backend servers. Again, there will be performance considerations (especially around memory and CPU) but more information on this will be made available later this year.

Will S4B support Windows Server 10 at RTM?
No, not at RTM, however, support for Windows Server 10 is planned for a post-RTM cumulative update.

Is there a dependency on Exchange 2013 to deploy S4B?
Features like server side conversation history and auto accept require Exchange 2013. The following features require Exchange 2013 already with Lync 2013: High Definition Photos, Archiving to Exchange, Unified Contact Store, and the ability to schedule Skype Meetings from Outlook Web Application.

What is the auto accept feature for S4B mobility?
Accept incoming messages automatically just like desktop clients.

What are the firewall requirements so that the Skype Address book may be searched from a S4B Client?
For Skype Directory Search, the Edge and Pool must be running S4B. Client to Pool (TCP 443), Pool to Edge (Port 4443) and for Edge to Skype Directory Search (TCP 443)

The new VIS role, is that just video interoperability or does that include content (one or two way)?
It is video content only.

Can the VIS Server Role be collocated?

Will DNS load balancing be supported by the same roles in S4B as in Lync 2013?
Yes, the same roles as Lync 2013 and the new VIS role support DNS Load Balancing.

Can VIS be used in a Lync 2013 environment?
VIS needs a Skype for Business FrontEnd as its next hop. However, users do not need to be homed in this pool to leverage the role.

Will Lync 2013 based SBAs support S4B?
Yes, Lync 2013 SBAs are supported by S4B Pools.

Is the SQL AlwaysOn configuration part of the S4B Powershell cmdlets or topology builder (similar to SQL mirroring)?

Will SQL AlwaysOn work for Lync 2013 as well?
No, this is a new feature for upgraded pools after being migrated to Skype for Business.

Is SQL Server Enterprise Edition required in future SQL releases to build an AlwaysOn environment?
Yes, this is a SQL Enterprise edition feature.

Is it possible to migrate from SQL Mirroring to SQL AlwaysOn?

Can we first upgrade Lync 2013 to S4B and then Windows 2012 to Windows 2012 R2?
In-place OS upgrades are not supported if Lync or S4B roles are already installed.

Can S4B coexist in a topology where Lync 2013 FrontEnds are utilizing Lync 2010 Edge servers but no Lync 2010 FrontEnds exist anymore?
No, S4B cannot be installed where there are both 2013 and 2010 Pools of any kind. You will need to upgrade the 2010 Edge servers to 2013 Edge servers and remove the 2010 Edge servers in topology before deploying S4B.

Will there be a planning tool for Skype for Business like for Lync 2013?
Yes there will be a planning tool for S4B.

Unchanged features

What is the preferred Microsoft product reverse proxy?
Microsoft do not recommend any specific reverse proxy, but rather direct customers to the UCOIP site that contains a list of hardware that has been tested for Lync/S4B. An internal Microsoft team will be testing Windows Server 2012 R2 Web Application Proxy for S4B on behalf of the UCOIP.

Will it be possible for the Mobile clients to manage the contact lists (add/remove contacts)?
If your server environment is Office 365 (Lync Online) then this is already supported. With the upcoming server release, this will be supported for all mobile clients.

Will the Web Scheduler remain in S4B?
Yes, the web scheduler is supported in S4B.

Remote Call Control (RCC) is deprecated for S4B and is not supported for the S4B client UI. Can RCC still be used in a S4B system?
RCC is still available through the S4B client using the legacy Lync skin. RCC functionality on server side remains.

Will S4B integrate with Lync Room System?
Yes, LRS integrates the same way with S4B Server as with Lync 2013.

Is the Director still an available role in S4B?

Do we still need to go through the PIC process to enable federation to consumer Skype?
For Skype for business on Premise, yes; for Skype for business Online no, enabling it within your tenant handles Skype for Consumer provisioning automatically.

What is the minimum functional level for active directory?
It is the same as for Lync 2013, No AD schema extensions forest or domain preps are necessary when moving from Lync Server 2013 to Skype for Business.

Does the "large meeting" support still require an empty FE pool?
Yes, this is still a requirement.

In a hybrid environment, to take advantage of Enterprise Voice modalities do these users need to be homed in the on premises pool?

Can you have both virtualized and hardware servers in the same S4B environment?
Yes as long as they are not in the same pool or in paired pools. All FE servers within one Enterprise Pool and also within a Paired Pool need to be configured the same; either all virtual or all physical.

Can we still use msRTCSIP-GroupingID attribute to partition the Global Address book?
There has been no change in functionality regarding this attribute.

Can multiple S4B pools share the same SQL back-end?
Like Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business EE pools cannot be co-located.

Is SQL AlwaysOn supported across WANs?
All replicas in a SQL AlwaysOn Availability Group for a S4B pool must be connected to the same subnet.

Is SQL Server 2008 R2 supported for S4B?
Yes, SQL Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 2.

Does S4B have an XMPP gateway on the Edge Server?
Yes, and there are not any changes to the XMPP support.

Are there any changes to RBAC (Role Based Access Control)?
No, no changes in RBAC.

Could we use the normal consumer Skype client to connect to Skype for Business Server, especially for clients on other operating system?
No. A Skype for Business Client is required to connect to a Skype for Business Server system.

Is S4B supported on Azure servers?
S4B roles are not supported running on Azure services.

Are different versions of the OS supported within a Pool e.g. Front End 1 on Windows 2008R2; Front End 2 on Windows 2012; Front End 3 on Windows 2012R2?
No, this is not supported.

Will a SIP trunk connection still require a stand-alone mediation server?
If you plan to deploy a dual-homed server with an internal NIC and a PSTN NIC (for SIP traffic to SIP provider), then yes, the mediation role must be standalone to be supported.

Features "missing"

Will busy on busy be in S4B?
No, busy on busy is not targeted for this release.

In consumer Skype, it is possible to pay for call credits to make calls over Skype to PSTN. Is this function, e.g. Calls to PSTN over Skype network going to be made available in Skype for Business Online at RTM or in future releases?
Not in this release and we cannot comment on future releases.

Will SefaUtil be implemented in PowerShell?
No, not at this time.

Will pool failover support RGS and CPS now?
No, this will not be supported.

Are Wildcard certificates on the Edge Server supported with S4B?
No, there are no plans to support wildcard certs on Edge servers.

Is additional NICs on a FrontEnd (for a management LAN) supported?
Multiple NICs on the S4B servers are an unsupported configuration for this release.

Will Windows Fabric version 3 be supported with Lync 2013?
No, this is only supported in Skype for Business.