Yesterday on Ignite, Microsoft announced two important milestones regarding UC:
- First of all, Skype for Business will become Teams over time.
- Second, Skype for Business Server vNext is planned for Q4 2018.
It was very nice to see how smooth the migration can be done (SFB2Teams) and especially how the voice features (enterprise voice features from SFB) will be part of Teams.
The migration seems to be primarily “app-based”, i.e. you decide on O365 how to transition / migrate (side by side, side by side with notify, teams-only) and the client app is “switched” including contacts etc. A coexistence of clients seems to be possible, too, but of course not with the “persistence”. The most impressive and futuristc part regarding teams were options to integrate holo lens / mixed reality into team conversations…
SOF is continuously developed and enhanced by Microsoft. That’s why you should check out what changed to benefit of it by adopting SOF. On January 17th a webinar will take place which will update your knowledge on SOF. You can find the registration for the SOF January 2017 webinar >>here<< and a list on all training materials for >>here<<.
Microsoft released cumulative update (CU) 4 / Nov ’16 for Microsoft Skype for Business Server 2015. The CU adds the following new features:
- Support of Multiple Emergency Numbers up to 100
- Support of Location Based Routing for SfB mobile app clients
- Support of E911 is now supported for SfB Mac 2016 client
Additionally, of course, it includes some fixes (see also Microsoft KB):
- 3203706 Long silence when you dial into a meeting in Skype for Business Server 2015 that has name recording disabled
- 3203153 You experience intermittent message delivery delay or failure in Skype for Business Server 2015 Persistent Chat rooms
- 3203152 Lync Phone Edition telephones cannot put a call on hold if “Music on Hold” feature is disabled
- 3203148 Front End server of Skype for Business Server 2015 crashes upon restart
- 3203707 Japanese characters in the subject of a missed call notification message are garbled
- 3203150 Calls to mobile clients fail if Skype for Business Server 2015 has advanced privacy mode enabled
- 3203147 LS Storage Service event 32054 after you upgrade to Skype for Business from Lync 2013
The Skype for Business (CTR version, via O365 SFB Online) user interface is about to get some minor changes soon (depending on your deployment (current/deferred) on O365). How it might look like you can see on the NextHop Blog >>here<<. It might be subject to change. I guess that these updates will follow afterwards for on premise users/client versions by the default update paths (Microsoft Update) which is not yet mentioned on the blog post.
To make your meeting rooms a more collaborative space there are several options. Now I like to make you aware about one option: Microsoft Skype for Business Room Systems (earlier known as Project Rigel). To put it in a nutshell, the SFB Room Systems are collaboration room endpoints to enable your rooms for collaboration by using Skype for Business-capabilities.
- Microsoft Skype for Business Room Systems: https://products.office.com/en-us/skype-for-business/online-meeting-solutions
- Logitech SmartDock: http://www.logitech.com/de-de/product/smartdock
- Creston Surface Dock: http://www.crestron.com/products/line/microsoft-surface-dock-skype-for-business
- Polycom MSR Series: http://www.polycom.com/microsoft-video/ignite-solutions-announcements.html
Due to the fact that these systems are almost like SFB users you’ll only need to create an SFB Meeting Room via Shell and on Exchange you’ll need to associated it / enabled it as resource (room) mailbox for calendar / booking integration. For further details on the deployment of SFB Rooms please click the following link (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt691568.aspx).
In my opinion these SFB Room Systems could help to close a gap in conferencing rooms where no collaboration systems are available and the capabilities are required.
Skype for Business will be deeper integrated into iOS and Android. So we will get rid of the barrier between app and cellular voice calls. *yey*
Today if you receive a call on your SFB App on your smartphone and receive a second call during that via GSM/celluar the SFB voice call is getting interrupted. And you cannot do much about it.
Soon (October’16) you receive a call on your SFB app on your smartphone and a second call will not bother you any more as it now.
“[…]Skype for Business calls [than] work just like a cellular call on your iPhone[…]”
Microsoft is encouraging users of Skype for Business to share ideas for product improvements and features. For each feature a user can vote. The more votes for a feature the better the chance that Microsoft takes the idea/s into consideration for development. So if you have any ideas let’s vote on https://www.skypefeedback.com/ or for Office365 services on https://office365.uservoice.com/
Unified Communication and collaboration (UC&C) service deployments do have a large-scale impact on your business. If well planned and executed a positiv one which supports the return on (your) investment over time. I’m writing this post because I’ve seen the excellent, the good and the bad adoption strategy realization. Some companies struggle and some do very well. I like to write down some notes which might be helpful for the one or the other to reach a good or even excellent adoption strategy realization.
Why is change management important for your UC&C service?
UC&C is very holistic because it is not just one service it’s a bunch of services for communications and collaboration. We all know that many IT infrastructure services are touched or involved in a properly functioning UC&C environment. That IT provides the fitting services to business should be standard. However it is not always the case. Users which keep the core business running and who will not receive what they need are more and more creative. In other words users might try to find and obtain the required service somewhere else to close the gap between provided IT services and requested IT services. But sometimes there are services provided by IT, like UC&C services but users are not aware of the features and how to use them. To put it in a nutshell if you have a car but do not know how to drive you will switch to and use what you know, so you’ll might ride a horse or bicycle instead of driving a car. So the car than stays where it is. If you bought it or pay a leasing rate there is no added value, on contrary you lose money. The same applies for IT services and UC&C. There are differences between IT services (direct / indirect services for users). UC&C is a direct service (or bunch of direct services) because users will directly interact with the applications and devices providing UC&C capabilities. For instance database services or network services are indirect services because users are not directly interacting with these kind of services. To sum it up it is essential to plan for user adoption and training before rolling out all UC&C services and features to end users. Additionally I must also note that change management is always a good thing if your IT clients, users by default, are going to be confronted with new technology, services and organizational transformation. Don’t leave anyone behind! By using a car you can go more kilometers a day instead of going by horse or bicycle. 😉
What can I do?
You could implement an adequate project change management which accompanies your UC&C project. It will help you to …
- establish and execute a strategy for the change to an UC&C service
- plan and execute user communication
- plan and execute users involvement (surveys, discussions, service previews/demos, …)
- enable users (trainings, FAQs, wiki pages, handouts, video clips, …)
- enable service for users (roll out / activation of services, disable / decommissioning legacy service (if applicable))
What can I provide my users to adopt UC&C?
It is common for vendors which provide applications and services for users to have supportive information and material available. Below you will find some examples what it can be like. It’s just some basic information. Depending on what the UC&C changes will be and look like within your organisation more and also customized material might be necessary. It’s no big deal but it must be taken into account for project planning.
Some resources for Microsoft Skype for Business
- Skype for Business help https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Skype-for-Business-help-4fbe07ce-6b15-4a06-bcf0-baea57890410?omkt=en-001&ui=en-US&rs=en-001&ad=US
- Skype for Business change management and adoption https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Skype-for-Business-change-management-and-adoption-d8d85da6-52e7-4819-8451-45c103fb5ccb
- Rollout and Adoption Success Kit (RASK) https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=37031
- Skype for Business: How to Execute an Effective End-User Adoption and Change Management Program https://ignite.microsoft.com/session/sessionmoreinfo/?topicid=48fd4d28-cf9d-e411-b87f-00155d5066d7 / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbwbM9TaXfU
- Maximizing ROI and End User Adoption https://youtu.be/lhFyL6BY7hc
Some resources for Cisco Collaboration Services
- Proactively Prepare Your Business to Support New Collaboration Technologies http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en_us/services/portfolio/documents/collaboration-change-management-service-overview.pdf
- Collaboration Optimization Services http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collaboration/collaboration-optimization-service.html
- Jabber User Guide http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/voice_ip_comm/jabber/Windows/11_0/UG/JABW_BK_CD4EA7A2_00_cisco-jabber-for-windows-110-userguide.html
- Jabber User Guides (for mobile devices) http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/customer-collaboration/jabber-iphone-ipad/products-user-guide-list.html
- IP Phone 69xx-Series http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/collaboration-endpoints/unified-ip-phone-6900-series/products-user-guide-list.html
- IP Phone 78xx-Series http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/collaboration-endpoints/unified-ip-phone-7800-series/products-user-guide-list.html
- IP Phone 79xx-Series http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/collaboration-endpoints/unified-ip-phone-7900-series/products-user-guide-list.html
- IP Phone 88xx-Series http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/collaboration-endpoints/unified-ip-phone-8800-series/products-user-guide-list.html
Let’s start your project, make a change and improve things! 😉
Microsoft hat bereits Cloud PBX-Features für Einwahlkonferenzen und Cloud Telefonie angekündigt (vgl. vorherigen Blogbeitrag). Gegenwärtig wird stark daran gearbeitet diese Features weiterzuentwickeln und immer besser zu machen. Eine sehr förderliche Verbesserung für die künftige Qualität von Kommunikation (insbesondere Voice und Video) ist die Verbindung Azure Express Route zu Office 365. Mit der Option dass Express Route für Office 365 eingesetzt werden kann, kann die Qualität der Kommunikation maßgeblich verbessert werden. Wie dies funktioniert möchte ich nachstehend kurz und knapp beschreiben. Details sind in den Links am Ende dieses Blogbeitrags zu finden.
Was ist Express Route?
Microsoft Azure Express Route ist ein Dienst um das eigene Rechenzentrum oder (viele) eigene Rechenzentren mit der Azure Cloud von Microsoft zu verbinden. Die Verbindung erfolgt zwischen MPLS-Provider-Netz und Microsoft Rechenzentren. ISP/MPLS Provider müssen dafür zertifiziert sein. Aktuell gibt es bereits viele ISPs/MPLS-Provider, die für Azure Express Route zertifiziert sind.
Abbildung 1 Microsoft Azure Express Route für Office 365
Was bringt Express Route für Skype for Business Online?
Echtzeitkommunikation ist, wie wir alle wissen, etwas empfindlich gegenüber Paketverlusten, hohen Latenzen, Jitter, … Aktuell besteht eine typische Office 365-Verbindung zwischen dem eigenen Rechenzentrum und dem geographisch nächstgelegenem Rechenzentrum von Microsoft via Internet. Das Internet unterliegt allerdings keinem SLA was die Qualität der Verbindung etc. anbelangt. Das heißt kein Quality of Service (QoS), somit keine Priorisierung von wichtigem Datenverkehr, wie den für Echtzeitkommunikation mit Skype for Business (#SfB).
Mit Express Route für Office 365 kann man neuerdings eine Verbindung zwischen dem Firmen-WAN/MPLS und Microsoft Rechenzentren für Office 365 etablieren. Damit wird der Weg über das Internet quasi umgangen. Stattdessen verwendet man die Verbindung zwischen dem eigenem Rechenzentrum und Office 365, welche mit Service Level Agreements (SLAs) bestimmte Qualitätsmerkmale erfüllen muss (Ausfallsicherheit, …, Quality of Service, …)
Express Route Connectivity für Office 365/Skype for Business Online bedeutet dass die Kommunikation über diesen Verbindungspfad bestimmte Qualitätsmerkmale erfüllen wird, die bisher über die Verbindung über das Internet so nicht möglich sind.
Mit Skype for Business Online und den angekündigten Features (Cloud PBX, PSTN dialin conferencing, …) wird die Kommunikation noch besser und zuverlässiger werden.
Weitere Information zu Express Route
- Announcing Azure ExpressRoute connectivity to Office 365: https://blogs.office.com/2015/03/17/announcing-azure-expressroute-connectivity-to-office-365/
- Azure Express Route: https://azure.microsoft.com/de-de/services/expressroute/
- Introducing ExpressRoute for Office 365: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=6&v=yDD_2ZTmOoU