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An Interesdting History of Microsoft’s UC

http://www.pro-exchange.be/blogs/lync2010/archive/2012/10/19/a-blast-from-the-past-some-lyncistory.aspx

Pretty cool stuff.

Design Class

I’m currently in the middle of my 4th day in Class 10534A for Microsoft Lync; the Planning and Designing class. At the end of this class, if I test out, I’ll be considered a Lync Architect. The test can take up to 4 hours. Yay.

I’m actually a bit nervous for the test because this stuff is so intensive and there is so much of it that I’m afraid I’m going to forget key pieces. For instance, CAC (Call Admission Control). It’s a part of Lync that, depending on your environment, you can choose to enable. In real life, I wouldn’t enable CAC. It would make no sense in my organization of unlimited bandwidth and zero bandwidth policies in place. So in real life, I really don’t need to use CAC, however in the test environment, I need to know it. I have to focus my mind on learning CAC and how to plan it, design it and implement it correctly when in real life, I’m just glossing over it. It’ a tough thing to do, especially for me.

Going through the Admin class (Class 10533A) first just scratches the surface of Lync. This class is so much more in-depth that it’s mind-boggling. I love it, though. I’m learning what to do right and what not to do. I’m also learning what I don’t know and what my weak points are.

For me, and it’s a shame to say it, Networking is a weak point for me. I need to brush up on my Networking knowledge. I’m not afraid to say that because, as it stands, I’m sitting in this advanced class with no certifications, no computer education other than sitting here and doing everything I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. It’s quite amazing.

I have to get back to class, but I’ll update soon.

New Developments!

So after making some changes to Lync to try and improve voice quality, I brought our internet provider out to test our bandwidth speeds on Tuesday October 2nd, 2012. We’re paying for 50Mbps up and down, yet we were not getting close to 20Mbps up and down. They came out, brought the network down and tested. In the meantime, I changed out our SonicWALL from a TZ170 to a TZ210, which is a major upgrade. Once the network was back up and running, we were upwards of 50Mbps all around.

With the bandwidth where it should be, I tested a call and the voice quality is still choppy. This isn’t good because at this point, the client is getting aggravated at the call quality issues. So on Wednesday October 3rd, I bring out our SIP provider again to test the actual SIP trunk because the problem lies somewhere between Lync and the outside world. Lync to Lync calls are crystal clear and they’re running over the VPN and internet internally as well as to and from Corporate. So with the SIP provider knowing and seeing the problems we’re having, he hooks directly into the SIP trunk and makes and outgoing call. The call is crystal clear. So that eliminates the SIP trunk and internet as the problem.

I’ve got my direct contact breathing down my neck at this point asking me what can be done to fix the problem, and at this point, the only thing I can recommend is following exactly what Microsoft recommends and using Microsoft certified products. I’m told that this wasn’t budgeted…

After meetings and meetings, it’s determined that we will go back to analog phones and keep the SIP trunk in place for 60 days for testing. So now I’ve got to find a PBX to use as the go-between for the SIP trunk and Lync. This should be fun.

 

Getting my feet wet…

I first became acquainted with Microsoft Lync, in its current form, in January 2012 when I came back to InfoTech Solutions. I had previously met Office Communicator in October 2007 at a Microsoft event in Baton Rouge. At that time, OCS was “new”, and by new I mean that it had some awesome new features. I sat through the presentation (Didn’t win any of the prizes…) and went back to the company I was working for.

We had a TechNET subscription that included OCS on it and I played with it in a test environment. It never materialized into anything other than testing. I look back at that time and it was really a transitional period for technology. The iPhone was coming out, BlackBerry/RIM was still the heaviest hand in the ring and email on phones, for the average Company Joe, was not really 100% necessary.

While OCS for me never really left the testing arena, Lync, in 2012 was full bore live. Granted, my company isn’t using Enterprise Voice, we just use IM and Presence, but still those features we do use are phenomenal. Ability to have voice conversations with other colleagues via our Lync client on our laptops is fantastic. IM conversations and file transfer is an easy fix to replace renaming a file and emailing it to whoever needs it.

I found out that my client was planning to roll out Lync as a full feature Unified Communication software; voice, IM, presence and voicemail. I was surprised when they offered me a chance to go to Microsoft Training in Dallas for Lync. I found out in June that I would be attending this class. I knew that Lync had been setup at my clients by another IT person, but at that time I wasn’t able to get my hands on it for a multitude of reasons that I won’t go into.

My class was scheduled for the end of August. I made the drive to Dallas and got ready for my first day. Did I mention that I had pneumonia, or at the least acute bronchitis? Yeah, I did. Fever, chest congestion, you name it. I just felt horrible. I went to class, stayed away from people as best I could and learned. I soaked it up.

I had never had anything to do with voice before so a lot of what we learned was new to me. It still is. I still have trouble with some of the voice things that we have going on at my clients. It’s alright though, because I am not scared to admit I don’t know. I know there are limitations to what I can do. I also know that what I can do is limitless if I open my mind to learn.

Ultimately, Lync is new to me, but as I learn and as I get my hands on the software and “get dirty” I get more comfortable with it. There is so much more that has happened over the last two weeks that I’ll have at least 4 more posts coming up. Stay tuned.

 

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