Microsoft Teams is nothing new and Skype for Business or is it Skype? Understanding the message

At first glance you may be thinking that this post is going to be a scathing review of Microsoft technology. Well sadly for you, its not. The title is simply to grab your attention and at least make you read up to about here…. right?!?

In all seriousness, this is a contentious topic of which I am going to place my ten pence worth down on now. A lot has happened this Autumn (or fall for my American cousins). We have seen the introduction of Microsoft Teams and the announcements around Skype meetings, Skype Meeting Broadcasts and new Skype clients for the Apple family.

Those eagle eyed followers will notice that the last sentence lacked the words “for Business”. That’s not because I am lazy. In fact, I am disappointed because it means that most of my blog posts are going to be about 200 words less from now on! No, the reason is that Microsoft have been dropping the “for business” when delivering marketing messages around the Skype for Business (one last time). This has left a lot of us and our customers confused on what Microsoft are trying to convey with this.

Continue reading Microsoft Teams is nothing new and Skype for Business or is it Skype? Understanding the message

Porting Numbers to Cloud PBX–What the blogs don’t say

There are many good blogs out there that detail how to port numbers to Cloud PBX, Microsoft pretty much have it organised in this article https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/Transfer-phone-numbers-to-Skype-for-Business-Online-47b3af8e-4171-4dec-8333-c956f108664e. However, if porting numbers is a new thing to you, there are some things you need to know when transferring your customer numbers to Cloud PBX.

Continue reading Porting Numbers to Cloud PBX–What the blogs don’t say

Skype for Business Backup Service Fail to Start

This will only take a second. While reinstalling my lab on CU4 I couldn’t start the Skype for Business Backup Service. Deployment logs showed successful deployment but when the service attempted to start I received an Error 4006 on the LS Backup Service.

The full error was:

Skype for Business Server 2015, Backup Service service could not be started.

Continue reading Skype for Business Backup Service Fail to Start

Future Decoded and that little announcement of Microsoft Teams

Before I dash to Seattle for my first MVP summit, I decided to warm up by going to Future Decoded at London ExCel. Future Decoded isn’t a UC conference, in fact there was pretty much zero a UC geek would have picked up that they didn’t already know. However, it gave us chance to broaden our horizons and look forward to the future and see what it has to offer us. Firstly, Future Decoded is all about the “future” durr.. So this means the conference is about the “art of the possible” or “the cutting edge of technology”. The focus this year from Microsoft was all about Machine Learning and Augmented Reality (shocker!).

I wanted to share with you my key takeaways and where I think certain technology may or may not play a relevant role in my life as well as maybe yours. I have to say the Morning Keynote was really enjoyable, using AI and Machine learning to predict outcomes you think of these as complex mathematic equations that only universities really care about. But what you don’t see is how those outcomes help humanity in cases where you traditionally think is down to personal expertise and a good slice of luck. For instance, Joesph Sirosh CVP in Data Group for Microsoft spoke about how machine learning helps predict the chance of an eye operation (Lasik surgery) being successful based on data collected over similar cases with the added influence of the patient’s personal cirumstantial influence as data. Microsoft’s Machine Learning engine is able to process such vast amounts of data it can provide accurate predictions on your chances of success.

Continue reading Future Decoded and that little announcement of Microsoft Teams

Certificate Generator & Request Tool / Script

This tool was born out of my frustrations of having to pre-create certificate requests on servers without IIS or Skype for Business management tools.  A while back I posted an article that showed how to do this through Certreq.exe on any Windows workstation or server. You can see this post here: https://skype4b.uk/2015/05/05/generating-csr-using-certreq-exe/

However, I am bored of having to create an inf file all the time, and there are times where I forget and spend unaffordable minutes of my day wasting time with Google. So this script I have created does all the heavy lifting I need. It allows me to answer some simple questions and then goes off and does it’s thing!

Continue reading Certificate Generator & Request Tool / Script

Using Skype for Business as a Broadcast Tool–Lessons Learnt

UCDay UK has just taken place on Oct 24th 2016 and I was lucky enough to be there with The Skype Show broadcasting and recording some live interviews. Although the day went well and I was still breathing by the end, there were a few niggles. For those who may attempt this, here is my lessons learnt.

My original plan was to use XSplit Broadcaster to create the scenes so I can add multiple sources such as cameras, microphones, captions and transitions so that the show would look a bit like the late late show. I was then taking that XSplit stream into Skype Broadcast Meetings using the virtual webcam driver supplied with XSplit. My initial testing at home produced positive results, both video and audio where good. The only slight concern was that my CPU (Quad-Core i7) was running around 90% trying to run XSplit and Skype for Business client at the same time.

Continue reading Using Skype for Business as a Broadcast Tool–Lessons Learnt

Skype for Business @ Microsoft Ignite What You Need To Know

I wasn’t able to go to Microsoft Ignite this year in Atlanta, but 4,078 miles away I have been watching social media, Microsoft blogs, live and on demand streams to gather as much relevant information as possible with regards to Skype for Business. The intention of this post is to summarise the key points I have come across, and there are quite a few.

Keynote

At the Ignite Keynote I picked up on the fact that Microsoft’s message for this Ignite was all about Cloud and Business Transformation. Not suprising right? The cloud bit not so much, but now Microsoft have taken their gloves off, removed their arm from around SI partners and are now pushing more and more direct services to businesses.  The message was clear, Corporate Vice President Julia White said that I.T no longer stands for Information Technology, but Innovation and Transformation. What does this mean?

Each of us will have our own intepretation of this, but for me:

Innovation – 75% Microsoft driven application services, 15% partner driven application services and 5% home grown application development. The decade 2020-2030 will be known as the decade of the Dev, like 2000-2010 was the decade of virtualisation and optimisation.

Continue reading Skype for Business @ Microsoft Ignite What You Need To Know

Give Your Skype for Business PowerShell Scripts a UI In 10 minutes

First off, this is not really a Skype for Business post, and I do not pretend to be a Dev, so if you are looking for in depth coding then there are others out there who are way better than me. However, I wanted to share with you a method that can be easily adopted to give your PowerShell scripts a nice User Interface.

Previously, designing a UI in PowerShell meant you had to either write hundreds of lines of code referencing the Windows.Forms library, drawing out objects, assigning styles to them etc. etc. Or buy expensive software such as Sapien’s PowerShell Studio that did most of the heavy lifting for you, but you needed to be somewhat of a PowerShell wizard to create even basic scripts. Neither solution for me was ideal, PowerShell Studio just made my head hurt, while going old school and writing line by line was inefficient and often a simple script would bloat out from 50-60 lines of code to easily 2 or 300 lines. This of course may be down to my n00b coding skills but I imagine there are many people out there like me.

Looking around, I found a few projects that had made PowerShell modules you could reference to build your UI, but still there was a dependency on that module being installed on the system the script would eventually run on. I stumbled on a forum post that suggested to use Visual Studio to build your UI and then import it into your PowerShell script.

I have never used Visual Studio before, mainly because I am scared of it and didn’t really know where to start. Plus I am an impatient man, so I just wanted to get things working as fast as I could. However, I was astonished how easy it was.

The process is really simple. Create your UI in Visual Studio using.. you guessed it, a UI to design your UI, drag and drop, select component etc. Once complete copy the code to your PowerShell script, convert into variables, then reference the variables in your code to “do stuff”.

Continue reading Give Your Skype for Business PowerShell Scripts a UI In 10 minutes

Legacy PBX Number Presentation to Skype for Business Using Sonus SBCs and AD based RNL

A customer messaged me last week and asked me a question regarding number presentation to Skype for Business when users still on their legacy PBX system placed a call to a Skype for Business endpoint. The customer explained to me that when a Skype for Business user called an extension on their legacy PBX system, the caller display name showed the name of the caller. However, when a legacy PBX user called a Skype for Business endpoint, the caller display showed the extension number rather than the name of the caller, therefore not allowing the Skype for Business user to easily identify the caller.

The reason why when a Skype for Business user calls the legacy PBX extension the caller’s name is display is because out of the box, Skype for Business sends both the extension number and the name of the caller in the FROM header in the SIP INVITE to the legacy PBX. For Example:

FROM: “David Williams” <sip:+441270212000@skypefe1.domain.com:5068;user=phone>

Using SIP standards, the legacy PBX automatically interprets this and is able to display the name of the caller to the handset.

However, the legacy PBX system appeared to be configured with just extension numbers only. The system had no local directory to associate an extension with a name of the employee who has that extension supplied to them. The result of this was that when the legacy PBX sent the INVITE to Skype for Business the FROM header simply included just the extension number, like

FROM: sip:1005@legacypbx.domain.com:5060;user=phone

End user experience on a Skype for Business client is:

Continue reading Legacy PBX Number Presentation to Skype for Business Using Sonus SBCs and AD based RNL

Skype for Business & Exchange Online Auto Attendant–Transfer to Extension Failure Over Federation

Today I came across an interesting but equally painful problem when configuring Skype for Business IVRs with Exchange Online Auto Attendant workflows. My customer has scenarios whereby IVRs are used as main line entry points for branch offices. The standard workflow dictates that there are three main options that process the call into a agent queue, but the fourth option transfers the caller to the branch site’s auto attendant service located in Exchange Online. The auto attendant allows the caller to search for a user by name, email address or extension. However, to account for user miss-dialing we need an escape back to the IVR from the auto attendant service. I decided to use the operator function within the auto attendant and entered the extension of the IVR. On the Skype for Business side a normalization rule was created to convert the extension to the full line uri of the IVR.

During testing, I found that when I called the IVR from an internal customer client, I was transferred to the auto attendant from the IVR, and I was able to press ZERO to return to the IVR. When calling from a PSTN end point I was transferred to the auto attendant and was able to escape back to the IVR. Both these scenarios worked as I expected. Great!

However, there is one scenario that didn’t. The IVR is enabled for federation, so what happens if a partner organisation attempts to call the IVR using SIP federated call?

Continue reading Skype for Business & Exchange Online Auto Attendant–Transfer to Extension Failure Over Federation