How Many Phones is to Many?


Even though most people have no need to have four phones registered to Lync on their desk at the same time I seem to have found it useful. Mainly for the purpose of demoing when remote over video with either Lync or Live Meeting. I currently have the Polycom CX600, Aastra 6725ip, SNOM 370 (only the 300 version is currently certified for OCS/Lync) and LG-Nortel 8540. Even thought he LG-Nortel version of the Tanjay is no longer with us the form factor is still available from Polycom as the CX700.  I have all these phones registered to Lync from my home back to Microsoft(no VPN required). All these phone models support STUN/TURN and ICE for traversing the Lync Edge. So other than an internet connection at my house I have no specific hardware deployed other than the phones and Lync Edge.

This really highlights two great areas. Multiple points of presence and the growing endpoint choices for Microsoft UC.  The fact I can setup a phone at home with no need to do anything other than plug it in and register to Lync is a powerful thing.

Expect to see more partner announcements coming with the world wide launch of Lync on November 17th.


Lync RTM’s, GA in Progress

A major milestone was reached by the Lync Engineering team today with Lync making release to manufacturing (RTM). Next stop is general availability for customers and also the official world wide launch on the 17th of November. Don’t just take my word for it, see it here.


OCS 2007 R2 Adoption Reporting Tool

This is a relatively recent tool release. This gives administrators the ability to track usage of OCS R2 in the enterprise.

There is also a blog post on Technet that walks through the tool via a video. The information collected is from the CDR records on the OCS R2 Monitoring Server. So if you haven’t gone to the trouble to create your own custom SQL queries this might be a great way to avoid doing that so that you can monitor adoption.


Microsoft UC Doers November Meeting

UC Doers - Where is LiveMeeting and OCS Online Going

Last time we met we talked a lot about what is going to by in the Lync product that will be out next month. As most of you may have heard, Office365 was just announced as the replacement for all things Microsoft Saas.

One thing you asked we find last time is someone from the product team to come talk about where LiveMeeting is going to go and how existing LiveMeeting customers will integrate with the new offerings in Office365.
Well, we've found a great resource - Mark Miller from the product team who is willing to come share the direction LiveMeeting and what that means for you if you are an existing LiveMeeting customer, if you are looking to rollout Lync, or if you are interested in moving towards Office365....

We're looking forward to seeing you there!!

UC Doers

411 108th Ave NE
Suite 2100
Bellevue, WA

November 30th, 2010, 4:30pm

Please register here.


Microsoft Unified Communications in a Ford ST, Say Whaaaatttt?

This is a very cool video from the guys at Dimension Data. Just how far can you take Communicator/Lync? After watching this video the possibilities seam endless. Now add in the ability to pinpoint location with Lync with a cloud mapping system like Bing Maps and there is a whole world of custom solutions that are just waiting to be developed.

Comments welcomed.


Does Twitter Make a Difference?

This week I thought I would change things up a bit. I usually talk about UC but as more and more social networking becomes in twined in our lives I thought I would talk a little bit about my experience with Twitter. In particular, what happened when I added Twitter into my blog.


This first graph is what I use to track page hits. This is readers who actually come to the blog and view a page. This does not include RSS feeds or any other reader traffic. You have to visit to show up here.

This timeline shows from the beginning of when I started recording hits on my blog. There is one slight discrepancy in there which is highlighted as a reporting error. Someone had copied some code from my page taking the StatCounter tracking code with it and pasted it into their own blog. Hence the dramatic jump there. I was really excited until I realized what was happening.

After the Holiday Season which showed a significant drop in traffic, for obvious reasons, I was reenergized and I started posting twice a week. I was determined to increase readership. Only posting once in a blue moon wasn’t cutting it. The first few weeks showed some promise. Although I wasn’t jumping out of my skin I was happy I had made some positive progress. This is a niche blog after all and I have to set my expectation to the right level.

Following the increased effort I also redesigned the look of the blog which showed a slight increase in readership but hardly noteworthy. Although I could also attribute growth to organic growth there was no one thing that was really standing to show significant growth. It looked like I was stuck with organic growth. This was at least better than the previous no growth at all.


About 8 weeks ago I added two important elements. The ability to subscribe via email and also automatic retweet of all blog posts. I had a Twitter account but wasn’t taking full advantage of it. Not that I have a big following but I have a few followers that do. Also my Live, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts are all interconnected so when I Tweet it also shows up in those other areas (although they account for 0 traffic, just thought I would mention it). This gave some interesting results. It was an immediate increase in traffic. It was somewhere in the range of 10-20%. Impressive. But I know that StatCounter had previously led me astray so I wanted more evidence.


Something else I did a while back was start using FeedBurner to collect subscriber stats. RSS Feeds etc. Previously I had tried forcing people to come to the blog by restricting what you could read in RSS but I got some negative feedback around that approach. People basically stopped reading. Lesson learned. This screen shot is taken over all time since I started using FeedBurner. It shows the immediate results of adding Twitter. Not only are people coming to the blog but they are also subscribing more. If I narrow in on just the last 30 days you can see a significant average increase. Although I haven’t hit 400 subscribers for a day I am pretty sure it’s not too far away.


So does Twitter make a difference? For me the answer was yes. Although its taken me a while to take advantage of the tools available, I can clearly see what's working and what's not. When I started blogging I had no clue what I was doing, so it’s been a work in progress. Is it perfect? No, but I only use free tools and other than time blogging has cost me nothing and I enjoy writing content.

My lessons learned around blogging are:

  • Take advantage of social networking.
  • Create good content.
  • Don’t do things that will piss people off (like restrict RSS feed views).
  • Use your stats to track when you get it right.

Comments welcomed.


Lync 2010 Media Bypass and CAC Part 2: Media Bypass

In part 1 we looked at the Regions, Sites and Subnet configuration that can be used across Media Bypass and CAC. This post I will take a closer look at how Media Bypass works and some of the things you will need to do to get it working.

Media Bypass is essential with Lync for two important reasons; firstly it increased the scalability of the Mediation Server which in turn lowered the need to have standalone Mediation Servers. In some circumstances you may still require a standalone mediation Server but in most cases it can now be collocated with the Front End or Stand Edition Servers. Secondly by having media bypass the Mediation Server you can now have a one to many gateways per Mediation Server. This in turn lowers the amount of mediation servers required. In OCS 2007 R2 it was a one to one relationship with media always flowing through the Mediation Server.

How it Works

Media Bypass is actually pretty simple. Its all about matching the bypass ID that is generated when you enable Media Bypass. A unique ID is generated per network Region and for all sites within the region that do not have CAC applied to them. For those sites with WAN links that are using CAC a unique ID is generated.

When a PSTN call is made the mediation server compares the Bypass ID of the clients subnet with that of the gateways subnet. If the two match you enable media bypass. If not, the media will flow through the mediation server. Now, if it is an inbound call the client will do the matching and if the ID’s match the media will flow directly from the gateway to the client. This has nothing to do with the subnet of the Mediation Server. Although it can play a role in the decision its own subnet doesn’t come into play.

There are two ways you can set media bypass. This is an extremely important concept. Always Bypass is used when you have no need to do CAC in your environment or you do not require or want to use RT Audio for PSTN calls through a gateway (even though RTAudio is transcoded to G.711 at the Mediation Server there are benefits to using it over you WAN etc.). This generates only one bypass ID for the deployment. A good example would be a single site deployment with no remote sites. Use Region and Site Information is used when either CAC or when controlled use of bypass is required.


There are two main places that Media Bypass is called out and needs to be enabled. The first is the global setting under the network configuration. In my case I am going to use the sites and regions configuration.


The next screen shot shows the second area we need to enable, under the Trunk configuration in the voice routing section.



For my lab environment I have one region and two sites. For the sake of clarity I have configured Use site and region configuration with Call Admission Control (CAC) which means I now have a separate site bypass id for each site. This concept is critical to understanding the different scenarios. The mediation server is collocated with the Survivable Branch Appliance (SBA) and the pool which I tried to call out by boxing my mediation servers. Hopefully this all makes sense when you look at the diagram. I have also made the assumption that my gateways and IP-PBX support SIP/TLS. You can configure Media Bypass with gateways that don’t support TLS but I will leave that till the end of this post.

I have created 9 scenarios with and without the SBA. Had I selected Always Bypass my scenarios would have been much simpler but where is the fun in that? I think in reality organizations will choose to do Media Bypass unless they have a WAN connection that is bandwidth constrained. Similar to the way G.729 is used by most organizations. Only when required. I think Always Bypass will be rarely used however as it is not granular enough even if in most situations you will be doing media bypass anyway. Its those exception like wireless subnet where you may want to turn off Media Bypass in favor of RTAudio that control will desired that Always Bypass won’t allow.

With my two sites the main Lync Pool is located in Seattle with Frontends and a Backend with the mediation Server collocated. New York is my remote site with a remote PBX to show how interoperability could potentially work with a remote site. The scenarios are very high level as the configuration of the IP-PBX depending on the vendor will vary greatly. This is more a high level overview.

Scenario 1

PSTN call, client and gateway within same local (Seattle) site. Pretty easy really. SIP/TLS signaling traverses the pool and the Mediation Server. Media goes directly to the PSTN Gateway using G.711 as its codec.


Scenario 2

PSTN call, remote (New York) client and local (Seattle) gateway. Again the SIP/TLS signaling traverses the pool and the collocated mediation server at our Seattle site. The media this time travels across our WAN as RT Audio and is transcoded by the mediation server collocated on the pool. Then it passes to our gateway using G.711. This is a common scenario when enterprises are employing tail end hop off to save money on PTSN LD charges. In this case the bypass id between our client and mediation server where different due to the being in two different sites.


Scenario 3

PSTN call, remote client to remote Gateway without SBA. This may seem strange that I have called out the missing SBA but there is a reason. This still all makes sense as the gateway and client are in the same subnet and therefor the same bypass ID. This is the exact scenario that could play out if you are using Cisco gateways that doesn’t support the SBA and you choose to not locate any other resources at the remote site. Not that there is anything wrong with this scenario but it looks a little different with a SBA.


Scenario 4

PSTN call, remote client to remote gateway with SBA. The SBA is comprised of two basic components; a SIP registrar and a Mediation Server. I have blown out the mediation server component for clarity similar to my pool. It does not require a separate server. This really doesn’t change to much in this scenario but it does change things in other cases.


Scenario 5

Internal PBX call local client and gateway with SBA. Very similar to our first scenario except substituting the gateway for a PBX.


Scenario 6

Internal PBX call, local client remote PBX without SBA. In this case we once again have centralized our mediation server deployment and not deployed the SBA. Our media traverses the WAN as G.711. Not ideal but still a workable scenario if you have QoS and enough bandwidth. You do loose the ability to control bandwidth usage with CAC though so something to be aware of.


Scenario 7

Internal PBX call, Local client remote PBX with SBA. This time we have RTAudio traversing our WAN and G.711 from the SBA to the PBX. Like I mentioned earlier the SBA has mediation server functionality so it has the ability to define multiple gateways just like the mediation server in our pool. In this case we could use the IP-PBX as a gateway and maintain CAC.


Scenario 8

Internal PBX call, remote client and remote PBX without SBA. Really pretty straight forward and very similar to the situation with the gateway without the SBA.


Scenario 9

Internal PBX call, remote client and remote PBX with SBA. We have an SBA in place and there is somewhat different SIP flow but the media is pretty much the same as the previous scenario without the SBA.


Configuration with Gateway that Do Not Support SRTP

For gateways that do not support SRTP you will need make a configuration change in the Lync Client through PowerShell to help support Media Bypass. If you do not change the encryption setting all calls will pass through the mediation server. You will also need to select the correct encryption level in the Trunk Configuration.This will mean that all PSTN media flowing to the gateway will be unencrypted. Something to keep in mind.

set-csmediaconfiguration –identity global –encryptionlevel supportencryption

For more information on the client setting see here:



This has been a really long post. My hope is that this post will help you plan not just for Media Bypass but also some insight into building out your remote sites with SBA/SBS (will cover these in more details in a later post). Getting the right resources in the right locations is critical to have media efficiencies. There are some great enhancements with the mediation server such as media bypass, translation patterns and collocation that when planned correctly can make a big difference in an enterprise environment. Although some enterprise won’t particular care about sending G.711 over the WAN others more bandwidth constrained will still want to use RTAudio. In the end it comes down to your requirements for WAN bandwidth and survivability in the branch.

Comments welcomed.


Zeus’s Shots at Microsoft

There has been some interesting activity on the blogosphere recently. It all started when Zeus Kerravala from the Yankee Group wrote a positive Cisco opinion piece on NoJitter. It was a review of Cisco’s upcoming strategy for 2011 but he also had some interesting comments on Microsoft in his post. Zeus’s Microsoft comments are below:

“Considering Microsoft has OCS (Lync) and Share Point, it is embarrassingly far behind in providing thought leadership around corporate social networking.”

“Microsoft has been adding an attendant console and branch survivability (oooh, that's exciting).”

“Its focus on video, social networking and cloud based UC can have the transitional effects Cisco looks for in markets, and Microsoft’s strategy in all three of these areas is weak to mediocre.”

I have no problem with Zeus offering an opinion on Cisco’s strategy over the next 12 months. Good for him for having one. But I feel that the Microsoft comments, besides not showing any analysis or research on what Microsoft is really doing, were uncalled for. Zeus, not content with the first shots at Microsoft in the post went on to comment that the original staff that developed OCS had been turned over in the comments section.

“So I understand your comments but in my mind, since its initial launch Microsoft has lacked the vision to capitalize on the opportunity it has. We'll see if things change with wave 14 but considering that much of the OCS team has been turned over, I'm maintaining some skepticism”

The more interesting part of the article actually ended up being in the comments section and some follow on posts based on this first post. There were 21 comments total with a couple of reply’s from Zeus.

If Zeus was only really interested in a reaction, he certainly got one. Not just from Microsoft Employees but also from a Cisco customer. But the story doesn’t end here. A few days later Brian Riggs defended Zeus’s article responding to comments made by discontent readers. While it was great to see Brian come to Zeus’s defense I think that a response from Zeus may have been more appropriate.

But just when you thought the story was ending, Moz Hussain made a reply to Zeus’s article in his blog. He expressed the passion and bias toward Microsoft you would expect from someone from Microsoft. No surprises there and as a fellow softie totally understand and agree with where he is coming from.

Had Zeus taken a more critical look at the market based on a true analysis rather than what I consider cheap shots two things would have happened. Firstly, there would have been next to no comments. When you make controversial open statements on the blogosphere, it has a habit of coming back to haunt you unless that is what you wanted. Secondly, preserving his position as an analyst. I think the kind of comments he presented without backing it up with a factually based analysis could result in damage to the ideals of an independent analyst. I may be way off base here but without the Microsoft comments the article stands up to be a decent opinion piece around Cisco’s strategy with interesting insights. I think the Microsoft comments overshadow the good content in that article.

I think independent analysts blogging have a lot to gain and lose from this medium. When you step into the realm of offering strategy comparisons you certainly need to be well versed in both sides of the equation. The fact that Zeus has a number of articles on NoJitter related to Cisco and none that I found directly related to Microsoft tells me he hasn’t spent much time covering Microsoft recently. Yet he has formed a strong opinion on their current releases and roadmap with this article. It may be just a blog but you still have to preserve your integrity along the way and baseless comments although easy to make are not always the smart thing to do.

So what do you think? Was Zeus chasing a reaction or was he making a valid argument?

Comments welcomed.