Device Review: Plantronics Blackwire C435-M

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a new Plantronics beauty.  The Blackwire c435-M is a great new form factor from Plantronics. I have previously reviewed the c420-M which I have been using for quite a while. The 420 is a great headset but any chance I get to lower the bulk in my laptop bag I go for it. The 435 is a great new form factor and as Plantronics did with the 420 it also comes with a  great travel case.

What I didn’t like about the 420 was the headband. Its not that it was uncomfortable but it was pretty bulky and inflexible. The 435 completely removes this issue with over the ear style ear buds which means I can use both ear buds or just one. The ear buds are really comfortable as well. Plantronics are very well known for their great ergonomics and this product shows they know peoples heads and ear shapes. The ear buds come with some options to change the ear piece that sits in you ears. Not everyone likes the ear bud style as they can be uncomfortable if not shaped correctly but its not an issue I seem to have. I have more issues with the general shape of my ears and over the ear headset but this headset didn’t have any trouble. Sound quality is every bit as good as the 420.

Like all certified devices the 435 worked out of the box with no issue. A quick test call and it was ready to go. There is a lot to be said for that functionality in Lync. Of course this is the expectation for any Lync certified device so no big surprises.

The call control is also worth a mention. Its got big basic buttons. Very cool. I hate the call control dongles where your searching for buttons with little tiny symbols. Its slim, simple and functional and I like that.

Plantronics are doing a great job when it comes to headsets and they have kept their place in my laptop bag for quite a while now. With only the speaker phone position left, which is currently a GN product, I am waiting for Plantronics to come out with a slimmer design for their speaker phone to see if they can make a clean sweep in the audio department. I have a new motto when it comes to my laptop bag and that is less is more. If you can come out with a slimmer functional design for one of four peripheral spots (headset, speaker phone, handset and webcam) in my bag you win. A protective case is mandatory though.

Below are a few quick pictures I did with my WP7 camera. The case, the call control and the ear buds are all pictured below.

Plantronics Blackwire case

Plantronics Blackwire control

Plantronics Blackwire

All in all a great new headset. I am looking forward to what Plantronics have coming out next.

Comments welcomed.


The Ultimate Voice Career Promotion

I wanted to let you know about The Ultimate Voice Career Promotion. Microsoft is now offering you a range of options for learning Microsoft Lync and the chance to win great prizes.

Through The Ultimate Voice Career Promotion, you can add a valuable new skillset to your resume and increase the productivity of your entire office. At the same time, you’ll be eligible to win prizes that include $150 Best Buy vouchers and a $5,000 Kinect entertainment system!

There are lots of ways to earn points:

· Bite Sized Training Videos—Watch Lync training videos on-demand

· Deeper Learning—Attend monthly web clinics

· Blog—Post a blog review about Lync

· Your Lync Story—Post a video about your experience with Lync

· Twitter—Tweet about your Lync experience


And lots of ways to win. Use your points to unlock chances to win prizes every month. Your points won’t expire until the end of June 2012. Also, any month you earn points results in an entry for that period’s grand prize.

The Ultimate Voice Career Sweepstake launches November 23rd and the first 500 people to participate and earn points will receive an insulated lunch tote—so get started now.


Register at

Avaya ACE Versus Lync Native Post Wrap-up–Stats, Tweets and Classic Comments

Last week was a fun week on VoIPNorm. It was the biggest response to any single post I have had on the blog and certainly generated some interesting comments. 65 comments to be exact, over 70 tweets and over 4000 page views for the week. I had to close down the comments this week partly because the time it was consuming was considerable and the conversation was becoming circular and not really moving forward.

So to all those that took part and commented I thank you.

Stats for the week (see week 46):


Classic Tweets:





Classic comments:

“you are afterall a MSFT-paid shill” - By Anon (Proof I publish all non-spam comments no matter how insulting)

“The "preserve a legacy deployment" comment about ACE isn't quite fair” – By Anon

“ACE is less about choice and more about preservation” –By VoIPNorm

“All integration options with Lync have pros and cons” – By Anon

“Issue is Avaya is not a software company and it never will be” – By Anon

“Avaya customers should ask themselves is how viable the company is” – By Anon

“What happens to call control if ACE is un-available but Lync is? Isn't that confusing to my end-users? Um, how about you pick up the phone and dial a number. It's what most every user does today.” – By Anon

“I came into Avaya noticing how reactive the organization was because their new set of services had not yet been released and Microsoft Lync was taking off like wildfire within each of their accounts, especially the large ones.” – By Joe Schurman

“what we should be focused on is providing consultation as a trusted advisor and advising the customer as to the appropriate vendor in a fit for purpose environment that will most definitely be multi-vendor, but suited with a best of breed approach and architecture that benefits the customer” – By Joe Schurman

“In my opinion there is currently no vendor in the marketplace today that can compete with Microsoft Lync on the desktop or Mac “ – By Joe Schurman

“It’s really a great solution because it does not interfere with the Lync end-user experience, provides the organization with protection on the investments they’ve already made in Avaya CM, SM, etc., and more importantly will allow users a choice of desktop and mobile solutions with Lync and One-X until Flare is available in mid-2012 to add to the mix” – By Joe Schurman

“At the core of this argument is this - that there is more value in Avaya voice than the voice capabilities in Lync, therefore a customer should buy and use ACE to hijack the voice portion " – By Anon

“I'm not sure why people are getting confused with what ACE actually is. It's not middleware” – By Joe Schurman

“the Lync platform is definitely innovative and provides a unique and innovative end-user experience” – By Joe Schurman

“ACE was always a good concept however it does not necessarily best address a specific customer's requirements.” – By Kevin Kieller

“Kevin Kennedy (Avaya President) & Scott Brown (Microsoft Voice VP) are leading wonderful companies, with wonderful solutions that can work very nicely, TOGETHER. Respectfully.” – By Bob Bluemer

“A solution is "good" because it meets the defined customer requirements. A solution is "better" if it meets more specific customer requirements.” - By Kevin Kieller

“The fact is ACE intention is to stall Lync Enterprise Voice deployments and better positions Flare later in 2012 ” – By VoIPNorm

“I'm elated to hear you reference Avaya's new open minded approach to Microsoft, as I have customers that have asked for Lync with and without ACE, also with direct SIP integration utilzing Exchange UM. To date I have not been able to service these customers without the threats and fear that Avaya is going to pull my "loyalty" bonus” – By Anon

“A great bottle of white wine mixed with a wonderful bottle of red does not often yield even a drinkable rose.” – By Kevin Kieller

“If Avaya is so customer focused on making multi vendor environments work, then why are they not part of the UCIF?” – By Anon

“Kudos to you if you now understand why some people are upset and feel betrayed with your FUD spreading, but to dismiss it on one hand and continue to do it in the other...seriously, how is anyone ever supposed to believe anything you say?” – By  Thomas Kisner about Joe Schurman

“The telecom business is full of old foxes that want to protect themself rather than looking at the customers real needs and taking todays date and year into that account. “ – By Tommy Clarke

“I just can't see how architecturally, any middleware (ACE/Aura) can possibly keep up and expose the features of the rapidly evolving connected endpoints” – By Kevin Kieller

“If I were to stand the native Lync experience next to the ACE experience there is no comparison. ACE is rudimentary integration at best.” – By VoIPNorm

“Capabilities from both Microsoft and Avaya will certainly change over time. We should agree to meet back "here" six or twelve months from now and refresh the debate/discussion.” – By Kevin Kieller

“@joeschurman Wishing you a speedy recovery.” – By Matt Landis

And as Kevin suggested we will back in in six months time to check in.

Thanks again to everyone who commented.


What Avaya Aren’t Telling You About ACE

I have seen a lot of information or should I say misinformation recently around ACE about what it does and what it can save you when combined with Lync. Most of you know by now I have never been a believer in plugins, even before I started working at Microsoft I was never a fan.  My first tests with plugins showed me just how disjointed a user experience they really are. Paired with that is the misinformation that vendors are spreading around licensing cost savings with being able to go back to Standard Cal for Lync because of a plugin that only does telephony which by the way is not free in it self.

So if you are a company running Lync and Avaya comes knocking with ACE here are a few questions to ask:

    • How does ACE support VPNLess access?
    • How Does ACE work with Lync Federation?
    • How does ACE tie in with my CEBP presence enabled applications?
    • How does ACE support video?
    • How does ACE support dynamic location aware E911?
    • What about dynamic bandwidth codecs on the internet?
    • Lync Audio and web conferencing support?
    • If I drop back to Standard Cal with Lync can I still use Lync audio, video and web conferencing?
    • Does ACE support media Encryption?
    • Is the ACE integration supported by Microsoft?
    • How long after a Microsoft releases a new version of Lync does ACE support become available?
    • If I use ACE, what is the conferencing experience like?
    • What additional components and costs are needed for Avaya’s conferencing solution?
    • Can I escalate a peer2peer voice session into a Lync data collaboration experience?  How many steps are required?
    • What happens to call control if ACE is un-available but Lync is? Isn't that confusing to my end-users?

You will be surprised by just how many of these answers are no, breaking the UC experience or offering you limited support. I strongly encourage people to read my post on plugins versus native to see more of my insight as to why breaking the Lync experience to preserve a legacy deployment with a plugin is not as easy as competitors make out.


Lync Alternate Routing Configuration

I came across a couple of questions this week that I think most people might already know but its worth going over.How does Lync use gateways placed in a Route, Routes placed in a PSTN Usage and PSTN Usages placed in a Voice Policy to allow the correct alternate routing order? When I first started writing this post I thought it was going to be pretty simple but I soon realized without an example readers would soon get lost. So I spent way more time writing this than intended but hopefully it works.

Below is a pretty simple example of one site with multiple possible routes. Of course how you route calls will be very dependent on toll charges from your provider and how many alternate routes you have available to your organization. For instance your final route in your organization might be a provider that is different than you normal provider to offer more resiliency but you do not want to rely on for normal business because they are more expensive. Or as I have depicted below my final route is also a different location to offer more geographic redundancy as well as provider redundancy. The variations on requirements almost always relates to cost and resiliency but for this exercise I am using locations as a way to describe dial plan configuration and behavior not necessarily a best practice to avoid cost or reliance.


So I am going create my dial plan based on the example diagram above and talk about how the order is related to routing. What order you build the pieces in really isn't important here but more the relationship they share in alternate routing. The first column is our Voice Policy and in this case Seattle Local Access is how I want to allow my Seattle users to dial out to the PSTN for local calls. It also restricts those users that have this Policy to local calls only and in our example as you will see later only +1425 numbers. So I am being very restrictive for the sake of the example.

As you can see in my Voice Policy below I have my three PSTN Usages selected in the order I want them to be utilized. I have built a very extreme example here considering that I am only allowing access to one very small subset of numbers with more than two routes but as I said earlier this is really to make my point. So I have now made three Usages available and controlled the order they are accessed but what about SeattleBackUp which has two routes in the one PSTN Usage. How do I control the order with which those Routes are accessed to control my call flow?


When I take a look at my PSTN Usage it only shows us what Usages are configured and what Routes are available. There is no way to change the order of routes within the Usage from here.


The last mile so to speak. The Routes tab offers us the ability to change the order of access to the Routes which in affect changes the order of the routes within our PSTN usage. So in my example as I move through the different PSTN Usages and Routes I can see my SeattleBackUp Usage requires a particular order. In this case I use the order in the Routes tab to determine this. This can be difficult to get correct especially if you have Usage records that require clashing route orders. A better way to have more ordered routing is using more granular PSTN Usage records and relying less on the order of the routes within them.


As for gateways most of us are well aware that when you place multiple gateways in a Route, as shown below, that they are accessed via round robin. Placing them in a particular order has no effect.


Hopefully this was useful.

Did you spot the mistake in my configuration? My final route has only a wildcard entry so basically if all my other gateways became unavailable and calls started hitting the final route I could basically call any number out of my final route making my policy to only restrict to local numbers null and void. The chances of hitting that final gateway you would hope are slim but it’s a unintentional mistake I left in to see if anyone would notice.

Comments welcomed.


Interview with Damaka

This week I am doing my first interview on VoIPNorm. Having been inspired by Justin Morris and his “Interview with a UC Pro” series I  have a short interview with Damaka’s Sales VP Bogdan-George Pintea. Damaka were one of the first partners to produce a mobile client for Lync (Xync) and are working hard to quickly release new features. If you haven't seen  Xnyc its available on iTunes App Store and the Android Market.

How did Damaka get started ?

We started the company in 2004 driven by the vision of building a  total software solution which is standards-based and secure for mobile Unified Communication and Collaboration, targeting Service Providers and Enterprises.  Our team has a telephony background, having built one of the most popular softswitches in market, and we are very standards-centric. We made purposeful efforts to make video conferencing available broadly and we were the first company to release a commercial mobile video conferencing solution in 2007, on Windows Mobile 6.1.

What kind of early success has Damaka had with Xync?

We released an early version of the Xync product line to the App Store and the Android Market and reception has been tremendous. Individual downloads led to many enterprises testing Xync globally.

How does Xync connect back into the Lync infrastructure?

It is worth mentioning that Xync is the only native mobile client for Lync/R2 in market today, connecting directly to Lync servers, without  the need for a gateway. The advantages of this approach include lower cost of ownership, ease of deployment and flexibility in feature development.

What OS's is Xync currently available on?

Currently we are targeting iPhone, iPad and some specific Android smartphones and Android tablet models, Symbian. We are eager to support Windows Phone 7.5 and we hope to have some good news soon.

Any upcoming features you can talk about?

We just completed a group of features that we are particularly excited about: the ability to join scheduled meetings (through Calendar integration), shared whiteboard, PowerPoint sharing and  4-party video conferencing initiated from Xync.

Thanks to Bogdan and good luck to Damaka with the Xync product moving forward.

Comments welcome.


Learning Plan for Deploying Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Enterprise Voice

Learning Plan for Deploying Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Enterprise Voice

This learning plan will provide you with the knowledge and skills to deploy a Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Enterprise Voice solution. Lync 2010 Enterprise Voice provides the telephony features of a traditional Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) PBX system with rich presence, instant messaging, and conferencing to improve communication and lower costs.


Lync Native Features Versus Plugins: Where Does The Real Complexity Reside?

The published API’s have opened up Lync and Lync Server to the developer world and allowed developers to extend the value of Lync. Even the development of the third party applications for VoIP are indeed proof of the flexibility Lync provides as a development platform. But in the same vein replacing elements of native features even though it is possible can raise questions of the value of doing so.

“We believe that the native functionality in Office Communicator provides a much better and more complete user experience …… is a less complex and more cost-effective integration technique than adding additional software to every desktop”. BJ Haberkorn, OCS Senior Product Manager.

BJ makes some interesting comments but what’s really going on in the back ground that makes adding a third party application for telephony more complex than native Lync features?

This particular post is describing all third party Microsoft Lync plugin applications that aim to remove native functionality and replace it with their own. Often competitors pitch this as a way to avoid paying for E-Cal or Plus Cal but you are losing much more than just telephony by dropping down to Standard-Cal licensing. When you look at UC platforms it’s important to consider what you are buying as a whole and not just one portion. Often when moving a portion of functionality to another system you are adding more complexity than first realized and in the long run more cost both in licensing and manageability.

Amidst the claims of lower costs and multiple dial plans, the end user experience when using the plugin is often overlooked. Native features are focused on bringing about the best user experience for a collaborative environment. Plugins on the other hand are by design focused on preserving legacy PBX systems where desktop usability and integration are secondary unless it is promoting other competitive services such as voicemail, conferencing or external web collaboration. Also, this often means deploying group policies or in extreme cases adding custom Active Directory attributes to get a plugin to register and function as desired adding to the complexity which its meant to be avoiding.

Third party application for telephony and video integration…



Native Lync telephony and video…



I wanted to paint a complete picture of what’s happening with this type of integration from a generic point of view. Depending on which vendor you choose the features may change somewhat and may even look more or less complex than is presented here. Remote call control has been omitted as most vendors are not providing it through this integration but through a separate CSTA gateway that is unrelated to the third party application for VoIP (see diagram 2). So from the top diagram:

1) LDAP information in some circumstance comes from direct integration from the client plugin.

2) SIP/TLS for IM and presence. Some vendors are recommending turning off all Communicator features other than IM and presence.

3) Call signaling flowing from the third party softphone integration to control call( either a soft switch or IP PBX)

4) API integration to pass presence and other desktop level integration

5) Video integration if available. This may or may not be the same application that provides telephony integration so it may require additional signaling depending on the manner in which it is deployed.

There is a lot going on in this diagram and most of it at the desktop. This is purely from separating out one service (telephony), two if you count video as well if it is supported by the plugin. If video is not supported then you are back to doing it with Microsoft Lync or another application. Most times though the vendor providing the plugin recommends disabling Lync voice and video even for peer to peer communications. Comparing the different end-user experiences with the plugin you will see various Lync menus greyed out and when using the plugin multiple windows for voice and video where with Lync you would see only one.

So stepping through each point for the native Lync experience:

1) SIP TLS encrypted call signaling when using Lync for IM, presence , voice and video.

2) SIP TLS encrypted call signaling Lync phone edition for voice and presence.

3) SIP Trunk to IP PBX or Soft switch much like any traditional tie trunk between two PBX’s.

4) SIP call signaling to the IP phone.

5) USB cable to enable Phone Control function of the Lync Phone Edition device with Lync 2010.

Things are significantly different between the two diagrams. The lower diagram presents a clearly server side integration. Using the SIP trunk between the two systems now allows Lync to be used as softphone. This removes the burden of desktop administration of the integration displayed in the third party application diagram. Even with including Phone Control in the native solution via tethering we have been able to greatly simplify not only the signaling required but also the deployment scenarios. Removing the second application from the desktop (third party softphone) has reduced software deployment dependencies and removed the need to disable native Lync features to avoid end user confusion.

Remote Access

In the first section I covered the basics of of a telephony plugin and how it interacts with Lync. In this second section I will present remote access and how the plugin changes the remote access options. 

Third party application for telephony and video integration beyond the corporate firewall…



Native Lync telephony and video with remote access…


As you can see in the top diagram we are forced to run the third party VoIP application over either a hardware or software VPN separate from edge services that are available with Lync. We now have a more complex VPN setup having to spilt tunnel communication services and in some cases VPN services may not be designed to take large amounts of real time media traffic.

This setup also removes the use of RT Audio codec which is specifically designed for uncontrolled networks like the Internet to improve the user’s voice experience. With this setup they are more than likely only able to complete calls using G.711 or G.729 which are affected by network degradation of more than 1% whereas RTAudio will work acceptably with up to 10% packet loss.

Looking at the Lync native solution we begin to see some immediate benefits. First is an Edge specifically designed for real time communication traffic including voice, video, IM, presence and desktop sharing. The second point is that we no longer need to route media traffic back to our internal resources consuming vital Internet bandwidth when both users are remote to our internal network. If one of our users were internal the media would in fact flow through the Edge and not over a VPN service limiting reliance and lowering bandwidth consumption on VPN services. Lastly we have now removed the reliance on the desktop to complete our integration and instead have chosen interoperability at a server level.

Of course there are more reasons to enable edge services with Lync than just telephony. To me one of the most compelling reason to use the Edge has always been federation with business partners to better enable collaboration and lower communication costs.

Just to recap. Lync remote scenarios are designed to be secure and leverage the internet to allow peer to peer connections reducing bandwidth requirements and allowing Lync to scale to large enterprise needs. By removing the native functionality and replacing with a plugin not only have you increased desktop reliance but also made telephone dependent on VPN services to allow functionality. So when you consider what it takes to keep telephony control on a separate system through desktop integration there is much more to consider than just licensing and dial plans.

Comments welcomed.


Users unable to join Lync hosted conferences from Cisco Unified Communications Manager 8.5

This is a great post by Jigar on Technet. Reprinting here to help spread the word around this issue and how to resolve it. All credit to Jigar and Tech Support at Microsoft for discovering this issue.

In the past couple of months we have seen increase in DTMF issue relating to Cisco Call Manager v8.5 connecting to Lync Server 2010 (Lync). I worked on a few of these issues giving me an opportunity to dive deep into this integration. Cisco Unified Communication Manager (CUCM) v8.5 is supported with Lync Server 2010 only on minor build version as noted on Unified Communications Open Interoperability Program – Lync Server.


Cisco phones and conference room endpoints, SIP Trunk terminating on CUCM en-route to Lync would not be able to join conferences hosted by Lync MCU's. You may experience that the user keeps getting prompted for entering the conference ID. Some of the phones which have a capability of RFC 2833 DTMF MTP Passthrough work just fine when that feature is turned on.


After code level investigation we found that CUCM, when transcoding DTMF digits does not send the digits in right format.

To identify the issue, you need to collect a network trace from the MediationServer of your Lync deployment. Then trace the attempt to login to a Lync hosted conference room. Below is one such trace (obfuscated from customer environment since I do not have a CUCM here), to see the packets of interest I set the wireshark filter to (udp.length != 24 && rtpevent && rtp.marker==1)

The lower window highlighted digits show the raw data captured for RFC 2833 RTP event.

I also captured a trace when a endpoint coming from CUCM was successfully able to login to Lync MCU. To trace these DTMF digits I set up the wireshark filter to (udp.length == 24 && rtpevent && rtp.marker==1)

Again I have highlighted the RTPEvent.

Basically we are capturing UDP packets with length not equal to 24, that are RTPEVENT’s (meaning DTMF) and have RTP marker bit set to 1 - meaning the first packet in the DTMF digit - which has all the information we need.

Event Duration 800 is signified by hex 03 20 raw data - the data 00 00 after that is basically Trailer for Ethernet II as you can see above. Similarly in the bad snapshot above the duration zero should have been represented by 00 00.
However, in that place we see some data after that –

We found that we could isolate all the good packets from bad packets by filtering for the right length. In this case udp length 24. So Why length 24?

A DTMF packet is – UDP header (8 octets) + RTP header (12 octets) + RTP Payload (RTPEVENT=DTMF) (4 octets) = 24 octets.

Here is what we should have for DTMF payload (RTP Payload) RFC 4733 –

Here is what we should have for RTP header (assuming no CSRC) RFC 1189 –

Here is what we should have for UDP header RFC 768 –

So the hex data beyond 24 octets is something that should not have been received by Lync in a DTMF digit. This is what causes Lync to ignore these digits.


To resolve this issue upgrade to the supported CUCM version

TechNet Podcast: Deep Dive: Lync Server 2010 Edge Servers

Deep Dive: Lync Server 2010 Edge Servers

Understanding the details about how to set up and deploy edge servers is a key feature to allow the customer investment to include users--domain members, partners in a federated infrastructure, and customers--outside of the internal network in the Microsoft Lync Server 2010 experience. Edge servers provide external user connections to the Lync Server platform using the Lync 2010 client not leveraging a VPN connection.


Boise and Portland User Group Wrap Up

Last week I ventured to Boise and Portland to take part in the UC User Group meetings. They were great meetings with Altigen talking about their Max Mobile and ACD platforms and some great open discussions and networking. See above for the slide deck from the meeting.


Cisco IOS 15.1(2)T toll Fraud Feature Causing Lync Calls to Fail

So if you have upgraded you Cisco PSTN gateway lately you may have already run into this but for those that haven't this is something to be on the look out for. This was brought to my attention by a company I am helping move off their legacy PBX’s and on to Lync for telephony.

Cisco has added a new toll fraud feature into their ISR router code that blocks calls from untrusted endpoints. In the past you could point any mediation server at a Cisco ISR and as long as the correct outbound dial peer was in place it would route the call. This new feature now requires you to setup a trust list of servers or turn off the feature which is on by default.

“It is important to note that upgrading to 15.1(2)T will block all inbound VoIP call setups until the VGW is properly configured to trust these sources.”

Having this feature on by default is not the greatest idea because I think it will catch a lot of people out but in all fairness someone should read the IOS release notes before deploying. As noted in the tech note provided by Cisco there are three ways to resolve this issue by either reverting back to pre 15.1(2)T behavior or embrace the new feature and configure it as designed.

Thanks to Eddie for mentioning this to me.


Publishing Updates from Lync to Twitter and LinkedIn

I have wondered when someone would create an application that updates Twitter from the Activity feed in Lync it seems to make a lot of sense.  Well its finally here. Its free, its cool and best of all it works well. The folks over at PLA have done a great job at thinking through making it simple to install and use.


Here's how it works. After the you download and install LyncSocial you will need to start the application. Once the application is up the next step is to select what Social Networks you want to update from your activity feed in Lync. In my case I only selected Twitter since LinkedIn is updated from Twitter already. 


Next step is to do your first post in your activity feed in Lync and have the application verify with Twitter which happens automatically. Once you post the Verifier Code in the LyncSocial application your on your way.


See below for my very first Tweet from LyncSmile



Nice job PLA. Sweet app.


Lync Video Interoperability Whitepaper

This is a great whitepaper that explores the ins and outs of how Microsoft’s qualification program for video interoperability works. This is the first time I can remember such a detailed whitepaper on a Lync qualification program ever being published so its great to see.

Microsoft’s qualification programs aim at the highest level of interoperability to ensure that the companies deploying technology from partners and Microsoft know what to expect.  This is mandatory reading for anyone working with Lync that plans to deploy video interoperability with Polycom, LifeSize, Radvision or Cisco/Tandberg .


Portland and Boise UC User Group Meetings Next Week

Don’t forget to register for the User Group meeting in you respective town. Boise is happening on the 14th with Portland on the 15th next week.

Portland event registration here.

Boise User Group Website here  and registration site here.

It looks like both are shaping up to have great attendance and topics so make sure you don’t miss out.


Volkswagen Group of America Test Drive Lync

Volkswagen Group of America is taking Microsoft® Lync™ for a test drive and you're invited to follow the story as it unfolds at This is the first and only site that offers this kind of experience and insight into a UC deployment by any vendor. The tweets by the users are surprisingly very candid both good and bad and they don’t seem to be holding back. See below for more details on this great initiative.

Turn by turn
The site features the official Test Drive blog in addition to numerous video interviews with VWGoA participants from across the enterprise.


The power of Microsoft Lync
Lync is transforming the way work gets done, making communication possible from nearly everywhere, and boosting collaboration and worker engagement. For IT, the benefits are equally powerful, with a highly secure and reliable system that works with existing tools and systems for easier management, lower cost of ownership, smoother deployment and migration, and greater choice and flexibility.

Follow the Test Drive
I encourage you to check out and see how Lync is helping them achieve work-life balance and improve productivity. And at any time during the Test Drive, feel free to contact me to learn more about how Microsoft Lync can help power the future of your business.



Using Lync with Multiple Direct SIP Trunks to the Same Cisco UCM Subscriber/Cluster

I have known about this configuration for a while now but not had the chance to sit down and write about it. Its also documented on TechNet but with a more generic take. There are a couple of reasons to have multiple SIP trunks between Lync to the same CUCM subscriber or cluster. These are:

  1. Remote site MTP control. For a remote site that has its own MTP resources keeping traffic local to avoid hair pinning and sending unnecessary traffic over WAN links. By creating a separate SIP trunk for a site you can control the alternate media IP for media bypass. This means that using a remote MTP doesn’t require any local Lync resources at that site. So no Mediation Server or SBA required at a remote site.
  2. Calling Search space control on the CUCM side. Each trunk can have its own CSS so adding the ability of call authorization from the CUCM platform even though calls are coming from Lync.
  3. Redundant SIP trunks with dedicated MTP resources.

The main hurdle with configuring multiple SIP trunks to the same gateway or in this case CUCM cluster is the ability to create multiple gateways with the same IP address in the Topology Builder. The simple work around to this issue is to use DNS  records that resolve to the same IP address.

Pictured below is an example configuration without any local Lync Mediation or SBA resources at the remote site. This is not an uncommon approach to interoperability where survivability isn't a requirement or dual WAN links are used as way to overcome deploying more electronics. In this case we have two SIP trunks with each having their own dedicated MTP’s. With the inclusion of Media Bypass call media will stay local with requiring any equipment at the branch. This will however require some planning on the Lync dial plan side especially if there are a great deal of remote sites.

Remtoe MTP dns issue

This configuration will still allow the use of local DID’s for the Lync site and local termination of PSTN calls at the remote site with no hair pinning over the WAN.

There are a couple of steps to getting this setup. I have outlined below what I did in my home lab:

  1. Created 2 SRV records – and and pointed it to my A record that’s pointed to my CUCM VM server.
  2. Created 2 new PSTN gateways in Lync Topology Builder called and Also consider using different port numbers for each trunk along with configuring the alternate media IP for the MTP. Completed the route changes in Lync.
  3. Under enterprise parameters in CUCM under cluster wide Domain Configuration-> organization top level domain –
  4. Under enterprise parameters in CUCM entered under cluster wide Domain Configuration->cluster Fully qualified domain name - *
  5. Restarted my CUCM VM (this may be more of me being impatient than the update not working without it. You might be able to just restart the Callmanager service rather than a full restart of the machine).
  6. It workedSmile

The FQDN parameter in CUCM has a limitation of 255 characters so if you had a large deployment that wanted to point every branch at the same CUCM cluster you will have to use the wildcard function as it just wont scale for larger deployments without it. Of course you could tighten it up for security reasons and have a separate DNS domain for this function.



If you do not change this parameter in CUCM you will receive a SIP 404 not found message for DNS names in the SIP invite that are not valid CUCM cluster/Subscriber FQDN names.

Configuring CUCM and Lync:

Using Multiple Gateways on TechNet:


Technet Webcast: Lync Server 2010 Edge Servers (Level 300)

More great content from TechNet.

TechNet Webcast: Deep Dive: Lync Server 2010 Edge Servers (Level 300)

Understanding the details about how to set up and deploy edge servers is a key feature to allow the customer investment to include users--domain members, partners in a federated infrastructure, and customers--outside of the internal network in the Microsoft Lync Server 2010 experience. Edge servers provide external user connections to the Lync Server platform using the Lync 2010 client not leveraging a VPN connection. In this webcast, we discuss edge server deployment topologies, the Lync S...

SMUCUG Meeting Wrap Up

Last night we had a great Seattle Microsoft UC User Group meeting with about 22 people turning out. Jim from Exchange Product Marketing and Steve from Chinook Communications both made great presentations. We ended the meeting with a tour of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is truly a cutting edge facility both from a technology and environmental perspective. I am especially grateful to the Gates IT team for hosting and for providing a great tour of the facility after the meeting.

Gate Foundation Green Roof

Above is one of the interesting environmental features of the Foundation. That’s right, the roof in the background isn't a field but the roof of one of the main buildings. The green roof helps capture rain water, assists with building cooling and reduces storm water runoff.

Space Needle Gates Foundation from inside

Above: views of the Seattle Space Needle are available throughout the campus. This photo was taken from within the cafeteria area.

Space Needle Gates Foundation

Above: The campus takes great advantage of natural light with glass walls supported by a interesting cabling system. Pictured above is my attempt at capturing that with the reflection of the Space Needle. Not sure if this was intended or not but it’s a very cool effect to be walking into the building with a giant reflection of the Space Needle to look at. In person it looks like a framed piece of art.

Again thanks to the Gates Foundation team for a great meeting. Hopefully my WP7 snap shots did this great facility justice.


Boise Microsoft UC User Group

Mark your calendars, the next Boise Microsoft Unified Communication User group will be taking place on September 14th 2011 at 10:30am.

The current schedule for the event is as follows and is taking place at our normal location, Microsoft 401 W. Front Street, Suite 400, Boise, ID 83702

10:30 – 11am – Kick off, announcements, Introductions – Jeff Wilding

11am – 12pm – Altigen presenting their MaxACD call center product, as well as MaxMobile and iFusion products

12pm – 1pm – Lunch, and Group discussion/forum

1pm – 2pm – Exchange 2010 Client Access Server deployment options, considerations and best practice – Ryan Coates

The Altigen products will interest anyone looking for some more advanced call routing capabilities in Lync 2010 as well as early access to a mobile platform (the MS apps are still months away).

Head on over to the sign up page at eventbrite to let us know you are coming.


TechNet Virtual Lab: New Enterprise Voice Features of Microsoft Lync Server 2010 (Level 100)

In an effort  to provide more content on VoIPNorm I am constantly searching far and wide to find relevant educational material that makes sense to post. TechNet provides some of the best material in the form of webcasts, virtual labs and videos there is to find on Lync. Over the next few months I will be posting weekly content from TechNet to help get this content more exposure along with my regular posts. I know how hard it can be to find this type of content and also some people just don’t know it exists so don’t know to look. Hopefully someone somewhere finds this useful.

TechNet Virtual Lab: New Enterprise Voice Features of Microsoft Lync Server 2010 (Level 100)

After completing this lab, you will be better able to use the Lync Server 2010 Management Shell scripts to create groups, queues, and workflows, use the Lync Server 2010 Management Shell commands to edit workflows, assign phone numbers, configure agent anonymization, and experience the behavior of various workflows.


Portland Microsoft UC User Group

Join us for an engaging conversation with your peers in the UC space to chat about extending Microsoft Lync Server with AltiGen Unified Communications Solutions.

MaxMobile Smartphone Apps
Extends complete Lync Server 2010 Call Control, real-time presence, instant messaging, visual voicemail and up-to-date corporate directories to popular mobile OS platforms.

MaxACD Contact Center for Lync
A full suite of client applications, Productivity Management tools and built-in call recording & reporting, with superior Contact Center control, usability and flexibility.

Date and time:

11:30 AM - 02:00 PM
Welcome Time: 11:00 A


Microsoft Corporation

1414 NW Northrup, Suite 900, Portland OR, 97209 

Register here.


Updated: Streaming Video and Audio into Lync

Before I begin, a disclaimer:

This is an unsupported configuration using a third party to plug in a video and audio stream into Lync via the use of video and audio drivers. Use at your own risk.

Back in March I wrote a post around streaming video content with ManyCam into Lync. I continue to get positive feedback around this combination of applications but with one question; how do I get audio to work? I did more searching and experimenting in the last few weeks and there is a solution of sorts but unlike ManyCam this one isn't free.

First lets go back over the issue that requires a special solution for audio. When you playback your video that is meant to be feed into Lync the audio is played over an external audio device. Which is how it should work. The problem is that while playing over the external speaker Lync has no way to capture that audio unless you sit the speaker next to the microphone being used by Lync as its audio device. Alternatively you could build or buy a physical loopback cable to feed the output audio to a microphone input. Sounds complicated, right?

Well there is an alternative. Virtual audio cable software. There are a few to choose from but the one I used in my testing was Virtual Audio Streaming. I don’t know if this is the best or worst software for this purpose but it was  the one I tried that seemed to work.

Below are a few screenshots of the setup.

1. Installed ManyCam with the video source selected.


2. Ensure the ManyCam video Driver is selected in Lync.


3. Install the virtual audio cable software of your choice and ensure that the default drivers for recording input and playback are the virtual audio cable software.


4.Check to ensure the Playback default device is the virtual audio cable driver under sounds in the control panel.


5. Check to ensure the recording device is the virtual audio cable driver under sounds in the control panel.


6. Before starting the video in Lync change the device for the Lync call to the computers default device.


7. Because the audio is being streamed directly into the virtual audio driver no sound will be produced on a local external audio device. To overcome this the software I tried had the option to enable external output so the local user could still hear the audio.


Lastly, there are a few caveats with using this combination of software. Here they are:

1. I will say it again, this is an unsupported configuration. Use at your own risk.

2. The virtual audio cable software may fall out of sync with the video displayed. My machine struggled a little during playback with all three applications and it took me a few goes to get it all working properly, so using a PC with a bit of horse power is probably advisable.

3.This isn't free software or at least the product I tried wasn’t. The version I was running was in trial mode and would interrupt the audio stream with a announcement that it was a trial version. Kind of annoying but bearable.

Comments welcomed.