Lync Management Shell on Windows Server 2012 R2

I’m currently building a new test and demo lab for Lync Server 2013 based on virtual Windows Server 2012 R2 machines. I know that after installing the Lync Standard Edition Server the newest cumulative update should be deployed. This also needs some SQL database updates. After installing Lync RTM bits I updated using the brand new January 2014 updates and started Lync Management Shell to do the necessary database updates.

But nothing happened – the prompt in Lync Management Shell did not appear, ever after waiting for a very long time! Asking via Twitter I got the suggestion from @MKressmark to load the Lync modules in a normal Powershell session. This worked and I was able to run all database update commands.

Interestingly now also the normal Lync Management Shell came up as usual!

Virtual SBC qualified for Lync Server 2013

OfficeMaster Gate (Virtual Edition) from Ferrari electronic AG is now qualified as a Session Border Controller for Microsoft Lync Server 2013!

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Lync 2013 Logging Tool

Lync 2013 Public Preview still contained the well known Lync Logging Tool (with the need to install Snooper via Resource Kit Tools to be able to decode logs).

The RTM version of Lync 2013 is missing these tools as can be seen in my lab deployment on a Windows 2012 Server:

lync1

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Music on Hold with OfficeMaster Gate and Microsoft Lync Server

When a PSTN call is put on hold by a Lync client (this may happen explicitly by clicking the appropriate button or implicitly by placing a second call for consultation or answering a call waiting) the PSTN gateway may play Music on Hold (MOH) to the participant on the PSTN side. This is not a mandatory requirement for qualification but customers typically expect that behaviour.

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See who’s ringing at the door using Lync

Ferrari electronic integrates Video Door Phones with “OfficeMaster EntryControl”.

A lot of successful Lync deployments helped us learning more about special customer requirements. As soon as you replace a PBX completely you are faced with several types of legacy analog equipment. Typical examples are door entry phones. Since enhanced gateways and SBAs must be able to integrate analog devices this can be done easily.

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Outgoing calls after Lync CU4 update

Lync servers running cumulative update 4 (CU4) expose a slighly different timing behavior on outgoing PSTN calls. If call setup to the destination takes a bit longer and the PSTN gateway does not send any provisional reponse except “100 Trying” the call will be cancelled after about 10 seconds. It seems that the INVITE transaction timeout timer has been shortened in CU4.

With qualified Enhanced Gateways this is no problem since these products must be able to establish early dialogs by sending “183 Session Progress” including SDP. After receiving this response the timeout does not fire. This early dialog also ensures that all RTP endpoints are established before the call actually reaches the final destination (= early media) to avoid audio clipping at the beginning of the conversation.

If you run into this problem please check your gateway configuration and activate the appropriate setting. In OfficeMaster Gate products from Ferrari electronic AG this setting is called “Early Progress” and can be found under “VoIP-Parameters”.

Survivable Branch Office Telephony – the easy way!

Support for resilient telephony in branch offices during WAN outages is not a new feature – some vendors offer it for several years already. Microsoft’s new Lync based solution sets a new benchmark: no specialists are needed for deployment and it can be done in far less than an hour! Unbelievable? Let’s see…      

Step 1: Preparation in Data Center

A few administrative settings have to be done before a Survivable Branch Appliance (SBA) can be installed:      

  • Create SBA computer account and delegate domain join to RTCUniversalSBATechnicians group. Set the service principal name to HOST/sba-fqdn
  • Add user account of branch office technician to RTCUniversalSBATechnicians group.
  • Add SBA to branch office site using wizard in topology builder and publish topology.
  • Optional: Allow RTCUniversalSBATechnicians group to use WebServer template in Enterprise CA.

Step 2: SBA deployment in branch office

All qualified SBA products include a web based user interface pre-installed by the manufacturer. It supports deployment without the need to connect a keyboard and a monitor due to the nature of an appliance. Microsoft requires a minimum set of functions supported by this web UI – it’s up to the vendor to include optional features. I will use screenshots of our OfficeMaster SBA as an example here. At the end of this article you will find a link to a video demonstrating the full deployment process using this Silverlight-based UI.      

Bootstrap steps consist of:      

  • Network configuration
  • Changing preinstalled local administrator password
  • Setting time zone, date and time
  • Joining SBA machine to domain (and automatically adding RTCUniversalSBATechnicians group to local administrators).

SBA bootstrap steps

After rebooting the machine and clicking “Done” the “Install” section is opened.  In this part all modules required to run the SBA are deployed:      

  • SQL Express 2008
  • Lync Server core components
  • Lync Server (Registrar)
  • Mediation Server

SBA install steps

Subsequently another reboot is required. After logging in using the branch office technician account the “Activate” section is shown. The steps in this part include:     

  • “Find Central Management Store” – This is not mandatory but it helps to ensure that CMS can be accessed, which is necessary for downloading the configuration.
  • Download and install configuration to SBA – these steps avoid the necessity to wait for replication.
  • Starting replica process.
  • Activation of SBA.

SBA activation steps

Second part of activation (which is not shown here as a screenshot) consists of:  

  • Requesting and installing a certificate, which is needed for (M)TLS. The easiest way is using online access to an Enterprise Certificate Authority. If that is not supported, the certificate signing request can be created and submitted to any certificate authority.
  • The certificate must be assigned to Lync services.
  • Finally all services are started – this completes SBA deployment; the only step left is the configuration of the integrated media gateway.

In OfficeMaster SBA the complete media gateway is contained on a full size PCIe card. The gateway is recognized by the host machine as another network interface. It typically gets assigned a static IP address, which is also resolved by DNS. In addition the type and number of ISDN interfaces must be configured:

SBA gateway configuration

Finally a basic dial plan for the gateway should be configured:

SBA gateway dial plan

In this example extension length zero was used because the BRI port is connected to an ISDN interface using multiple subscriber numbers (MSNs) instead of extension digits. Clicking the “Browse” button supports assigning pre-configured analog phone numbers to gateway ports. This helps to avoid mistyping when entering that information manually.

At this point the deployment is completed!

Some optional steps supported by the UI are:

  • Placing an outbound PSTN test call
  • Testing inbound calls
  • Backup and restore of gateway configuration

During normal operation the web UI also provides diagnostic functions to show event log entries and to display PSTN interface status, state of replication and other useful information.

Details on this and a complete walkthrough is shown in this video (100MB, 7 minutes).