Mastering Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Book Review

When deciding what to put on the cover of a UC book, do not go with someone speaking into a headset.

I’ve just finished reading (almost all) of the 696 pages of this recently released 3rd-party Lync book.

The short review – buy it.

The longer review….

The Mastering book really wants you to learn Powershell. I mean REALLY. It’s almost as if the authors got a chill to their bones every time they thought they might have to show a screen shot from the Lync Server Control Panel. While their approach is honorable and it is nice to know all of the relevant Powershell cmdlets to manage Lync, there are times when this works to their detrimant.

Case in point – setting up a Response Group Service Workflow. Though the Lync GUI for this is reminiscent of a 1997-era Geocities webpage (ie, garbage) it is still much simpler than typing it all in via Powershell. All of the Powershell cmdlets shown in the book only cause confusion and headache where a simple screen shot or two of the GUI would greatly simplify the concepts they are trying to present.

If I were new to this, I think my head would have exploded and I would have thought to myself “well here is a feature I’ll never use”.

Still, most of the time seeing the Powershell is a very useful tool to learn not only how Lync works but to get some comfort with the management and maintenance of Lync. The authors do an outstanding job of providing relevant Powershell examples as well as pointing out when Powershell cmdlets have quirks or don’t work as you expect them to work. They also dedicate a quality chapter to solely to Powershell.

The book is well laid out and does a very nice job of giving introductory information early in the book and then building on that information as the chapters progress. They also do a pretty good job of covering all of the aspects and digging fairly deeply into a chapter’s topic.

You can tell that the authors have spent a lot of time with Lync in various scenarios. Aside form the occasional break-out box of real-world tips, quite often the content goes into great detail on how to accomplish certain goals. I found the section on upgrading from OCS to be very well presented and thorough. The same goes for the Call Admission Control section where I learned quite a bit.

Conversely, I was very disappointed in the lack of depth on the Enterprise Voice section. In my experience, Enterprise Voice is one of the most difficult concepts to understand and master. This book spends only 10 pages (pages 442-452) on the core guts of configuring Enterprise Voice. I would have loved to have seen 40-50 pages covering this, listing all possible scenarios in-depth instead of at a cursory level. For Example:

  • How do site level Dial Plans interact with Global or User level dial plans?
  • How about a brief introduction to Regular Expression and its syntax followed by a collection of sample RegExes?
  • I don’t recall any reference to the outbound Patterns on Trunk Configurations. When would these be used and why?

I could go on. I guess someone should write the book on Enterprise Voice as it apparently has yet to be written. The Lync Unleashed book wasn’t any better on this topic.

I hate to compare and contrast this book with the previously released Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Unleashed book. But I imagine many of you will have already purchased and perused that book so I suppose a moment of comparison is warranted.

The Unleashed book doesn’t eschew the Lync Server Control Panel nearly as much as the Mastering book. The Unleashed book does a pretty good job of showing both the Control Panel and analogous Powershell commands while the Mastering book relies primarily on Powershell. Overall, the Mastering book goes more in-depth than the Unleashed book. I think if you are brand new to Lync, the Unleashed book may be the better place to start but if you already have some experience with Lync then the Mastering book is probably a better starting point.

If you want to take a peek at the book, you can see a bit of it online at this link:

Be sure to check the online Errata section for the book found here. And if you find any errors, submit them via this link.

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