Skype for Business
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Introduction: This blog post will walk you through using a new tool as a unique and easy way to not only experience Microsoft Teams but to also enable you to give successful demos of Microsoft Teams to your team, customer, or organization.
Time: 5-10 minutes
When you browse to the tool, you will be presented with the following splash screen, type your name and click Next:
On the next screen, understand that you will first receive a guided tour of Teams to understand the app and learn about key features, and then you will have an opportunity to try out real actions to help a virtual team make important decisions. Click Let's get started once ready:
Microsoft Teams will launch, and you will be presented with a wizard that will walk you thru navigating the Teams interface. The first step is to get you familiar with where notifications will appear. Click Next:
The next instruction is to show you where to access the teams you subscribe and are a member of, click Next:
Next, you will learn about channels and how to organize work by topic or project, click Next:
You will see an example conversation or "threaded chat", click Next:
Next, you will learn about ways to make the conversation richer such as embedding images, files, gifs, stickers, emojis and third party connectors or bots, click Next:
You will learn about the tabs at the top of the team channel, such as files, notes and frequently accessed tools. Also note you can pin Office 365 or third party apps. Click Next:
At the end of the wizard, you will be prompted to experience the demo thru hands on, click Next:
A new threaded conversation will appear where Micael @ mentions you. You will then be asked to send a reply. I'm going to say Hello back to the team and click to send it:
In the threaded conversation, other team members will reply welcoming you to the team. Then, a member of the team will ask for feedback on an Excel spreadsheet (directly within the threaded conversation), click the green bar to open the Excel spreadsheet:
The spreadsheet will open within Teams and the chat window will be moved to the right (under the context of the spreadsheet feedback conversation). Ayala is looking for feedback on which design is best, Design 1 or Design 2. Type Design 2.
Click the Chat icon on the far left to have a 1:1 chat with Emilie:
Once in the 1:1 chat with Emilie, type I have it Covered and press Enter:
Next, click the Activity icon on the left side:
Notice you received a new notification where you were @ mentioned, clicking on the notification will display where you were @ mentioned. Click Next:
Click on the icon to send a meme as your reply back to Danielle:
Next, click the High Five meme:
Type a message and click Done:
You have reached the end of the demo:
Conclusion: While this is a simple demo, it demonstrates using Microsoft Teams in a real world scenario to make a business decision – without ever having to organize a meeting, or make a phone call – in a very quick amount of time. That's pretty powerful, the ability to reduce the amount of meetings and collaborate in real-time. Wow! How do you demo Microsoft Teams to your organization or customers? Let me know in the comments below!
Posted in Skype for Business
Posted in Skype for Business
Posted in Skype for Business
Microsoft has announced the packaging of their Office 365 SaaS collaboration platform along with Windows 10 and their Mobility and Security cloud features together as Microsoft 365. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post touching on this release, Microsoft 365 includes the Windows 10 operating systems and Office 365, which is an Azure based Software as a Service (SaaS) platform which enables companies and organizations, big or small to provide their employees with the tools they need to work together in an easy and efficient manner. No matter where their users are- anywhere in the world, they can work together with all the commonly used methods of sharing and coauthoring information- and then some. They are also capable of choosing the level of functionality they desire when they subscribe to the platform.
There are two choices for licensing Microsoft 365: Business and Enterprise.
The business license is available for companies and organizations up to 300 users, and includes Office 365 for Business along with licenses for users for Windows 10. The Enterprise Microsoft 365 office also includes Windows 10, and allows a choice between an E3 or E5 license of Office 365 along with the Security and Mobility Suite.
Enterprise Mobility and Security
The Enterprise Mobility and Security suite enables a large range of connectivity between Office 365 and Azure, especially the Enterprise functionality of Azure Active Directory which allows business to easily manage security across multiple platforms- as well as enable many other features and services in Azure to easily allow remote connectivity and mobile device usage, while connecting to Enterprise databases and maintain security across all connections and devices.
Such security features are essential in today’s increasing under attack corporate sector. Quite smartly, Microsoft has now with one license, packaged these security features with Office 365 and Windows 10. This means that you can pair the previously mentioned capabilities with Exchange Online’s ability to scan for spam and malware and the capability to securely share information in SharePoint and One Drive for Business while allowing Administrators to control how this is done. With an E5 License for Office 365, Power BI pro can allow reporting on all the activity of your users and the data they create, giving complete insights on virtually every aspect of your data and how people are interacting with your platform.
Office 365 contains a full suite of business productivity tools that allow end users multiple ways to create content, distribute content, communicate directly, automate their own workflows, keep track of their schedules and tasks, and collaborate on ideas. As the employees in your company utilize programs like PowerPoint and Sway to create presentations, they can collaborate in separate workspaces like the chat based Microsoft Teams or Office 365 Groups, leverage the automation tools in Flow and Microsoft Teams to assist them in their workload, and ask questions, make announcements and foster communication in the social media format for Yammer. Users can synchronize Microsoft Word to their One Drive while they create formal documents to keep data securely saved in the cloud-without having to upload it after it is saved.
Of course these are just a few examples, but when you combine the functionality of all of these solutions, the uses for Office 365 are exponentially scaled, as is the reduction of work tasks when it is properly applied.
For administrators, beyond being empowered with control over the security of this platform, the ability of SharePoint to manage data via lists and Document Libraries, and the interactive capabilities of Flow combined with PowerBI and Azure Hosted SQL Databases allows the easy collection and reporting of data from virtually every single program in Office 365- along with the ability to analyze that data with easy to create reports that can be securely shared.
All of the previous features are accessible from Android, OSX and iOS devices, but with Microsoft 365, they are packaged with licenses for Windows 10, which can run on mobile devices, laptops or desktop computers alike.
Microsoft has been working tirelessly to continue to march the Windows platform forward through the age of the Internet, making it more responsive, giving user more ways to access and interact with applications from more devices, and integrating Cortana’s search capabilities into the Operating System for much more efficient knowledge finding. All of this is combined with an intensified approach to security to make Windows 10 by far the most stable, safe and easiest to interact with version of Windows yet.
The combination of Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility and Security is a bundling of features that are unmatched in the industry when it comes to combining data management, security and user productivity. The release of Microsoft 365 is yet another step that we have seen from Microsoft to make it even easier to adopt their products and services. It is all the great stuff we’ve been seeing coming from Microsoft over the past few years, bundled together in the form of an easy to price, easy to implement and very powerful single license package.
Interested in learning more about Microsoft 365? Click here to hear what Microsoft themselves have to say about their new consolidated platform!
Posted in Skype for Business
A common request that we get is to mask or change the caller ID of an outbound call. This might be because the caller is a VIP and doesn’t want to be harassed, or they might be a support rep and any returned calls should go to a queue or main number. You might also be calling from a number that doesn’t belong to the carrier you’re sending the call over. There are a handful of ways to handle this scenario in SfB.
Using a number that doesn’t belong to the carrier you’re sending the call over can have some odd results. They may allow it, they may block it, or they may override it with another number, usually your billing telephone number (the “BTN”) for the trunk. The BTN is usually not taken from a customer’s block of DIDs, may not have a caller ID string or 911 address associated with it, and typically is not assigned to any endpoints, so sending the BTN as the caller ID won’t help anyone that you’re calling.
You can use the “Suppress caller ID” and “Alternate Caller ID” on a route to set a number of your choosing. This would apply to all calls using this route. If you want to override some users’ numbers and not others, you’ll need a of duplicate your voice policy, usage, and route, and then set the override on one route. Repeat this exercise if you have different users that need to send a different number. If you need more flexibility than this, check the other options. On the plus side, this solution doesn’t care which trunk/gateway the call is routed to.
A Trunk Translation rule gives you more flexibility than the alternate Caller ID solution. You can set a series of translation rules using regular expressions on the Trunk Configuration (you could cheat and do so globally if you’re in a small organization, but you’ll just wind up undoing and redoing all of your work if you expand).
The use of regular expressions means that you can easily handle multiple translations per trunk without needing all those extra voice policies, usages, and routes. You also get the flexibility of regular expressions to match and change only certain parts of a number and leaving the rest, like 236-551-xxxx to 236-555-xxxx.
If you have multiple trunks/gateways, you’ll need to configure appropriate rules on all of the gateways.
Trunk Translation is generally seen when performing Least Cost Routing (aka Toll Bypass), such as when a user from the UK calls a number in New York. The New York telco may not like the UK number, so you can configure translation rules so that the call appears to be from the New York office. You lose the personal DID of the caller, but the call will go through. I’ve also used this when a different carrier is providing a backup trunk, and they won’t allow the numbers from the first carrier.
The two above options are configured by administrators, are generally deployed because of telco requirements, and aren’t very flexible. It’s possible to use some other calling features to allow your users to be in control.
Delegation, also known as Boss/Admin, allows an assistant to answer calls and place calls on behalf of their boss. This functionality can be used to allow a user to selectively mask their number with another, when they choose. I’ve typically seen this setup for VIPs, when they want the recipient to see some alternate number – maybe there assistant, or an auto attendant.
To implement this, you’ll need to setup a dummy “boss”. Delegate the dummy boss account to the real boss. Now the real boss can place calls as the dummy boss. Next, if you don’t want returned calls to simply get a busy signal or dummy boss’s voicemail, setup the dummy boss to forward all calls to the assistant, or the auto-attendant.
Don’t setup delegation between a boss and their assistant to be two-way. Weird things can happen!
The gotchas with this solution are mainly around client support. Not all clients support calling on behalf of someone else, especially mobile.
You can also use a Response Group that’s configured to have Agent Anonymity. This gives users who are agents in that Response Group to place calls on behalf of the Response Group. See my Main Number Handling posts on Response Groups for details on how to do this. This solution has even more limitations that the Boss/Admin option above. Client support is limited to the Windows client, and your users will need to be homed on the same pool that the Response Group is homed on. This is a good solution is good if the users are already agents in the Response Group (such as on a helpdesk), but otherwise I wouldn’t bother with this one.
And lastly, Ken Lasko outlines how to implement *67 in Skype for Business here.
If you’ve got any other solutions for number privacy, hit me up in the comments!
Posted in Skype for Business
The purpose of this article is to explain what type of Office 365 licenses can or should be used with any of the various phones and meeting devices qualified by Microsoft for Skype for Business Online. These products can natively register to Skype for Business Online using resource accounts which must be assigned the correct licensing. This covers equipment like the many different IP Phones from five different partners or the several different Meeting Room platforms like the older Lync Room Systems, newer Skype Room Systems, or even the recently qualified Polycom Group Series to name a few.
The guidance covered in this article is not necessarily applicable to desk phones which are assigned to a specific user, as those users would already have an assigned Office 365 license which applies to any client and devices they sign into with their own credentials. It is the meeting room solutions and other similar shared resources like conference room phones or common area phones which utilize their own dedicated account which are the focus of this article.
As with any device that is registering to Skype for Business Online, be it a phone or video system, a licensed Office 365 account is required. This can be a standard Skype for Business user or a special Meeting Room account. Generally it is a best practice to use the Meeting Room account which affords the registered device some unique capabilities and behaviors, but it is not a requirement. This previous article focusing on Online Meeting Room Accounts covers in detail the different configuration options and guidance around each type.
Once an account is created for the device then a valid Office 356 license needs to be allocated to it before it can be used to register a device. Typically an empty meeting room might already have an Exchange Online Room Mailbox configured for it which incurs no cost and consumes no license in Office 365, but that is only for room reservation capabilities. Once that meeting room is equipped with a dedicated Skype for Business device then a Skype for Business license must be assigned to that account, which is not free.
This means that the devices need only to be concerned with the Skype for Business Online portion of licensing. The Exchange Online portion of the device’s account is still only a Room Mailbox, so then there is no need for Exchange Online plans to be assigned. That being said many of the Office 365 licensing plans already include Exchange Online licensing so unless dealing with a standalone plans this point is moot.
For those unfamiliar with the various Office 365 licensing plans the following is a list of the current plans which provide Skype for Business Online services in them. The items in red are the default recommended options in each class and the reasoning for each is explained below.
The absolute minimum Office 365 license required for a device would be a standalone Skype for Business Online Plan 1 license. But that plan is not recommended based on its limitation of only being able to join other meetings and not create ad-hoc or scheduled meetings. On the surface this may not seem like a problem as users would not be sending meeting invitations from device’s account, they create or schedule meetings using their own Skype for Business account. But what about when a user walks into a conference room that is not booked and simply wants to start an ad-hoc meeting? Or what about adding new participants into an active meeting from the device itself? Scenarios like those are covered under the Meeting Scheduler capabilities which are included in the standalone Skype for Business Online Plan 2 tier, hence this being the recommended minimum Office 365 license.
But most Office 365 subscribers today are typically not using the a la carte style standalone plans and are instead leveraging a Business or Enterprise plan. All of the Business and Enterprise plans listed above automatically include Skype for Business Online Plan 2 in them, as illustrated by the following example showing an Enterprise E3 license expanded to list some of the includes services.
Note the Skype for Business Online (Plan 2) option listed above. Because all Business and Enterprise plans with Skype for Business leverage Plan 2 capabilities then any of these are sufficient to support joining scheduled meeting and creating ad-hoc meetings as explained earlier. This also illustrates why it is usually incorrect to assign a redundant standalone Skype for Business Online Plan license to an account which is already assigned one of the supported Business or Enterprise plans.
Now, when only a handful of shared devices are deployed in an environment it can be less administrative work to simply assign licenses to these accounts which are already available in the tenant. Yet from a a cost-savings standpoint it can be overkill to assign a license which may include many additional features that the device is not capable of leveraging and never would be.
For example some of the plans listed above include licenses for Office applications which device do not need. The reason that Business Essentials is recommended over Business Premium is that the more costly Premium license allows the account to install the Office suite software on multiple workstations, but a device-only account would never be used for that. This same reasoning is why Enterprise E1 is generically recommended over the more costly E3 and E5 licenses as, like Business Essentials, it does not include the Office suite of applications.
That being said there are other arguments for using Enterprise licensing due to bundled add-on licenses. In fact there are scenarios where even Business licenses are not valid and would need to be transitioned to Enterprise licenses. These reasons will be explored in the next section.
Some of the following value-add licensing options can provide additional capabilities to the solution depending on what the device is and needs to do.
Currently the available add-on licenses for Skype for Business Online are:
Here is one area where Microsoft does have some official guidance available online when dealing with licensing Skype for Business devices. This Office support article includes both details on the various Skype for Business add-on licenses as well as how they are applicable to the newer Skype Room System v2 platform. Taking that one step further the various Skype Room System scenarios covered in the article can be extrapolated to any device. Again this is not specific to a single conferencing product, any meeting device follows the same requirement and guidance.
That article includes a table which granularly lists various in-room scenarios and which licenses are required to perform those specific tasks. As already mentioned there are differences between joining meetings and creating meetings from within the conference room itself. The information on that support article may be a bit confusing to understand at first glance so the important information has been reworded for simplicity’s sake in the table below.
|Skype for Business Online Plan 1||Business Essentials
|Skype for Business Online Plan 2||Business Essentials
|Skype for Business Online Plan 2
+ PSTN Conferencing
|N/A||Enterprise E1/E3 + PSTN Conferencing
to the device
|Skype for Business Online Plan 2
+ Cloud PBX
+ PSTN Calling
|N/A||Enterprise E1/E3 +Cloud PBX + PSTN Calling
Enterprise E5 + PSTN Calling
The table above outlines how, for example, a video conferencing system may only need to be licensed for the basic ability to join meetings, but if it or a conference phone needs to also support the typical use-cases of placing PSTN calls or adding PSTN participants into a live Skype for Business meeting then additional licensing may be required.
Important details to further understand the guidance in this table are that (1) the Enterprise E5 plan already includes the PSTN Conferencing and Cloud PBX licenses and (2) that while all three add-on licenses can be used with Standalone and Enterprise plans they cannot be used with any of the Business plans.
So, if an account with a Business plan needs to leverage some Skype for Business PSTN features there are two potential paths. The recommended option is to simply transition to an Enterprise license for that account. An alternative might be to instead purchase a standalone Skype for Business Online Plan 2 license and assign it to a account which already has Business Essentials or Premium, further allowing the additional of the add-on licenses. But that is redundant, as pointed out earlier in this article, as well as more expensive. For example a Business Essentials license and a Skype for Business Online Plan 2 licenses together cost more than the single Enterprise E1 license does.
Please understand that Microsoft licensing can be very fluid and change over time so the comments in this article are not indicative of any official support statements from Microsoft or any partners. The information is simply guidance meant to assist the community with successfully navigating what can be a confusing topic so that meeting devices like IP phones or video conferencing systems can be properly deployed. As these comments are based on my own understanding of the topic gathered from navigating several different sources of information then some or all of this may be at some point rendered inaccurate or invalid.
Posted in Skype for Business
Posted in Skype for Business
Posted in Skype for Business
Late last night I came over a tweet from John Cook that showed us some mysterious new services you will find when running Get-MsolServicePrincipal in PowerShell on your tenant. There were many services starting with the name Skype Teams. When I checked on my own tenant, a service named Skype Teams Services was missing from the output.
Here you can see the Skype Teams services:
Is this a sign that Skype for Business and Teams will become one product, or is it a reference to services for both Skype consumer and Teams? Since Skype consumer and Teams are running on the same environment.
Since Teams and Skype for Business share a lot of the same features, I think it is time to fuse the two products together. Its only becoming more and more confusing for the end users. As it recently also was released a Teams Meeting button for Outlook, how should a regular user manage to decide if he wants a Skype for Business meeting or a Teams meeting? Teams is like Skype for Business, but only with a more advanced and evolved persistent chat. Speaking of persistent chat, it is a feature missing from Skype Online. Its event not developed any more for on-premise either.
There are a lot of curiosities from running Get-MsolServicePrincipal. Skype Teams Firehose, what is that? What I could find out from googling a little, is that Microsoft have a blog called the Firehose. The header of that blog is: “The Fire Hose – Covering the news of the day at Microsoft”. Will this be a summary page of new conversations, files etc… in Skype Teams?
Probably not related to Skype Teams, but there is a service called “Loki Server”. What is that? Is it a product name or a code name for a product?
No matter what will happen, I think this year’s Ignite will give us a lot of juicy news.
Posted in Skype for Business
As any half-decent taxidermist will tell you, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
And so it is with Skype for Business. The clever bit is determining the best method to use when faced with a given challenge. Occasionally you’ll encounter a complicated job-sharing or multiple-hop call distribution scenario that doesn’t fit the basic user config parameters of Team Calling or Delegates. We usually tend to reach into the “kit”-bag (do you like what I did there?) and whip out a quick Response Group if we need a basic IVR, some time-of-day automation, or the sorts of call distribution and overflow that the RGS can deliver.
Another neat solution is to create a “dummy” user in AD and have it permanently “Team Calling” perhaps two users sharing the same role. During the day the calls go to which-ever of the two is signed in, and after hours or any time neither is in, the calls automatically route to the shared voicemail box.
If someone leaves and you want to “piggyback” their number on yours, a simple called number transformation rule in your SBC will usually suffice.
My colleague Glen T recently showed me another approach employed by one of our customers. They’d configured CsUnassignedNumber “ranges” that spanned only a single number, and calls to that “range” (number) were instantly forwarded to someone else. I agreed with his observation that that was a neat alternative to the SBC piggyback approach, and it’s also able to capture internal calls: you can delete that user’s account from SfB but leave the number still allocated to their AD account now resident in your Deleted Users OU, and people looking for them still find them in the Address Book and are redirected as required.
Except it wouldn’t work from a VVX – the caller would hear one burst of ringback tone and then the call would terminate.
Here’s the test setup I created in my lab to dupe the issue. As you can see the “range” encompasses only one number:
PS C:_InstallScripts> New-CsAnnouncement -Identity ApplicationServer:s4b2015se.contoso.com -Name "Forward without Announcement" -TargetUri "sip:firstname.lastname@example.org" Identity : Service:ApplicationServer:s4b2015se.contoso.com/57a-GUID-BLAH-79ac Name : Forward without Announcement AudioFilePrompt : TextToSpeechPrompt : Language : TargetUri : sip:email@example.com AnnouncementId : 57a-GUID-BLAH-79ac PS C:_InstallScripts> PS C:_InstallScripts> New-CsUnassignedNumber -Identity "CTVN without announcement" -NumberRangeStart tel:+61270001291 -NumberRangeEnd tel:+61270001291 -AnnouncementService applicationserver:s4b2015se.contoso.local -AnnouncementName "forward without announcement" AnnouncementServiceId : ApplicationServer:s4b2015se.contoso.com AnnouncementServerFqdn : s4b2015se.contoso.com AnnouncementName : Forward without Announcement AnnouncementId : 57a-GUID-BLAH-79ac Identity : CTVN without announcement NumberRangeStart : tel:+61270001291 NumberRangeEnd : tel:+61270001291 Priority : 1 PS C:_InstallScripts>
If you call this “unassigned” number from an SfB client or the PSTN, the call will present to me as expected.
If you call it from a VVX, the caller hears one burst of ringback tone and then the call terminates.
The neat fix Glen found was that you only need to provide some kind of message in the UnassignedNumber handling – and my good friend “1s-Silence.wav” was sufficient.
With the config above, this is all I needed to add to retrofit the solution. (Yes you need a short wave-file. Try this one with my compliments).
PS C:_InstallScripts> Get-Content "c:1s-Silence.wav" -ReadCount 0 -Encoding Byte | Import-CsAnnouncementFile -Parent ApplicationServer:s4b2015se.contoso.com -FileName "1s-Silence.wav" PS C:_InstallScripts> Set-CsAnnouncement -identity "Service:ApplicationServer:s4b2015se.contoso.com/57a-GUID-BLAH-79ac" -AudioFilePrompt "1s-Silence.wav"
Here’s the resulting “announcement”:
PS C:_InstallScripts> Get-CsAnnouncement -identity "Service:ApplicationServer:s4b2015se.contoso.com/57a-GUID-BLAH-79ac" Identity : Service:ApplicationServer:s4b2015se.contoso.com/57a-GUID-BLAH-79ac Name : Forward without Announcement AudioFilePrompt : 1s-Silence.wav TextToSpeechPrompt : Language : TargetUri : sip:firstname.lastname@example.org AnnouncementId : 57a-GUID-BLAH-79ac PS C:_InstallScripts>
With the above in situ, all was a source of joy.
20th August 2017: This is the initial post.
Posted in Skype for Business