#Skype4b: Key planning considerations for SfB on Azure IaaS – Part I


Microsoft Azure is one of the key Infrastructure as a Service platform in public cloud space. Many organizations are looking at it as an alternative option for traditional datacenter. Therefore, it is necessary for consultant and architects to know about the enterprise application suitability on Azure IaaS. When customer look for Microsoft Public Cloud offerings, most of the time you can observe that customer is looking for Microsoft based applications or custom applications which runs on Microsoft operating system.

Let me take an opportunity to discuss about Microsoft Business Productivity applications and their suitability with Azure IaaS. Microsoft SharePoint was the first enterprise application from business productivity suite which was ready long back to deploy on Azure IaaS. Next precedence had been given to Exchange and now it is chance for Lync / Skype for Business.

In this blog post, I am going to discuss about key consideration for deploying skype for business on Azure IaaS. As of now, production deployment of skype for business is not recommended. I would say, there are technical limitations because of that deployment for Lync / Skype for Business is not recommended.

Below diagram illustrates how traditional datacenter deployment should look like in high level.

I am describing this traditional deployment first because you easily can correlate it with Azure IaaS later point in time. Now, let’s assume customer has basic infrastructure in-place such as Active Directory, Office Web Apps or Office Online server and Reverse Proxy. Therefore, it is a time for you to design or size Skype for Business server roles. I am taking a simple example of Skype for Business Enterprise Edition pool with three servers. In this example, I am collocating server roles wherever possible and not focusing on few additional server roles such as persistent chat and VIS.

Below table shows the typical server configuration based on Microsoft recommendation.

SfB Server Role

Processor

Memory

Network

Storage

Front End

12 core

32 GB

1 NIC

Based on the MS recommendations

Back End

12 core

32 GB

1 NIC

Edge

8 core

16 GB

2/4 NIC

Numbers of network card mentioned in above table consider basic configuration. You can opt for NIC teaming for all the server roles. Skype for Business edge server role can have either 2 interfaces (one for internal and one for external) or 4 interfaces (one for internal and 3 for external).

Apart from this you need to consider many other factors in datacenter such as Network, Firewall, Load Balancers and Quality of service configuration capability. Next part of this article, maps these requirements with Azure IaaS and covers the best possible configuration.

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#Skype4b: Skype for Business online Voice enhancements


Microsoft unveiled many enhancements and new feature support for Skype for Business online. With the theme of “Move your communication to Skype for Business Online”, Microsoft came up with new Enterprise voice capabilities in Skype for Business online. The following capabilities will be added as a preview in Skype for Business online.

  • Organizational Auto Attendant
  • Call queues

Both the features will make Skype for Business online as a strong contender against Skype for Business on premises. These features will allow call treatments and call queuing features to queue and routing of inbound calls.

PSTN conferencing has been extending to following countries:

Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam

However, people can join conferences from 90 countries and 400 cities by using local numbers which belongs to their location. Although, customers can opt for dedicated toll numbers or toll-free numbers in hundreds of cities across the globe via O365 portal.

PSTN calling has been extended to two more countries Spain and France. Therefore now PSTN calling service is generally available in United States, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, France and Spain.

By the end of this year, administrator will be able to setup regional hosted meetings which will reduce the bandwidth challenges and latency, while it will enable high quality media and comply with legal obligations as well because data will reside in the same datacenter.

There is one more cool feature is coming for conferences which will enhance the meeting experience. Dynamic conferencing Id features will be added for all Skype for Business online meetings which will enhance security and smoother transaction between back to back meetings. Therefore now your meeting will not be interrupted if you extend your meeting for any reason.

#Skype4b: Skype for business new client features


Microsoft unveiled many new features in Skype for Business at Atlanta Ignite 2016. Lots of new features and enhancement specific to Skype for Business client where main focus area was Mac/iOS client. Below are the list of features which enhanced end user productivity across the multiple mobile platform.

  • New Skype for Business for Mac:
    • Written in Mac programing language, Swift
    • Provides high definition audio and video
    • One click meeting join experience
    • Edge-to-edge video and desktop sharing to make full use of screen

       

  • Enhancement in Skype for Business for iOS:
    • Using the Apple CallKit framework
    • SfB calls will work just like a cellular call
    • Accept a SfB call via the lock screen
    • SfB call can be put on the hold to receive phone call

These features are going to change the Skype for Business end user experience, it will work just like a phone.

#Skype4b: Skype for Business PSTN Calling


PSTN calling is an add-on service to Skype for Business Cloud PBX. If you want to learn more about Skype for Business online voice offerings, please read the entire series here.

PSTN calling feature in Skype for Business online allows users to make calls to and receive calls from people inside and outside the organization. This feature enables administrators to search, acquire and assign the phone numbers to the users in the organization. Users enabled for PSTN calling in Office 365 can make voice calls across all Skype for Business devices including PCs, mobile devices and VOIP phones. Users can also control their calls through mute/unmute, hold/resume, call transfers, and call forwarding features, and if necessary, make emergency calls. It provides two different types of PSTN voice calling plans:

  • PSTN Domestic Calling
  • PSTN Domestic and International Calling

PSTN Domestic Calling: PSTN Domestic Calling allows user to make domestic calls with in the same country or region. User’s license usage location determines what is considered “domestic” for a specific user. Each user gets PSTN calling minutes that consist of both domestic outgoing, and domestic and international inbound calls (originating from anywhere in the world). Following are the PSTN calling minutes for specific locations:

Untied States: 3000 minutes (including Puerto Rico)

United Kingdom: 1200 minutes

PSTN Domestic and International Calling: PSTN Domestic and International Calling allows user to make domestic and international (196 countries) calls. User’s license usage location determines what is considered “domestic” and what is considered “international” for a specific user. Each user gets PSTN calling minutes that consist of both domestic and international outgoing, and domestic and international inbound calls (originating from anywhere in the world). Following are the PSTN calling minutes for specific locations:

Untied States: 3000 domestic minutes (including Puerto Rico) OR 600 international minutes

United Kingdom: 1200 domestic minutes OR 600 international minutes

Country and regions specific monthly minute’s details can be found here.

Courtesy: Microsoft

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition: Release 1.4.1


Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition release 1.4.1 is 3rd release. To learn more about Skype for Business Cloud PBX, Cloud Connector Edition and different releases, click here. Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition version 1.4.1 was released in August 22, 2016 with the following updates:

  • Customization available in CloudConnector.ini file:
Configuration setting Description
Site Name Site name is required and it should be unique for each site and must match with PSTN site name defined in Office 365.
Hardware Type Type of Hardware can be defined, by default it is set to “Normal” but it can be set to “Minimum” for smaller deployments that can support up to 50 simultaneous calls.
CorpDNSIPAddress “CorpDNSIPAddress” must be configured in .ini file to allow windows update for the base VM image. It will be configured on internal interface of temporary VM and should provide the name resolution to the public names. Otherwise, internet connection will fail because of name resolution and deployment will not finish.
WSUSServer The address of WSUS server can be configured for Microsoft updates if required.
WSUSStatusServer The address of WSUS server can be configured for WSUS status update if required.
EnableReferSupport EnableReferSupporyt parameter is used to define the SIP REFER support, either enabled or disabled on the Trunk configuration to your IP/PBX. By default it is set to “True” otherwise it can be changed to “False”. If you are not sure if your gateway supports REFER, please reference Microsoft Unified Communications Open Interoperability Program for Qualified IP-PBXs Gateways.
ForwardPAI ForwardPAI determines whether PAI (P-Asserted-Identity) field is forwarded from the Mediation Server to the gateways. By default, it is set to “True” but it can changed to “False”
  • New CCE Management service has been added on host server to manage HA Detection/Recover, binary auto-upgrade, and operating system auto-upgrade.
  • There has been 5 new cmdlets introduced and at the same time 3 cmdlets have been deprecated. You can refer to the Cloud Connector cmdlet reference for latest cmdlets. While 2 cmdlets have been updated Install-CcInstance and Uninstall-CcInstance to Install-CcAppliance and Uninstall-CcAppliance.

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition: Release 1.3.8


Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition release 1.3.8 is 2nd release. To learn more about Skype for Business Cloud PBX, Cloud Connector Edition and different releases, click here. Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition version 1.3.8 was released in May 24, 2016 with the following updates:

  • This version had resolved the issues related to failures of transferring calls to a phone number. If you are facing following challenges then upgrade to latest version of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition.
    • Your Office 365 user account is configured to use Cloud PBX.
    • You have an active PSTN call using the Skype for Business client on Windows, where the voice for this call uses Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition.
    • You start a transfer to another phone number by selecting or entering the phone number from a list of suggested phone numbers on the transfer menu.

In this scenario, the other phone number rings, and you can answer the transferred call, but you hear no audio. Additionally, the client window of the existing active PSTN call shows the following error:

Cannot complete the transfer.

  • This version also take care about unnecessary files after finishing deployment process such as
    • The temporary copies of certificates
    • Exported topology files for the Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition appliance
  • There was one major improvement as well in terms of DNS
    • Now, you can specify multiple DNS IP addresses, separated by spaces, in the CloudConnector.ini file for “CorpnetDNSIPAddress” and “InternetDNSIPAddress” values.

Courtesy: Microsoft Technet

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition Releases/Versions


Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition is a revolutionary offering from Microsoft to connect on-premises voice infrastructure with Skype for Business online. I wrote a series of articles about Skype for Business Cloud PBX and Cloud Connector Edition and this post will give you a holistic view of all the Cloud Connector Edition current and upcoming releases (versions).

Below are the series of blogposts related to Skype for Business Cloud PBX and Cloud Connector Edition:

Skype for Business Cloud PBX

Skype for Business Cloud Connector

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Components

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Supported Topology

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Infrastructure Requirements Part I

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Infrastructure Requirements Part II

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition Public DNS, IP and Certificates requirements

Call flow with Cloud Connector Edition

Now, I am going to cover the different releases of Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition in the following table.

Product Release Remarks
Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition 1.3.4 Initial release
1.3.8  Read more
1.4.1  Read more

For the initial release, please read the series of blogposts and for specific release updates read the respective blogposts which covers the changes and enhancement.