Microsoft Lync Server, now called Skype for Business, is a proven platform for delivering enterprise-class unified communications capabilities that build on and expand core Microsoft technologies. Lync Server 2013 brings centralized management and seamless access to an array of critical functions that promote productive collaboration including IM, presence, A/V conferencing with application sharing and whiteboarding, plus VoIP and PSTN telephony. Lync server 2013 and Lync 2013 client software introduce major improvements over Lync 2010 and Office Communications Server in key areas such as BYOD computing, availability and recoverability, HD video, cloud support, security and compliance, scale, manageability, conferencing, and enterprise voice. Lync Server 2013 also offers tighter integration with core backend Microsoft servers (SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint) and with popular Office and Office 365 applications.
Lync Server 2013 features a new distributed architecture that improves availability. Lync Server 2013 Standard Edition includes basic fault tolerance and provides all the communications functions of the Enterprise Edition, which offers added features for high availability, failover, and disaster recovery. You can deploy Lync Server fully on-premises, as a cloud-based service, or in a hybrid cloud/local architecture. For local and hybrid deployments, Lync Server 2013 includes support for PSTN gateways so that your local users can access your connection to the public switched telephone phone network.
Lync Server 2013 Standard Edition offers cost-effective high availability via server pairing
Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can provide online and onsite expertise to assist organizations of any size to evaluate the advantages of various deployment options for Lync Server 2013, design an appropriate topology that aligns with your current and future needs, and configure a unified messaging solution that delivers maximum business value and fast return on investment. Progent can help you integrate Lync Server 2013 with SQL Server and Exchange Unified Messaging (UM) services, configure Front End pools, Edge and Back End servers, firewalls, load balancers, reverse proxy servers and PSTN gateways, and interface with third-party infrastructure such as Cisco's Unified Communications platform.
Progent can also help you take advantage of Lync Server 2013's expanded support for Outlook, PowerPoint and SharePoint to simplify collaboration. Progent's disaster recovery and business continuity planning consultants can help you deploy Lync Server 2013 Enterprise Edition for high availability, and Progent's certified network security consultants can help you plan and test a security strategy that provides compliance with government regulations, industry requirements, and your own in-house standards.
If you have already deployed Lync Server 2013, Progent can review and enhance your topology, troubleshoot technical issues, or assist you to design and implement a smooth Skype for Business migration.
Enhanced Features of Lync Server 2013
Lync Server 2013 incorporates an array of new features that cover all key aspects of unified messaging. The most prominent change is a new fault-tolerant distributed system architecture. Other major improvements include new administration tools, persistent chat, rich enterprise voice, broader support for mobile clients, deeper Exchange integration including unified contact store, and full support for IPv6.
Consolidation and High Availability
Management and Administration
- Consolidated Server Roles: Expansion of the Front End Server role in Lync Server 2013 reduces CapEx by absorbing server roles that before were assigned to separate servers. These consolidated roles include audio and video conferencing, archiving, and monitoring. In addition, Main Persistent Chat Server has become a front end role and Persistent Chat Store and Persistent Chat Compliance Store have become Back End Server roles and no longer require a trusted third-party application.
- Paired Front End Pools: Front End pools, introduced in Lync Server 2010 to improve availability through redundancy, have been enhanced in Lync Server 2013 by support for paired pools residing in two geographically separate data centers. Lync Server 2013's new Backup Service keeps the pools synchronized. In case one paired Front End pool fails, its corresponding pool located at a different site can be failed over quickly, limiting downtime while avoiding the expense and management burden associated with storage networks or shared disks.
- Back End Server Mirroring: Lync Server 2013 allows you to use synchronous SQL mirroring to facilitate disaster recovery for Back End Servers. This topology option calls for you to deploy two Back End Servers for a Front End pool. You can add an optional witness to support automatic failover for rapid recovery. The failover recovery time objective (RTO) with SQL mirroring is 5 minutes.
- Improved RBAC: Lync Server 2013 allows you to delegate specific administrative roles to users in order to streamline management without compromising security. New features in role-based access control (RBAC) include the ability to create custom roles and the availability of two new predefined roles. When you create new roles you can define a custom set of cmdlets or scripts of cmdlets for each new role. Lync Server 2013 also introduces the predefined Response Group Manager and Persistent Chat Manager roles.
- SQL Server Mirroring Supported in Topology Builder: The Topology Builder tool lets you define a new topology for your Lync Server 2013 deployment or change an existing one. Topology Builder now allows you to configure SQL Server mirroring for Back End Server databases and, optionally, to set up a witness for implementing automatic failover.
- Integrated Management of Persistent Chat: The new Persistent Chat Server allows multiple users to participate in ongoing conversations about specific topics. The Lync Server 2013 Control Panel includes an integrated UI for managing the new Persistent Chat Server. A collection of PowerShell cmdlets is also included for managing and administering Persistent Chat Server features.
- Support for Multiple Trunks: Lync Server 2010 was limited to one trunk between a Mediation Server and a PSTN gateway. Lync Server 2013 allows you to define extra trunks to achieve fault tolerance through redundant Mediation Servers or interoperability among trunks with different associated policies. Lync Server 2013 can also rout calls between a PBX phone and the PSTN and interconnect multiple IP-PBX systems.
- New Call Features: Lync Server 2013 provides a broader range for configuring call forwarding and simultaneous ringing options. For example, if you prefer that incoming calls not be forwarded to the public switched telephone network (PSTN), you can apply a voice policy to block this. Also, an assigned delegate can configure incoming calls to a manager to ring simultaneously on the delegate's mobile phone.
- New Caller ID Presentation Feature: An administrator can modify the format of a caller's phone number to a dialing format recognized by the trunk peer. As an example, you can write a translation rule to add or remove a plus sign or replace it with a zero.
- Mobile Voice Mail Escape: A common problem encountered with simultaneous ringing is that a mobile phone that is unavailable for any reason immediately forwards an incoming call to its own voice mail before another device in the ring group can answer. The Voicemail Escape feature in Lync Server 2013 is able to detect this situation, disconnect the call from the mobile device's voice mail, and permit the call to continue ringing on the other devices in the group.
- Call Management Enhancements: Lync Server 2013 enhances the Response Group application with the new Response Group Manager role for delegating administrative tasks. In addition, availability and disaster recovery are improved through paired Front End pools and back-end server mirroring. The new Call Park application allows users to put a call on hold and subsequently resume the call from any phone. The new Group Call Pickup feature allows you to configure a set of virtual numbers that a group user can call in order to answer a call placed to another user in the group.
Additional Enhancements to Lync Server 2013
- Improved Client Support for Join Launcher: The join launcher in Lync Server 2013 validates each meeting before launching a client and allows a wide mix of clients to open a meeting including Windows 8 devices, Android smart phones and tablets, Apple iPhones and iPads, Windows Phones, and Internet Explorer 10.
- Office Web Apps Enhances PowerPoint Sharing: Lync Server 2013 uses Office Web Apps and the Office Web Apps Server (formerly known as Office Web App companion server, or WAC) to allow meeting participants to share PowerPoint presentations. Deployed as a standalone server, Office Web Apps Server supports HD displays and wide range of mobile clients and also allows approved users to scroll through a slide deck independently of the in-progress PowerPoint presentation.
- Video Conferencing: In video conferences, users can see videos of up to five conference participants at the same time. In two-party calls and video conferences H.264 video is the default and 1080p HD video is supported. Other new features include Presenter Only Video Mode and Video Spotlight for avoiding distractions during large video conferences. If Exchange Server has Archiving enabled and is integrated with Lync Server 2013, all documents shared in a conference are archived into Exchange 2013 data storage if Exchange Server integration is enabled with Archiving. Archived documents can include PowerPoint decks, file attachments, whiteboards and polls.
Other enhancements available with Lync Server 2013 include integration with Exchange 2013 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Lync Server 2013 also offers IPv6 support for expanded Internet addressing and also supports IPv4 networks as well as dual-stack environments where both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are enabled.
Enhancements for Lync 2013 Clients
Lync 2013 client software is available for devices powered by Windows, Mac, iOS, Android or Windows Phone operating systems. For example, the new unified contact store feature allows users to migrate their Lync contacts to Exchange and manage them from Lync 2013, Outlook, or Outlook Web App while their favorites automatically stay synchronized. In addition, the Lync Web App allows external users with a supported web browser to attend Lync 2013 meetings without having a Lync client installed on their computer.
Not all features of on-premises Lync 2013 Servers are available to Office 365 users or to clients connected to the subscription-based Lync Online service, and not all mobile clients for smart phones and tablets offer the same feature set. For any given client device, the available functions are the same whether attached to the Enterprise Edition or the Standard Edition of Lync Server 2013.
The Lync 2013 client is included in the Office 2013 Setup program, which also includes the Lync 2013 Online Meeting Add-in for managing meetings from Office Outlook. Integration with Office allows you to configure Lync 2013 clients using familiar tools. To deploy Lync 2013 clients you can use the Office Customization Tool or Setup Command-line options. For defining Group Policy settings you can use Lync ADMX and ADML templates that are part of the Office Group Policy Administrative Templates.
The Lync 2013 client offers a modern, uncluttered user interface that provides quick access to common functions. You can make a voice or A/V call or initiate a chat with one click or tap. The old Activity Feeds feature has been replaced by the new Persistent Chat Room, which allows you to search for chat rooms and topic feeds, track chat room activity, and post messages. The chat room screen displays photos and presence status of members and lets you view any memberís contact card. You can also cause custom alerts to be sent to you when a participant of a topic feed posts a comment that contains specific words.
During a meeting, OneNote Share allows you to co-edit shared notebooks with other participants or use notebook pages as a whiteboard. The web-based conferencing client for Lync 2013, called Lync Web App, has been expanded to support HD video, Voice over IP, and IM, and also lets you share apps, desktops and SharePoint decks. The new Gallery View feature allows you to view all the participants in a video conference or, when video is unavailable, the active speakerís photo.
Lync Server 2013's Mobility Service supports a wide array of functions for users of qualified mobile devices powered by iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. These functions include Instant Messaging, real-time presence, single-number reach, voice mail, Voice over IP, missed call alerts, and support for H.262 video. You can also launch email, make a call, access IM, or join a meeting with a single tap.
Additional improvements to Lync 2013 clients include:
How Progent Can Help You Integrate and Manage Your Lync Server 2013 Environment
- Tabbed Conversations is a new feature that allows users to organize calls, instant messages and chat rooms into a single window that makes it easy to access all active conversations. You can quickly add participants to an IM thread or promote it to an audio or video call or even to a presentation with file sharing and full web conferencing features.
- The new Favorites feature allows you to create and maintain a group of your most frequent contacts.
- Lync 2013's Virtual Desktop Plug-in application installs on a local computer and lets you use local audio and video devices such as a camera or headset in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environment that supports all major features of the Lync 2013 client running on the virtual machine..
An effective deployment of Lync Server 2013 touches virtually every aspect of your information network and calls for a breadth and depth of IT knowledge that few in-house staffs can provide. Progent has assembled a large team of Microsoft-certified consultants and Cisco certified network engineers who have experience delivering online and onsite expertise to companies of all sizes in order to achieve fast and affordable system integration solutions. Progent can assist you with any and all phases of your Lync Server 2013 deployment, providing services that range from on-demand support for occasional technical bottlenecks all the way to full project management services. Lync Server 2013 consulting services offered by Progent include:
Progent can also help you evaluate the business benefits of migrating to the latest release of Skype for Business and can provide comprehensive Skype for Business migration services.
- Assess your goals for unified communications
- Analyze your current resources and infrastructure
- Help determine the appropriateness of an on-premises, cloud-based, or hybrid environment for Lync Server 2013
- Design a Lync Server 2013 topology and provide capacity planning services
- Configure Front End, Back End and Edge servers
- Set up firewalls, load balancing, reverse proxy servers and PSTN gateways
- Plan and deploy a high-availability and recoverable architecture
- Set up servers for Mobility Services and Persistent Chat
- Configure Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)
- Create DNS records and certificates
- Implement and test IM, Presence, Conferencing, and Enterprise Voice
- Integrate mobile devices by providing services that include iPhone and iPad configuration and Android phone and tablet synchronization consulting
- Set up archiving and monitoring
- Integrate Lync 2013 with SQL Server, Exchange UM, SharePoint Server, and Office or Office 365 including PowerPoint and Outlook
- Design an efficient management environment including System Center Operations Manager (SCOM)
- Define and implement policies for security and compliance
- Train your IT staff and users
- Provide ongoing consulting and troubleshooting services
Progent's Cisco-certified CCIE network consultants can assist you to design and configure your networking environment so it delivers the performance and resilience you need for your Lync Server 2013 deployment and Progent offers Cisco unified communications (UC) integration services to interface Lync Server 2013 with Cisco Voice over IP and video conferencing platforms. Progent's information security experts can assist you to follow leading practices to create a compliant security strategy for your Lync Server 2013 unified messaging ecosystem .
Save Time and Money with Progent's Online Consulting Services
Progent is a pioneer in providing advanced and affordable online consulting and troubleshooting services. Remote consulting saves time and money by eliminating needless travel. The combination of online support and subject matter expertise allows Progent to resolve even the most challenging problems quickly, saving you the costs associated with lost productivity due to disruptions in IT service. Progent has provided advanced online consulting and remediation services to businesses of all sizes in every state in the U.S. (refer to Progent's customer testimonials). Progent's consultants, software developers and troubleshooting experts include one of the largest independent teams of Cisco CCIE-certified IT network consultants in the U.S. and are available as needed for jobs of any size. For projects that require it, Progent offers onsite consulting in metropolitan areas throughout the United States.
Contact Progent for Lync Server 2013 Support
To get in touch with Progent about consulting support available for Lync Server 2013, call 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.