Post Author: Jason Wake, Senior Technical Consultant – Unified Comms Specialist
Following a recent hire Krome now offer professional services around Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business deployments
Krome have recently recognised the business benefits of adding Microsoft Lync skills into their portfolio of expertise and have made a new hire in the form of me, a unified comms specialist.
I joined Krome back in April this year, bringing with me 11 years of unified comms experience, 6 of which were spent as a Microsoft Support Engineer supporting enterprise Microsoft Lync deployments.
Taking the opportunity to advance Krome’s own internal comms, increase efficiency and even cut some costs, Krome has now implemented Microsoft Lync or its latest version (but a bit of a mouthful), Microsoft Skype for Business (SfB) internally with the intention of taking it to the market in both their existing and potential new customers.
As an organisation, Krome always believe in fully evaluating technology in-house before recommending and implementing it into its customers. As many can attest, this is quite a rare occurrence in the IT industry with in house IT coming second fiddle to customer deliveries.
If you’re not familiar with Microsoft Lync as a tool, it basically enables businesses to communicate effectively with instant messaging, voice and audio, along with conferencing interactively, both inside and outside of the organisation.
Basic feature list of Microsoft Lync:
- Contacts and groups
- Instant messaging
- External user support
- Mobile access
- Archiving and compliance
As with any new technology “doing it right from the offset” was the key to getting a marketable product that worked which we could confidently then take out to customers. The plan was to evaluate initially in a lab environment, then testing and deploying the product internally to Krome staff in our production environment, once this had been achieved we began putting together a package that could be adapted to our customer’s needs.
Our own internal observations
With the lab working and live Krome environment on users’ desktops, one of the biggest obstacles we observed by doing the Lync (Skype for Business) rollout wasn’t actually the product itself, it was everything else surrounding the deployment of the technology. For example:
- Firewall changes had to go through layers of approval and delays before being put in place.
- SIP trunk providers appeared to be very nice, friendly people just not experienced in the exact requirements for connectivity to Microsoft Lync or how to configure it correctly.
- Existing LAN infrastructure needed a good tweak (and a lot of convincing of the architecture team) to bring it into line with Microsoft recommended architecture for Lync.
- And finally, the users! Of all the impressive and useful things that users can do on Lync, what do the users all ask about first? Yep, the highly important – How do I change my photo question??!!??
So is it Lync or Skype?
Speaking of users, there’s a bit of confusion that needs clearing up. I only bring this up because numerous times the same conversation is required around this. So basically, Microsoft Lync 2013 front end and client have been available for a long time. In November last year, a technical preview was available for download that rebranded the Lync 2013 client as the Skype for Business (SfB) client. It is the 2013 client under the covers, but it is available with an optional UI skin that looks like the Skype Consumer client. In April the SfB UI skin was officially launched and was loaded as part of standard Windows Update (this seriously confused some people who were used to the Lync 2013 client). Finally, the Skype for Business server software was released in early May. This is a big update to the back end servers and offers a number of additional server features (but not a great deal of user features) and will run both the SfB and the Lync 2013 client. There, all cleared up.
With the observations gained from the rollout of Microsoft Lync (Skype for Business) to a typical company (our own), we have been able to put together a questionnaire that could potentially take out a lot of the hassle encountered by us on future customer deployments. A great deal focuses on the existing architecture, what we would have to integrate with, what process and procedures are in place that we would have to be part of, capacity available and some more curious questions that would avoid some of the pitfalls encountered already (including details on how to update your photo in the Lync client!).
If you’re interested in learning more about Microsoft Lync (Skype for Business) for your organisation please do get in touch, we’d love to share our experiences, and help you to plan and deliver your own internal Skype for Business internal comms platform.
Information – Krome Technologies is currently running Skype for Business client with a Microsoft Lync 2013 server back end. Upgrade to the latest Skype for Business back end is in the planning stage for lab rollout.