Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Re-Branding: Introducing the #TeamsRecap

Well, I finally did it. The #Skype4BRecap has been officially renamed to the #TeamsRecap! As you can see from the image above, I have even embraced the purple.

Admittedly, I struggled with whether or not to do this, as Skype for Business Server 2019 is still slated for H2 2018, per the latest from Ignite, and Skype for Business Online will still be around for some time. However, I came to the realization that when it comes to Skype for Business Server 2019, a LOT can happen between now and the actual release. AND, there is very clear marketing message that Microsoft is pushing 150% with Teams. SO, I decided that with much of my future content probably shifting more and more toward Teams, this was likely the right move.

At any rate, the show is still the same for now: same me, same format, same hat, etc. Again, though, this is for now. I am mulling over changing up a couple things, maybe just a bit, but time will tell with those. In the meantime, I have the latest episode of the #TeamsRecap published to YouTube, and ready to watch! Get caught up on what's new with the Skype UG (HINT: International locations may be in our future!), and get a good recap of all the Teams news from Microsoft Ignite:

Don't forget to Re-Tweet or Share on LinkedIn if you enjoy the show, or find it helpful/amusing!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Microsoft Teams & Skype for Business Specific Conference in the US?

On the heels of Microsoft Ignite, and right after UC Day UK just wrapped up in the UK, a small group of individuals would LOVE to know your interest level on bringing a smaller community-based event back onto the scene - one specifically focused on Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams content (Microsoft UC, or IC now). Of course, if the interest level is there, we could actually see something amazing like this come back, in the spirit of what was once the Lync Conference (just led by Community members, rather than Microsoft).

This would be a US-based initiative, much like UC Day UK (now renamed to Evolve Conference) is in the UK. For a brief 1-day period, a poll is being conducted on Twitter to gauge the interest level:

Please, follow this link and take the 2 seconds that it takes to respond: 

OH, and spread the word, get as many people as you can within the greater North American area to respond with their honest feedback! With the right community-backing, a conference that is more tailored to the industry that we all work in and love could become a reality. Wouldn't that be freakin' incredible! 

ALSO, if you see this AFTER the poll closes, please reply in the Comments below and share your thoughts on whether or not you would go for this.

Ok, enough reading. GO! Vote! ;-)

Friday, September 22, 2017

How-To Video: PSTN Conferencing (Public Preview) in Microsoft Teams

In the final days before Microsoft Ignite, it appears that the Product Team has quietly gifted us with a brand new Public Preview feature: PSTN Conferencing in Microsoft Teams!

Please note, to be able to take advantage of this feature, you need to be licensed for PSTN Conferencing within Skype for Business Online. If you are not properly licensed for PSTN Conferencing, you simply won't see the Dialin Conferencing information in the Meeting Details.

The below video is an brief introduction to this feature, and how to use it. Keep in mind, the PSTN Conferencing settings that have been setup in Skype for Business Online appear to be what is carried over for Teams.

I hope that the above video was helpful in getting you started with Microsoft Teams meetings that have greater capabilities!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Video: Setup & Implement Guest Access in Microsoft Teams

For those of you that did not hear about the long-awaited arrival of Guest Access in Microsoft Teams, I have a two part process that I want you to follow for getting caught up to speed:

  1. Crawl out from the rock that you are living under
  2. Watch the below How-To video!

This video briefly walks through four main components of the Guest Access experience that you will get you working with external guests in Teams. 

  • Enable Guest Access for your Office 365 Tenant
  • Invite a guest to your Team
  • Accept and join a Team as a guest
  • Switching between accounts in Teams
I hope that the video was enlightening and helpful! If you are looking for a brief walkthrough that you can read, and that gives more details on what can and cannot be done as a guest, visit Matt Landis' blog post here:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint Files in Microsoft Teams

The ability to upload, view, and have contextual chat conversations around various Office document types within Microsoft Teams has been great. To me, however, the inability to edit documents within Teams, especially Microsoft Office documents, was quite undesirable.

To edit Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents in Teams previously, you had to click on the "Edit" button while viewing the document, and then either edit it in the full Office app, or the Office Online version of the app.

Today, I noticed that the ability to edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents directly within Teams has been added, much to my excitement! Note, I have verified that this works for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint file types as of the time of this blog post. However, I am not sure about others. I verified that it does not work for Visio drawings, but if it ever does, that would be freakin' sweet!

Check out my video below going over this simple, but very welcome, change to working with Office files within Teams.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cloud PBX Rebranding to Microsoft Phone System & Early Ignite Observations

The upcoming Session Catalog for Microsoft Ignite has given quite a bit of insight into some upcoming changes or direction for the Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams communities well ahead of the conference itself. While I comb through the list of available sessions to start putting my own Ignite agenda together, there a few things that stood out to me that I thought were worth calling out.

Cloud PBX & PSTN Calling get Name Refreshes

It seems not too long ago that Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling were introduced. As a matter of fact, with less than 10 countries currently available for PSTN Calling today, it seems crazy that a re-name of these services would possibly be in the works. However, a session titled, "Is Voice in the cloud right for you?" (Session BRK2038) suggests that this is indeed the case.

Based on the details of this session, we see that Microsoft apparently intends to rebrand Cloud PBX to "Microsoft's Phone System", and PSTN Calling will get remodeled with "Calling Plan". I know, I was thinking the same thing: Couldn't the Marketing team have thought of anything a bit less...obvious...and a bit more...catchy? ;-) At any rate, like it or hate it, that is what shows up for this session as of the date of this blog post, so don't get too much more attached to "Cloud PBX" or "PSTN Calling". I know it will definitely take some work for me to adjust...

A New Portal: The Networking Portal

Based on session "Network Planning for Real Time Communications with the Networking Portal (Session BRK2031), it would appear that a new portal is in the works. The Networking Portal appears to be built around RTC traffic for both Skype for Business and Teams. Check out the below excerpt from the session description:

"In this session we introduce our newly created Networking Portal - an essential piece of Planning and Operating any Real Time Communications environment, whether running Teams, Skype for Business or both. It will help organize your networking data centrally, such as subnets per location, users per location, etc. It allows import and export of Call Quality Dashboard Sites data and Call Analytics, making it easier to maintain that information. It is also the central point for your Bandwidth Calculations for both Teams and Skype for Business."

This looks like a very intriguing new tool to learn about, and I am really hoping that it will fit nicely into my Ignite schedule.

Teams & Skype for Business Getting Pretty Cozy

When you go to the Session Catalog on the Microsoft Ignite site, you can enter search terms to narrow down the hundreds of available sessions. As of right now, searching for "Teams" narrows down the list to 51 session. Some of these sessions are very strictly built around getting to know Teams better. Some are listed because they are more general Office 365 sessions that include Teams in the description. The resounding theme I am seeing, though, is that MANY of these sessions focus in on both Teams AND Skype for Business, grouping them together in many ways that really make you wonder what the story of these two products will look like after Ignite.

The below sessions all just a small sample of the sessions that I observed this with, and if you visit their links, you might start to observe the same behavior. I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts after checking them out as well:

So, those are some of my initial thoughts and observations about what is in store for us at Ignite in regards to Skype for Business and Teams. What are some of your observations?!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sonus CloudLink: Call Transfer Failed for PSTN Caller

I came across an interesting issue today with a Sonus CloudLink deployment involving failed Call Transfers of PSTN calls. I'll start with the background on this deployment.


This deployment was fairly straightforward. The organization started out with a fresh Skype for Business Online environment, and no Hybrid was ever involved. All users had E5 licensing with Cloud PBX. The firm had a CUCM device (and another random Intercom device using an FXO port), and they wanted to continue using their voice carrier with their existing DIDs for their Cloud PBX users. They decided to go with a Sonus 1K and CloudLink for the solution.

The journey to the point of our Call Transfer problems was a little longer than it needed to be, as this was my first CloudLink deployment, and there were a few lessons to be learned. Let's suffice to say, the CCE instance was finally installed nicely on the ASM, and calls were flowing quite nicely between all components: CCE, CUCM, and PSTN. All was just peachy. Until we tried to transfer an answered PSTN call to another Cloud PBX user, or their voicemail.

The Problem

To reproduce the issue, I would place a call over the PSTN using my cell phone to a DID that had been assigned to one of the test users that had been migrated from CUCM to Cloud PBX (CCE). The test user account was able to successfully answer the call and have a conversation. However, once the Cloud PBX user tried to transfer this PSTN call to another Cloud PBX user within this same tenant, or to their voicemail, the call would be placed on Hold, and an error message would appear in the Skype for Business client call window stating that the Call Transfer Failed.

Frustrating, but ok. Let's fire up the LX Logging tool for SBC logging, and run the CCE Logging wizard that is provided within the Sonus web interface on a CloudLink device. First, looking at the call in the LX Tool, I saw this entry in the Call Flow:

As you can see, this NOTIFY entry was where the Transfer attempt took place, and we the text:

Subscription-State: terminated;reason=noresource
SIP/2.0 503 Service Unavailable
Well, this had me scratching my head. I wasn't sure what service it was saying was unavailable, or why the call could not be transferred based on this error, and the other messages in that chain didn't help. Taking a look at the CCE logs actually revealed the exact same issue, but nothing else that helped me:

After looking around a bit more, I finally involved the Sonus Support team (who has always been incredibly awesome to me!). After providing my logs, and a Config Backup of the SBC, they were able to spot the issue.

The Resolution

You see, in their documentation for installing and configuring the CCE instance, Sonus strongly suggests that you use the SBC Easy Setup wizard for configuring all your call routing rules, etc., as seen below:

However, I decided to be special, and create all the Signaling Groups, Call Routing Tables, and Transformation rules on my own. This wasn't an issue leading up to the Call Transfer problem, because all of our call routing was working as expected. However, the Sonus Support tech somehow was able to note (probably from the Config Backup) that I had not used this wizard. He then pointed out that one of the things that the wizard does is to create a Split-DNS entry on the SBC itself for the default CCE domain that is created with the CCE wizard (which is sfb-ccedomain.local), pointing this domain name to the IP address of the AD/DNS server that is created as a CCE VM. He stated that without this entry, the SBC was unable to resolve the Mediation Server's FQDN (med.sfb-ccedomain.local).

Now, I was confused why this was necessary for Call Transfers, but apparently not an issue with normal P2P calls, as the Mediation Server's IP address seemed to be sufficient. However, it was worth a try. So, I when into the DNS section on the SBC and created the new entry.

Then, I went and tested out the PING utility in the SBC's Diagnostics tab, and sure enough, it now resolved med.sfb-ccedomain.local, whereas it could not resolve it before. Brilliant!

Finally, I went to test transfer, both to a user, and to their Voicemail, and guess what? Yep: SUCCESS! Good way to end a Friday! I hope this helps at least one or two of you on your CCE or CloudLink adventures.