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Polycom Employee


realconnect-click-br-650x500-24388.jpgA guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a
 Lync MVP:


At our recently held webinar ‘Click-to-join with Polycom RealConnect and Skype for Business’, we received a lot of interest and queries particularly around integration and use cases. Here, we reproduce some of the frequently asked questions about this solution and we invite you to submit your own queries.

 

 

  1. What are the basic ‘click to join’ components of this solution?
    Polycom’s RealConnect solution components include the Polycom RealPresence Clarity infrastructre, an on-premise Skype for Business infrastructure and the room video endpoints as well as the Skype for Business clients.

 

  1. Can you explain the port usage?
    Polycom RealConnect uses less ports compared with other types of "meet-on-the-bridge" solutions. In RealConnect, the room video endpoints make use of the Polycom MCU while Skype for Business clients use the AVMCU. Both MCUs are used concurrently using MCU cascading, and hence uses less resources on the MCU. For "Meet-on-the-Bridge" solutions, all room video endpoints as well as Skype for Business clients make use of only the video MCU, and is therefore less scalable than RealConnect.

  2. Can my existing Polycom hardware also connect via Skype for Business so that I benefit from some of the features we saw today?
    Yes existing Polycom hardware such as RealPresence Group Series and RealPresence Platform infrastructure running recent versions of hardware and software can be integrated with Skype for Business.

  3. I have three devices with Cisco C20. Is it compatible with Skype for Business solutions?
    Cisco C20 endpoints can be used with Polycom RealConnect to connect with Skype for Business. In fact many customers using Cisco endpoints are using RealConnect today to collaborate with Skype for Business users.

  4. Can we use this technology to conduct group discussions or presentations?
    Yes certainly. Video collaboration is widely used today in many organisations for group discussions and presentations. Polycom RealConnect makes video collaboration easy and seamless for both standards video endpoints and Skype for Business users.

  5. Does it support the Polycom HDX 7000 unit?
    Yes RealConnect supports the Polycom HDX family of video endpoints. However, on 1 August 2016 Polycom made the formal End-of-Sale (EoS) announcement for the HDX product line. Therefore we encourage you to consider the newer RealPresence Group Series family of video endpoints moving forward.

  6. Are there any problems with firewalls in other organisations blocking the ability to click on links and launch the meeting?
    The click-to-join function in RealConnect works differently from the click-to-join function in a Windows PC. For RealConnect, the room video endpoint will join the meeting from a touch panel or a remote control, which initiates the call into the Polycom RealPresence Clariti infrastructure using SIP or H.323 protocols. Therefore, it is not affected by firewall rules that block click on http links on PC web-browsers. These type of firewall rules will, however, affect the ability of devices that do require clicking on http links to join the meeting, as in the case of the Outlook client on PCs for example.

  7. Do we need to physically host the Polycom RealConnect solution or can it be virtually hosted?
    The Polycom RealConnect infrastructure can be hosted by a service provider so that the end user organisation does not need to host it. This model is similar to a private cloud scenario and is already available globally.
  1. Is there panoramic view capability?
    Yes, in the upcoming update for RealConnect technology, we will be able to display an immersive telepresence room using the panoramic view on the Skype for Business client.

  2. What type of encryption is used for Skype for Business?
    Skype for Business uses industry standard SIP TLS for signalling and SRTP for media and supports 128-bit AES encryption.


Missed out on the last webinar?

Click here to view it on-demand.

 

 

Polycom Employee

Brennon Kwok.jpgA guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:

 

When asked by CIOs to explain what’s key when assessing their future technology needs, it’s no surprise that Microsoft and its unified communications (UC) solutions are always integral to the conversation. On a recent visit to Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), I hosted a series of design clinics for partners and customers wanting to understand how they can be more effective at deploying 21st century collaboration technologies in a Microsoft-enabled Workplace of the Future. 

 

To provide some context. I truly believe our industry is at a turning point.  The widespread availability and advances in digital technology are causing rapid changes to the workplace, not seen since the industrial revolution. IT investment is just one indicator. In line with spend, a large number of enterprises, large and small, are on their own digital transformation journeys moving voice and video communications from legacy proprietary systems to more open and collaborative environments. For the majority, this means deploying unified communication (UC) collaboration technologies delivered by Microsoft; either on-premise or in the cloud.

 

When it comes to workplace transformation, compared to the rest of Asia Pacific, businesses in Australia and Newdesign clinic.JPG
Zealand are ahead of the curve. Many customers are already using voice and or video as a service (VaaS) from a variety of service providers that offer 24/7 connectivity anytime, anyplace and on any device. Businesses are also replacing traditional office environments with open plan workspaces more suited to collaboration.  These include areas like brainstorming zones and small huddle areas where different work groups can meet, share content and collaborate on video using multiple devices. 

 

But while the changing workplace driven by rapid technology innovation is exciting, there are of course challenges when it comes to getting the technology right. One of the biggest hurdles is enabling different heterogeneous environments to work together in a seamless and non-disruptive way. It’s one thing to be able to connect different systems together, but to do so while preserving a consistent user experience and workflow across a multitude of user devices is the difference between a good and a great solution. Customers also expect this same interoperability and user experience when they move to the cloud.

 

What's coming up for Polycom + Microsoft? 

Obviously, customers who are integrating legacy video conferencing and PBX systems with Microsoft Skype for Business and Microsoft Office365 are also looking for integration that preserves the natural workflow experience. In fact this is the number one factor driving user adoption today and until recently has been a major hurdle for many.

 

The technologies available from Microsoft and Polycom, underpinned by our 12 year partnership, have matured to overcome these interoperability barriers. With a firmware update planned for later this year, Skype for Business customers can move completely to Office365 and the Polycom® RealPresence® Group Series will be able to directly register with the cloud servers, allowing for presence, click-to-call and Exchange Online calendar integration out of the box. This will help drive user adoption and provide the consistent look and feel of Skype for Business across all meeting space devices, creating a seamless user experiences.

 

However, within this context, it’s important to educate customers and partners on what can be achieved today and further improvements that can be expected in the coming months. For example, as part of Microsoft’s newly announced Project Rigel, Polycom will deliver a new line of room solutions purpose built for Skype for Business that will offer plug-and-play simplicity to meet the needs of any sized business and any sized room. Although exact details are to be announced, these new solutions are expected to take advantage of the innovative Skype Meeting interface of Microsoft’s Surface Hub and combine them with the latest collaboration technologies.  

 

For customers looking to integrate enterprise-grade HD video and voice into their Microsoft Skype for Business or Office 365 platform, here are five key tips to get you started: 

 

  1. Make sure the HD voice and video solutions are certified to work with Microsoft Skype for Business and Office 365
  2. Many solutions claim Microsoft interoperability but remember ‘the devil is in the details’. Do thorough research into how exactly the solution interoperates with Skype for Business and whether the native user workflow and experience is preserved.
  3. The vendor providing these solutions should have a strong partnership with Microsoft and offer a breadth of solutions to meet different work based scenarios and requirements.
  4. Always check that the vendor has a robust roadmap of solution offerings. Choosing a Desktop Phone that provides a great user experience is important, but equally so is the ability of IT to easily manage the deployment and provisioning of these devices across a large user base. This is important to ensure a low total cost of ownership of the overall UC solution.
  5. Ensure there is a good range of local partners and integrators to choose from for Implementation services and that servicing support is available globally, 24/7.

 

huddle-spaces-office-365-webinar-POPUP-300x200.jpgWould you like to learn how Office 365 and Skype for Business change the collaboration experience? Join Brennon

on May 18 at Polycom's latest webinar. Register today to find out more about improving your huddle spaces and small meeting rooms. 

 

Polycom Employee

Brennon Kwok.jpgA guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:

 

Last week at Enterprise Connect 2016, Polycom and Microsoft made joint announcements which have had profound impact across the entire UC industry. Never before has two companies partnered together so closely to bring about a whole new level of innovation and technology for meeting room spaces and collaboration focused built purposefully for the cloud. While there are already several great blog posts on the announcements such as the one from Network World by Zeus Kerravala, this blog focuses on what those announcements really mean for customers in practical terms. 

 

Let's review the three major developments that were announced and what they each mean for customers:

1. 
Polycom will qualify the Group Series portfolio of products for Microsoft’s Office 365 solution and introduce new benefits such as a Skype for Business UI for a native look and feel.

First, the Polycom Group Series family of endpoints have always been natively integrated with Skype for Business and thousands of these devices have already been deployed into meeting rooms by Microsoft customers all around the world. Up until now, these endpoints could register natively to an on-premise Skype for Business Server and appear as a contact for presence and click-to-call functionality. However, it could not register directly into the Office365 Skype for Business infrastructure in the cloud.. This means that customers who want to move their on-premise deployment of Skype for Business to Office365 still had to maintain a small instance of Skype for Business in their data centre in order to continue using the Group Series.

 

With the latest announcement, this will no longer be the case moving forward. With a firmware update in H2 2016, Skype for Business customers can move completely to Office365 and the Group Series will be able to directly register with the cloud servers, allowing for presence, click-to-call and Exchange Online calendar integration out of the box. In addition, the firmware update in H2 Group Series will provide a native Skype for Business UI, first on the RP Touch and then later on the Group Series display itself. This will certainly help drive user adoption and provide a consistent look and feel of Skype for Business across all meeting space devices and create seamless users experiences.

 

2. Polycom will partner with Microsoft and co-develop several purpose-built Skype-for-Business video solutions (Project Rigel). Polycom will certify our RealPresence Trio and CX5100 to work with Project Rigel video solutions to enhance the Skype for Business experience.
 

A whole new generation of collaborative endpoints will be co-developed by Polycom and Microsoft to meet the entire spectrum of meeting room requirements ranging from huddle spaces to boardrooms. Code-named 'Project Rigel', this brings together the best of technologies from both Polycom and Microsoft to deliver new and industry- leading room solutions. Although exact details are not available at this time, these new solutions are designed to take advantage of the innovative Skype Meeting interface of Microsoft’s Surface Hub and combine them with the industry leading technologies offered on Polycom meeting room devices such as Polycom RealPresence Trio and the CX5100. Although Polycom will not be the only partner offering Project Rigel solutions, no other vendor will have a more complete portfolio of Skype for Business solutions that encompasses endpoints and infrastructure.

 

3. Polycom and Microsoft will introduce a cloud-based video-interoperability service similar to Polycom RealConnect, but hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud and available to any Office 365 customer. This service offering will bring RealConnect-like workflows and experiences into the Office 365 Cloud and will be available in the US late in the year (other countries will follow in 2017).

  

Last but not least, Polycom RealConnect is coming to Office365! Since its creation nearly 2 years ago, Polycom’s RealConnect solution has become the de-facto standard for Skype for Business integration that other vendors have tried to emulate and follow. RealConnect makes it seamless for Skype for Business users to click to join calls from the meeting invitation and users of standards-based videoconferencing systems to dial into an Outlook scheduled call using simple numeric dialling. Additionally, Polycom Group Series endpoints can simply click to dial a scheduled meeting from its calendar for ultimate ease of use. By allowing users to follow familiar and intuitive workflows to collaborate over video on Skype for Business or with a traditional video conference system, Polycom RealConnect makes joining together in a multiparty meeting easy and seamless.

 

Another advantage of RealConnect is the elimination of unused resources, as both the Polycom MCU and Microsoft Skype for Business AVMCU infrastructure are being utilised simultaneously, which adds unmatched scalability and cost performance. RealConnect is currently only available for on-premise customers or hybrid customers with an on-premise Skype for Business infrastructure. However with this announcement, Office365 users will be able to utilise and consume the RealConnect experience directly from the cloud without any on-premise Polycom infrastructure. This will be available in the US late H2 2016, with the rest of the world to follow in 2017.

 

To summarise, these are indeed exciting announcements from two companies who have partnered together for

more than a decade and continue to grow in strength more than ever today. Check out the video to hear more on this from Polycom CEO, Peter Leav in discussion with Microsoft CVP of Skype Business Services, Zig Serafin, The both explain the unique, best in industry value proposition that both companies create in close, long-time partnership.

 

As the transition to Office365 gains momentum in the coming months, customers will be able to enjoy new and innovative solutions for meeting spaces while at the same time extending the value of their existing investments.

 

For more details please contact your nearest Polycom sales representative or reseller.

 

 

Polycom Employee

Brennon Kwok.jpgA guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:

 

Since the release of Skype for Business in May earlier this year, the premier UC platform from Microsoft has seen ever increasing adoption and usage in enterprises both large and small.  Many companies already on Lync 2013 are already in the midst of upgrading to Skype for Business while others who have no existing UC infrastructure are eager and planning to adopt the platform in the very near future. 


At the same time, room-based video conferencing systems have been evolving over the past few years to allow for interoperability with Microsoft’s UC platform since the early days of OCS, Lync and now Skype for Business. With each new release Microsoft has made significant improvements to voice and video conferencing capabilities, and consequently it is no surprise that many room-based video conferencing (VC) vendors have also been Capture.JPGcontinually investing in R&D to ensure interoperability. One of the key tenets of why Skype for Business is so successful in the market place is its ease of use. User adoption has been and continues to be vital to success of any UC platform. Users simply love the look and feel of Skype for Business, it’s ease of use and intuitive interface, click-to-call, drag-and-drop conferencing, and more importantly the ability to schedule meetings using familiar tools such as Outlook.

 

In fact, every video collaboration vendor now makes the claim of being interoperable with Skype for Business; so that leaves customers asking: how do we differentiate between them? Are they all the same?

 

An intelligent guess would certainly be “No”. If we dive deeper into how the various video collaboration vendors actually interoperate with Skype for Business, we see many different approaches and options available. So while every VC system claims interoperability, not all do so in a way that preserves the user experience of Skype for Business that users are already familiar with.  

 

That’s where Polycom RealConnect™ for Skype for Business solution differs from other approaches. The RealConnect solution simplifies the scheduling workflow as it leverages native Microsoft Outlook calendaring and enables intuitive one click-to-dial experience for both Skype for Business users and videoconference system users. 

 

To learn more, watch this 'Connecting Skype for Business in your video environment' on-demand webinar. 

 

Upcoming events:


Come meet with us at the following events to learn more about RealConnect and how Polycom can provide you the collaboration solutions which are right for your business: 


HINZ, Christchurch                     19th – 22nd October
Ignite Australia, Gold Coast         17th – 20th November

Polycom Employee

A guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:

 

Brennon Kwok - Copy.jpgThe much anticipated successor to Lync 2013 was released by Microsoft earlier in May 2015. Apart from the name change to Skype for Business 2015, a host of new features have been introduced into the server and client software, further accelerating the momentum and adoption of the Microsoft UC platform industry.

 

CIOs and other technology experts at enterprises large and small looking to upgrade from Lync Server 2013/2010 will no doubt have big questions on their minds:
- How can I leverage and continue to use my existing video investments with the new Skype for Business server?
                                - How can I video-enable my meeting rooms while preserving the overall Skype for Business

                                 user experience?
                                - Can I interoperate with third party room systems that I have purchased or that my partners
                               are using?

 

I will be discussing the answers to these questions and more this on-demand webinar on June 10, (originally broadcast across APAC on June 10, 2015). Join our experts at the session, who will share best practices on video interoperability with Microsoft UC, insights on what the future holds for video collaboration and how to make meetings more engaging, personal and productive while reducing costs. 

 

Watch the webinar
'Are you ready for Skype for Business?'

For more:
If you found this webinar useful, you may also be interested in the one which followed. Click to access  'Connecting Skype for Business in your video environment' on-demand and learn more.  

 

 

 

 

Polycom Employee

 

Brennon Kwok - Copy.jpgA guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:

 

 

Since I wrote this blog post back in November 2014, when Microsoft announced the new version of Lync rebranded as Skype for Business (Skype4B), the company has been busy developing and testing the final bits of software code that will eventually go into the shipping product. While the Skype4B server software is still not available for public preview, Microsoft has already made the Skype4Bclient preview available for evaluation.

 

This was announced by Giovanni Mezgec, the GM for the Skype for Business team in Microsoft, in his blog post on March 16. The Skype4B preview client works with existing Lync 2013 server on-premise environments as well as Office365 Lync Online. As per the blog article, the actual release of the Skype4B client will be made available as a cumulative update this month; and the Skype4B server software and online service will also be generally available at the same time. As of writing this post, IT professionals can get trained on Skype4B deployment and architecture by attending the office summit events locally or via webcast here.Microsoft’s huge ecosystem of UC partners have also been gearing themselves for the upcoming release. In his blog, Giovanni mentioned that “most existing software and hardware solutions that are qualified for Lync 2013 will also be compatible with Skype for Business, thanks to the efforts of our hardware, software, IT pro tools and network infrastructure partners”.

 

I’m happy to say that Polycom has made significant progress in making our 40+ Lync certified solutions ready for Skype for Business. In my own lab testing of the Skype4B Preview client with Polycom solutions today, the majority of features are working well as they do with Lync 2013. Our RealPresence Group Series of room systems have no major problems in making or receiving calls with the Skype4B client in both P2P and multiparty AVMCU scenarios. Initial testing of our RealPresence Platform solutions comprising of DMA, RMX and CSS for both video and content collaboration between Skype4B clients and our room endpoints have also been very positive. On this note, it is worthwhile to mention that the new Video Interoperability Server (VIS) role in Skype4B server does not affect Polycom’s room systems or RealPresence Platform (RPP) in any way. In fact, the VIS server is designed to bridge video calls between Skype4B and VTCs, which refers to legacy video endpoints that have no native Lync integration capabilities. So technically speaking, Polycom room systems and RealPresence Platform do not fall into this category and therefore does not need to leverage the VIS role. Fellow MVP Jeff Schertz has written an excellent blog article on the technical details (and limitations) of VIS and I strongly recommend everyone to read it to understand VIS better.

 

Polycom has also demonstrated interoperability with Skype4B as early as February this year during its annual partner conference “Team Polycom” in Orlando. During the keynote, Polycom CEO Peter Leav was on stage with Zig Serafin, Microsoft’s Corporate VP for Skype for Business to talk about the long standing partnership between the two companies followed by the first-ever public demonstration of Skype4B interoperability with Polycom video endpoints.

 

But it gets even better! Last month at Enterprise Connect 2015, Polycom and Microsoft jointly announced the first of a new series of video
 collaboration solutions for Skype4B – the Polycom RoundTable 100. Polycom_Product_Microsoft0047_v2 - resized.jpgAvailable mid-year, the RoundTable 100 is an affordable and easy-to-use video solution for huddle rooms that will allow small to midsized businesses (SMBs) to enjoy rich collaboration experiences, including voice, video and content collaboration using Skype4B and or Lync via Office 365. This adds on to the already rich 40+ Microsoft certified solutions which Polycom already offers today.

 

Enterprises already using Polycom solutions for Microsoft can expect to continue enjoying their ROI when Skype4B is released as well as look forward to exciting new collaboration solutions in the coming months.

 

In conclusion, Skype for Business is almost here and we at Polycom are both excited and ready. Are you?

 

 

A guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:

 


Brennon Kwok - Copy.jpgJust a few days ago on November 11, Microsoft set the IT industry abuzz with the announcement that Microsoft Lync will be rebranded as Skype for Business (#Skype4B on social channels). While speculation around the merger of the two products has been around since Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion back in 2011, now Microsoft has made it official. As mentioned in the Skype Blog article, in the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become “Skype for Business” with a new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365. So “Lync Server 2015” will likely be released as “Skype for Business Server 2015”.

 

Skype.pngThere’s no question about the ubiquity of Skype – with over 300 million users worldwide and processing a call volume of 2 billion minutes a day, that’s a massive amount of airtime indeed. By bringing together Lync and Skype users, we can bridge businesses and consumers together and this opens up tremendous opportunities in the market place. Skype for Business, will enable complete Lync-Skype integration where users can connect via presence, instant messaging, audio calls and HD video calls. This will certainly enhance the ability of organisations to reach hundreds of millions of Skype users outside the walls of their business in a more personal and engaging manner. As can be seen from the screenshot, the new Skype for Business client has a redesigned user interface based on the familiar consumer Skype product, adopting the latter’s colour scheme, icons and call-flow. Of course, organisations using Lync today can continue to do so until such time when they are ready to update to new Skype for Business.

 

What does this mean for Partners?

 

While the full details have not yet been released, there are two main conclusions about the new Skype for Business that can be deciphered from the announcement:

 

1. From the statement that “Skype for Business keeps and improves on all of the capabilities of Lync, including content sharing and telephony”, we can say that the underlying technology powering Skype for Business is still Lync Server 2015. This means that existing Lync 2013 environments that make the move to Skype for Business will not change significantly from a server technology standpoint. Therefore it’s safe to conclude that the majority of partner solutions will work the same way they do today, without any changes.

 

2. The announcement also mentions that “Current Lync Server customers will be able to take advantage of these capabilities simply by updating from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their datacenters. No new hardware is required”. This is good news for many Lync customers since there’s an “in-place” upgrade of the existing Lync servers as opposed to ‘side-by-side’ migrations that were required with previous major releases of Lync. This also reinforces the message that the underlying technology is still based on Lync, and that existing investments in third party Lync-qualified products and solutions will be protected. This is also important given the huge partner ecosystem that Lync has built up over the years and solutions from technology partners such as Polycom will continue to work seamlessly with the new server. What’s important for Lync customers now is that they continue to invest only in partner solutions that have been officially qualified by Microsoft for Lync.

 

Polycom is excited about the Skype for Business announcement, and the relationship between Polycom and Microsoft has never been better. As a strategic partner, Polycom has and will continue to work closely together with Microsoft to bring the best UC solutions for our customers.

  

A guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:

 


Brennon Kwok - Copy.jpgWe continue to see increasing numbers of Enterprises and SMBs choose Microsoft Lync 2013 as their preferred UC Platform. As such the Lync Enterprise Voice workload continues to gain tremendous momentum as companies seek to replace their legacy PBX with Lync.

 

Whilst some companies may choose to deploy headsets for selected departments such as the Customer Service Contact Centre, today we find that most users still prefer to use Desktop Phones for their everyday voice communication. This is simply because headsets require that the users’ PC or laptop must always be on, online and logged into Lync, in order to make or receive calls. Our modern workforce today demands not just being always connected, but being always connected instantly. In contrast to Headsets, a Desk Phone requires no PC or laptop, is always on, always connected, consumes much less power than a PC; and more importantly, allows instant communication by simply picking up the receiver to answer call when the phone rings; or just pressing one button to make that important call to a client.

 

Choosing the right IP Desktop Phone to suit different departmental needs and budget is important to ensure a successful Lync Voice deployment, and there are many choices in the market today. This article discusses five important factors that must be considered when choosing IP Desk Phones for Lync 2013 Voice.

 

1. Microsoft Qualification

 

To summarise, two types of Desktop IP Phones for Lync are available today.

 

The first type is known as “Optimized for’ which are developed according to Microsoft Lync hardware and software specifications. These devices run Lync Phone Edition and Microsoft Embedded OS; and thus are known to work seamlessly in a Lync environment.

 

The second type is known as “Compatible”, which are phones that run the manufacturer’s own VoIP and OS software but have been tested and qualified for Lync. Phone manufacturers must send their hardware to Microsoft for extensive testing before they can be awarded qualification status. Microsoft maintains a list of qualified phones along with the necessary firmware versions at the IP Phone page on TechNet. Compatible phones that have obtained Microsoft Qualification status ensure that users have a great experience with the phone functionality along with all the various Lync calling scenarios, topologies and manageability requirements. Additionally, note that the qualification requirements do evolve over time, which at the time of this writing are documented in the Microsoft 3PIP specifications v3.0. It’s therefore important the phones are qualified under the latest specifications to ensure the best user experience.

 

2. Full Support for Lync 2013 Basic and Advanced Features

 

With the release of Lync Server 2013, Microsoft has made significant improvement in its voice capabilities and feature-set since its humble beginnings nearly a decade ago. Today, enterprises deploying Lync have access to all of the rich collaboration features that the modern workforce demands in a fast changing, geographically diverse environment.

 

The new collaboration features are part of the Lync Server 2013 Voice deployment and includes Response Groups, Call Park, Group Call Pickup and Manager/Delegate enhancements, just to name a few. At the same time, users are also enjoying even higher availability (HA) and scalability of the UC platform as an “Always On, Always Connected” system. Many of these new HA features are built into the Lync server infrastructure such as Pool Pairing for greater high availability (HA), Windows Fabric for better scalability and M:N Trunk Routing for more flexible call routes and number manipulation. The IP Desktop Phone should support most, if not all, of these new Lync 2013 features. It would be fairly easy to bring up a list of all voice-related features in Lync 2013 and simply do a checklist of supported features to make sure the phone supports them.

 

3. Additional Handset Features

 

In addition to supporting the Lync Voice feature-set, there’s ample room for “Compatible” phone manufacturers to build additional capabilities to the Desktop Phone itself, over and above what Lync already offers. This is also the key reason and differentiator as to why Enterprises choose to deploy “Compatible” phones over “Optimised” phones. The former allows greater flexibility and innovation in phone feature-set and design whereas the latter is limited to only the features defined by Microsoft’s Lync Phone Edition (LPE) specifications. These additional desktop phone capabilities can be mission-critical for many enterprises and some of the highlights are shown below:

 

  • Boss/Admin Shared Line Appearance – ability for an admin assistant to make/receive calls on behalf of the boss and see status/presence
  • Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) – ability to pair the phone with the PC over the network for a “better together” experience
  • Web-based Address Book Search along with rich Contact-Card display
  • Phone-to-phone video calls with optional USB camera accessory
  • Phone Expansion Modules for receptionist/admin with large contacts list; presence enabled
  • Phone Paging and Local Voice Recording to USB Thumb Drive

Below are sample screenshots of a phone with the Boss/Admin feature:

 

Lync voice 1.png    Lync voice 2.png

 

4. IT Manageability

 

Choosing a Desktop Phone that provides a great user experience is important, but equally so is the ability of IT to easily manage the deployment and provisioning of these devices across a large user base.

 

This is important to ensure a low total cost of ownership of the overall UC solution. Many organisations also have higher security requirements that “Optimised” phones cannot fulfill or are still using legacy network switches that don’t support LLDP-MED. IT administrators may also need to prepopulate the phones’ contact list before deploying them to user desktops, and this needs to be done centrally. And migration from legacy PBXs takes time, so during the period of coexistence, allowing the newer phones to connect to both systems concurrently can help to ease migration. In some countries, PSTN Toll-Bypass is against government regulations so the phones must support Lync 2013’s new Location Based Routing (LBR) feature. Overall, these are just some of the challenges that IT must face when deploying Lync Enterprise Voice, but there are many more. It’s therefore necessary to evaluate phones based on these criteria, with some of the more frequently encountered requirements listed below:

 

  • Static IP Addressing and flexible VLAN assignment via LLDP, CDP, DHCP or static
  • Automatic LDAP certificate download or manual certificate upload
  • Local Phone lock which disables dial-out except for emergency numbers
  • 802.1x authentication for increased security
  • Dual SIP Registration – registering to both Lync and existing legacy PBX for ease of migration
  • Lync Device Update Service – leverage Lync server for automatic firmware updates
  • Centralized provisioning of local phone parameters such as contact lists, ringtones etc..
  • Support for Lync 2013 Location Based Routing

 

5. Future Roadmap

 

Last but not least, the choice of Desktop Phones for Lync must be future-proof not only for investment protection but to ensure that as Microsoft releases newer features with every new version of Lync, the phone should have a robust future roadmap to support these new features.

 

Microsoft is also rolling out Lync Online Voice to their Office365 offering so the phone manufacturer should have a robust roadmap to support this. In evaluating phone manufacturers, first look at the relationship that the manufacturer has with Microsoft and see if they have a strong committed partnership together. Secondly, review the roadmap for the next two future releases of their firmware for their Desktop Phones for Lync and see how that matches up against what Microsoft is planning. These two simple checklists can help ensure the chosen manufacturer can meet the ever changing needs of the modern workforce and provide a consistent user experience moving forward.

 

If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment.

 

Visit our website here, to see how Polycom and Microsoft Lync helped one organisation with 24,000 voice devices achieve a 98% risk adjusted ROI and payback period of 21 months.

 

 

Read Brennon’s previous post: Why Polycom and Microsoft’s partnership has grown stronger than ever

 

A guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:

 


Brennon Kwok - Copy.jpgMy name is Brennon Kwok and I’m pleased to be a guest blogger here on THE View. As of this writing, I’m already into my fourth year with Polycom Asia Pacific as the regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft.

 

When I joined Polycom in 2010, we were already in a multi-year partnership agreement with Microsoft that continues and grows stronger than ever today. Polycom offers over 40 solutions for the Microsoft UC platform that spans voice, video and UC infrastructure which is natively integrated – something that is unmatched by any other company. These solutions are supported in the field by Polycom Solution Architects such as myself who work through the technical details of integrating the two platforms and provide subject matter expertise to customers and to partners that deliver these solutions to customers. Being a Lync MVP compliments my role in Polycom in having access to deep technical resources within the technical community whilst also contributing back my own personal experiences and knowledge gained when working with customers and partners. There are 64 Lync MVPs worldwide as of January 2014; five of whom work in Polycom, which is testament to the commitment of a close working relationship between the two companies.

 

Polycom and Microsoft are also both founding members of the UC Interoperability Forum (UCIF), a non-profit alliance of various UC technology vendors with the vision to maximise the interoperability of UC based on existing standards. One of the tangible results of this alliance is the development of the UC Specification for H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC and SVC Modes Version 1.0. While various vendors were already incorporating H.264/SVC in their solutions, these vendor specific implementations may not fully interoperate. Thus the UCIF approved specification helps to define profiles known as “UCModes” of H.264/SVC-based systems to ensure interoperability. The approved specification builds on the profiles submitted by UCIF to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and adopted in early 2012, concerning use of H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC and SVC in Unified Communication (UC) systems (read more here).

 

Polycom’s native integration approach means that there are no intermediate gateways required for Polycom solutions to work with Microsoft Lync 2013 and Exchange 2013, as they ‘plug-in’ directly into the Microsoft platform. This is possible because we actually ‘bake’ the native Lync 2013 protocols and audio/video codecs directly into our solutions, allowing them to behave very much like Lync clients. What this translates to for customers is not eliminating the costs of implementing and maintaining intermediate gateways; but more importantly preserving the native Lync user experience which users have become so familiar with.

 

A good example of this native integration is the recent release of the latest firmware for the Polycom Group Series video collaboration system. The latest 4.1.3 version now supports the native Lync SVC implementation and SIP signalling, allowing the Group Series family to enjoy full 1080p video calls in Lync 2013 environments as well as participating in Lync AVMCU-hosted conferences where up to five participant can be viewed simultaneously. Based on the same SVC specifications from UCIF, the video streams between Lync and Group Series are being sent/received in simulcast with temporal scalability which allows better inherent network error concealment while providing high quality video.

 

Polycom is also targeting to ship its CX8000 room-based video collaboration solution in Q2, which is based on the Microsoft Lync Room System (LRS) specifications. Since LRS is running the native Lync 2013 client, users can expect all the benefits and features of the Lync experience when joining meetings in rooms equipped with Polycom CX8000 systems. Polycom’s differentiated offering of LRS is the inclusion of the CX5100 device which can be purchased as part of the bundle. The CX5100 is the latest generation RoundTable device and successor to the popular CX5000 RoundTable originally developed by Microsoft. The CX5100 supports full 1080p active speaker video in Lync 2013 environments as well as a unique 360⁰ panoramic view at 1920x288 resolution. This high quality panoramic view of the room provides customers with an immersive room collaboration experience during Lync meetings.

 

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 CX800: Polycom’s next-generation dedicated Lync room system

 

On the voice front, Lync Enterprise Voice adoption continues to see massive growth and Polycom’s broad range of VoIP handsets are ideally suited for customers deploying Lync 2013 to replace their legacy PBX systems. The Polycom CX range of Lync-optimized IP phones are built according to Microsoft Lync Phone Edition (LPE) specifications; while both the SoundPoint IP and VVX family of IP phones are qualified to work with Lync 2013 as listed at the Microsoft Technet OIP page.  These three families of handsets provide customers with a wide range of options they can choose from based on their specific requirements. Newer features are continuously being developed on the VVX family based on customer feedback, such as the recent 5.x release supporting Boss/Admin and Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) features. With newer versions of handset firmware, the necessary qualification processes are also needed to make sure that the handsets continue to meet the necessary Lync voice specifications from Microsoft. Overall customers can expect continued innovation from Polycom in this area and our commitment to ensure that our phones remain the best choice for Lync voice.

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Polycom’s VVX 600 Business Media Phone delivers best-in-class desktop productivity for executives and managers

 

In closing, while UC technologies continue to evolve over time, Polycom remains committed to open standards as well as native interoperability with one of its closest partners: Microsoft. This commitment ensures customers receive a best of breed experience and investment protection when using Polycom solutions for Microsoft UC as well as continued innovation to meet the needs of customers in this dynamic UC technology landscape.

 

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