With a new “Skype look”, tighter security, web login, BToE enhancements, and diagnostics for call quality monitoring—there’s a lot to like in the latest UCS 5.5.1 release. The new features benefit both Microsoft Cloud PBX (Skype for Business Online) and on premises Skype for Business deployment environments.
Skype for Business UI
Let’s start with the new Skype look and feel on the VVX 500 and VVX 600 series touch screen models. The new user interface (UI) looks a lot more like the Skype and Skype for Business clients with a similar palette and icons. It’s a very clean and intuitive look that extends the state of the art experience of the leading Unified Communications and Collaboration platform to the award winning Polycom VVX phones. The new and older home screens on a Polycom VVX 600 Business Media Phone are compared below.
Easier sign in
Signing into your VVX phone for the 1st time just got easier for VVX users running on a Microsoft Cloud PBX (Skype for Business Online). While it’s always possible to enter your login credentials and password from the phone itself, it’s often a lot easier for many users to enter letters and numbers from a computer keyboard—especially when compared to button navigated alpha numeric character entry on the VVX 201, 300, and 400 series phones. With UCS 5.5.1, you can now sign into your Skype for Business Online account using the web sign in method, which allows you to sign into the phone with your Skype for Business Online account using a web browser.
Starting at your phone login window, you now have the option of choosing “Online” signin method.
The next screen on you VVX phone will show both the pairing code and the web sign-in URL to type into the browser.
You login via the web with your login credentials and password, type in the pairing code displayed on your phone and your phone is signed in and ready to use.
Better Together gets even better
Many users love the tight integration that the VVX phones have with the Skype for Business client that the Better Together over Ethernet feature enables—launching their call directly from the IM client or using their VVX phone for audio I/O on a Skype for Business client video call for example. This experience is incredibly different than the old disjointed PBX or IP PBX experience they experienced with their older PBX.
Be sure to pick up the latest Better Together over Ethernet software (BToE 3.4.0) on the Polycom support site that is built to support the UCS 5.5.1 release. In this release, the BToE client update helps deliver the new phone lock feature.
Phone lock with emergency calls allowed
All of the VVX phones now support the ability to lock/unlock the phone in a Skype for Business environment. End users can lock their phones to keep other users from using their phones when they leave, giving VVX users a similar feature capability to the original phone lock feature on the CX series phones. A user can either lock the phone from the phone’s UI or with the Skype for Business client when connected with Better Together over Ethernet (BToE). While the phone is locked, predefined numbers from a list of numbers can still be called (Security or emergency numbers for example). This is important, because while you are gone and your phone is locked, your phone might be the closest phone to an emergency situation at hand.
This feature is enabled 'ON' by the Skype for Business server profile. Administers are reminded to set an appropriate policy and define list of allowed emergency numbers appropriate for the office and country where the phone resides. Management tools like Event Zero UC Commander can make this task easier with its hierarchical layered configuration schema.
Quality of Experience (QoE) monitoring
With any UC or VoIP initiative, there is a great deal or attention given to network readiness and performance. For success, there are 3 phases to consider; plan, deliver and operate—as depicted below in Microsoft’s Skype Operations Framework visual representation. In the operation phase, we need to have the tools available to “Monitor” and “Report” on incidents that may affect a user’s call experience.
UCS 5.5.1 delivers a new feature that supports monitoring the VVX phones performance in both Microsoft Cloud PBX and Skype for Business on-premises deployments—with support for Microsoft Quality of Experience Monitoring Server Protocol (MS-QoE). With this feature, administrators can now monitor the VVX user's audio quality and more easily troubleshoot voice call problems attributable to network issues. QoE in Polycom VVX phones is powered by Telchemy’s VQMon module. By default, the phone sends QoE report at the end of each call with round trip delay, jitter, lost packets, and MOS score statistics. The phone’s QoE stats can also be queried directly from management services like Skype Monitoring server, Event Zero UC Commander, and others.
Find team members from your phone
Why create new contacts lists on your phone when you already have useful lists that you in email? UCS 5.5.1 further enhances your group list management on your VVX phone with the integration of email distribution lists—allowing you to expand an email distribution list of contacts directly on your phone. So for example, on the VVX 500 screen bellow, clicking on “expand” would then display members of this list and showing each members presence status as well.
User guide improvements
There are documentation changes with this release too. Effective with the introduction of the UCS 5.5.1 release, the VVX user guide and the VVX deployment guide get their own Skype for Business versions. For example, the new VVX Business Media Phones for Microsoft Skype for Business User Guide will show just the features available for Skype for Business user environment and will not describe the Broadsoft or Genband specific features.
Microsoft qualification testing
UCS 5.5.1 is a major release delivering new Skype for Business features from Polycom. Polycom VVX Series on Firmware Version 188.8.131.5226 has been approved under the "Certified for Skype for Business Online and On-Premises (3PIP)" program.
Will my phone work with Office 365 Cloud PBX?
Yes. The award winning Polycom VVX phones with order codes ending in “-019” are preconfigured with a software release that is “Microsoft Cloud PBX ready”. These phones have the software needed to run in either Skype for Business on-premises or Skype for Business Online environments. So when ordering new VVX phones to be used in Microsoft environments, make sure you are ordering phones with codes ending in “-019”. Any “-019” VVX phone that is ordered or already deployed can easily be upgraded to this latest UCS 5.5.1 software.