We are pleased to invite you to our next webinar Six Steps to Voice-Enable Skype for Business to be held Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 11 AM PST/ 2 PM EST
Two recent events will make this webinar especially useful for either customers migrating from PBX environments in the planning stages and customers who currently use Lync with phones already:
Microsoft provided updates on Skype for Business plans at Microsoft Ignite 2015
Polycom recently introduced important "Lync features" in our UC Software 5.3 release
Microsoft Ignite 2015 Recap (Voice Solutions)
The Voice demonstrations in the Polycom booth were keeping us busy all week at MSIgnite 2105 in early May. There were many more Enterprise sized customers this year than ever before who were planning on retiring their PBXs and making the move to Skype for Business (Lync) with Polycom. Two things were important to many of our visitors; Phone features and Provisioning. One of our newer Technology Partners, Event Zero, was demonstrating their newly announced UC Commander Polycom provisioning capabilities and were demonstrating their capability of provisioning Polycom VVX phones in our booth. For some of the larger customers, this was the "missing link" to moving forward with Voice enabling Skype for Business (Lync). While many aspects of upgrading and managing VVX phones are accomplished either with Polcyom Zero Touch Provisioning or getting phone firmware upgrades from the Lync Server, some of the VVX features are entirely independent of Lync and editing configuration files with an XML editor seems like a daunting task for larger deployments. Event Zeros's approach to building templates to specific user profiles had many of our prospects excited. We'll have more to share on this later as Event Zero has joined the Polycom Technology Partner Program. The new VVX features introduced with UCS 5.3 software also drew a lot of interest from visitors. We also demonstrated the VoIP calling capabilities of the Polycom CX5500 registered as a Lync Open SIP endpoint.
CX5500 Unified Conference Station Demonstration
Most of you are probably aware of the 360 degree video capabilities of our newest "Roundtable" cameras, the CX5100 and the CX5500. The video capability was on display as part of the CX8000 "Lync Room System" demonstration. What makes the CX5500 an interesting choice for customer conference rooms is the fact that you can use it as a stand-alone conference phone when not plugged in to a laptop via USB. Some customers who use Lync today and who are still using IP PBXs are registering it to their Cisco (CUCM) or Avaya IP PBXs for voice calling and enable their users to plug in laptops to get the 360 degree video experience with Lync. When they are ready to switch over to Skype for Business / Lync , they can simply register the voice port to the Skype for Business or Lync Server instead.
New VVX Features with UCS 5.3
There is an impressive list of new capabilities on VVX phones recently introduced with the latest UCS 5.3 release. Five of these features were described by C. Anthony Caragol (@CAnthonyCaragol), a Skype for Business MVP, in his guest post right here on The View titled "New UCS 5.3 Lync Features on VVX Phones Generates Some Excitement". He talked about these features:
Native Lync conference control
Audio media path over Better Together over Ethernet (BToE)
Music on Hold
Enhancements to Boss/Admin (Shared Line Appearance)
Some of the other features now available with UCS 5.3 include:
Exchange Call Logs
Acoustic Fence Intercom
Outlook Contact Integration
Visual Voicemail One of the popular features on the older Aries series CX600 phone has always been the ability to see a list of contacts who have left you a voicemail and being able to select which contacts voicemail to play first. With UCS 5.3, the VVX phones also now display the voicemails in a list view. If your contacts presence status is known (internal company calls or federated SIP contacts), their presence status is also displayed. This is an important difference in phone operation compared to most PBX environments. “Presence” informs our “next step” in the communications choice. For example, if you have an urgent message from Dave but Dave’s status is “away”, you would likely bring up Dave’s contact card to find his mobile number and attempt to reach him on his mobile device.
Exchange Call Logs Another new feature to the VVX phones is the ability to see the call logs no matter whether you placed/received calls from your phone, Lync client, or Lync app on your mobile device. Previously on the VVX phone, you would only see the calls to and from your phone. Now call logs are integrated. I often look at my call logs for a dial back number for someone I talked to recently. If I make an external call my new Skype for Business client at home before heading into the office and I need to call them back when I arrive at the office, the call log with their number is there on my phone when I arrive.
Acoustic Fence Acoustic Fence is Polycom’s proprietary noise cancellation solution for users who use headsets or the phone handset. It cancels out background noise to produce clear audio, even in noisy environments such as a call center. This feature requires no additional hardware, and is available on all VVX platforms. The feature is not enabled by default, but can easily be turned on. Polycom's Jeff Schertz (@jdscher) provides the parameters in his recent blog post Polycom UCS 5.3 for VVX Phones .
Intercom The intercom feature on phones can be traced back to hard-wired key systems even before the emergence of the PBX. This may be a “table stakes” feature for some customers transitioning from a PBX environment to a voice-enabled Microsoft UC deployment. Intercom calling is now supported on VVX phones and it is a nice addition to the Shared Line Appearance (Boss/Admin) call handling scenario. Setting up intercom dialing is unique to the VVX phone and this is not a feature currently supported in Skype for Business / Lync itself. Configuration of the intercom feature is manually accomplished using an XML editor to edit the phone configuration file, though I this is easier to setup using Event Zero’s recently announced UC Commander.
Exchange Autodiscover Exchange Autodiscover makes configuration much easier than the previous manual exchange configuration method. When signing in with Active Directory user credentials, the phone will perform the same automatic discovery procedures that most Lync clients already support. This provides VVX users calendar access, as well as access to the other new features like call logs, visual voice mail and contact integration.
Outlook Contact Integration VVX users now have access to personal contacts stored in their Exchange mailbox. These contacts can appear in a contacts list or can be accessed via an address book search query. Presence status for the contact will also be displayed on the phone if the contact contains a SIP address for a Lync federated user.
Skype for Business
There were a number of sessions at Ignite on Skype for Business presenting new and updated information. Some are recorded and available for playback. In our upcoming webinar, Lync MVP Adam Jacobs (@adamjacobs) will provide a brief update of the Skype for Business online and hybrid deployments, so be sure to attend. With Microsoft's and Polycom's joint announcement in March that "Polycom’s VVX business media phones will be the first phones to support PSTN calling in Office 365" (link) , the upcoming trials in the 2H of 2015 where Skype for Business will support PSTN calling will prove the technology to be a "game changer" that will surely put Microsoft front and center in most customers plans for migrating from their IP PBXs/ PBXs to Unified Communications. With Polycoms 40+ voice, video and content solutions for Microsoft and our strong strategic alliance, Polycom will certainly play a leading role in this transition.