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Ten Things You Might Not Know About the 2007 R2 Release of Communicator Web Access

Communications Server 2007 R2

The 2007 R2 release of Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access has many new features that create a more satisfying user experience and easier deployment. This article gives you the low-down on ten things you might not know about topics such as virtual folder creation, application sharing, and audio conferencing.

Author: Michael Adkins

Publication date: January 2010

Product version: Office Communications Server 2007 R2

The 2007 R2 release of Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access lists many new features that make any user's experience a more satisfying communicative endeavor than ever before. This web-based client enables Windows and non-Windows users throughout the world to securely share information with other unified communications clients that are compatible with Windows. Users communicate by using desktop or application sharing, secure Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone conferencing, and all the standard features that previous Communicator Web Access clients offered. The 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access also has some features that will help make deployment a more efficient process.

Collocation of Communicator Web Access is not supported in the 2007 R2 release of Office Communications Server. The 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access is supported by Microsoft only when it is installed on a domain member server in the Active Directory forest that hosts Office Communications Server 2007 R2.

For details about collocation, see Supported Server Role Collocation at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178778.

Communicator Web Access (2007 release) required that the Communicator Web Access server be a member server in the same Active Directory domain as the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 installation. This deployment requirement no longer exists with the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access. You can install and activate the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access in any domain that is in an Active Directory forest that hosts Office Communications Server 2007 R2.

For details, see "Deploying Communicator Web Access (2007 R2 Release)" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=161884.

noteNote:
The activation process for the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access requires access to Global Catalog domain controllers, Key Management Services, and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) services for secure access to the CN=RTC Service container that is hosted either in the Active Directory (AD) Forests CN=Configuration container (this is the recommended Active Directory preparation for Office Communications Server 2007 R2) or the Forest Root system container (this container is part of the legacy preparation for Office Communications Server 2007 and Live Communications Server 2005).
noteNote:
Any Active Directory domain that you want to host your server that is running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access must go through Office Communications Server 2007 R2 domain preparation. This can be done from the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 installation folder by using the GUI Active Directory preparation features in the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 installation files. Depending on the editions you’ve chosen, you use setupee.exe for an Enterprise Edition deployment or setupse.exe for a Standard Edition deployment. You can also prepare the domain by running LcsCmd /domain /action:domainprep at a command prompt.
If you are deploying the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access in a multiple domain Active Directory, the forest may require additional configuration steps to enable secure Active Directory access for user account sign-in information.
For details, see "Deploying Communicator Web Access in Multiple Domains" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178781.

The 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access is compatible with Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0 running on Windows Sever 2008 and IIS 6.0 running on Windows Server 2003. For full compatibility with IIS 7.0, you must install the Windows Process Activation Service, a service that enables IIS to work with any application that hosts the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF).You must configure IIS to run in IIS 6.0 compatibility mode.

For details, see "Installing IIS 7.0 for Communicator Web Access" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=161888.

noteNote:
The 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access listens for client requests by using TCP Port 80 or TCP port 443 HTTPS (recommended). If the IIS service that is installed locally on the Communicator Web Access server is hosting other Web applications that use this default port configuration, the Communicator Web Access virtual folder installation cannot complete properly. The installation application prompts you to update the port configuration and does not start the Communicator Web Access virtual application. After you update the TCP port configuration for the Communicator Web Access Web site in the IIS Management Console, you are able to start the Web services manually.

Communicator Web Access provides clients who are not using Windows a way to use Office Communications Server 2007 R2 services such as instant messaging (IM), telephone conferencing, desktop sharing, and application sharing with the use of a supported browser. To confirm the compatibility of your 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access client’s browser, see "Verifying Communicator Web Access Client Requirements" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178783.

The Communicator Web Access server provides the extensibility of application sharing to its clients through the use of their supported browser configuration. This new feature requires that you configure two new URLs that the supported browser will use for additional application sharing and download requests that a desktop sharing session uses throughout its lifetime. These additional URLs enable the supported browser to make separate HTTPS connections to the Communicator Web Access Web services that provide application sharing. Of course, the use of the two extra URLs requires a HTTPS SSL secured connection. This requires additional provisioning on behalf of the Web server certificate that will be applied to the Communicator Web Access server for Communicator Web Access client requests. For more information, see "Configuring Communicator Web Access DNS Records" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178784 and "Preparing Certificates for Communicator Web Access" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=161886.

The 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access provides access to its audio conferencing features by using the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access client. The server running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access enables an organization's conference information to be published to the Office Communicator 2007 R2 client by using the MMC on the server running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access. This information is pushed to the Communicator 2007 R2 client through in-band provisioning. You can access this information in the Office Communicator 2007 R2 client by opening the Tools menu and then clicking Dial-in Conferencing Settings. This opens the dial-in page (for example, https://cwa.contoso.com/dialin) in the local browser's client that is running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access. The organization’s dial-in conferencing information is now available to the Communicator 2007 R2 user through public switched telephone network (PSTN) access.

noteNote:
The Communicator Web Access server enables you to publish of one external dial-in URL and one internal dial-in URL. Make sure that the URLs are in the correct format (for example, https://cwa.contoso.com uses TCP 443 by default and https://cwa.contoso.com:444 uses TCP 444 for the HTTPS connection to the organization’s dial-in page).

For details, see "Publishing Communicator Web Access URLs" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178785.

Clients running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access enable conference attendees to join an audio conference from the PSTN using a mobile phone or a telephone handset. This feature is available for the Communicator Web Access client when the user joins a meeting by clicking Join the Meeting using you browser in the Windows Live Meeting invitation. After the Communicator Web Access client opens, users can use their Communicator 2007 R2 published phone numbers through their Contact Card from the callback menu and by using the Other Phone option if their call back number is not listed on the Contact Card menu.

noteNote:
The phone number that you select from the Communicator Web Access Contact Card menu or the phone number that you enter in the Other Phone option should be the number at which you can be reached. The Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Conferencing Attendant receives the call back number from the client running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access, and then dials the PSTN to include the Communicator Web Access user in the conference. For this configuration to work the following requirements must be met:
  1. User accounts are configured for Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Enterprise Voice.

  2. The Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Conferencing Attendant is installed locally in the Enterprise Edition or Standard Edition pool.

  3. Office Communications Server 2007 R2 location profiles are established for the calls to and from the Communicator Web Access client's PSTN access.

  4. The Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Conferencing Attendant is configured to use a unique phone number or extension for use on your VoIP network.

For details, see "Dial-In Conferencing Support" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178485.

The 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access enables remote access from users on the Internet through the use of a reverse proxy solution. Communicator Web Access can be hosted in two different server solutions. The first is the internal server solution and the second is the external server solution. The major differences between the two are:

  1. The external Communicator Web Access hosting solution allows only the use of forms-based authentication.

  2. Internal hosting for Communicator Web Access uses the default Kerberos authentication method for user sign ins and gives you the option of implementing a custom authentication method.

The reverse proxy solution also provides the hosting of the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 application sharing services to remote clients running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access. The security and connectivity requirements are the same for the remote Communicator Web Access client as they are for the internal clients. The remote client running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access requires a public Domain Name System (DNS) solution to host the URL that is needed for name resolution to the IP address of the reverse proxy’s external hosting interface. Also, for application sharing to perform as expected, the two additional URLs (as described previously in the "5. Communicator Web Access (2007 R2 release) application sharing" section) are required for the additional connectivity for downloads and application sharing.

The following are examples of public DNS CNAME and host records:

  • A host name record for the Communicator Web Access URL: im.contoso.com

  • A CNAME record: download.im.contoso.com

  • A CNAME record: as.im.contoso.com

The use of CNAME records enables the remote Communicator Web Access browser to make multiple HTTPS requests to the same IP address to support the application sharing feature. A publically hosted public key infrastructure (PKI) solution is required to ensure secure connectivity between the remote Communicator Web Access client and the reverse proxy's hosting external interface. The certificate configuration is as follows:

Type: Web Server

Subject Name: im.contoso.com

Subject Alternate Name: as.im.contoso.com

Subject Alternate Name: download.im.contoso.com

For details, see "Using a Reverse Proxy to Enable Remote User Access" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178788.

The internal and external hosting of application sharing for the clients running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access have something else in common. Both types of application sharing clients require a secure connection for the media endpoints that are established between them and the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Front End Server and the server running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access. This secure connection is based on information that is provided by the Media Relay Authentication Service, which is hosted by the internal interface of the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Audio Video Edge Server. This requires the use of the internal firewall configuration that is described in the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Edge Server deployment documentation located at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=143690. All internal endpoints use a Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) over Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to pass the application sharing information between them. However, the remote Communicator Web Access client uses HTTPS to encapsulate the secured RDP traffic between it and the hosting external interface of the reverse proxy.

A single server running the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access can handle approximately 5,000 simultaneous connections. If you need to support more than 5,000 users, you will need more than one Communicator Web Access server. If you need more than one Communicator Web Access server, we recommend that you deploy a hardware load balancer to help ensure that the workload is distributed between those servers. In addition to increasing the overall capacity of your Communicator Web Access infrastructure, using an array of servers and a load balancer can increase the reliability and availability of Communicator Web Access. If a single server fails, the load balancer automatically routes incoming connection requests to the servers that are still functioning.

For details, see "Using a Load Balancer to Increase Capacity and Availability" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178789 and "Verifying Load Balancing Configuration" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=178791.

The 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access is easy to deploy thanks to its client features that are hosted through a variety of browser software packages. However, prior to making your deployment of the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access a reality, take time to formulate a deployment strategy that will be accommodated by your hosting Active Directory, network infrastructure, and supporting client software installations. Taking all this into consideration should help you get on your way to a successful rollout of the 2007 R2 release of Communicator Web Access.

To learn more, check out the following articles:

 
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