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Beginning the Planning Process

 

Topic Last Modified: 2011-01-25

While planning a unified communications deployment may seem intimidating, Microsoft Lync Server 2010 communications software provides two valuable tools to help you:

  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010, Planning Tool is a wizard that presents a series of questions about your organization, the Lync Server features that you want to enable, and your capacity planning needs. It then creates a recommended deployment topology based on your answers, and produces several forms of output to aid your planning and installation.

  • Topology Builder is an installation component of Lync Server 2010. You use Topology Builder to create, adjust, and publish your planned topology. It also validates your topology before you begin server installations. When you install Lync Server on individual servers, the servers read the published topology as part of the installation process, and the installation program deploys the server as directed in the topology.

The Lync Server 2010, Planning Tool takes your answers to the questions in the tool and generates a topology based on Lync Server guidelines and best practices. It also provides several views of a deployment based on your answers. It shows both a global view of all your sites (that is, including both central sites and branch sites), and detailed views showing the servers and other components at each site.

Running the Planning Tool does not commit you to any specific deployment or initiate any processes. In fact, running the Planning Tool even before you have a firm plan in mind can be a very instructive way to understand the kinds of questions you need to think about in your planning process.

You can run the Planning Tool multiple times, answering questions differently, and compare the outcomes. If you have a design you are mostly satisfied with but that you need to make changes to, you can return to the Planning Tool, load the design, and make the changes. It takes about 15 minutes to complete the Planning Tool once.

After you are completely satisfied, you can use the Export to Topology Builder option to export your planned topology to an XML file that you can then input to Topology Builder.

You use the Planning Tool only for your initial topology design. After you export the topology to Topology Builder and begin working with it there, you can no longer use the Planning Tool to modify your topology.

noteNote:
At this time, the Planning Tool that is described in this documentation is a prerelease version. Final release of the Planning Tool is currently scheduled for the first quarter of 2011. For details about the release candidate, see the release notes that accompany the Planning Tool. Importing from a prerelease version of the Planning Tool to the final version of Topology Builder is not supported. Note that the capacity planning numbers in the Planning Tool are preliminary and are not supported for the final release.

Topology Builder takes the XML file provided by the Planning Tool, and displays the topology. Then, you can use Topology Builder to make final adjustments, such as specifying IP addresses and fully qualified domain names (FQDNs). After you are satisfied, you use Topology Builder to validate the topology, and then, if it passes, you can publish the topology. When you publish the topology, Lync Server puts the topology into the Central Management store, which is created at this time if it does not already exist. When you install Lync Server on each server in your deployment, the server reads the topology from the Central Management store and installs itself to fit into its role in your deployment.

Alternatively, if you are very familiar with Lync Server and need less prescriptive guidance, you can skip the Planning Tool and use the wizards in Topology Builder for the initial design of your deployment and also for the validation and publishing steps.

Using Topology Builder to plan and publish a topology is a required step. You cannot bypass Topology Builder and install Lync Server individually on the servers in your deployment. Each server must read the topology from a validated, published topology in the Central Management store.

We recommend the following general process for using both the documentation and the Planning Tool to plan your Lync Server deployment.

  1. Run the Planning Tool to get a sense of the kind of questions you need to think about as you begin the planning process.

  2. Read New Server Features to familiarize yourself with the new features and requirements in Lync Server 2010.

  3. Read the other topics in this section: Topology Basics You Must Know Before Planning, Initial Planning Decisions, Clients for Lync Server 2010, and Reference Topologies.

  4. Now that you are more familiar with Lync Server features and the kinds of questions that must be answered, run the Planning Tool again and view the resulting topology and its details.

  5. If there are particular workloads or features you are interested in or need to learn about, read the appropriate sections of Planning for Microsoft Lync Server 2010.

  6. Run the Planning Tool again. You can start with the deployment you created in step 3 and modify the results, or start over from the beginning.

    If needed, run the Planning Tool a third time and repeat until you are satisfied with the output.

  7. When you have finalized the topology plan, use the export feature of the Planning Tool to create an XML file that you can use with Topology Builder. Load that XML into Topology Builder and add final details such as IP addresses.

  8. Before you begin deployment, read Determining Your System Requirements and Determining Your Infrastructure Requirements to familiarize yourself with the prerequisites and necessary infrastructure for Lync Server. Additionally, be sure you have read all the sections of Planning for Microsoft Lync Server 2010 that apply to the workloads and features that you plan to deploy.

noteNote:
At this time, the Planning Tool that is described in this documentation is a prerelease version. Final release of the Planning Tool is currently scheduled for the first quarter of 2011. For details about the release candidate, see the release notes that accompany the Planning Tool. Importing from a prerelease version of the Planning Tool to the final version of Topology Builder is not supported. Note that the capacity planning numbers in the Planning Tool are preliminary and are not supported for the final release.

If you are migrating to Lync Server from a previous version, see the Migration documentation for specific instructions for your migration and deployment.

 
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