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IT Showcase On: Microsoft Lync™ Deployment

Quick Reference Guide

Microsoft IT Uses Lync to Empower Workers to Collaborate Anytime and Anywhere on Their Own Terms

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Download Quick Reference Guide, 223 KB, Microsoft Word file

Executive Overview

Situation: More than 160K Microsoft users rely on real-time collaboration tools to communicate with team members. Microsoft IT saw an opportunity to improve the communication capabilities by helping workers to connect and collaborate with a better user experience that Lync Server 2010 provides. Microsoft IT migrated to Lync Server 2010 to enable users to collaborate in real time, improve its communications infrastructure, and converge traditional TDM services.

Why You Should Care:

  1. "Lync is the most important thing to happen to the office worker since the PC came along"- quote from Bill Gates.
  2. With Lync, Microsoft is leaving third-party conferencing behind completely.
  3. Lync provides richer meetings with less hassle, reducing the need for travel and associated expenses.
  4. The Enterprise Voice (EV) functionality frees workers from relying on specific hardware devices or location. Instead, workers can make and receive phone calls from anywhere as long as they have an Internet connection.
  5. Lync conferencing is available to all users and is accessible from anywhere on any phone or any Internet-connected computer.
  6. Lync provides centralized provisioning for instant messaging, phone, audio-visual conferencing, and Web conferencing.
  7. Lync works across Microsoft Office and SharePoint applications for persistent availability of presence data and other Lync functionality.
  8. The extensible API enables developers to create custom solutions that foster true connections and put control in the hands of users.

Microsoft LYNC Server 2010 Topology

MSIT operates as a tenant of Microsoft Business Online Services – Dedicated (BOSD). The deployment is distributed among three data centers:

  • Americas, based in Washington State, USA
  • EMEA, based in Dublin, Ireland
  • Asia region, based in Singapore

Disaster recovery configuration in the Americas region consists of two identical pools running in an active/active configuration where each pool can handle 100% of the expected traffic in case of data center unavailability.

 

Role

Americas 1 and 2

Singa-pore

Dublin

Director Pool

4

2

2

Edge pool

4

2

2

Front-end pool 1

4

3

3

Front-end pool 2

4

3

3

Mediation pool

3

2

2

Audio/Video pool

4

2

2

Monitoring and Archiving

1

0

0

SQL back-end

2

2

2

Mediation servers

3

0

0

File server for content storage

1

1

1

Server Configuration

The servers are configured with standardized SKUs, one for front-end servers, and one for back-end servers. They are configured according to recommendations from the Lync Server Product Group suitable for up to 10,000 end points per user pool. The storage requirements of Lync Server specify high-speed disks to ensure adequate I/O operations for conferencing, voice, and other data-intensive tasks.

Component

Front-end

Back-end

CPU

2 quad core Xeon L5520, 2.26 Ghz

4 quad core 64-bit, 2.26 Ghz

RAM

48 GB

48 GB

Disk

SAS, 4x300 GB RAID10 (+1 spare)

2x146 GB RAID1

4x300 GB RAID10 (+1spare)

12x146 GB RAID10

2x146 GB RAID1

2x146 GB RAID1

2x146 GB RAID1

Other

Dual NICs, redundant power supply

Dual NICs, redundant power supply

Secure by default, design, and deployment

MSIT provides access to Lync functionality for anonymous guests, partners, and employees or other users with accounts in the corporate environment.

To enable multiple types of users with access, MSIT relies on the underlying network infrastructure, such as hosting dual-homed Edge role servers in a DMZ, as well as Lync features such as role-based access controls (RBAC).

Microsoft designed Lync Server 2010 to possess security features such as roles and RBAC by default, so that the designed environment contained security features that follow best practices. Lync deployment that includes security features entails implementing the designed configuration and auditing it for compliance based on checklists.

illustration

Lync Server 2010 provides MSIT with the capability to use both DNS and hardware load balancing to balance traffic among front-end server pools, Edge Director pools, and Edge pools. The topology and geographic distribution by design already homes users to their regional datacenters, which accomplishes regional load balancing among sites. The load balancing approach MSIT uses relies on hardware devices that perform firewall, reverse proxy, routing, and load balancing functions for the environment as well as DNS load balancing. Especially important is configuring load balancers for cookie persistence through SSL.

Device availability

MSIT runs an evaluation program to provide guidance and recommendations for suggested devices. The evaluation process consists of running focus groups and asking users to rank devices in various categories, such as quality of voice, form factor, and other considerations. To help users make choices, MSIT maintains a short list of recommended devices that meet its criteria. 

User Education

MSIT provides four training options:

  • Self-guided modules provide an effective learning method for users spread throughout the world. The self-guided modules are very popular and are provided in the Adoption and Training Kit, available to customers.
  • Online instructor-led training is offered on Lync basics, conferencing, and RGS via the Microsoft IT Productivity Center in Fargo, ND.
  • In-person instructor-led training is provided by a team of four subject matter experts who deliver hands-on training to small groups, such as key influencers. The feedback on this program is outstanding.
  • A wealth of downloadable documentation offers quick reference materials, which most Microsoft users prefer. These materials are also part of the Adoption and Training Kit.

Operations and Support

MSIT uses a four-tiered support model.

Tier

Service Description

1

Call center. Provides entry point/first user interaction

2

Receives escalations from Tier 1 and provides support to all internal Microsoft users on Lync. Provided through MS Online.

3

Receives escalations from Tier 2 and provides server-side support, maintenance, and patching. Provided through MS Online.

4

Provides engineering and design. Provided through MS Online.

Tools

MSIT uses the following tools for operating the Lync environment.

Tool

Description

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

Lync Monitoring role enables Microsoft IT to use reports based on CDR and QoE data. Microsoft IT also creates custom SSRS reports with CDR and QoE data that enables users and teams to have additional reports.

Call Detail Reporting (CDR)

Shows the number of phone calls, instant messages, and Microsoft Office Live Meeting sessions that take place for each user.

Perfmon

Gathers performance-monitoring metrics to monitor concurrent connections to the OCS pools

System Center Operations Manager

Used to raise alerts to the reporting and tracking system and to gather other general statistics from the pool

SQL Server Reporting Services enables administrators to navigate to a custom reporting URL that has links for managing reports and viewing common reports. From the management URL, MSIT administrators specify permissions for users and groups and access the built-in reports on system usage, call diagnostics, and media diagnostics. The available reports show system summary statistics, such as top failures and conference summary, as well as detailed reports about server performance or per-user activity.

Adoption Strategies

  • MSIT targeted the top 150 executives in the company. The executive onboarding process happened gradually, with approximately seven executives and their delegates onboarded each week at first, out of over 150 executives identified initially.
  • MSIT asked for volunteers rather than doing forced migrations. The program was very popular worldwide. Over 28,000 users signed up!
  • The feedback program included a Send Feedback button, Helpdesk user satisfaction surveys, and the Communicate Hope feedback portal. MSIT provided human contact and follow-through throughout the process.
  • With the Communicate Hope program, Microsoft contributed to disaster relief around the world whenever a user submitted feedback.

Best Practices

  • Audit Edge role and firewall configuration
  • Verify dual-homed Edge configuration
  • Test and verify session persistence for SSL
  • Ensure back-end servers are not performance-bound
  • Guide users through device choices
  • Create training, onboarding, and evangelism programs
  • Share project commitments among teams
  • Think of sizing and capacity in terms of end points, not users
  • Manage certificates

Education Resources

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