Great article from Zeus Kerravala –

Lync Voice is Coming, but is Your Wi-Fi ready? Using Lync over the Wi-Fi network shouldn’t be overly challenging for most organizations–as long as the right steps are taken.

Using Lync over the Wi-Fi network shouldn’t be overly challenging for most organizations–as long as the right steps are taken.

Of all the unified communications (UC) platforms on the market, Microsoft Lync is perhaps the most interesting. Unlike all the other vendors that start with voice and then grow into the other stuff, Microsoft starts with desktop applications and then tries to pull voice through. Over the past several years, Microsoft has done a great job of getting Lync on to users’ desktops, and now Microsoft and many of its ecosystem partners, such as Polycom and Plantronics, have been aggressively pushing Lync Voice.

There are many things to consider when deploying Lync Voice, such as what phones to use, readiness of the wired network and beefing up the WAN. However, one area that’s often overlooked is the Wi-Fi network. In most companies, the Wi-Fi network typically augments the primary wired network. However, for many Lync users, Wi-Fi will be the primary network utilized, given the attractiveness of Lync to mobile workers.

A few weeks ago, at Aruba’s Atmosphere conference, I had a chance to sit down with Aruba Networks’ John Turner, Solutions Architect and General Manager for Lync Solutions. We discussed the top challenges that face customers deploying Lync as it pertains to Wi-Fi.

His first observation was consistent with what most of us industry followers have noted, and that is that Lync Voice is highly underpenetrated compared to the number of Lync users out there today. This means we should be expecting a big wave of Lync Voice over the next 2-3 years.

With regard to deployment, the following steps were recommended:

Pervasive coverage is a must. In many office buildings, the offices and cubes are well covered but the "transition areas" are not. Consider a user getting a Lync Voice call while sitting in his or her cube or in a conference room full of people. Not wanting to be rude, the user steps into the hallway or moves away from the cubes, and the call drops because coverage doesn’t extend to where that person is. In addition to hallways, consider stairwells, elevators, lobbies and bathrooms. I’m personally opposed to phone calls in the bathroom but have been in plenty of them with people talking on the phone to know coverage is needed there.

"Densify" the coverage. Although I hate the term "densify," it does accurately describe the requirement. Back in the "old days", when IT actually had some say in the devices being used, there was a certain consistency to the endpoints. The same laptops and BlackBerrys were generally bought for all, so the radio quality from device to device was consistent. In today’s consumerized business, the quality of radio can vary greatly from smartphone to tablet to laptop. This is why it’s common to sit at a desk and have full signal strength on a laptop and poor quality on an iPad. A density of one AP every 50 feet was recommended for the optimal density.

Access point redundancy. Now that companies are using the Wi-Fi network for mission-critical purposes, the wireless network needs to have the same level of high availability, redundancy and resiliency as the wired network. From a Wi-Fi perspective, this means don’t backhaul all of your access points into the same switch. Instead backhaul all of the APs in a given area to 2 or even 3 switches, so when maintenance is being done to a single wired switch it doesn’t take down the all of the APs in a given area.

Beware of Lync video. Most companies take Lync Voice traffic and drop it into its own queue. Then when companies start using Lync video, that traffic is also placed into that same generic Lync queue. This may seem to make sense, but understand that the average Lync voice call uses about 36 kbps of bandwidth, where each Lync video call is about 2–2.5 Mbps. Just a handful of video calls can overwhelm the queue and disrupt all Lync traffic.

Lync video should be classified on its own and separated from the rest of the Lync traffic for optimized performance. This should be considered not just over the Wi-Fi network but also over the wired network, particularly the WAN, where bandwidth tends to be limited compared to the LAN. Not managing this properly can have a significant impact on MPLS costs if the company is paying for any kind of burstable service.

Using Lync over the Wi-Fi network shouldn’t be overly challenging for most organizations as long as the right steps are taken. The above should be a great starting point for any company looked to do more Wi-Fi based voice, whether it’s Lync or any other UC solution.

Posted in Aruba, Microsoft Lync, Networking, Unified Communications | Leave a comment

The rollout of large scale Lync projects involves all sorts of activities.  Below are some pictures for an upgrade where we needed to get the handsets onto the latest firmware release before they went to site so as to not load down the WAN too much.

This rollout team handling the upgrade is currently handling over 400 handsets per day!  Great work team.

photo 1 (4)

photo 2 (3)

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Windows Phone 8.1 is an upgrade to the Windows Phone 8 operating system providing IT departments with more control over Windows Phones and give Windows Phone users a fuller productivity experience. Windows Phone 8.1 will be available to all Windows Phone 8 users as an upgrade however the mobile operator and phone manufacturer may control the distribution of updates. Update availability may vary by country, region, and device hardware capabilities.

Enterprise Mobile Device Management

Windows Phone 8.1, has built-in mobile device management client that lets you manage the handsets with the Mobile Device Management system of your choice.

Windows Phone 8 introduced the MDM protocol based on SyncML 1.2 (OMA standard for MDM). With the Windows Phone 8.1 we continue to build on that protocol, with a built in MDM client that MDM vendors can use to manage the device.

We are making it easier for end-users to enroll a device in the enterprise and are enabling MDM vendors to make use of the standard web authenticator broker technology to customize that enrollment experience.

Enrollment in an MDM system now allows the IT administrator to deploy a large set of configuration policies, email and Office 365 accounts, certificates for user authentication, VPN and Wi-Fi profiles, and applications to the device. A Robust Push infrastructure allows the IT administrator to reach out to the device and make any changes to the enrolled devices.

MDM systems have the ability to complete remove all the elements distributed or configured on the phone as well as the associated content. This allows you to remove the organizations data from the device when an employee decides to leave the organization or un-enroll the phone from the organization.

Windows App Platform convergence

With Windows phone 8.1, 100% of the API’s that you care about have been converged between Windows 8.1 Update and Windows Phone 8.1. This means that you can now develop apps for Windows devices and no longer need to manage separate development projects for Windows and Windows Phone, greatly limiting the investment to develop apps. Your existing Windows Phone 8.0 app will continue to run too.


Windows phone has been known to be one of the most secured smartphones on the market. With Windows Phone 8.1 we continue to evolve the security architecture, so you do not have to be fearful of malware. Windows Phone has no known malware, no jailbreaks ability, implements secure and trusted boot and sandboxes applications so malware and rootkits do not have a chance. With IRM and the addition of S/MIME for secure email data leak prevention is a reality on Windows Phone. You can also prevent users from saving or sharing information and documents via Cloud storage facilities such as OneDrive. Windows and Windows Phone 8.1

Enterprise Wipe

As BYOD is growing you want to have control over your data and applications. Windows Phone 8.1 allows you to securely manage your enterprise collection, such as email and documents, certificates, network profiles, business apps and associated data and enterprise security and configuration policy. Now that you can with Windows Phone 8.1, we allow you to securely remove the same collection of apps and information from a device that is being managed by your MDM system. For CL handsets you can get full control, block the Microsoft Account from being configured, disallow the user from configuring consumer services and block the user from removing the device from the MDM controlled walled garden.

Enhanced Asset Management and User Assistance

Thanks to the extended MDM capabilities in Windows Phone 8.1, you can now get the needed information from your Windows Phone 8.1 fleet, so you can create better services for your users and lower cost. Remotely assist them when they have questions or problems with the right asset information inform or by locking, ringing or wiping a lost or accidently misplaced phone. You can also help them when they forgot their device unlock code after a vacation, by securely resetting the code.


Windows Phone 8.1, brings an industry standard implementation of S/MIME. Under control of your MDM system and Exchange Server, employees can sign and encrypt email directly from their outlook client on the phone, in a flexible way so it fits their needs. You can force S/MIME policies to comply with your company’s policy, all without installing additional software to enable it. Thanks to the extended MDM capabilities in Windows Phone 8.1, you can now get the needed information from your Windows Phone 8.1 fleet, so you can create better services for your users and lower cost. Remotely assist them when they have questions or problems with the right asset information inform or by locking, ringing or wiping a lost or accidently misplaced phone. You can also help them when they forgot their device unlock code after a vacation, by securely resetting the code.

Enterprise Wi-Fi

Windows phone 8.1 provides enhanced Enterprise Wi-Fi authentication support, now including:




Windows Phone 8.1 also supports optional server certificate validation which can be provisioned via MDM or manually. MDM servers can provision the certificates as well as Wi-Fi configurations (including SSID, Hidden SSID and PSK). Configuration support includes:

  • Block Phone from being used as a Wi-Fi hotspot

  • Disable using Wi-Fi to offload data traffic

  • Preventing the user from manually adding Wi-Fi profiles (and connect to unknown hotspots)

  • Reporting what hotspots a user is connecting to

Virtual Private Networks

Windows Phone 8.1 supports seamless, secure access to protected business resources with an in-box VPN client. Configuration of the VPN client is supported through MDM or manually, including the ability to control how VPN’s are used over Wi-Fi and cellular networks to save cost.

The VPN client supports per app auto VPN, launching the specified VPN profile when an app is launched. It also allows different VPN profiles for different apps. When switching between apps with different VPN profiles the correct tunnel will be established dynamically when the user switches apps. Only one tunnel is allowed at a time.

The VPN client supports tunnelling flexibility with IPsec (IKEv2) gateway support (out-of-box) and SSL VPNs supported through a downloadable plug-in from the VPN Vendor which allows them to update as they add more features. The client also supports a split tunnel or forced tunnelling.

Assigned Access

Assigned Access allows you to enable a set of apps and settings to be available to the users and hide all the other functionality or create a single app experience on the device. This can be things like a LOB apps for task workers or a customer service set of application in retail, or a set of Line of Business apps and Build in capabilities for a factory floor solution, including phone, txt, email, calendaring and production system apps. Assigned Access can ensure the device is delivering the intended experience.

External Storage

Windows Phone 8.1 provides support for external storage. Apps can be installed on the external storage and they will automatically be encrypted. Data like Photo’s video and music will be unencrypted on the external storage. With the Storage card policy (MDM and EAS) you’ll be able to continue to deny access to the external storage card if your enterprise wants to. However, this may not be the greatest user experience for people as they may still want to share their own personal content like photos and videos.

Posted in Microsoft, Windows Phone | Leave a comment

Source: GigaOm

At first glance, few technologies feel as unsexy as voice. From a user’s perspective, little has changed since the days of Alexander Graham Bell. Most see voice as a mature technology that simply connects people in real-time across a distance. But voice is experiencing a wave of innovation that will fundamentally alter this definition.

During Mobile World Congress, Jae-woan Byun, the CTO of SK Telecom, condemned current voice offerings as “boring for users” but promised a “second tsunami” that could change everything.

The first tsunami was about messaging. It swept away SMS volumes and revenues and resulted in the kind of valuation that Facebook placed on WhatsApp. Thanks to the elimination of the historical limitations that telephony placed on voice, we are already sensing the shockwaves of the next tectonic shift.

Voice will be:

Available every “wear.” Voice is fast becoming a primary interface for wearable technology. Voice will soon become ambient, with audio sensors embedded into our environment: cars, living and workspace, and fashion accessories. Conversations will follow us from home to car to office — jumping automatically from device to device.

Private and secure. Encryption of voice will become the default, not the exception. Layered security models will include voice biometrics as a standard component. And for our most private conversations and transactions, speech will continuously authenticate us – not simply at the outset of a conversation.
Smartphone-native. Today, the dialer application on a smartphone replicates 1970s touchtone telephony. The ability to tap, swipe, wave, drag, point, rotate, shake and talk means that powerful new features will be simple and easy to use, in the same way that the iPod made mobile music easy.

Imagine rotating your phone to landscape orientation to turn a 1:1 call into a conference call. Apps will allow easy customization of the voice experience. Your CRM app will handle calls from clients; another will intercept calls when you are roaming and it’s 3 AM; and another will manage calls from the “burner” number you put in an ad to sell your car. Powerful new services will be so easy and intuitive that we won’t even notice a learning curve.

Application-embedded features. Beyond caller ID, inbound voice calls carry little context today. Increasingly, voice calls are originated within apps and web pages and are thus full of useful metadata. Moving forward, voice calls will come complete with context, such as where the user is stuck in a business process, allowing organizations to build and continuously refine a fit-for-purpose voice experience.

Beyond the “call.” Sadly, we are still replicating the patterns and limitations of 1876 telephony with the idea of a call today. We either schedule calls with fixed timing, length and attendees or blindly interrupt people. Future voice communication will mirror the more fluid activity streams on Facebook, Yammer or Google Hangouts. We will invite others into a call as needed, allowing them to jump in and out of conversations seamlessly. Outside calls or cold calls will come with a “conversation request,” where the caller pitches the receiver on why he or she should answer and invest their time.

Augmented memory & total recall. Voice is about to become recordable by default, and in many contexts and corporations, it already has been for decades. We are moving beyond simple record keeping to active knowledge management via voice. Similar to how we search our email for past conversations and threads, we will be able to do that with our voice conversations too. Essentially, we will be able to jump to the 15 seconds that mattered in that last call and have perfect recall of all our conversations.

Your intelligent voice assistant. Basic AI technology has offered voice command control for over a decade, and Siri and Google Hotwording have taken that experience to a new level. As intelligent assistants continue to improve and adapt, we can see a future where they join us during the call. They will interpret questions and offer answers, content and ideas in both spoken and visual form. This will help us perform various administrative tasks, like scheduling a meeting, querying past correspondence or adding a task to your to-do list.

Accessible to all. The next generation of voice services will not only have high-definition audio, but also customized acoustic profiles to us individually and our environment. We don’t all speak the same languages or dialects, so automated real-time subtitles and translation will become commonplace. One in five people have significant hearing loss, and end-to-end digital cloud-centric hearing aids will remove the “analog gap” for hearing-impaired users.

Voice intersects with a long list of hot topics: the internet of things, search, location services, wearables, security, connected car, big data, quantified self and beyond. As analyst Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz recently tweeted: “It’s kind of ironic that voice is one of the next big things in mobile.”

I would say Evans is partially correct. It’s not just mobile. Voice promises to be the next big thing in communications, period.

Martin Geddes is co-founder and executive director of the Hypervoice Consortium. To learn more visit, or follow him on Twitter @martingeddes.

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I am super pleased to announce that Generation-e TV has been launched.  This initiative will provide regular and informative content around Microsoft unified communications and cloud including case studies, best practices, strategies and solutions.

We hope you are as pleased with the result as we are: Check it out:

Posted in Centre of Excellence, Unified Communications | Leave a comment

Activity based working (ABW) is a proven workplace strategy that will influence the competitiveness of organisations across Australia in the coming five years. It is a trend that government, business and IT leaders cannot ignore. Technology is critical to the success of ABW, which is a work style that focuses your employees on the activities they need to undertake to achieve goals in a more productive, collaborative, and flexible manner. ABW adopters seek improved organisation-wide collaboration, better employee engagement, and improved client interactions – underpinned by technology. This Tech Research Asia whitepaper provides an analysis of the adoption of ABW in Australia, the technology choices being made, and the business outcomes achieved by early ABW adopters. 

Activity Based Working–The new world of work whitepaper

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Technology adoption is the deep utilization and habitual use of a product or technology by end-users. Developing and implementing an effective end-user rollout strategy, in tandem with your technical deployment efforts, is key to driving both immediate and sustained adoption of Lync, and can result in faster ROI, improved productivity, and increased user satisfaction. The Lync Rollout and Adoption Success Kit (RASK) provides an easy-to-follow, end-to-end framework for rolling out Lync 2013 within an organization. Inclusive of checklists, best practices, and key resources, Lync 2013 RASK offers guidance and resources to help achieve maximum results with your Lync rollout.

The Lync 2013 Rollout and Adoption Success Kit (RASK) is a comprehensive guide based on a flexible, repeatable methodology and can be used for initial Lync rollouts, as new workloads are being deployed, or between version upgrades.

RASK represents the next evolution of deployment and adoption focused methodologies & resources previously put forth in several disparate kits, including the Lync Adoption & Training Kit and the Pilot Success Kit . RASK can be easily modified to accommodate both small and large organizations or adjusted, based on an organization’s current deployment status.

What’s included in RASK?

RASK is designed around an end-to-end product lifecycle, from initial project planning through sustained operations. It is organized into an easy-to-follow “5x5” approach, with five phases and five focus areas.

The five core phases—Project Scope, Proof of Concept, Pilot, Enterprise Rollout, and Run State—map to a typical product lifecycle. Within each phase are five underlying focus areas: Planning, Help Desk, Awareness, Training, and Operations, which outline related actions.

Users will find guided focus-area discussions, best practices, common challenges/mitigations, and getting started checklists. In addition, valuable reference materials and downloadable resources are included, such as a customizable project plan, Lync deployment readiness report, success metrics, email samples, survey templates, and much more.

Why focus on end-user adoption?

Change management can be the biggest obstacle when rolling out a new technology. Ensuring a positive end user experience is one of the most crucial success factors driving optimized ROI and customer satisfaction with Lync. The degree of change and impact to an end-user is often overlooked, resulting in poor product reception, limited Lync adoption, and increased escalations. Thoughtful communications, effective awareness generation, and end-user training can drive deep utilization and habitual use of Lync. It can also help organizations translate their business goals into an actionable and results-driven solution. The most successful customers incorporate readiness and end-user adoption components across the Lync deployment lifecycle.

Who should use Lync RASK?

Those on the project team accountable for rolling out Lync will find value in RASK. Team members typically include:

  • Project Managers/IT Pros responsible for scoping and managing the overall rollout project, starting with the Proof of Concept and Pilot phases.
  • Marketing Managers responsible for designing and executing a full-fledged awareness campaign.
  • Training Managers responsible for developing and delivering training strategy.
  • Support Managers responsible for ensuring their support agents and processes are in place and ready for end-user consumption.
  • Operations Managers responsible for ongoing maintenance and management of Lync.

Where to access Lync RASK?

The Lync RASK is available here: Lync 2013 Rollout and Adoption Success Kit.

How to get started with Lync RASK and your adoption planning?

Attend our complimentary Developing an Effective Rollout and Adoption Strategy course.

While the technical deployment of Lync is a critical step toward achieving your goals and ROI, it is not the only step. Without deep user adoption, Lync can quickly become just another desktop icon. Lync RASK is designed to offer guidance and resources to help you drive fast and sustained adoption and achieve maximum results with your Lync rollout. Leverage the Lync 2013 Rollout and Adoption Success Kit to get started with your rollout and adoption planning today.

* Original Microsoft article

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