Living with Lync: Monitoring Success

This article excerpt, by Kevin Kieller, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1l1xtrA
Monitoring usage and adoption and then using the information to refine your Lync deployment, and understanding and using information from the standard Lync Monitoring Server reports, will improve the success of your Lync deployment.
Usage, Adoption and the Lync Monitoring Server
Do you know who is using what Lync features and how often and how much of a particular feature they are using? To be successful, you want broad-based adoption (lots of people) with lots of usage (for example, many IMs, conferences, desktop sharing sessions, etc.).
Adoption = who is using your service (by department, geography, role, etc.)
Usage = quantity of messages, calls, minutes being made/used, etc.
Fortunately, Microsoft Lync includes a free Monitoring Server (application) that can provide you with great usage and adoption information. With Lync 2010, the Monitoring Server role needed to be installed on its own physical server, and as such, some administrators, wrongly, chose not to install the Monitoring Server at all. With Lync 2013, the Monitoring Server role does not require a separate server but is instead installed on an existing Lync Front-end Server (collocated). Every Lync deployment should install the Lync Monitoring Server role, including pilot deployments!
It is important to understand that the Monitoring Server role tracks “metadata” related to communication sessions and does not track or record actual communication content. The Monitoring reports show that you and I had an IM conversation on a particular date at a specific time or that we had a phone call on July 1, 2014 at 11:04 AM that lasted 3 minutes; however, the Monitoring Server is not able to disclose any information related to the content of those communication sessions.
If you are coming from a telecom background and are familiar with the CDRs (call detail records) that most PBX systems could produce, consider the Lync Monitoring reports as a “super-CDR.” Unlike a simple CDR, Lync Monitoring reports track instant message sessions, peer-to-peer audio calls and video calls along with remote desktop sessions, file transfers and audio, video and Web conferences.
The Monitoring Server reports take great advantage of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). This means all of the reports inherit the capabilities of SSRS, including the ability to export to Excel, PDF and other formats; the ability to schedule and automatically email reports to specified recipients on a regular basis; and the ability to modify standard reports and easily add your own custom reports.
Monitoring Server Reports
By my count, there are 19 standard monitoring server reports, along with a monitoring dashboard that provides a quick overview of system health and usage.
The Monitoring Server reports have not changed much from Lync 2010 to Lync 2013. As such, a complete guide to understanding the reports can be downloaded here and is applicable to both versions of Lync.
Lync 2013 adds two new reports: Conference Join Time Report, Media Quality Comparison Report.
In combination, the standard Lync reports provide invaluable and detailed insights into your Lync environment and will help you drive both usage and adoption to ensure a successful deployment.
For those using or considering the Office 365 version of Lync, note that the above information is applicable to on-premises deployments of Lync 2010 and 2013. While the Office 365 Lync Reports are expanding, they do not currently match the detail provided by the on-premises monitoring server reports.