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Voice powered by Lync & Office 365: The Business Benefits


Voice. Where would we be without it? Lost, that’s where, so the technology wizards at Microsoft developed Lync to give businesses the full power of voice and all the benefits that come with it.

A white paper on, one of Strencom’s favourite sites for all things IT, showed six real benefits of Lync Enterprise Voice and how it lowers the cost of communications.

First up, Lync can improve worker productivity and streamline business processes. A software-based UC solution, such as Lync, can be used as a platform where developers can build click-to-chat, click-to-call or click-to-video based applications.

Here comes the science… It gets a bit technical when it comes to cost savings. Basically long distance call charges are reduced due to VoIP. Line Rental charges are also reduced/eliminated due to consolidation and conversion to SIP. Conference calling charges are all but eliminated, due to integrated conferencing in Lync.

System maintenance is all but eliminated; well it is with a hosted system, and of course costs get smaller, thanks to faster upgrades and lower-cost hardware. Legacy communications systems often require system hardware to be resident and present in every location and site and that is not the case with a hosted UC solution.

Hosted Lync means IT personnel are freed up and IT staff can spent their time more productively. Moves, adds and changes evolve to a “self-service” model. Think the Tesco self-service checkout for voice activation.

With Lync voice comes better enabled mobile working; supported by wifi calls, unified messaging and mobile unified communications.

In conclusion… here’s where I start my sales pitch -:) Our Strencom hosted Lync is an easy way to gain all these advantages of voice and Unified Communications (UC), within none of the hassle. Our solution sits on top of your Office 365 to create a fully voice capable unified communications platform. It means you can harness the full power of your voice, conferencing and communications, anytime and anywhere!

Bonus points Strencom hosted Lync saves and reduces costs. You can eliminate line rental, eliminate conferencing charges by 80%, and reduce call charges.

Fast, seamless deployment Lync Enterprise Voice for Office 365 is up-and-running in hours and it integrates easily with O365 E4 and E3. It is seamlessly deployed, without business interruption.

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What Happens your Business, when you stop using email for a day.

Microsoft Word - Document1

Great things happen.

Last Friday, I brought back an initiative that we started over 2 years ago when we first starting using a full Unified Communications (UC) solution, “No Email Friday”. As with many good ideas, this one kind of lost its way over time.

So the challenge to all staff was not to use email for the day… to add to the challenge and make it a bit of fun, there was a small prize of 2 bottles of good wine for the winner. I’ll let you know how we measured the winner later.

The rules of engagement were:

  • No email to anyone inside the company – to replace it, you can use IM for messages or attachment, or just call them.
  • Ideally no email to customers or anyone outside the company – again call them or IM them if they are on Lync, but of course if you have to send an email to a customer, then you have to do it.

The main objectives were:

  1. More Talk
  2. More IM’s
  3. Less Email
  4. Better, faster and more productive decision making, from doing 1, 2 and 3.

As a technically driven business, Strencom send a lot of emails to customers and suppliers and other stakeholders, and sometimes we lose that personal contact by not having more conversations. Also, we have all experienced, that sometimes the tone of an email can be picked up incorrectly and result in a bad and unintended outcome.

I should point out that we wanted “more talk” from this, but some organisations may want less talk; it just depends on your business. For instance, a company that recently moved to a Hosted Lync UC from Strencom, saw a reduction of 600 phone calls per month, and their average call time was 3 minutes, which is equal to a saving of 30 man hours in the month.

So back to the results…

  • 70% less emails were sent… every time you send an email, you most likely get a reply, and there is invariably a task to do when you get the reply. So 70% less tasks. (Its not always going to be 70% less, but 30% less is achievable on a continuous basis)
  • 60% more phone calls – more personal contact and collaboration with internal and external customers. Faster incident resolution times, and happier customers.
  • 1.5 times more IM’s sent – faster and better communication, with less chance of being misunderstood.
  • 2 times more collaboration sessions (screen sharing/video calls/conference calls)
  • File transfers were up too, but we had too few of these from the previous week to give an accurate figure. But it has highlighted that we don’t use this enough, so that’s one to concentrate on for next week.

Overall, very successful in achieving the objectives, while positively impacting on the business.

So back to the 2 bottles of good wine… we measured the number of overall Communication and Collaboration sessions (a session is a phone call, IM, video call, screen share, conference call, and file share) for each staff member and the person with the highest total number at the end of the day won the prize. Congrats to Donagh; 2 nice bottles of white wine, bought from our good customer O’Brien’s Wines, are on the way.

If you’d like to know more about our Unified Communications & Collaboration solutions, call me today and I’d be happy to help, or visit


PS. A couple of other links that I came across that may be of interest if you want to try a “No Email Day” yourself…

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Web Conferencing – You’re doing it Wrong – 5 Tips to Help You Get it Right

With Microsoft Lync it becomes very easy to host multi-user web conferences. Unfortunately this can lead to participation in inefficient web conferences with content that is not presented optimally. The tips and whitepaper below will help you ensure that your web conferences engage your participants and that content is presented in the best possible manner.

Top 5 Tips

  1. Ensure everyone knows their role. (Presenter, Moderator, Content Manager, etc.)
  2. Avoid using desktop or application sharing where possible.
    1. If sharing must be used reduce the display resolution to 1280×1024 or 1024×768
  3. Always ensure that wired network connections are used for presentations.
  4. Use at least 2 computers (separate shared content and audio / video)
  5. Upload PowerPoint content before the meeting starts.

For all managed meetings it is recommended that at least 2 computers be used.









Download the Full Whitepaper .

[RegUserOnly]Download the complete Whitepaper[/RegUserOnly]




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The Truth about Conference Calls

This video is hilarious.

We’ve all been on one of these conference call… in fact, this probably represents most conference calls. Its got nearly 7m views, so it must be good.


What tips and tricks do you have to run a productitive conference call? Please dont hesitate to contact me if you’d like to talk about our Hosted Lync conferencing solution.

Tim Murphy

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Unified Communications- Top 5 Reasons UC Projects Fail

STCM All POSIt’s estimated that over 80% of Unified Communications Projects fail, and only 1 in 10 is transformational to the business, helping to achieve business goals.

Of course there are far more than 5 reasons why UC projects fall. But I thought that 5 of the highlights would be a good place to start if you are considering a UC implementation, whether that be Hosted or On-Premises.

As we are a provider of Hosted Microsoft Lync, UCaaS, and having the largest Hosted Lync UCaaS in Ireland, our experience is in this area based on hundreds of deployed seats, but the same rules apply for On-Premises Projects, and you’ll see that from the high level outline below.

1. The Pilot Trap
Doing a pilot of UC, without planning it out will almost certainly lead to failure. Many organizations believe that the technical installation is the biggest hurdle. It is a challenge, but there are far more important areas to address before you should even consider the technical implementation. These include the next 4 items on my list.

If you have enterprise licenses as part of an agreement with Microsoft, the tendency can be to implement UC yourself. The licenses are free, so why not, Right? Don’t get caught in this trap.

Microsoft Lync is probably the only one that this applies to, as the other vendors (Cisco, Shoretel, Avaya, etc) aren’t really in the same position as Microsoft when it comes to licensing. By going down the DIY route, you’ll probably get so far, but won’t really get the juicy functionality, such as federation, voice/video conferencing, external call capability and much more. And what tends to happen is that the technology is blamed for the failure, and it’s left on the shelf, never to be resurrected again.

2. Executive Sponsorship
Unified Communications is all about collaboration, both within the business and with external stakeholders too. While it should be possible to show actual euro savings from a UC Solution, the greatest gains to the business are found in the increased productivity gains.

The senior management and executive team love to hear that a technology will increase productivity and reduce costs, but they need to be using it too. Pick an executive sponsor who is somewhat disposed to using new technology as part of your “Pilot” users, and they’ll do all the work for you to get the budget, because they’ll love it.

3. User Adoption & Training
All the Unified Communications software vendors will tell you that their UC is so easy to use; it’ll become second nature in no time. That’s somewhat true, and in fact you’ll find that some users will be so into it, they’ll find innovative ways of using the technology. They’ll even train colleagues, without realizing it.

However, the early users should get some level of training to get them off to the best start. This will encourage user adoption, and give the project the best possible chance of success. Strencom and most of the Hosted Providers offer user adoption dashboards available in real time, so you can measure it daily. Here is an example of one of these dashboards.


Lync adoption dashboard

v:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
o:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
w:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
.shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}

4. The Network – LAN & WAN Readiness
LAN – The main thing to get right here is internal LAN routing. This is even more important if you are using a Hosted UCaaS solution.

To call another user in your office, the call is initially setup by the UC server, and then the 2 users are connected directly, with just logging info being sent back to the servers during the session. If you don’t have LAN routing the call between 2 users will go through the UC server all the time, and this can lead to poor call quality, increased and unnecessary server activity, and ultimately, a poor user experience overall.

WAN – UC is all about the ability to connect everyone, everyplace (office, home, remote location) and every device (Smartphone, tablet, Laptop). To achieve this, calls will have to go out through the internet in certain cases, so a good quality connection from a business provider is essential.

Here is a free tool to check the quality of your Internet connection and specifically its ability to support a UC solution – http://mcs.strencom.netFor a more detailed quality check, give us a call and we can give you access to another free tool that will simulate multiple calls from your LAN over a period of 5 days.

By the way, don’t skimp on headsets either; there is a valid reason for the price difference.

5. Choose the Right Partner

We may not want to admit it, but UC is still a technology in its early days (at least from a deployment standpoint, versus the technology itself) , and while many IT Partners will claim to be able to deploy a UC service, you should look for an IT Partner that has experience with previous UC projects.

There is of course the technology capability, and it should be a minimum requirement that they can deploy a UC Solution, but it should also be a company that understands the benefits of UC to the business, how it can increase productivity and collaboration, and ultimately how it can address the goals of the business. A UC Solution must demonstrate an ROI that the business can see and measure.

Ask for references of past deployments, in the same size and budget as your project. Make sure that you speak to the references. Nobody’s perfect and there will have been challenges along the way, so ask the reference customer of any pitfalls they experienced, and then ask your partner, how they have addressed them and why the same issues won’t happen again.

Finally, the partner should have the certifications relevant to the UC vendor solution that they are promoting. For example, if its Microsoft Lync UC, then the partner should have a minimum of Silver Certification/Competency in the specific area; UC, Communications, Hosting, etc.

Whether On-Premises or Hosted, please give us a call if you’d like to discuss how UC can really benefit your business. We can have a Hosted Lync UC Pilot running for you in a matter of days; something that will take months to get up and running on-premises.

We have found that UC solutions are of particular benefit to businesses that have a large export business, have multiple locations, and/or a work force that is spread out throughout the country, or throughout the world.

A here’s something to make you smile… we’ve all been in one of these conference calls.



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What did we do before UC

It is amazing that once you have deployed unified comms into your organisation it becomes second nature. The following YouTube video was sent to me by a former colleague whom I used to spend a lot of time talking to on teleconferences. The video shows us that a teleconference looks like in person


I could identify with each of the “attributes” of a teleconference parodied in the clip as I had experienced most of not all of them before. A couple of munities after watching I realised that since I deployed Unified Communication (Lync) to our organisation the frequency of which these attributes present themselves is much less, given that people are more engaged in the conference, can see each other’s presence and can use rich media to share information between participants.

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Lync Phone Edition (LPE) TLS Failure with 3rd Party Public Certificates


I identified an issue today, at a site externally provisioned (EdgePool) Polycom CX600, CX700 and CX3000. Most running .4044 or .4100. (I was subsequently able to identify a site with what appears to be the same issue where the LPE devices registered against a standard Edition Lync 2010 Server and a Dialogic SBA. All the registrars had 3rd party public certificates (GlobalSign).The phones were failing to sign-in, Logger and Snooper reveled a TLS error:

TL_ERROR(TF_CONNECTION) [1]06D8.0EF8::01/30/2014-10:52:11.726.007895ff (SIPStack,SIPAdminLog::TraceConnectionRecord:SIPAdminLog.cpp(160))$$begin_recordLogType: connectionSeverity: errorText: The connection was closed before TLS negotiation completed. Did the remote peer accept our certificate?Local-IP:,xx,xx:49175Connection-ID: 0x212600Transport: TLS$$end_record

A network trace reveled the edge server sending an RST, following the client and server TLS Hello.

With a certificate from an internal private CA present on the front-end pool / standard edition server / SBA, ensuring a SAN was present in the certificate for strict DNS compliance, the LPE devices were able to successfully authenticate. We were able to update the device to .4100 and then to .4420 (January 2013). Once updated the externally provisioned devices were able to authenticate via the edge pool with the 3rd party public CA.


A contact at Microsoft advised that earlier version of the LPE firmware had the GlobalSign Root CA certificate:

Thumbprint:  2F173F7DE99667AFA57AF80AA2D1B12FAC830338
Serial:  020000000000d678b79405

embedded, this certificate expired 2014-01-28 12:00:00 UTC. It would appear that after this certificates that chained to the GlobalSign Root were not constructing the chain to the newer valid root.