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Cloud & Connectivity | Unified Comms | Virtual Data Centre | MPLS


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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.
meeting_room

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
tim.murphy@strencom.net


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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))$$begin_recordLogType: connectionSeverity: errorText: The connection was closed before TLS negotiation completed. Did the remote peer accept our certificate?Local-IP: 77.xxx.xxx.xx:443Peer-IP: 77.xxx,xx,xx:49175Connection-ID: 0x212600Transport: TLS$$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.

UPDATE

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.


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Microsoft Lync Powerd by Strencom & Skype

Microsoft & Skype announced integration between Lync and Skype in May, Microsoft Lync Powered by Strencom provides this functionality to organizations utilizing Strencom’s Hosted Microsoft Lync.

This allows Lync users to Skype-Lynccommunicate directly with the over 320 million Skype users from their corporate Lync account. Lync users can currently communicate via IM and voice with Skype users with video and other modalities coming later in the year.

 

 

https://blog.strencom.net/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/media/moxieplayer.swf


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Using Microsoft Lync on Linux Desktop

Over the years I have had an on and off relationship with Linux on the desktop.

I have been using Windows 7 as the primary OS on my laptop for the last number of years so over the holidays decided to pull down a CentOS 6 ISO and give it another go as a desktop OS.

A couple of people have asked why CentOS and not one of the more desktopy distros, well its simple, at $DayJob we have a very very large installation base of both RHEL and CentOS boxes so I wanted to use an OS that I could easily integrate into our patch management and day to day IT management systems.

Installation went smoothly and I was left with a dual booting Windows 7 / CentOS 6.5 machine.

From previous times I was using Linux on the desktop I knew tools like evolution were there to take of corporate e-mail and calendar but I was itching to get my Lync client up and running.

It turns out it was quite easy.

Pidgin is a chat program which lets you log in to accounts on multiple chat networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on MSN, talking to a friend on Google Talk, and sitting in a Yahoo chat room all at the same time. And after installing the pidgin-sipe plugin (running the command “yum install pidgin-sipe” from an elevated shell) I was able to add my hosted lync account details and hey presto corporate IM up and running.