Friday, February 21, 2014

Lync Conference 2014 Recap

Just got back from another amazing Lync Conference, this time at Aria in Las Vegas. It was great to see all my Lync buddies from around the world and to have the opportunity to participate in some very informative sessions given by Microsoft employees and many of my fellow Lync MVP friends.

There were several announcements, most of which I'm sure everyone has already heard about.
  • The next version of Lync is currently known as Lync vNext. Not sure if this is a codeword, or the final name
  • LyncvNext will include a new server role which will allow other video-conferencing systems (like Tandberg/Cisco) to join Lync-hosted video conferences. This server role can be either co-located on front-end or separate. 
  • Feature-parity on all mobile platforms, including Android tablets, which have not seen a Lync release as of yet.
  • Video calling between Lync and Skype. We all knew it was coming, but nice to see it finally show up. I think they're targetting go-live in June. 
  • A set of Javascript libraries called jLync, which will allow for all kinds of web development possibilities
  • The introduction of hosted-PSTN connectivity on Office365. No details on where it will be offered, but the US is a good bet.
Myself, I hosted two very popular sessions on Lync 2013 Enterprise Voice Best Practices to packed rooms. I had a lot of fun doing it, and look forward to doing more. The famous Jamie Stark even mentioned it on several occasions:

Feedback was very positive, including one fellow who threw a pair of underwear at me at the end of my second session as a joke.
I had a great time at this year's Lync conference. The venue was beautiful, the sessions were informative, and the after-hours parties were fun. I'm already looking forward to LyncConf15, hosted in Hawaii (I hope!).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 2014 Lync Optimizer Updates

Since moving the Optimizer back-end to a SQL database and enabling Microsoft authentication, its allowed me to explore adding new features not previously possible.

Ruleset History

The first feature I'm releasing is a ruleset history option. Every ruleset run by users is stored in SQL, so it was relatively easy to enable a history feature, so users can call up past rulesets (it was harder to make it secure). This can come in especially handy when working with extensions, as it is currently rather time consuming to enter extension details.

When you log in now, you'll see a View History button beside the Input heading.

Clicking it will bring up your entire ruleset history since the introduction of authentication and the SQL backend (late October 2013).  Clicking on any row will load that particular ruleset into the Optimizer.

Selective Caller-ID Block

Sometimes, users want the ability to block their outgoing caller ID, but not all the time.  Lync has a feature where you can do this at the voice route level, but it takes a bit of work to make this work "on-demand".  The Optimizer can now accomplish this for you, simply by checking the Allow Call ID Block checkbox and entering the desired caller ID block code (ie *67 in the US/Canada), and the replacement caller ID to use.

The Optimizer will change the default normalization rules to allow the entry of the caller ID block code.  Normalized numbers using this code will look something like: *67+12123334444.  The Optimizer then creates a route for that pattern that selects the Suppress caller ID option.  A trunk translation rule strips the block code before sending to the next hop.

Other Things

I've also included numerous tweaks to improve the overall experience and to ensure consistency. I've also nearly completed the data move from XML to SQL which gives me more options for the future.

I've been working behind the scenes trying to make these work as seamlessly and easy as possible. If you find the Optimizer helpful and a timesaver, think of the Hoff and send him a donation (this guy here, not the real Hoff....he doesn't need any more money).

Any new feature requests, please drop me a line.