SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kevin Kieller
Kevin Kieller is a partner with enableUC, a company that helps measure, monitor and improve UC and collaboration usage and...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Kevin Kieller | February 10, 2014 |

 
   

Living Well with Lync

Living Well with Lync In this latest post, Kevin shares tips, tricks, obstacles and successes so you can better understand the UC end-state that Lync represents for many organizations.

In this latest post, Kevin shares tips, tricks, obstacles and successes so you can better understand the UC end-state that Lync represents for many organizations.

Someone recently suggested that the title of my column "Living with Lync" sounded as if people were living with a disease. As such, I choose to entitle this article, "Living Well with Lync" in order to reinforce that the focus of this ongoing series has always been to share tips, tricks, obstacles and successes so that you can better understand the UC end-state that Lync represents for many organizations.

Certainly evidence suggests that more and more organizations are selecting Lync as both their UC solution and voice solution. According to Microsoft, 5 million Lync voice seats have been deployed. A significant number of organizations are looking to Lync as their IP telephony solution, according to Irwin Lazar of Nemertes Research. Whatever the exact numbers are, Melanie Turek of Frost & Sullivan concludes that Microsoft is significantly impacting enterprise communications.

With more and more organizations looking toward Lync as their voice and UC solution, exactly how do you "live well with Lync?" Quite simply, you focus on doing three things:

1. Determine Lync is the right solution for your organization.
2. Plan and execute a proper migration to Lync.
3. Ensure you have the right processes and tools to manage your Lync environment.

Determining Lync is the Right Solution for your Organization
Lync is a great solution for many, but not all, organizations. And even when Lync is a good fit, you need to determine if it should replace or augment your existing voice environment.

To "live well with Lync," you first must determine if Lync is "just right" for your organization. To do this, make sure you ...

1. Define and document your requirements, by interviewing or surveying actual end users.
2. Define and evaluate multiple viable options against your specific requirements.
3. Impartially document the pros and cons of each solution related to your requirements.
4. Provide budgetary costing for each option--Value for investment is important!
5. Make a recommendation. Based on the evaluation, if Lync is the best fit, great; if not, proceed with an alternative UC solution.
6. Pilot Lync (or your alternative UC solution) to ensure the "fit"--usage and adoption is the ultimate proof point.

After you have determined that Lync is the right solution or if Lync plays a role in a hybrid solution, you must migrate from where you are to where you want to be.

Successfully Migrating to Lync
In the past 19 months, I have led a team of professionals that has migrated 59 offices to full Lync voice and UC. Through this process, I have learned that migrating successfully to Lync involves doing these key things:

1. Ensuring network readiness
2. Having the right technology design expertise and experience
3. Appointing a project leader and securing strong executive support
4. Recognizing the importance of communications, training and change management

Lync, like all VoIP solutions, needs a network (LAN and WAN) that can deliver reliable, consistent real-time traffic. This is even more important if there are requirements or expectations to use desktop or room-based video (e.g. Lync Room Systems). Excess bandwidth is not sufficient; you must implement and test to ensure you have reliable end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS).

Lync is "sexy," and lots of IT personnel are thrilled to be involved in a Lync project. This means many internal IT experts in Active Directory and Exchange "raise their hand" and volunteer to act as technical lead on a Lync project. This might be fine for a pilot or proof of concept deployment; however, if Lync is to be your primary communication solution, you need to build a team that has both the expertise and the experience with previous Lync deployments. If you would like to "upskill" your existing resources, consider augmenting your team with some external consultants for a period of time.

All UC projects can be complicated because, by definition, they are tying together many systems. A Lync voice and UC deployment almost always integrates Lync, Exchange, Active Directory, SQL and often SharePoint, along with gateways, SBAs (survivable branch appliances), SBCs (session border controllers) and PRIs, and SIP. Sometimes Lync deployments further integrate with existing room-based video conferencing and other CEBP (communications-enabled business process) applications.

With all these integrations, there will be many technical and process decisions. To make the best decisions for your organization, you need an experienced project leader to run it. Note that I did not say a project manager. To increase the chances of success, you need a strong leader who can rally the team, make tough decisions, work through setbacks and act as the overall project manager (you can also assign a project administrator to deal with the "paperwork" associated with updating project plans and tracking down status updates). This leader will need and should have strong executive support.

If technical design and proper technical implementation represent 50% of success, communications, change management and training represents the other half. Not addressing either half of the equation is almost surely a path toward failure.

For the 59 offices we have migrated, we had a staged communication plan that started well in advance of any planned office migration, a number of targeted training sessions, Q&A sessions along with a commitment to conduct a survey of users post-migration (usually 4 weeks after), then incorporating any feedback into improving the process for the next office we migrate.

Managing Lync
Congratulations, you have reached your desired end state, your destination. Rejoice. But get ready, because now the real challenge begins.

Because many Lync professionals focus on the design, architecture and implementation of Lync environments, I find that the ongoing operations of a Lync environment, especially when it includes full Enterprise Voice, are often underestimated.

To manage a Lync environment so that all of your end users "live well," you need to do many things, including:

1. Institute application, server, gateway, and network monitoring
2. Conduct proactive and reactive voice quality investigations
3. Provide ongoing training (and on-boarding training)
4. Monitor and continue to promote usage and adoption
5. Control and track user profiles

In each of these areas, you need to define clear roles and responsibilities (who does what, and when) and ensure that all the appropriate people and groups in your organization have the tools, training and system access to do their jobs. Managing a Lync environment successfully is as much about process as it is about tools.

Network, device and application monitoring is something most IT organizations are familiar with, and there are many strong tool vendors in this area. As such, most organizations do this well. Less well, is the assignment of responsibility (who does what) if an issue arises. Clear roles and responsibilities are required, since diagnosing a Lync issue might involve network, application, server, storage or telecom areas of expertise--most likely a team effort will be required to quickly and accurately deal with an "alert."

The Lync Monitoring Server role and associated reports (built on SQL Reporting Services) provide a strong foundation for reactive voice quality investigations. Becoming familiar with the reports (and limitations of the reports--e.g., call metrics are only reported at the end of the call) and having someone on your team with VoIP experience is a definite asset. Proactive voice quality investigations--for example, using the reports to identify users who are using built-in laptop microphones during calls (a bad idea) or using endpoints which are not Lync certified--can greatly reduce the number of reactive investigations you need to undertake.

I have seen many organizations implement great initial Lync training programs only to forget that people come and go, change roles, and need refresher training materials and courses. A multi-part training program delivered over a number of months is often a good way to allow typical end users to "digest" all the features Lync (and Exchange UM) have to offer.

Usage (quantity) and adoption (breadth of users) metrics for the various features is a great way to track how your training and service quality are meeting end users' needs. If users are "living well," then you should expect to see continued usage and adoption without any significant downturns. Abrupt decreases in usage or adoption should cause you to look for a root cause and/or a persistent unmediated problem.

User profile management, including the provisioning and de-provisioning of DIDs (direct inward dial numbers) and/or extensions, is something telecom professionals are very familiar with but an area with which few IT Lync professionals have experience. On top of this, Lync introduces the need to manage voice policies (e.g. local calls, long distance, international restrictions), dial plans and routing rules (typically based on "home office" location), and response group agent assignments. You also need to track and keep updated special call forwarding rules, outbound caller display name/number rules, 1-800 to DID mappings, etc.

When users leave, you typically want to leave a previously used extension or DID "dormant" for a period of time. If you are growing, you need to make sure you acquire and manage a block of unassigned DIDs. Retired members of your organization may request that they "take their number" with them. The voice and voice mail accounts for employees on maternity leave or other personal leaves need to be managed.

Perhaps a small organization can manage these user profile details in a number of spreadsheets, but almost every medium organization and certainly most large organizations are going to need some user profile management tools and documented processes in order to continue to "live well" with Lync.

I have covered lots of ground and several of the listed items could warrant a complete separate article. To this end, I plan to explore a number of these topics in more detail between now and Enterprise Connect 2014.

Want to learn how other organizations are living well with Lync? Please join me at my Enterprise Connect 2014 "Living with Lync" session on Wednesday, March 19 at 1:30 PM to hear more tales, tribulations and triumphs.

Use the comments section below to ask your question or comment on my answers. I will review and respond to each and every comment. Or, follow me on twitter @kkieller to interact in real-time.

Follow Kevin Kieller on Twitter and Google+!
@kkieller
Kevin Kieller on Google+





COMMENTS




Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

January 24, 2018

Communications, collaboration, and contact center systems are all being delivered from the cloud, to more enterprises each year. With the cloud growing in strategic importance, the question is what

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.