My thoughts on Pexip getting certified for Skype for Business

This is good news! The certification process validates the seamless way Pexip Infinity Fusion integrates with Skype for Business Server 2015 meetings. Pexip has the ability to integrate video endpoints seamless in to Skype for Business meetings so that anyone from any device can call in to a the meeting and join with audio, video and screen sharing both ways.

The Pexip and Skype for Business integration explained in one picture

Why the certification at this point?

Personally I see a lot of enterprise customers moving to Skype for Business Server for VoIP and meetings including moving their telephone conferencing solution. If the enterprise has video endpoints from other vendors the end-user story becomes complex. The goal is always to have as few options as possible when it comes to how to do meetings to ensure widespread adoption. Pexip helps with this story and they can even register endpoints directly which helps the enterprise decommission older outdated and complex video servers and still keep the meeting room investments. Another reason for this move by Microsoft is probably that Cisco has a good video interoperability story with their acquisition of Acano that happened in 2016. Also their own offering, the Video Interoperability Server (VIS) that was introduced with Lync Server 2013, has not seen much development since it’s release. The VIS role has the limitation that it only works with certain Cisco endpoints and only with internal endpoints without any firewall between the endpoints and Skype for Business Servers.

What does the integration look like?

From a video endpoint that is internally registered on separate video servers or directly to Pexip, all they have to do to join the Skype for Business meeting is dial the Skype for Business meeting conferencing ID and join directly in to the meeting. For external endpoints that is not registered to any local video servers, they need to dial skype@domain.com and type the conference ID when prompted to join the meeting. To learn more about the capabilities and setup process read my blog post on the subject

How it looks like when a Pexip registered endpoint joines a Skype for Business meeting, from my blogpost on how to set it up

Why this has a big impact for customers

A lot of enterprises moving to Skype for Business has an existing investment in video based meeting rooms. In my design process I always ask what their meeting rooms look like and what kind of equipment are being used. Many larger organization has many vendors for video and audio in their meeting rooms and are not ready to replace all that technology with Skype for Business based equipment. The Pexip integration helps them capitalize on the investment already made and still succeed with Skype for Business. This helps with flexibility when designing future meeting rooms and ends the technology debate regarding what vendor is best. You can have the best of both worlds and remove the technology barrier for meetings.

What does the certification entail?

Here is what Microsoft writes about the certification process “The Skype for Business Certification Program is designed to offer Microsoft customers badges or designations as indicators of third party solutions that demonstrate a high quality experience and compatibility when used with Skype for Business. Only products that pass the specifications outlined in the Skype for Business Certification Program can be associated with each designation. Specifications are designed specific to each category based on, but not exclusive to, industry standards, enterprise class solutions, functional interop or audio/video quality. All vendors participating in Skype for Business Certification Program participate in common support infrastructure (TSANet) for rapid resolution of support tickets.”  Read more here

In short, it means both Microsoft and Pexip has tested, adjusted and validated the integration and that both parties support the solution and will work together to resolve any unforseen issues. This is good news for customers and partners that use and work with both Microsoft and Pexip.

To sum it up

Pexip is now supported by Microsoft when integrating with Skype for Business meetings. This is good news for customers because they can now easier choose best of both worlds when designing meeting room experience. Removing the meeting technology barrier results in widespread adoption in the enterprise. The focus of this certification is clearly Skype for Business Server meeting integration for enterprises. Pexip has other capabilities such as support for hybrid topology, distributed meeting across servers in a global environment and scale-out capacity using Azure. I am looking forward to see how this relationship develops and working with helping enterprises succeed with Skype for Business user adoption in all scenarios.

References

How to Integrate Pexip with Skype for Business meetings

Skype for Business video interoperability is one of two technology barriers we need to tear down to make sure users succeed with Skype in all scenarios. Being able to invite anyone to a Skype for Business conference regardless of vendor is the key to large-scale user adoption. Pexip is one of few vendors that are able to integrate seamlessly with Skype for Business Server meetings so that anyone can call in to a Skype meeting and join with audio, video and screen sharing both ways.

In this post I will show you how to configure Pexip to integrate with Skype for Business meetings and how to test using the Pexip Infinity Connect soft-client. The goal is to have the ability to join a Skype for Business meeting with any VC Endpoint by using the Skype for Business dial-in conference ID. Read more about what features you can expect from Pexip. Here is how you do it

At the end of this post you will be able to join a Skype for Business meeting from any endpoint

You are about to learn how to do the following

  • Make sure you read my previous blog post on What you need to know to get started with a Skype for Business and Pexip PoC where I explain how to set up the Pexip servers and enable a simple test call between Pexip and Skype for Business
  • Configure direct registration of a VC Endpoint to Pexip
  • Create a new Call Routing rule for the ability to dial the Skype Conference ID directly
  • Create a Virtual Receptionist for the ability use a fixed alias to join meetings
  • Create a dial-in conferencing number and adjust the Skype meeting invitation
  • Validate the configuration by dialing in to a meeting from the Pexip Infinity Connect client
  • Next Steps

Configure direct registration of a VC Endpoint to Pexip

  • Log on to the management node web admin site
  • Navigate to Service Configuration -> Device Aliases
      • Device alias could be PexipUser@vc.contoso.com
        • vc.contoso.com is my video conferencing domain
        • My Skype for Business SIP domain is contoso.com
      • Leave the rest blank and delete the password, in that way you will not get challenged with a username and password when registering
      • Click Add Device alias
  • Click Save
  • Now we have created a user for our test client
  • next we will need to create a new call route

Create a new Call Routing rule for the ability to dial the Skype Conference ID directly

  • Navigate to Service Configuration -> Call Routing rule
  • Click Add Call Routing Rule
    • Name is Dial directly in to a Skype Meeting using conference ID
    • Priority needs to be unique and set it to 70
    • Set When Matching incoming Gateway calls to all except Lync / Skype for Business
    • Set Destination alias regex match to: (\d{5,7})(@(vc\.)?contoso\.com)?
      • This assumes your SfB Conference ID is between 5 and 7 digits, modify 5,7 to fit the lengths of your Conference IDs.
    • Set Destination alias regex replace string to: \1
    • Set Call target to Lync / Skype for Business Meeting direct (not via Virtual Reception)
      • This allows the routing rule to resolve the Conference ID to a meeting URI and connect to it directly
    • I set the Outgoing location to my primary site, MainDC
    • Make sure the correct Lync / Skype for Business server is chosen
      • in my case it is my Standard Edition server called SfB1.contoso.com
    • Click Save
    • The result of the Call Routing configuration should look like this

Create a Virtual Receptionist for the ability use a fixed alias to join meetings

  • Navigate to Service Configuration -> Virtual Reception
  • Click Add Virtual Reception
    • Name: Contoso Skype Meeting Reception
    • Show Advanced options
      • Lync/Skype for Business server: SfB1.contoso.com
        • your Skype for Business server, in my case it is the SfB1.contoso.com standard edition server
      • Lync / Skype for Business meeting lookup location: MainDC
        • The Pexip location where your Skype integrated conferencing node resides, in my case it is MainDC
    • Aliases (Typically add a few options for aliases as VC endpoints might be able to dial different things)
      • Alias1: skype@vc.contoso.com
      • Alias2: skype@contoso.com
        • in case someone types just contoso.com from a VC Endpoint
      • Alias3: skype
        • In case someone wants to just type Skype from a VC Endpoint
  • Click Save
  • Now, let’s validate the Skype for Business requirements for this to work

Create a dial-in conferencing number and adjust the Skype meeting invitation

  • On the Skype for Business Server, open Skype for Business Control Panel
  • Navigate to Conferencing -> Dial-In Access Number
    • If you have a dial-in access number already you are all set
    • If you do not have a dial-in access number and you do not have a SIP trunk integration, you can use a dummy number
      • The reason for needing the dial-in access numbers is that it will generate a conference ID with each meeting invite, this is the ID that Pexip will use to join the conference
      • Click New
        • In Display Number, type the phone number as you want it to be displayed in the meeting invitation
          • in my case it is +4721402075
        • Display name, is typically the location or country where this number is homed
          • In my case it is Norway
        • Line URI, is the actual number formatted as a line uri
          • in my case it is tel:+4721402075
        • SIP Uri should be a name and domain for the dial-in access number
          • in my case it is sip:Norway@contoso.com
        • Pool is where the number is homed, this applies if you have multiple pools
        • Choose Primary language and secondary language
        • Choose the region the number is the primary number for, in my case it is Norway
          • If you cannot find a region here, you need to add one before you can create a dial-in access number
          • You can add one by going to Voice Routing -> Dial Plan, click on Global and write a name for your region in the region field
            • If you do not want to modify Global you can either create a Site, Pool or User dialpan.
            • User dialplan needs be added manually to users.
        • Now you are ready to create and save the dial-in access number
      • Click Commit
  • Now, let’s add some text to the meeting invite to reflect the ability to join from a VC Endpoint
  • Navigate to Conferencing -> Meeting Configuration
    • Edit Global or create a new Site or Pool configuration
      • A meeting configuration will apply to all users within pool, site or global
      • In the Custom footer text type an appropriate text to reflect the Pexip integration
        • Example: To join the meeting from a Contoso video endpoint, just dial the Conference ID. To join the meeting as an external video endpoint participant use skype@vc.contoso.com and enter the Conference ID when prompted
      • If you want to change the logo url, the link needs to hosted on a public site and the size should be a gif or jpg and the maximum size of the image should be 30 pixels high by 188 pixels wide for best result
    • Click Commit
  • Now you are ready to validate the meeting join experience

Validate the configuration by dialing in to a meeting from the Pexip Infinity Connect client

  • Download the Pexip Infinity Connect client and install it
  • Click the cogwheel and type your name and scroll down to registration
    • Sign in using pexipuser@vc.contoso.com or the Device User you created
    • Server address is the IP address or FQDN to your Pexip Conferencing node
      • In my case it is pexip2.contoso.com
    • leave username and password blank as we did not specify that when creating the Device alias
    • Click Register and ok to exit the setup
  • We are going to do three tests
    1. Type testcallservice@vc.contoso.com and call the Pexip Test Call Service
      • This is a service I created in my initial setup blog post found here
      • Verify that you are able to resolve it, call it and have it play back your sound with a two second delay
    2. Call in to a Skype meeting using the Virtual Reception user we created
      • First, log on using Skype for Business and create a ad-hoc meeting
        • You can do that by clicking the cogwheel drop down in the client
        • Click Meet Now
        • When joining the meeting with your Skype for Business client, click the three dotted button and click Meeting Entry Info
        • There you will see the Conference ID for that call
      • Go back to the Pexip Infinity Client
        • Type skype@vc.contoso.com, see that it resolves presence and dial it
        • When prompted for the Lync Conference ID, type the one from the Skype meeting
          • in my case it is 11127
        • Click connect and see that you are joining the Skype for Business meeting and notice that you are joining as Pexip User and not as a Pexip conference
      • This is great stuff and it means that the Virtual Reception user we created works and that the Call Routing rule with the .+@contoso.com.* regex rule is working.
      • But there is one more thing we can test
    3. Call in to a Skype meeting by dialing directly using the Conference ID
      • This is possible for internal VC Endpoints
      • Close down any existing calls on the Pexip Infinity Client
      • In the Pexip client type the conference ID
        • In my case it is 11127
      • Call using video and verify that you are able to join the meeting directly as Pexip User
      • When this scenario succeeds it means that the Call Routing rule with (\d{5,7})(@(vc\.)?contoso\.com)? regex rule worked
    4. Celebrate that your Skype for Business meeting integration with Pexip works
      • As a bonus, you should of course be able to dial the Skype user directly from the Pexip User by using the Skype sip address and the other way around

It is always #GoodTimes when you are able to validate a new deployment

Congratulations! You have now set up a fully integrated Skype for Business and Pexip deployment. This is all there is to it and a basic video interoperability service is now in place. Your Skype for Business adoption is a key ingredient for success and there is one less blocker for widespread use of Skype in your organization. Check out the next steps below for configuring Pexip to work with external and federated traffic and how to integrate Pexip with other video systems

Next Steps

Solved the auditorium style meeting scenario with Skype Meeting Broadcast

The challenge is to create a good experience in an audiotium and in the Skype Meeting Broadcast at the same time

When is this a challenge?

tdsweimage

When you want to have a conference talk, all hands meeting, training or product update with a good experience in the on-site auditorium and in the Skype Meeting Broadcast stream

Why is this a challenge for audio?

If you need to use a microphone in the room there is often no way to get the same sound in to the computer you are using to stream the meeting. You may be in a location where you can not integrate equipment that will solve this problem. Using a speaker device will often not give a satisfactory experience since it picks up sounds in the room, echo and the speaker may feel distant and if not speaking loud enough the speaker may be noise cancelled

Why is this a challenge for presentation?

If you want to present a PowerPoint and combine with a demo you may encounter scenarios where application sharing may break if you are in the meeting from you presentation computer, You may want to demo Skype for Business that will disconnect the meeting or you want to show multimedia with a good experience in the room and a good enough experience in the stream

Two devices are part of the primary solution

  1. Zoom H4n Recorder with two mic in and two audio outh4n
    • 2x XLR inputs from the existing microphones in the room or a system you bring with you
    • The second input can be audio from your presentation computer when you want to show multimedia
    • One USB output that you can set as the audio device in your Skype for Business client with good quality and no interference
    • One line out mini jack that you can plug in to the speaker system to get good sound out in the room
    • Supplementary devices
      • DMS 70 Quattro
        • XLR mic output
        • Two wireless microphone for two speakers or QA in the room
        • Supports up to 4 microphones
        • Update: Seems like the DMS 70 is discontinued
          • An alternative can be the Shure BLX14 Dual Wireless Lavalier Microphone System With 2 x WL185 with a XLR merger like the
            Millenium SML 21.
          • I have not tested this setup, but it has the right attributes for it to work
      • Shure A15LA Line Adapter
        • Converts computer line out to microphone sound for a good audio experience in the H4n recorder
        • Regular audio sounds terrible without this adapter
        • Now you can output sounds from your presentation computer in to the stream
  2. Magewell USB Capture HDMI devicemagewell
    • Converts HDMI output from your computer to USB webcam input for your streaming computer
    • Requires two computers, one presentation computer and one production computer which is best practice for Skype Meeting Broadcast
    • Supplementary devices
      • Standard HDMI splitter for splitting the presentation computer HDMI signal and send it to the projector and to the Magewell device

Afterthought: You may want to have a separate production computer for webcam video of the speaker, then it will be a simple task for the producer to switch between the presentation video or the speaker video

Bringing it together

Below is a gif illustrating the devices connect

solvedauditorium

Is your next productivity headset the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC?

I say, yes!

Why?voyager-focus-uc-system

  • It is optimized for Skype for Business
  • It is wireless using bluetooth, connection to up to eight devices, two at the same time
  • It has noise cancelling, removing the white noise but keeps voices voyager-focus-in-standwhen people are talking to you
  • It has really good music quality, can be compared to the best music headsets on the market
  • By installing the Plantronics Hub software it will set your Skype for Business status to “In a Call” when you answer the call on your cellphone
  • It can easily be charged using MicroUSB or the charging stand

Check out my thoughts on the headset on YouTube

Also check out the video review by MVP Matt Landis

Link to the product page: http://www.plantronics.com/us/product/voyager-focus-uc?skuId=sku7140027#fndtn-overview

Five years of blogging and 1,000,000 hits!

ThankYou!First off, thanks to all who have visited msunified.net and given feedback to the blogposts. I am stoked that my blog msunified.net now has more than 1,000,000 hits. Since I started blogging in 2009 it has been the place where I post my notes from the field, collections of links and Thoughts on UC.

Some of the most popular blogposts of all time

  1. Installing Exchange 2010 Prerequisites on Server 2008 R2
  2. Enabling Lync Server 2010 for Lync Mobile Clients
  3. Installing Lync Server 2010 Prerequisites on Windows Server 2008 R2
  4. Configure Exchange 2010 InternalUrl PowerShell script
  5. Lync Server 2010 features and how to configure them
  6. Lync Server Mobility Troubleshooting Tips
  7. Lync Server 2010 Troubleshooting Tips
  8. Installing OCS 2007 R2 Prerequisites on Windows Server 2008 R2
  9. Script for Configuring Exchange 2010 Internal and External URLs
  10. Lync Server Front End: Lost connection to the Web Conferencing Edge Server
  11. Lync client sign-in and DNS records recommendations

Some of the most popular blogposts the year of 2014

  1. Installing Exchange 2010 Prerequisites on Server 2008 R2
  2. Lync client sign-in and DNS records recommendations
  3. Enabling Lync Server 2010 for Lync Mobile Clients
  4. Lync 2013 Downloads
  5. Configure Exchange 2010 InternalUrl PowerShell script
  6. Lync Server Mobility Troubleshooting Tips
  7. Troubleshooting Office Web Apps Server for Lync
  8. You see only a white screen when viewing Lync 2013 desktop sharing
  9. Installing Lync Server 2010 Prerequisites on Windows Server 2008 R2
  10. TEL, SIP, mailto, and Lync meeting links association

Where do the all time visitors come from

  1. Search engines
  2. TechNet Forums
  3. Twitter

Some thoughts on the activity

  • People are still installing Exchange on Server 2008 R2 :)
  • The old blogposts from 2010 are still relevant
  • Twitter is a relevant platform to reach out to my audience as it is number three all time source for visitors
  • The type of article that drives recurring hits are
    • the ones that solves a specific problem
    • troubleshooting guides
    • link repositories
    • articles explaining how stuff works
  • I also use this blog as a landing page for all my content, but articles like this one will not drive much recurring users, but helps me communicate my thoughts in a better format than the 140 characters on Twitter :)
  • I always try to remember to blog solutions I find to strange problems, typically the solution was tips from multiple sources and by collecting them and describing how I solved the problem is a good blogpost, and will help others having the same problem.

Afterthought

The amount of hits really motivates me to continue share my experiences as an IT-PRO with solutions to problems, but also highlighting not so mainstream knowledge like I do in my LyncPro Tips series and Thoughts on UC YouTube series. Thank you for your continued support :)

OneMillHits1

On December 23 2014 msunified.net reached 1,000,000 views!

Thoughts on UC: Skype for Business

Microsoft rebrands Lync to Skype for Business in its 2015 release. I think it is a good opportunity to implement the technology right with the end user and processes in focus. Continue reading