Friday, January 9, 2015

Snom PA-1 Issue - Stuck on Red Light

I recently had a requirement to get office paging working within a client. Having come into the project a little later, there was already a solution that had been designed by their previous consultant - it consisted of an amplifier (Speco Technologies PBM-30) and an AudioCodes MediaPack 114 (MP-114) -

Now just to be clear this configuration DOES NOT WORK. The AudioCodes by design gives out dial-tone, which is normal - and the amplifier...well amplifies it. As soon as you connect the MP-114 to the Amp, you broadcast dial tone...not useful.

So what to do? Well that's easy - use a Snom PA-1 - buy a Y (3.5mm to RCA) cable and that should sort you out.

Ultimately it did, but before a few headaches.

The first unit arrived, shipped with the Lync firmware and I connected it to PoE. The red light came on...normal, the light started blinking...normal, the light stopped blinking....normal and then stayed red....NOT normal. In this state the device won't give you an IP address either when you push the IP/Reset button.

Checking DHCP showed that it got a lease, and the device was pingable, yet to other access to the device. First assumption, we have a brick.

Tried the usual troubleshooting steps, different cable, different port, factory reset - no change. Called it in and was promptly shipped a replacement.

I wasn't there when the replacement arrived, but instructed the client on the simple steps to set this device up...the device was powered on and .....the SAME THING! Steady red light and nothing else.

Now strangely connecting the PA-1 (that was thought to be a brick) to the network in the office worked fine and the green LED came it was starting to look like the client network.

I went back out to the client site, this time armed with a PoE injector and a Snom 760UC phone, just to see what behavior I would experience.

Sure enough the SNOM phone got stuck on sending DHCP requests and would progress no further.

I connected the Snom PA-1 to the injector and then directly to my laptop. Configured a address on my NIC (that wasn't .2) and once the PA-1 started it's flashing, hit the IP reset button.

This sets the address at

I could now HTTP into the unit and set a manual IP address (Advanced Tab, disable DHCP) - configure the UC Account Data.

After that I saved the config and rebooted the unit - voila! It now works.

After a bit more playing around I discovered that the "Domain Name", which I assume is like DNS suffix, seemed to cause the unit to play up - so I've left that out and the unit works perfectly now.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Lync to Skype Video Calls Now Available

For those of you that have Lync to Skype federation enabled in your environments, you probably are aware that voice and IM/Presence were  the only available modalities.

Microsoft have now announced that video is now available. Currently only available on the Skype Windows Desktop client (and you need version 7.0.x.100 or later) you can now do video to video calls.

Although limited to Skype for Windows Desktop, the Lync end point can be on any OS, I've personally tested this on Windows, Mac OSX, iOS and Android.

First things first. Make sure your Skype for Windows client is up to date.

Establishing a Video Call is easy - right-click the federated Skype contact and click "Start a Video Call"

Establishing a Video Call

Call between Skype and Lync (Windows)

Skype (Windows) and Lync for Mac 2011

Video Request on Lync Mobile client

Video Call on Lync Mobile (iOS) with Skype (Windows)

Now, while a number of devices will say "Video Capable" unless you run the Skype for Windows client, video will ultimately fail. 

Can't wait for the other Skype clients to catch up!

Phone Review - Grandstream GXV3275

I recently got my hands on one of the Grandstream GVX3275 handsets. I've had a Grandstream Cordless SIP phone at home since moving to the US to keep in touch with family back in Australia, and this is the first time I've seen Grandstream in the enterprise market. By cordless phone has been awesome, so I expected this to be the same. 

When I normally talk phones I discuss the difference between Lync Qualified versus Lync Optimized. Now as far as I can tell, this is neither, instead I would throw this into the smart phone category. 

The GVX3275 runs Android and actually resembles a smartphone (but sits right on the desktop)

So what's in the box?
  • 1x GVX3275 Phone
  • 1x Handset
  • 1x Power Adapter (but I used PoE)
  • 1x User Guide
  • 1x Network Cable
  • 1x Mounting Bracket (at least I think that's what it is)
To setup simply push out the kick stand - which is attached to the phone, connect your network cable (assuming you have PoE, otherwise connect power also) and voila!


The interface is very Android looking and at least on my handset the Lync 2013 app was preinstalled. 

Opening the app, I was able to sign-in by using my normal credentials. The same way I sign-in to my iPhone. In this scenario, I am signing in remotely from home, just by plugging straight into my router. But I also did this demo yesterday in Toronto with no issues.

The experience is similar to the Android app. And I can see my calendar, directly join a meeting.

And participate in video. Note the GXV3275 also does video calling!

In case you're wondering, you don't need to be in the app to make phone. You can do this straight from the normal dial-pad of the phone.

The only thing I will say, is follow this guide to disable the built in IP Account so it defaults to Lync.

So far I am impressed with this phone, for me the phone went  a little sluggish after my conference ended, but that was the only thing that I found problematic. I am not sure if it was a one off issue.

I also like the photo frame style screen saver, rounding this out to a great desktop addition. 

Definitely worth having a look at!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

How Do I get Lync? How Do I Sign-In?

I frequently see people on the forums and on social media asking:

  • How do I get Lync?
  • I have Lync, but I am unable to sign-in?
  • I tried signing in to Lync with my or address and it doesn't work.
So, I thought I'd do a quick write up on it.

Firstly, if you have Office 2013 Professional Plus installed this does come with the Lync client. You can also download the Lync Basic client for free from here.

However Lync consists of a client and server component. You need both of them in order to use Lync.

There are two main methods to get Lync. 

1. Lync Server deployed on premise; in other words, you have an IT department who setup servers at your office (or datacenter) that run the Lync Server software. In this instance, you would normally be able to sign-in with address such as your email address if you have an account enabled in that specific deployment. If you're unsure it's best to contact your IT department to see if you're setup for it.

2. Lync Online; this is a cloud hosted deployment, hosted by Microsoft. It comes as either Lync Online or as part of the Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Enterprise E1 and Enterprise E3 plans. You need to signup for a subscription with Lync Online or specific Office 365 plans, as well as some initial configuration with regards to confirming domain owner, DNS records and assigning licenses to get up and running.  

I am sure there might a little more confusion coming, with the announcement of Skype for Business, but essentially, this is the same. In order to use Skype for Business in any form it will need to be either an on-premise deployment, like Lync Server or a Skype for Business Online/Office 365 subscription opposed to the free version of Skype at, which will allow you to use your Microsoft account or Skype ID.

Just a note: I've covered the two main methods of getting Lync, but there are a couple other options. For example there are providers and Microsoft Partners out there that provide Lync also in both variants.

I hope that clears things up! Feel free to comment, I try to respond to all questions. 

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Goodbye Lync, Hello Skype for Business!

Today Microsoft announced the next version of Lync, but it’s not Lync 2015. Microsoft acquired Skype back in 2011 and building on that have renamed Lync to Skype for Business.

For those not familiar with Lync; Lync (and Skype for Business) is an Enterprise communications platform which features instant messaging, presence, web conferencing, audio conferencing, video conferencing and telephony functionality. Lync enables a total unified communications experience from handset, desktop, laptop, tablets and mobile devices.

Many will be wondering how this affects their current Lync implementation. The great news is that if you already have Lync 2013 deployed Skype for Business is an in-place upgrade.
The hardware requirements of Skype for Business are the same as those for Lync 2013. If you are running a previous version of Lync or Office Communication Server (OCS) you will need to do a side-by-side migration as with previous upgrades.

Office 365 customers will automatically get the upgrade without having to do anything.

Why would you want to upgrade to Skype for Business? Even though Microsoft announced video capabilities between Skype and Lync at Lync Conference 2014 in Las Vegas, NV. These features will be available through Skype to Skype for Business federation.

There is also an easier to use interface, which makes telephony features friendlier, such as one-click call transfer, rather than the current three click in Lync. The call monitor feature is also going to be introduced, which keeps the call controls visible when the application is not in focus, such as when you’re working in another window.

Content sharing between Skype and Skype for Business will also be introduced creating a richer experience and more possibilities on how people from all around the world communicate.
Microsoft also announced some other features as Lync Conference 2014, such as the Video Interoperability server to integrate primarily with Tandberg video conferencing systems and JLync to integrate audio and video easily into websites. These haven’t made an appearance yet, so with any luck, these will come as part of the next release.

What will I notice? The interface has taken an overhaul too, to look more like Skype, however during the transition, the classic Lync 2013 style interface will also be available.

When will Skype for Business be available? Release is slated for the first half of 2015.

Are there any points of concern? From what Microsoft have said, the update process is fairly straight forward, as long as it’s planned and executed properly there shouldn’t be any major issues. There may be some confusion in device App Stores, given that there will now be two Skype clients, however it should be obvious which one is Skype and which one is Skype for Business.

The name change clearly brings the corporate environment closer to the personal environment. No doubt there will be an increase in requests for the enablement of federation between the two. While this can be a great tool for collaborating and keeping in touch, there are also some implications of doing so that need to be considered. If the previous versions of the product are anything to go by, federation has typically been an all or nothing approach (either you can contact everyone in the Skype realm, or nobody). It may be worth taking into account whether a more granular policy approach is required and also whether notices/disclaimers and auditing will be required. 

Here's the rundown on the various name changes for those that are interested :)

  • Exchange Instant Messenger
  • Live Communications Server 2003 
  • Live Communications Server 2005 
  • Office Communications Server 2007 
  • Office Communications Server 2007 R2 
  • Lync Server 2010
  • Lync Server 2013
  • Skype for Business


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Microsoft Lync Server 2013, Topology Builder Has Stopped Working

Came across a funny issue today. For some reason when I open Topology Builder and click Download Existing Topology the Topology Builder crashes with "Microsoft Lync Server 2013, Topology Builder Has Stopped Working"

Clicking View Details, doesn't show anything useful.

Apparently nothing had changed on the environment, so it wasn't obvious what had happened. 

I thought a good place to start would be to open Lync Management Shell and upon doing so was create with this:

So it appears for some mysterious reason the Execution Policy on scripts has changed

A quick change to RemoteSigned by running Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned fixed both the crash on downloading the topology and the error in Powershell. 

Still can't explain why this happened!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Windows 10 Technical Preview First Thoughts...

Today the Window 10 Technical Preview became available. As you may have read, Microsoft have skipped Windows 9 and are going straight from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 see the press release here.

The installation process seems to be pretty straight forward from both a clean install perspective or from an upgrade perspective (I used the Enterprise version, which allows an upgrade) and all in all took no longer than about 30 minutes on my X1 Carbon (8GB memory, SSD, Core i7)

Most things appear to work fine thus far, except installing my Fingerprint Reader (using the Windows 8.1 driver) crashes the login screen (where it flickers like crazy) so I am minus one fingerprint reader and had to do a System Restore.

So what are the obvious things that have changed?

The OS still looks very similar to Windows 8.1, however the Start Menu has made a return, and it's merged with the Start Screen, to put simply, you know have Live Tiles on the Start Menu (see below):

What also is new, is the ability to resize the "metro" apps and easily close them by clicking the X that we are all used to

Task View has also been added, given you a bunch of tiles with a tiny preview, allowing you to easily multitask. Personally I find this feature cool :) You can either bring it up by clicking the icon down in the task bar (pictured below) or swipe from the left.

There are a number of other features, like the ability to Add Desktops, (which you can see pictured above down the bottom). This should allow you to create additional desktops that you can switch through, but I am still trying to work out exactly how that works.

The command prompt also has some changes, it now accepts short cut keys. I was able to paste in using Ctrl+V (rather than right-clicking) and likewise I was able to highlight and Ctrl+C to copy.

There is also a new Search box, which is available, by clicking the magnifying glass on the task bar. Like the Search on the old start screen, this will search the computer, web and show trending news:

A number of security features will be added too, although I don't believe these are part of the preview.

On top of BitLocker (which has been available in the Enterprise editions and some Premium editions of Windows Vista, 7, 8 & 8.1) Microsoft are adding additional protection using containers and data separation at the application/file level.

Microsoft are also enhancing security from an identity perspective, to improve resistance to breach, theft or phishing. This is done by easily integrating 2 factor authentication (such as smart cards and tokens)

Built in MDM capabilities will also be extended in Windows 10.

So far I like it, some of the new features announced by Microsoft I can't yet see in the preview, but I assume these will become available over the next few months. It's not a huge leap in terms of User Experience from Windows 8.1 (at least on the current iteration) but it does have some really nice and useful features, that will make things a little easier and less troublesome for me. So far I've had very little compatibility issues, aside from the fingerprint reader and also my adaptive keyboard buttons. 

SCCM EndPoint Protection (as part of SCCM 2012 R2) also doesn't install, so I am relying on the built-in Windows Defender.

Other important apps I use seem to work fine, but I am sure I'll know over the next couple days whether anything else plays up.

From what I can tell, Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 early next year. But in the mean time, have  a play with 180 days technical preview: