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It’s no secret that existing IP Phones have been granted an upgrade path to Microsoft Teams and I’m not talking about Android-based IP Phones (which have a native upgrade story), refer to a video I took back at Enterprise Connect of Polycom’s Trio 8800 running the native Teams IP Phone experience
3PIP interop was originally announced via a blog post from Thomas Binder and has since been updated multiple times, the key information that can be gleamed here is that a 3PIP phone registered to a Teams-enabled SfBO account will be capable of:
In this post I want to look at “One-click join for prescheduled meetings”. Firstly note prescheduled meetings, this is not “Meet Now” and it’s also only possible at the moment by leveraging the Outlook Microsoft Teams scheduling add-in.
So in my test I created a Teams meeting invite via Outlook and sent this to a user that was signed into a Polycom Trio (in this case the Trio was running in Skype for Business mode). Both users were running in “Islands” mode, more on these coexistence modes can be read here
Sure enough within the Trio calendar there was a “join” button, but how?
There we see a Conference Uri, the “OnlineMeetingConfLink”, this URL clearly re-directs the endpoint to a Teams-specific meeting gateway which then allows the Trio to join the meeting (audio only)
Just a quick post, I’m currently camped out at Microsoft and we’re executing the RealConnect on-premises certification for Skype for Business Server 2015. I had to rack my brains when I was asked about how we could:
This can be enabled on the RealPresence Collaboration Server via a system flag and is the same flag used to enable the roster for individual VTC participants, specifically:
This flag value can be specified as:
It’s also documented that VTCs can also be prefixed to help identify them versus Skype for Business participants by updating the system flag POLYCOM_EPS_DISPLAY_NAME_PREFIX_IN_LYNC_ROSTER, I usually set this value to “VTC/” (without the quotes)
As most folks are already aware Microsoft Teams has a dramatically different architecture to Skype for Business, gone is the baggage that came with on-premises technology – Teams is built for cloud first so with that comes a number of changes, one of which is the meeting URL.
The first thing that you will notice when you create a Teams meeting is that it is presented with percentage encoding, this is the first thing we’ll need to strip out or decode prior to deciphering the Teams meeting URL. Below is an example of a meeting generated via the Teams Outlook add-in.
Various URL decoders are available, one such example here
Let’s next break this URL into four sections:
1: Thread ID
2: Thread Message ID
3: Tenant ID
4: Organizer ID
Now one of the things you’ll notice within the example above is that the thread message ID is not populated or zero, this is due to the fact that we created the meeting within Outlook, if we create a meeting within a Teams channel and also perform the same decoding outlined above the message ID is now populated:
Small update, the Microsoft Ignite presentation on video interoperability with Skype for Business on-premises and online has now been posted. This was a joint Microsoft, Polycom and Pexip session whereby existing certified solutions were explained (including an overview on the certification program itself) and finally an update on the future direction of video interoperability with Microsoft Teams.
Check the session out here
This week I’ll be at Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft’s biggest IT Pro event of the year and it’s always a good time to catch-up up with customers, industry folks and learn a thing or two about what’s coming next from Microsoft’s technology stack.
This year Polycom will be sharing details around some new devices and technologies that they’ve been cooking up, one of these being near and dear to me a new RealConnect solution – RealConnect Hybrid. But before we dig into this let’s level set.
Skype for Business has gotten to a point whereby it’s become an extremely credible conferencing platform, delivering voice, video and content (including PowerPoint sharing, polling and white boarding). The experience for Windows, Mac and mobile users is second to none. The gap that Microsoft certified vendors (Pexip and Polycom) address is the ability to bring non-native Skype for Business devices into these meetings, for many meetings this isn’t a requirement so simplicity of deployment and minimal technical foot print is key. These non-native devices (VTCs) are typically expected to have a longer return on investment as they’re often embedded into existing meeting rooms and handled as integrated A/V solutions.
Back in April (2017), Polycom launched RealConnect for Office 365. It was the first (and still the only) solution that allows Office 365 users that leverage Skype for Business and Exchange to schedule meetings with integrated video interoperability capabilities – Polycom also nailed the simplicity piece as the entire stack is hosted within Azure (with little to no on-premises technology foot print). Whilst this was received extremely well, it became immediately clear that something similar needed to be made available for Skype for Business on-premises customers. Again, I go back to my previous statement – “simplicity of deployment and minimal technical foot print is key”.
RealConnect Hybrid is a new solution that facilitates this requirement, in this topology Skype for Business is on-premises and Exchange can be either on-premises or online. Customers can even choose to mix both RealConnect for Office 365 with RealConnect Hybrid if they have a Skype for Business Hybrid topology or when they’re slowly migrating to Microsoft’s cloud.
The illustration below, credit: Jeff Schertz, outlines the RealConnect Hybrid topology.
Unlike other solutions in-market this does not require Skype for Business meeting invitations be sent to a room or service mailbox, the in-meeting experience is identical to RealConnect for Office 365 (gateway mode) and the Polycom platform automatically joins the on-premises Skype for Business meeting via the meeting scheduler’s Edge Server. This multi-tenanted Polycom platform is at time of writing deployed globally within five Azure data centers (see below) and is not only fully resilient but ensures the closest instance to the VTC is leveraged to reduce Internet hops.
This is expected to continue growing over time.
The RealConnect Hybrid solution is powered by the Polycom Cloud Relay, this is a minimal footprint virtual machine that houses a number of Polycom micro-services – two of which will be relevant to this solution.
The illustration bellow, outlines the One Touch Dial Service cloud dashboard whereby administrators can monitor, manage and deploy endpoints that require Click-to-Join capabilities:
I’m really excited for this new solution to come to market and seeing how deployment of Skype for Business video interoperability can no longer be a huge undertaking with this solution capable of being up and running in under an hour. Both RealConnect Hybrid and the One Touch Dial Service are set for general availability before the end of the year, with betas starting soon.
If you’re attending Ignite this week feel free to come say “Hi” at the Polycom booth and if you’re keen to learn more about Skype for Business video interop, come to a session I’ll be co-presenting together with Doug Anderson, Srividhya Chandrasekaran (Microsoft) and Marius Nilsen (Pexip) on ”Video Interop for Skype for Business …and path forward to Microsoft Teams” Friday Sep 29th at 9am.
For more information on Polycom solutions that are compatible with Microsoft Teams and the RealConnect announcement read the recent press release here
For folks that are either trialing RealConnect for Office 365 or have purchased this solution from Polycom they may already be aware that this solution leverages a new scheduling service from Microsoft – referred to as “Modern Scheduling”. This can only be utilized via an updated Skype for Business add-in which is shipped as a part of Office 2016 Click-to-Run.
For those that are not already aware Click-to-Run or C2R is a distribution model, in this case leveraged by Office, whereby updates are streamed to a Windows Desktop. This allows Microsoft to deliver features and fixes on a more regular basis and is the default installation package for Office 365 subscribers. Microsoft have previously announced that from 2020 this will be the only way to connect to Office 365 services. There’s also a simple way for existing MSI-based installations to be converted to C2R, or create an offline installer for Office 2016 C2R here
With the background on this out of the way there are some other items to be aware of, specifically that when Modern Scheduling shipped some of the existing Skype for Business Meeting Options did not function as they did previously. Some of these impacted that ability to seamlessly bring a VTC into a Skype for Business Online Meeting without manual admittance or presenter promotion via an in-meeting organizational Skype for Business client. Let’s address these one at a time:
b) To ensure their Skype for Business Online Meeting Configuration is updated as per below, for this to be executed you need to be a Global Administrator:
Some time back I wrote up a blog post on some of the new IP Phone Policies introduced within Skype for Business Online. Since then IP Phone vendors have added additional “3PIP” functionality, one of which is Device Lock.
Device Lock has for some time been available within Lync Phone Edition devices, but more recently this is something which is not only certified by Microsoft but also supported within Skype for Business Online. Many IP Phone settings can be managed out of band via 3rd party provisioning servers, but if you’re registering the device directly and utilizing factory settings some of these parameters can be set via Skype for Business Online PowerShell.
So with Device Lock Microsoft has now exposed the
By default Device Lock is enabled, but this can be disabled by executing the following commands:
$credential = Get-Credential
$session = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $credential
To retrieve current configuration type,
Get-CsUCPhoneConfiguration(see output below)
The event organizers at UC Day reached out to me and kindly asked whether I would be interested in flying back over to Blighty and speaking at their epic day long UC extravaganza, of course I jumped at the chance – even when I found out it was up north
For those of you that can make it I thoroughly recommend you register for this superb free industry event. I’d also encourage you to attend the legendary pub quiz the night before.
To find out more about the event and register now, head over to http://www.ucday.co.uk/
For those that haven’t already noticed Microsoft’s Skype for Business Tech Community Blog has announced a second Skype for Business Online Broadcast on video interop – now that it’s officially GA within NA and close to being launched in EMEA.
I must have behaved the first time around as they’ve asked me back Hopefully some of you can make it!
More information here
Update: this video is now posted on YouTube