In this short blog I am going to capture a few simple facts about how easy it is to create an Online Meeting with Office 365. Plus will I cover a few administrator topics to show you why Office 365 with Lync Online is an Enterprise class cloud service that aligns to Enterprise businesses.
Creating Meetings in Outlook Web Access Calendar
Some people do not know, but is now possible to schedule a Lync Online meeting inside of Outlook Web Access. When creating a meeting just click Online Meeting.
As you can see here, the online meeting link and information was added into the meeting invite.
If you click on the online meeting settings you can see what policies have been set as inviting people to meeting, the default policy for the lobby (which is where attendees go through to attend a meeting), and who can be presenters. Your organization Lync Online administrator has control over this policy and it cannot be overridden. This is an important topic and I will discuss it more at the end of this blog.
Creating an Online Meeting in Outlook
As I mentioned, it is possible to create an Online Meeting in Outlook client. All you need to is click the button.
Once that is done as you can see, the meeting has been created just like in OWA.
If you click on Meeting Options, you will see you have some more options change the default configuration of your Lync Online Meeting. These setting can easily be set during the actual online meeting but sometimes it is nice to have them pre-set just in case you are the presenter and you are running a little late. Additionally, if you like a configuration, you can click Remember Settings.
Interesting note, if you make changes, the Lync meeting URL changes in the invite.
The Lync Online Meeting
I am not going to cover the full Lync Online Meeting experience in this blog. It is suffice to say, there is a lot of features and capabilities that are available to an end user. There are tons of presenter controls to mute/unmute, blog attendees, admit people into the meeting from the lobby, promote attendees to presenters, etc. End users can share their desktop, applications, polling, white-boarding, question and answer, recording, etc. Note that Online Meetings do not have to be created through a calendar, they can be completely ad-hoc. End users can be talking with one another in Lync Online and inviting / drag-and-drop more people right into their conversation. Plus there are Lync Mobile apps that are on Windows, iPhone and Android. This allows people to attend meetings when they are on the go.
For all the information about Lync Online, I recommend reading the Service Description here - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/lync-online-service-description.aspx.
Adding a Conference Call Phone Number
With Lync Online Meetings by default you have ability to do PC-to-PC audio based meetings. These meetings are multi-party. However your organizations may need to support online meeting for people who need to call in through a phone number. Lync Online supports the ability for Third-Party Dial-in Audio Conferencing Providers (ACP) to be integrated into the Lync Online service. For more information review the Service Description - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/lync-online-meetings.aspx
Below is a screenshot of where this is configured. You have the ability to identify which users have the ability to add a call number to their meeting.
Once this completed, the ACP phone number and passcode will automatically be added into the online meeting information for the end user.
Lync Online Federation with Other Organizations
Another thing you may consider when configuring Lync Online Meetings for your business is to set up federation. You can configure federation with other organizations that have Lync Online, Lync on-premise or even OCS R2 on-premise. Doing this allows for Lync PC multi-party audio without having to set up a conference bridge. This also enables IM, presence and whole host of other features to allow your organizations to communicate with each more effectively. Below is a screenshot of where you will go to set up Lync Online Federation.
Note this is also where you go allow or disallow integrated public communications with Skype. This is very powerful capability and we ensure you have control over this to protect your organizational data.
Here is some more information about it - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/lync-online-federation-and-public-im-conectivity.aspx
To extend upon this, Exchange Online also allows organizations to share calendars with each other. This enables organizations with Exchange Online or Exchange on-premise to create an organizational relationship to share calendar information. Doing this will make it extremely easy for an end user to look at calendar free/busy and then create an Online Meeting with partner organizations. Below is a screenshot showing where you can set up calendar federation. Note your organization can also allow sharing by individually externally instead of using federation. For more information about the policies for external calendar sharing, please read the following - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj916670(v=exchg.150).aspx.
Additional Configuration for Meetings
The Lync Online administrator also has the ability to add organizational information into the online meeting invite template. You can incorporate your company logo, create a help URL to provide any custom instructions, you can provide a URL to legal compliance information and even put in a customer footer message. All important things for an enterprise service. Below is a screenshot of where this would be configured.
Lync Online Meeting Policy
Here is another really differentiator of Lync Online Meetings when compared to other cloud services. With Lync Online you can create corporate policies on what you will allow with Online Meetings. These cannot be overridden by end users. For instance you can use the Conference Policy (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg413019.aspx) to control things such as:
- Whether you allow anonymous participants
- What level of participation you all external people to participate – you may limit it
- Whether you allow conferences to be recorded
- Whether you allow video
- You can control which features you will even allow – for instance you can shut off Polling, Q and A, whiteboarding, etc.
- Whether you allow desktop sharing
- You may want to block file transfers
This is important because enterprise data must be protected. There is tons of data being communicated in Online Meetings and there are legitimate business reasons why communications need to be controlled. You can create policies that align to your data loss prevention policies you are creating across Office 365.
If you want to explore more policies to create for Lync Online, I highly recommend you read this http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn362831.aspx and http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn362817.aspx. There are more considerations other than just Online Meetings.
Lync Online Meeting Archiving
In addition to policy, another important feature of Lync Online Meetings with Office 365 is archiving. Luckily with Office 365 Lync Online is integrated with Exchange Online; again a differentiator with other cloud services.
To archive peer-to-peer instant messages, multiparty instant messages, and content upload activities in meetings a Legal Hold with Exchange Online would be created. You can specify the types of data to be captured in that legal and as you can see below, there is a Lync Items option. This will ensure the data is captured along with calendar items. Below is a screenshot to show you where that is accounted for.
Additionally, if you have very strict rules around being legally required to preserve electronically stored information, you have the ability to turn off features. For instance within Lync Online and create policy to turn of features that are not captured in archiving.
In my blog posting here - http://www.astaticstate.com/2013/07/office-365-compliance-solutions.html - I explored many of the features of Legal Hold as there is a lot things to be considered.
For more information Lync Online archiving you can also read the Service Description here - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/lync-online-security-and-archiving.aspx.
I feel like there is a lot more I can cover around why Online Meetings as they are great in Office 365.