Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX Quick Introduction


There are some extremely exciting capabilities that will be available with the upcoming release of Cloud PBX for Skype for Business Online. I work a lot with customers who have been evaluating Office 365 and one of the hardest discussions I have had with customers is around the Lync / Skype Enterprise Voice. Previously, if a customer was a Lync Enterprise Voice customer on-premises customers had to retain all the Lync capabilities on-premises.

What has changed?

Well this is no longer a limitation anymore and there are scenarios that enterprise customers seek are now supported.

What is powering this is the new Cloud PBX with on-premises PSTN Connectivity and Skype for Business Hybrid.

The following import scenarios can be supported:

Skype for Business Online with on-premises PSTN - In this scenario an enterprise organization can move all of their end users to Skype for Business Online in Office 365 and have the ability to use the new Cloud PBX with on-premises PSTN Connectivity that will integrate Enterprise Voice capabilities from existing on-premises PSTN investments. In this case end users will get all the capabilities such as IM, presence, web meetings, desktop sharing, application sharing, etc. from the cloud while using the on-premises PSTN to integrate Enterprise Voice capabilities.

Skype for Business Hybrid with on-premises PSTN – In this scenario enterprise organizations have the ability have some end users receive Skype for Business services from on-premises while other end users receive Skype for Business Online services from Office 365 using a regular hybrid configuration. Plus in this configuration you can use the new Cloud PBX with on-premises PSTN Connectivity to allow all of the end users to receive Enterprise Voice capability from existing on-premises PSTN investments. This is a very attractive solution for enterprise organizations that want to take a phase transitions to the Office 365.

Other Hybrid Scenarios with Exchange and SharePoint – Additionally there is extremely flexible options to integrate Exchange on-premises, Exchange Online, SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online with both of the scenarios listed above. I consider this a different type of hybrid where you can have a mix-and-match strategy of collaboration services spread across the cloud and on-premises based on your organizations transition strategy or long-term co-existence with the cloud. Microsoft vision in supporting enterprise organizations is impressive.

So how do you plan for this?

Well there are lots of really good resources that I highly recommend you start reading to prepare and plan for such a design. From these links, you can go deeper into design considerations for your enterprise organization. I recommend reading the following articles in this order.

Learning the Topology and Server Roles for Skype for Businesshttps://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn933894.aspx – First you need to sit down and learn all of the server roles and topologies needed for Skype for Business Server 2015 on-premises. Do not worry, this article is really straight forward to understand. This will be the baseline for your understanding of the on-premises dependencies you will have. Plus you should review these simple understand topology diagrams - https://technet.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/gg398095.aspx.

Plan Skype for Business Hybridhttps://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj205403.aspx – In this article you will learn all the considerations for planning a Skype for Business Hybrid configuration with Office 365. Depending on the specific configuration you have you may have to introduce some updates into you Lync server farm that is on-premises.

Exchange and SharePoint Hybrid Scenarioshttps://technet.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/jj945633.aspx – This is another really good resource that will walk you through the supported configurations and capabilities available with Skype for Business on-premises and Skype for Business Online with Exchange on-premises, Exchange Online, SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online.

Planning and Deploying Cloud PBX with on-premises PSTNhttps://technet.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/mt455212.aspx – This article explains the major considerations for planning and configuration of Cloud PBX for on-premises PSTN. It has some important discussions such as what features and capabilities of Enterprise Voice that are available, solution benefits, performance / networking considerations, deployment considerations, and major steps you need to take to complete the configuration. The major steps are:

  • Enabling users for Enterprise Voice capabilities.
  • Assigning a Voice Routing Policy to your Skype for Business on-premises deployment.
  • Moving Skype for Business users to Skype for Business Online. Requires Azure AD sync to be configured and ADFS configuration.
  • Enable users for Cloud PBX.

This has extremely good information.

Plan for hybrid voice with no on-premises server deploymenthttps://technet.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/mt605227.aspx – Finally read this article if you have already deployed 100% to Skype for Business Online and you want to add Cloud PBX with on-premises PSTN support to your configuration. Really this article builds off all of the other information that you read about in the previous articles.


In conclusion Microsoft and empowering organizations to transition to the cloud in an extremely flexible manner. The new Cloud PBX with on-premises PSTN is yet another example of this flexibility and I am excited to see customers take advantage of this soon.

New Office 365 File Sharing Features in Outlook 2016

With the release of Office 2016 with Office 365, there are new amazing simple features that have been added to the service that will change the way you share Office documents. Sometimes it is these little things have huge impact on how you collaborate.

Up to this point, when you want to share files via email or SharePoint you have had to take a number of steps to share that file. In that past, if you need to solicit feedback on an Office file you have had to take clumsy steps to get that feedback. Sometimes people will take that file, rename, edit it and then email that file back to you. Then you are stuck with multiple versions of a file and you need to bring in all the comments from people back into your file. Worse yet, people will review the wrong versions of the file. You can resolve this issue by simply putting the file in SharePoint however sometimes configuring SharePoint to share a file can be a chore.

So what has changed?

Let’s look at some of these new features.

In Office 2016 there is a new Share button. All you need to do is save your Word, Excel or PowerPoint file to OneDrive for Business or SharePoint. Then press the Share button in Office 2016. You have the ability to select who you want to share the file with, what permissions they have and provide them a message. If you noticed, you no longer need to open a browser to OneDrive for Business, SharePoint or even an email application (Outlook) to share that file; the entire sharing experience is done through Office 2016. Awesome!

Plus moving you can see all the people who have access to the file and modify their permissions right there inside of Office 2016. You do not need to leave Office and navigate to OneDrive for Business or SharePoint to change the permissions making life really easy.

Plus if other people are co-authoring you will see their changes in real-time. Very cool.


Additionally in Office 2016 there is a new Share a Link option. Once you have saved your file to OneDrive for Business or SharePoint, you can press the Share button and get a link to the file right out of Office 2016. You can then provide that link out to a broader audience through whatever mechanism you want versus having to type in tons of names.


Another really simple option you have is in file explorer you can right click on a OneDrive for Business or SharePoint file and click the Share button. This will open the browser where right to the location so you can share that file.


Now let’s pivot the conversation over to some new awesome options available in Outlook 2016 that help you with sharing email file attachments.

First thing you should know about is new capability added to the Attach File button in Outlook 2016. You no longer need to dig around to find the file you were just editing. If the file is saved to OneDrive for Business or SharePoint, you will see that file immediately to easily attach it to your email. Even better, the list is cross device smart. So if you built the file on one device and then try to email it from a different device, you will see that file as a recent edited file for attachment. Frankly I love the ability of not having to go back to SharePoint through the browser to find the file; I can stay in Outlook 2016.


Now here is where things start to get really cool.

Once you have the file from OneDrive for Business or SharePoint attached, you have the ability to set the permissions of the file right there inside of Outlook 2016. Wow! Before I would have to go the location where the file was stored, set the permissions and then come back to Outlook and complete sending of the email. Now I just change the permissions right there on the spot as I am selecting the names of the people that I want to email the file to.


In conclusion these simple examples of new capabilities added to Office 2016 will change the way you share and collaborate with Office documents.





Monday, November 16, 2015

Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 GA

Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 went Generally Available (GA) late Sept 2015. This was a big announcement that I had been waiting for publically.

Azure ExpressRoute allows Office 365 customer to make a private / managed network connection to Office 365. Up this point customers have to connect over the Internet or establish their own peering connection to Microsoft. With ExpressRoute Office 365 customers get a predictable network performance, SLA for that connection and additional privacy of their data (as the Office 365 traffic is being taken off the public Internet).

There are several ways to establish a connection. First if you are already using Azure ExpressRoute for Azure services, this can be used for Office 365. Second you can us IP VPN for WAN where by Office 365 can appear as a node on your WAN. In this case Office 365 will just seem as an offsite datacenter. Third ExpressRoute supports large or point-to-point network connections to a co-location facility.

There are some good FAQs:

  • ExpressRoute is available from where your network operator has locations available. This will require coordination with your providers and determining how you want to allow your users to connect.
  • Not all Office 365 services are supported with Azure ExpressRoute. For the initial release the following is supported: Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business Online, Azure Active Directory, Office 365 Video, Power BI, Delve and Project Online.
  • There is a tool called Office Client Performance Analyzer (OCPA) which has new performance metrics.

Public Announcement - https://blogs.office.com/2015/09/29/announcing-general-availability-of-expressroute-for-office-365/

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Office for iPad Pro

Office for iPad Pro is coming. You will have Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote apps available. This is part of Microsoft’s strategy to provide a rich Office experience across all major platforms. Very exciting.


Public Announcements - https://blogs.office.com/2015/11/11/microsoft-office-apps-are-ready-for-the-ipad-pro/