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Dec 14

Lync 2013 – compelling reasons to upgrade

 

It has been already more than a year ago that Microsoft released Lync 2013 server. The history of Lync can be found at Wikipedia. Microsoft Office Communicator and Lync 2010 have caused a revolution in the Unified Communications and concepts like presence are now known to many end-user. Microsoft has reached the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant in UC as leader next to Cisco. Big pro’s are the tight integration with the end-user in the Office suite en solution’s like the tight integration Exchange server in a Unified Messaging solution. It’s easy to upgrade from legacy OCS 2007 R2 and Lync 2010 platform.

A quick summary of the new features introduced in Lync 2013 can be found on the Lync blog here. 

I have picked out a couple of the major enhancements in the Lync 2013 release:

Video Enhancements

Microsoft has done a major overhaul on the video parts within Lync. Where in the past the Lync client supported codecs like H.263 and RtVideo, support for H.263 has stopped and next to RtVideo Microsoft now supports H.264.SVC with a specific SIP implementation. A great description on the Microsoft implementation of H.264.SVC can be found in the blog of Jeff Schertz, Microsoft MVP working for Polycom.  The blog is called Video Interoperability in Lync 2013 and can be found here.

Very cool is also the new Gallery View when doing conferencing with at least 3 people. You can have web- and or video conference on an Enterprise Pool up to 250 users and up to a 1000 users if dedicated servers are used for the AVMCU’s.  Participants can join with the Lync client and dial-in via the PSTN network. You can have up to 5 participants in the standing row (big pictures) and 25 users in the sitting row. The other users will be in the background.

A great overview with all the different scenario’s can be found at the Microsoft website here. Note: if you want to include standards based videoconferencing endpoint’s you may need to move all users to an MCU of Polycom or Cisco, this is very dependent on the setup of your infrastructure. If might be useful to use the Lync Room System if you want to include room systems into this multi-party conference.

Lync Room System

In februari 2013 the Lync Room System (LRS) was announced and vendors first started shipping the systems in august/septermber this year. The system is supported on Lync 2010 (note with limitations) and on Lync 2013, which is recommended since then the Gallery View is shown. It just needs an Lync and Exchange user account and there is no need for difficult back-end integrations. Scheduling is very simple from Outlook and people only have to push the join button when they enter the meeting room. Some create resource on the LRS can be found at:

The systems contains an adapted Lync client build into an appliance connected to a single or dual screen solution with a touch-screen smart board functionality. Vendors building the LRS are Smart Room System for Lync, Creston RL and Polycom CX…. (name to be confirmed). Originally Lifesize with their LRS 1000 was also to produce one, but they stepped out of the program.

Lync 2013 and Skype connectivity

Microsoft has bought Skype and put the Lync product group in the Skype division. With the introduction of Lync 2013 is possible to communicate between the two. Currently IM and Audio are support, Video is expected to follow.

This bank uses it for example to use Skype Lync connectivity to keep in contact with their customers. A Youtube video shows perfectly how to get connected and interact between Skype and Lync, once the administrator has configured this.  Youtube video Skype and Lync client The details on how this can be configured can be found at this Microsoft link.

Mobile Clients

Mobile clients were already available in Lync 2010, functionality was mainly limited to IM and Presence. Lync 2013 introduced a lot more mobile clients and enriched functionality and it is now possible to have audio and video calls over 3G/4G or Wifi. Utilizing these features end-users can save money on their roaming cost and easily join conferences remotely. Several resources on mobile clients can be found below:

Lync Web App

Users that want to participate into conferences but don’t have the Lync client installed can use the LWA (Lync Web App Client).  This can be used by employee or anonymous users.

The comparison on features with the normal clients can be found here.

Lync 2013 has made some great steps since Lync 2010 and has enhanced further on the voice capabilities (ie. voice resiliency with Pool Pairing) on which I will write at a later stage.

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