Lync 2013 E911 – The GOOD The BAD and The UNDOCUMENTED

The purpose of this blog post of mainly for my own memory and to share my experiences to date with deploying E911 with Microsoft Lync in a large organization. This post is not a complete post on how to setup E911 and all of its capabilities.

Last year when I was at Ignite 2015, I attended one of the sessions that talked about E911.  The speaker asked who had deployed E911 services with Lync 2013 to raise their hand.  I was shocked that in a large conference hall, only I and a few others raised their hands.  Much of what I am about to discuss is not documented and as stated previously are my own experiences.  Let’s get started…I hope this post will help educate others looking for this info and help clarify some of the undocumented.

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Mac S4B Client – Major Flaw

Man it’s been a long time since i’ve written a post.  This is one of many i plan to write over the next few days / week.

As I’m sure most of us understand, the Mac Lync 2011 client is junk.  Every time i get a ticket from a Mac user i’m pretty much forced to say “sorry..it is what it is”.  This is well known in the Lync/Skype environment.  So when Microsoft started rolling out the beta preview of the S4B Mac client, my organization was extremely interested in getting our hands on it early and giving it a shakedown.  For the most part I’ve gotten great feedback from our beta mac users.  What is little known is there is a MAJOR flaw in the mac client.  Lets discuss..

If you aren’t a member of the SkypePreview i HIGHLY recommend you get an account (skypepreview.com).  There is a really good video by Jason Collier called SfbMac Signaling and Media.  I tried to find a place where it was posted for all to watch but couldn’t. If someone reading this knows some other place other than on the SkypePreview site, please let me know.  This video outlines how the new Mac client behaves with Signaling and Media flows.

Ok so here’s the rub.  Long story short ALL signaling  from the new S4B mac client is done through the Reverse Proxy.  Thus if you are inside your organization, even to talk to the person next to you, the Mac client will send signaling through the RP.  Once candidate promotion happens, the media should be P2P.  Well this sounds great but what about this.

My environment has two geographically remote locations and to provide WAN survivability we purchased AudioCodes M1K’s with SBA’s inside of them.  Accounts at these location are homed to the SBA.  The reason they are homed there is because if our WAN goes down the Windows Lync/Skype clients and VVX/CX phones will fall into limited functionality mode but can still call 911 or to order pizza.  Now, throw in the new S4B Mac client.  Should one of my users be homed to the SBA and our WAN goes down (thus no access to RP), those end points are literally out of luck.  Those clients will essentially fall off the network and be unable to participate in any Modality including calling 911.  Why…because all signaling is done through the RP.

The good news:  I’m fortunate to have made contacts in the past with Jason Collier and Richard Schwendiman (Jason/Richard…if you read this thanks for everything..you guys have been great).  I outlined this issue to them a few weeks ago and i have faith that Microsoft will fix this issue before it becomes GA.  That is, to not have the S4B Mac client be dependent on the RP.

 

Scripting Lync Unassigned Number

In a previous article I outlined why should use the Lync Unassigned Number Feature.  If you haven’t read it please do so.  The problem I have is i have very few numbers that are contiguous for a few reasons but mostly because of how Phone Numbers are divided up among the telecom’s.  Essentially, telecom’s are no longer allowed to hoard phone numbers.  If they did, we could run into the IPV4 issue we’re hitting now with IP addresses (that is, imagine if a single telecom started hoarding all phone numbers, we could run out of phone numbers to issue and thus we may run into a need to add even MORE digits to phone numbers).  To help with this, when a telecom needs more phone numbers, they all retrieve phone numbers from a central pool (at least this is what our telecom provider told us when i asked why we could not get contiguous numbers).  Enough on that topic….long story short I’m left with ~6000 phone numbers…some are contiguous some are not.   Continue reading

Lync Unassigned Number Feature What is it and Why you should use it

If you’re like me, your organization has phone number that are not assigned to users…so how do you treat them?  Well you can use the Unassigned Number Feature to tell the caller some message such as “You have reached an unassigned number at “some company”……..” or you can send that call to UM.  My organization at first didn’t want to use this feature and for good reason.  Again if you’re like me, we get spammed with bots that are trolling numbers hoping to sell some product.  Our thought was well, if you don’t have anything answer the call, maybe the bots would magically stop calling us.  The thought was good but we hit some other issues.  Lets discuss the major one.

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