Skype for Business Edge Services Fail to Start

You may have noticed on your newly installed Skype for Business Edge Servers that not all services are listed as running when a Get-CsWindowsService command is run. This in general is a little concerning and should cause an alarm for most…

However, as it turns out, FabricHostSvc showing up as Stopped in the service list is not only expected, but has been this way since Lync 2013. The difference – the cmdlet Get-CsWindowService filtered out the FabricHostSvc on non-Front End servers on 2013 and it does not on Skype for Business. So why is the service even installed? Sometimes there are no answers to why questions and in this case we can safely ignore the service and move on.

PS C:\> Get-CsWindowsService

Status       Name                         ActivityLevel
------           ----                               -------------
Running  REPLICA
Running  RTCCLSAGT
Stopped  FabricHostSvc
Running  RTCSRV                   Incoming Requests per Second=0,Messages in Server=0,Incoming Messages Held=0
Running  RTCDATAPROXY   Server Connections Currently Active=84
Running  RTCMRAUTH          Current Requests=0
Running  RTCMEDIARELAY Active Sessions=16
Running  RTCXMPPTGWPX

 

Additional Notes:
Lync Server 2013 build number is 5.0.8308.887

Lync 2013 Client build number is 15.0.4727.1001

Skype for Business Server 2015 build number is 6.0.9319.55

Lync Group Chat build number is 4.0.7577. 4409

Lync Group Chat Server build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Group Chat Admin build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Attendee build number is 4.0.7577.4461

Lync Attendant build number is 4.0.7577.4098

Lync Phone Editions build number is 4.0.7577.4463
Lync Phone Edition (Tanjay) build number is 4.0.7577.4463
Lync for Mac 2011 build number is 14.0.11

Lync 2013 for Windows Phone build number 5.9.1371.0

Lync 2013 for iPad build number 5.7.563

Lync 2013 for iPhone build number 5.7.563

Lync 2013 for Android build number 5.6.3.1
Lync 2013 for Android tablet build number 5.5.3.8919
Lync Windows Store App build number is March 2014

Lync Basic 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017
Lync VDI 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017


Skype for Business Mobile Client Coming Soon

You may have recently seen an update to the Lync 2013 Windows Phone Mobile client where upon starting the app it informed you a new version was coming soon. A recent blog post explains the same – teasing us Windows Phone users but no date has been offered. Unfortunately at this time we only get to see the screenshots in the blog post and the notice in the app. However, it is nice to see that the Windows Phone is getting the application upgrade first with the others following.

 

Product

Version

KBs

Download

Lync 2013 for Windows Phone

5.9.1371.0

MS Download

 

http://blogs.bricomp.com/image.axd?picture=/Skype4B_WP_Mobile/Skype_Upgrade_for_WP.jpg

 

Additional Notes:
Lync Server 2013 build number is 5.0.8308.887

Lync 2013 Client build number is 15.0.4727.1001

Skype for Business Server 2015 build number is 6.0.9319.55

Lync Group Chat build number is 4.0.7577. 4409

Lync Group Chat Server build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Group Chat Admin build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Attendee build number is 4.0.7577.4461

Lync Attendant build number is 4.0.7577.4098

Lync Phone Editions build number is 4.0.7577.4463
Lync Phone Edition (Tanjay) build number is 4.0.7577.4463
Lync for Mac 2011 build number is 14.0.11

Lync 2013 for Windows Phone build number 5.9.1371.0

Lync 2013 for iPad build number 5.7.563

Lync 2013 for iPhone build number 5.7.563

Lync 2013 for Android build number 5.6.3.1
Lync 2013 for Android tablet build number 5.5.3.8919
Lync Windows Store App build number is March 2014

Lync Basic 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017
Lync VDI 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017


The first Skype for Business Patch has Arrived

It didn't take long for the first patch for Skype to come along and it is a highly important patch for many. A bug discovered after RTM of Skype was discovered with Exchange UM Interaction and normalization. The actual bug is KB3069206 and stalled many Skype for Business upgrades as Exchange UM Auto Attendants are kind of important.

In addition to the UM fix there are smaller yet just as important fixes listed such as dropping parked calls, SfBWA (aka LWA) crashes, RGS agent transfer issues, and so on. In short - if you have Skype for Business deployed this patch is a must and for those waiting because of the aforementioned bugs, migrations can now move on.

Upgrades are a bit different in Skype for Business only because of the new patching methods. If you were comfortable with patching in Lync & clearly understood upgrade domains, then there is no change. There are also no updates required to the Skype databases in this release so while we can run the good-old Install-CsDatabase command you will simply get a result of:

VERBOSE: All databases at the specified installation location are already up to date.

Make sure all servers are updated in the FE pool, the Edge servers, P-Chat, Mediation and any app servers you may have. The core components at a minimum will be updated while servers like the Edge role have an actual update.

For those that have a highly non-recommended two-node Enterprise Pool, there is an additional Fabric step required. Once you have patched the pool and rebooted, run the following command from PowerShell.

Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState -ResetType FullReset

Additional patching information can be found on the KB Update page 3061064.

Product

Version

KBs

Download

Skype Server 2015

6.0.9319.55

3061064

MS Download

 

Additional Notes:
Lync Server 2013 build number is 5.0.8308.887

Lync 2013 Client build number is 15.0.4727.1001

Skype for Business Server 2015 build number is 6.0.9319.55

Lync Group Chat build number is 4.0.7577. 4409

Lync Group Chat Server build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Group Chat Admin build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Attendee build number is 4.0.7577.4461

Lync Attendant build number is 4.0.7577.4098

Lync Phone Editions build number is 4.0.7577.4463
Lync Phone Edition (Tanjay) build number is 4.0.7577.4463
Lync for Mac 2011 build number is 14.0.11

Lync 2013 for Windows Phone build number 5.9.1371.0

Lync 2013 for iPad build number 5.7.563

Lync 2013 for iPhone build number 5.7.563

Lync 2013 for Android build number 5.6.3.1
Lync 2013 for Android tablet build number 5.5.3.8919
Lync Windows Store App build number is March 2014

Lync Basic 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017
Lync VDI 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017

Lync 2013 to Skype for Business in-place Upgrade...the experience

I was sitting at my desk today, waiting for (ironically enough) a client's new Skype for Business install to complete in a far far away country when I decided - hey, I am not expecting calls today, why not do a quick in-place upgrade to S4B?

Quick was not the operative word here. For reference, I have two pools - once user pool and one Persistent Chat pool (need it for demos :)), and edge pool, and a few trusted apps. Once I began the process - installing the admin tools on an admin server (not Lync), I upgraded the topology for the two pools, published, and so far so good.

The required KB2982006 was not installed on my FE servers so that was where we started, which required a reboot. Had I been wise, I would have disabled the Lync services so I would not have to wait for them to start post reboot of the server only to shut them down again so I could begin the upgrade process. I started the process on both pools, all servers, all at the same time. This was not an issue since all the services are shut down anyway, so there was no apparent communication occurring anyway.

The process started at 2:30pm my local time and the PChat pool finished approximately 30 mins later (less to uninstall and reinstall). However, the user services pool ran for two hours. It appeared that the servers were doing little to nothing during every step so I can only assume there is some fail-safe code slowing the process of uninstall and reinstall down. As a reference, the installation of the new Skype pool was completed (along with the Edge) in under one hour (granted basic install, no config, no uninstall).

I am happy to say that after the long wait, everything came up as expected and worked as expected. The edge pool was the last thing that needed an upgrade but I was waiting to get the inside pools completed prior to starting that process. I suspect it will not take long but will complete tonight and post my timings.

In short - make sure you have the requirements met for in place upgrading and the time set aside. Since the entire pool is down during the process you will have some sort of outage unless users are rehomed.

UPDATE 5/12

The upgrade of the Edge pool went as expected. The total time for upgrade was 30 mins and like the inside pools above, both servers were upgraded at the same time. I did notice that when I upgraded the Edge pool in the topology, the Skype-Skype Federation Search was automatically enabled. While this is a feature I do want, if you do not, or perhaps do not have the port open on the edge servers (outbound 443), then this is something you would want to disable before publishing.

The truth about Call via Work in Skype for Business 2015

This year at Ignite I had the privilege of being asked to speak - this time the topic was "Planning and Deploying Call via Work for Enterprise PBX Users". As always, I had a great time preparing and presenting the topic however there are some that did not receive the message as well as I had hoped. For the record, we speakers are not paid to create and deliver our presentations. I present because I love to speak, especially when it is about a product I am passionate about and LCS/OCS/Lync/Skype4B definitely falls into that category!

It is true that Call via Work (CvW) is not a new "feature" of Lync/Skype4; but, it is also true that it is now being implemented in a new way. The key to the "little different" is where the feature is being exposed. The best example of what the feature is and where it was previously can be seen in the Lync 2010 Mobile app. For all intents and purposes, the 2010 Mobile feature is the Skype via Work feature, simply now in the desktop client.

So with all that said - why was I viewed as a hater of the feature? To clarify - I do not hate the feature, I simply do not agree with the concept of using it for Enterprise PBX users (my topic). :) My warnings of blind implementation were taken a little too direct. I was hoping to present the message that CvW was now an option but to plan and prepare prior to any implementation. Just because the feature is there doesn't mean we should/need to use it.

Without rehashing what I said regarding the feature and its limitations as a PBX feature, simply stated I believe attempting to use this feature as a replacement to RCC is a mistake - and 9 out of 10 Microsoft engineers agree (no, that is not a real statistic but everyone loves math). The feature parity is not there so that should be a given.

In addition, the users must understand the process. This understanding is something more than just making a call (as we often say, dial-tone should just simply work and users expect that). IMHO, in order for the feature to be used correctly, the user must understand the call flow concepts so intelligent decisions may be made (by the user).

Last point was administration of the feature is a nightmare for those environments that wish to control the call-back-phone. Yes, PowerShell is our friend and yes, PowerShell can help automate the need to create a CvW profile for every user - but there is still the potential for a single profile per end-user - yuck! Since this is a PowerShell-only task that means typical Level1 and perhaps even Level2 support will not be involved making the provisioning process tedious, cumbersome, and prone to errors.

Could Microsoft make the process better? Sure - a simple option in the policy that states the call-back-phone number is automatically set to the users' LineURI would be an awesome feature/option. One global policy, one setting, and we are done. We could then make user policies for those that we want to be different if that was our need. Or vice-versa - we could set the global to no set call-back-number, a user policy to use the LineURI, and then the occasional odd-ball users where they do not match we could create yet another user policy. Today the options are limited but who know what the future of Microsoft holds. One thing is for certain, options are the key to Skype for Business and that is what we need.

So, stepping back a bit, let use start with what is CvW (I know, a little late in the game but better late than never)?

CvW is a feature that allows the end user (assuming allowed by policy) to set their ring-back-number that will be used when making outbound calls from Skype4B. The user would initiate the call, their specified number would ring, and when the Skype4B user answered the incoming call, the system would bridge their two calls together presenting the user's Skype4B caller-ID to the outside callee.

Awesome right? That means I can be at home, make a call back to a customer/vendor/whomever and it would appear to be coming from my office. Perhaps that is an awesome strategy for staying at home when the boss is away and any calls to the boss would look like they were coming from the office. :) Or perhaps your Internet connection at wherever you are is simply unreliable or experiencing poor bandwidth so that a VoIP call would not be practical. Or maybe you simply forgot your headset and would rather not talk into the microphone of the laptop, so using a land line makes more sense (or cell - whatever number you wish).

The point is - there are all kinds of reasons you may want to use this feature; in fact, there are a bunch of good ones. My favorite use happens to be when I am travelling. Inevitably the hotel Wi-Fi is congested and poor quality at the end of the day; if I need to make a call to anyone (family, friends, clients), I use the hotel phone as my call back number and I have a great calling experience. However I am not using it - as my presentation title suggested - as my PBX phone in hopes of retaining life out of my PBX system. Instead, I am adding to the feature-rich experience of Skype for Business, something we all can appreciate as a good idea.

One of the general use concepts from Microsoft's perspective deals with "what do I do with my PBX and desk phones if I implement Skype4B? Am I duplicating systems?". In some aspects the answer is yes - in fact you are. However, there is a potential use case where instead of purchasing a new desk phone and ripping out the PBX we simply tie Skype4B into the existing system using CvW, and create the hybrid-type solution. As mentioned in the presentation, this is not the correct solution for all phone systems, companies or even users. This rolls back to making intelligent deployment decisions and testing, testing, testing. Ideally once the ROI on the old phone system is reached, it would be removed, Skype4B would replace the system as a complete solution, and everyone is happy.

In my experience and with my customers this would not fit well but the important thing to remember is that you have options.

Hopefully this clears up the confusion on my like/dislike of the feature and feel free to leave your comments/questions below, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

February 2015 Lync Client/Server Update

Microsoft quietly released the Lync Client and Server CU for February 2015 and perhaps with good reason; little to nothing appears to have been added to Lync other than a not quite functioning correctly  CsClientPolicy setting EnableSkypeUI. The policy is designed to allow a Lync 2013 server admin to preserve the look and feel of the Lync client after the 'Skype' CU has been delivered either automatically via O365, via Windows Update, or via the system administrator. By default this value is $NULL which SHOULD equate to ‘Use the Lync UI’ but instead it defaults to ‘Use the Skype UI’. Setting the value to $FALSE will force the Lync UI and in future client releases (read that as RTM) the feature will work as expected.

Missing/odd features is definitely not a reason to apply a patch and since it has been 30 days since the release with no known/major issues I would say all is good. The patch does update Core, Server, RGS, Management, and Web Components as well as databases.

There are a few database upgrades required for the backend databases (QoE), and for the CMS (assuming you are up-to-date (i.e. since December 2014)). It is interesting that Microsoft is calling out the sequence with more vigor and I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure your databases match your CU level or ‘bad things happen.’  We discuss over and over how to check upgrade readiness as well the database upgrade methods so if you are unclear, review previous posts here.

Product

Version

KBs

Download

Lync Server 2013

5.0.8308.872

2809243

MS Download

 

 

 

 

Lync 2013 Client 32-bit

15.0.4693.1001

2920744

MS Download

Lync 2013 Client 64-bit

15.0.4693.1001

2920744

MS Download

 

Additional Notes:
Lync Server 2010 build number is 4.0.7577.709

Lync 2010 Client build number is 4.0.7577.4446

Lync Server 2013 build number is 5.0.8308.872

Lync 2013 Client build number is 15.0.4693.1001

Lync Group Chat build number is 4.0.7577. 4409

Lync Group Chat Server build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Group Chat Admin build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Attendee build number is 4.0.7577.4382

Lync Attendant build number is 4.0.7577.4098

Lync Phone Editions build number is 4.0.7577.4455
Lync Phone Edition (Tanjay) build number is 4.0.7577.4451
Lync for Mac 2011 build number is 14.0.10

Lync 2010 for Windows Phone build number 4.3.8120.0

Lync 2010 for iPhone build number 4.7

Lync 2010 for iPad build number 4.7
Lync 2010 for Android build number 4.0.6509.3001

Lync 2013 for Windows Phone build number 5.8.1327.0

Lync 2013 for iPad build number 5.6

Lync 2013 for iPhone build number 5.6

Lync 2013 for Android build number 5.5.3.8935
Lync 2013 for Android tablet build number 5.5.3.8919

Lync Basic 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017
Lync VDI 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017

Office 2016 / Skype for Business 2015 Client Preview

Much has been posted recently regarding the preview of Skype for Business client and what it has to bring to the table. The basic office team announcement was made on their blog (found here) this morning but others attending the various release functions commented as well. Those comments are the ones I have issue with and want to make a few basic comments of my own here.

First and foremost the new Skype for Business client is NOT a new client but rather an update to the existing Lync client. That's right - a CU/KB is applied and voila - you have the new Skype4B client. That brings a lot of ramifications with it, not the least that this client does communicate and work with Lync Server 2013 just fine. In its basic client upgrade and work as you are state, the features are the same, but you get a new look.

Skype4B client does NOT add the additional functionality of initiating calls, communication, etc. directly from Office apps (such as Outlook) as Lync already did that - and has done that - forever. This is nothing new and the contact cards are still shared. This also means it is not pulling on Lync features, they are Lync features as again, this is Lync under the covers.

Another important feature - and one that has been available in Lync for some time - is the ability to communicate with the public Skype counterpart. The idea of public federation was introduced in 2006 with Live Communication Server 2005 SP1 (that's LCS, the predecessor to OCS which was the predecessor to Lync). Public federation is a feature that has been in Lync's history and today (and yes even yesterday) you had the option to configure this federation link using the Microsoft provisioning website of https://pic.lync.com. Will the process and the features improve with time - yes, but not a new feature as of today.

Skype for Business Client and Office 2016 are coming and are exciting improvements. But it is important to understand what the changes are, how they impact current infrastructure, and what  (if any) impact that means on your end users. The last big piece of that equation is rolled into the original comment above - that this release is simply a cumulative update. What if you don't want the update? Well for those on-premise that are delivering Office Pro Plus 2013 using the "fat" method, easy - don't install it. For those using the Click-2-Run Office 365 distribution method - not such an easy decision. The good news is regardless, administrative control will be available to decide how Lync/Skype looks on the desktop using Lync/Skype client policies. This means the updates can occur and the switch to the new interface (and potentially new features) can be at the control of IT.

Another Microsoft "hidden" feature - CU December 2014 Released

In the latest Cumulative Update for Lync Sever 2013 released in December, a special “feature” was added by Microsoft secretively. The nature of the secrecy is unknown but I would bet it was not to be deceitful but more of poor planning on the release of information.

In the December 2014 CU, four items were updated – Core, the UCMAPI, Web Components, and the Front End/Edge Server. All of the updates are classified as routine maintenance/stability updates with no new features listed. However, the Web Components added a “feature” that is causing issues with using Lync Web App (LWA) and Google Chrome. In short, LWA is no longer compatible with Google Chrome because of future known issues with Chrome. This is one of those proactive steps that Microsoft took – before Chrome broke. So now, after the update is applied, the popup from Chrome simply states Google Chrome no longer supports LWA.

It is expected to be a short-term issue that will be resolved but just like changes to Chrome that broke Outlook Web App (OWA), it is more than apparent that working with a product outside of your control can be a bit trying at times. More information and pictures of the issue may be found on a blog post released today (the original December CU was released December 11) found at KB3025563.

There is a database upgrade required for the backend databases, none for the CMS (assuming you are up-to-date (i.e. since February 2014)). It is interesting that Microsoft is calling out the sequence with more vigor and I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure your databases match your CU level or ‘bad things happen.’  We discuss over and over how to check upgrade readiness as well the database upgrade methods so if you are unclear, review previous posts here.

Product

Version

KBs

Download

Lync Server 2013

5.0.8308.857

2809243

MS Download

Additional Notes: 
Lync Server 2010 build number is 4.0.7577.709
Lync 2010 Client build number is 4.0.7577.4446
Lync Server 2013 build number is 5.0.8308.857
Lync 2013 Client build number is 15.0.4667.1001

Lync Group Chat build number is 4.0.7577. 4409
Lync Group Chat Server build number 4.0.7577.4409
Lync Group Chat Admin build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Attendee build number is 4.0.7577.4382
Lync Attendant build number is 4.0.7577.4098
Lync Phone Editions build number is 4.0.7577.4455
Lync Phone Edition (Tanjay) build number is 4.0.7577.4451
Lync for Mac 2011 build number is 14.0.10

Lync 2010 for Windows Phone build number 4.3.8120.0
Lync 2010 for iPhone build number 4.7
Lync 2010 for iPad build number 4.7
Lync 2010 for Android build number 4.0.6509.3001

Lync 2013 for Windows Phone build number 5.6.1308.0
Lync 2013 for iPad build number 5.6
Lync 2013 for iPhone build number 5.6
Lync 2013 for Android build number 5.5.3.8919
Lync 2013 for Android tablet build number 5.5.3.8919

Lync Basic 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017
Lync VDI 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017

Microsoft has released September 2014 CU for Lync Server 2013

An update for Lync Server 2013 has been released just one month after the previous drop but with some important bug fixes. One of the large annoyances fixed is the Dial-in conference rejecting the PSTN caller with a message about the meeting not found (2995830). There have also been some recent reports about maximum followers reached when that is not the case as well as high IIS CPU utilization – all addressed (well high IIS when publishing the topology has not been but I personally have never seen that issue).

There are is a database upgrade required for the backend databases, none for the CMS (assuming you are up-to-date). It is interesting that Microsoft is calling out the sequence with more vigor and I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure your databases match your CU level or ‘bad things happen.’  We discuss over and over how to check upgrade readiness as well the database upgrade methods so if you are unclear, review previous posts here.

Product

Version

KBs

Download

Lync Server 2013

5.0.8308.815

2809243

MS Download

Additional Notes: 
Lync Server 2010 build number is 4.0.7577.230
Lync 2010 Client build number is 4.0.7577.4445
Lync Server 2013 build number is 5.0.8308.815
Lync 2013 Client build number is 15.0.4649.1000

Lync Group Chat build number is 4.0.7577. 4409
Lync Group Chat Server build number 4.0.7577.4409
Lync Group Chat Admin build number 4.0.7577.4409

Lync Attendee build number is 4.0.7577.4356
Lync Attendant build number is 4.0.7577.4098
Lync Phone Editions build number is 4.0.7577.4451
Lync Phone Edition (Tanjay) build number is 4.0.7577.4451

Lync 2010 for Windows Phone build number 4.3.8120.0
Lync 2010 for iPhone build number 4.7
Lync 2010 for iPad build number 4.7
Lync 2010 for Android build number 4.0.6509.3001

Lync 2013 for Windows Phone build number 5.4.1087.0
Lync 2013 for iPad build number 5.4
Lync 2013 for iPhone build number 5.4
Lync 2013 for Android build number 5.4
Lync 2013 for Android tablet build number 5.4

Lync Basic 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017
Lync VDI 2013 build number is 15.0.4420.1017