Speaking at The Experts Conference 2011 in Frankfurt

Hi,

Now that we’ve ticked over into a new financial year at Microsoft and I’ve got the hang of the place (mostly!), one of my aims for this year is to start getting back into the technology community.

To that aim I am pleased to be able to say that I will be presenting at The Experts Conference (TEC) Europe in Frankfurt from 17th to 19th October.

For those that are not aware of the TEC conference it is run by Quest and has several tracks. It originated as a Directory Experts conference but now includes Directory, Exchange, PowerShell and Virtualisation content.

As the web site says:

  • TEC for Exchange is a unique opportunity to…
  • Obtain deep instruction on Microsoft’s Exchange Server messaging platform
  • Network with leading experts while attending intense, 400-level training sessions
  • Share practical advice and best practices you can immediately implement into your day-to-day activities
  • Meet with Microsoft Program Managers, provide feedback, and make a direct impact on the future of Exchange technologies
  • Network on an international level with other Exchange professionals within the industry

There are a good range of sessions with some outstanding presenters. My sessions are as follows:

Archiving and Discovery with Exchange 2010 and Office 365

A growing number of businesses face some regulatory pressures to retain and retrieve business data. This session will look at the features available in Exchange 2010 to manage, maintain and retrieve large quantities of data. You will learn about your options for storing data either in large mailboxes, using the archive functionality of Exchange on premises or through archiving to Office 365. We will discuss where and when the different approaches make sense and cover what your options are if you already have a vast amount of data stored in an existing archiving platform.

 

Designing Exchange 2010 for Site Resilience (It’s more than just technology!)

Exchange 2010 brings great technical wealth in its ability to be deployed in a site resilient way. However do you really need this level of complexity. This session will discuss the business drivers which drive site resilient design. We will then dive into the technical elements which make enable us to make Exchange deployments site resilient, including CAs, Mailflow, Load Balancers, and of course the DAG. You should come away from this session with a clear idea of whether Site Resilience is sensible for you, and how to weight up the various design decisions needed to deploy, and more importantly operate a site resilient model successfully.

 

So all in all, it should be a great event and I look forward to seeing a bunch of friendly faces in the crowd!

Cheers

Nathan

Nathan Winters on Quora

Hi,
 
Just checking out this new Quora social networking system.
 
Here is my profile on Quora

Nathan Winters

MMMUG November 2010 Meeting–Windows Phone 7

This month, we are holding a Windows Phone 7 Meeting.

GFI Software have kindly offered to sponsor this meeting – the theme being Mobility and we’ll be discussing and demo-ing the Windows Phone 7 devices with at least one Microsoft IT Evangelists.
This will be one of the only places you’ll be able to get your hands on a Windows Phone 7 device without actually buying one.

GFI Software provides a single source of Web & Mail Security, Archiving, Backup & Fax, Networking & Security and Hosted solutions software for small to medium-sized enterprises.

With award-winning technology, an aggressive pricing strategy, and a strong focus on the unique requirements of small to medium-sized enterprises, GFI Software satisfies the needs of SME organizations on a global scale.

This will be the last meeting of the year and we think it’s going to be very popular so register now…

http://www.mmmug.co.uk/general/november-th-meeting-windows-phone

Date & Time:
Thursday, 25 November 2010, 18:00 — 21:00

Location:
The Cube
Studio 5, 155 Commercial Street ( map )
London, E1 6BJ
http://thecubelondon.com/contact/

A joint Microsoft and EMC event I’m speaking at.

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Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 briefing with Microsoft and EMC Consulting

Date: 18th November

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Access to information, timely communications between colleagues and customers and the Global economy are all factors that we need to consider in this New World of Work.

EMC Consulting and Microsoft UK will brief you on how Microsoft Unified Communications can help you embrace this opportunity – taking advantage of the efficiencies of an always on always connected environment, reducing overheads on travel, telecommunication and IT costs.

At this event you will learn how EMC Consulting, coupled with EMC’s proven solutions for Microsoft Exchange, can help you implement Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 within in your organisation with a proven, secure and scalable architecture. The EMC Consulting approach can accelerate deployment, whilst minimising end user disruption during the migration, enabling you to quickly realise the benefits of new innovations in email, messaging, conferencing & calendaring and how to take advantage of the substantial cost savings from software-powered voicemail. An effective implementation of a Unified Messaging solution can deliver cost reductions of up to 40% and a significantly better user experience for your customers.

Register your attendance for this event by registering online or calling Nick Rodwell on +44 (0) 1256 881100.

Agenda

8:45 am

Registration & Coffee

9:15 am

Welcome & Introduction (Microsoft/EMC)

9:30 am

Introducing the New Efficiency (Microsoft)
An Overview of Exchange 2010 and UC

11:30 am

Break

11:45 am

EMC’s Capabilities for Exchange 2010
Proven Solutions and Consulting Services

1:15 pm

Close (Microsoft/EMC)

1:45 pm

Lunch

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Date: 18th November
Address:
EMC Manchester
Computer Systems UK
First Floor
Enterprise Point
Altrincham Road
Sharston
Manchester
M22 9AF

Featured Speakers

Mike Kiersey (EMC Consulting)
EMEA Practice Manager
Nathan Winters (Microsoft)
Technical Specialist
(Unified Comms)

Answering questions.
Delivering results.
Realizing ambitions.

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Moving from Lync Eval to Real RTM volume licensed

Hi,

This has been coming up a few times in recent days on forums and distribution lists.

The question is can I install Lync Eval now, and then transfer to full Volume Licensed RTM code when it is available.

Well yes you can and it is supported.

Here’s how:

After you get access to volume bits  through a normal sources like the volume license site:

On every machine which has EVAL version of Server.MSI installed: 

1. run "msiexec.exe /fvomus server.msi EVALTOFULL=1 /qb (Note: the server.msi is from Volume media)

2. run PS cmdlet "enable-cscomputer"

 

Hope that helps

Cheers

Nathan

Hosted Lync Pilot including Voice – Free trial for 60 days!

If you are at all into Unified Communications then you will have heard of Lync 2010. The new replacement for Office Communication Server 2007 R2 (OCS) which is now available as a Release Candidate and will ship soon.

Given that Lync has a huge amount of functionality, ranging from simple instant messaging to being a complete PBX and conferencing system, getting a “simple trial” underway may be daunting for some.

It is for this reason that Microsoft UK has worked with one of our UC Partners, PostCTI, to make available a fully featured trial which is hosted and free for 60 days.

Now if you don’t have the time, equipment or experience to get your own pilot going, you can sign up for this new hosted pilot and get a full 60 days to try all the features of Lync including the telephony pieces!

To sign up go here:

http://www.lynctrial.com

When you sign up use the Promo Code – MSUCC.

I hope this gets you excited about the possibilities in Lync. Feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss how Lync could work for your business.

Cheers

Nathan

Friday Tips and Links #2

So much for weekly Friday posts! It’s only been, well ages since the last one.

Anyhow, here are a few more short snippets that might be useful.

 

1. OCS 2007 R2 has the capability to do Hi-Def video however, it only works with a Quad core machine. Thankfully there is something you can try if you have a high powered machine with only two cores.

Create the following:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\RTC\Quality]

"MaxAllowedSendVideoSize"=dword:00000008

"MaxAllowedReceiveVideoSize"=dword:00000008

 

2. As with Exchange 2007, Exchange 2010 allows for a trial install to be carried out without the need for license keys. It turns out that this trial doesn’t expire.

No loss of functionality will occur when the Trial Edition expires, so you can maintain lab, demo, training, and other non-production environments beyond 120 days without having to reinstall the Trial Edition of Exchange 2010.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb232170.aspx

 

3. One final one, although there will be a solution to use Outlook 2007 with Exchange 2010 SP1 archiving, the required patch isn’t out yet.

A new job; yes another one!

Hi,

It’s not been that long since the last of my job posts, but sometimes that’s the way these things go.

As regular visitors will know, I’ve been working at Grey Convergence as UC Lead for the last three months. It’s been a brilliant experience, and I feel that I have both learnt and hopefully also contributed a lot. The company has made a huge leap forward and, if the number of Lync 2010 meetings that are lined up are anything to go by, will be very busy over the next few months.

So I am therefore both sad and excited to say that I am leaving. Sad because it’s a great company to work for; people focussed, both internally and with clients. I know that had I stayed I would have learnt a great deal more, as I had only just started getting to grips with the working methods and philosophy which in my career so far are unique and which was what drew me to Grey Convergence in the first place.

The excitement comes from my new job. I’m honoured to have been given a role at Microsoft as a Unified Communications Technical Solution Professional.

The UC TSP role is pretty much my ideal job! In a nutshell my aim is to communicate with Microsoft customers (and partners) the new unified communications technologies such as Lync 2010 and Exchange 2010. I will be presenting, leading chalk and talks and supporting the Microsoft sales teams in helping companies make the decision to implement what I truly feel is some of the most exciting technology out there at the moment.

Of course I am looking forward to the new challenge a great deal, but as some people have told me, it does mean buying some new shirts, as working for Microsoft means I will no longer be an MVP, and MVP shirts make up much of my wardrobe!

Cheers

Nathan

Can Lync send audio/media direct to the PSTN using G.711?

Well sort of!

G.711 is a voice codec, used by the majority of IP PBXs to encode their audio.

OCS and Lync can use it in some circumstances, although Microsoft also has their own codec called RTAudio, which is an adaptive codec and thus aims to cope well with challenging network bandwidth.

In OCS there is the Mediation role which was used to convert from RTAudio to G.711 as media flows out to the PSTN.

In Lync the mediation role has been allowed to be collocated with the Front End server. This is possible because of something called Media Bypass, which allows calls to the telephone system (PSTN) to send the signalling through the Front End with collocated Mediation server, but not the media. So instead of the end Lync client talking RTAudio to the Mediation server and then having it converted to G.711 and sent out to the PSTN Gateway, the media goes direct to the gateway. This allows for less load on the Mediation server.

There are various caveats, such as what happens if the client is external. In this case the media will come in as RTAudio via the edge server and need translating via the Mediation server. Depending on the level of externally originated PSTN traffic, you may consider a separate Mediation server pool for load purposes.

Equally another point is that for large FE pools where SIP Trunking is used (Rather than E1 connections from gateways) it is suggested to have a Mediation server pool so as to simplify the relationship between the provider of PSTN connectivity and the pool. (Simply put to allow for perhaps 2 mediation servers each with individual trunks for HA, rather than a pool of 8 combined FE and Mediation boxes with all the required trunks!)

So to answer the question, yes in some ways, and with the right provider a Lync client could potentially send audio (media) traffic direct to the PSTN, however signalling still needs to go through the Front End/Mediation server. Therefore the only scenario where media would flow without the FE is where a call has already been setup. At that point if the FE went down, the call would still be able to continue.

Cheers
Nathan

Getting photos in Lync 2010 from SharePoint via Active Directory

 

I have spent a fair amount of time recently working with Lync 2010 testing out new features and trying to figure out how everything works! One of the exciting developments in Lync is how well integrated it is with the rest of the Microsoft product stack. For me however this has caused some serious challenges as my knowledge of SharePoint is minimal, and certainly limited to end user knowledge.

This post outlines the process needed to get Lync showing photos uploaded to a users “My Site” in SharePoint 2010.

I am making the assumption that you already have SharePoint installed and that it has functioning “My Sites”. This was done for me by a colleague SharePoint consultant!

What follows is a discussion of the steps taken to get integration with AD to work and some of the troubleshooting tools I found along the way.

I started off by following this blog post:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/dcaro/archive/2010/06/05/replicating-user-pictures-from-sharepoint-2010-to-exchange-2010-and-communications-server-14.aspx

Step 1 from the above is easy to follow.

Step 2, makes the assumption that the User Profile Synchronization service is already in place. For me this was the case, however there was an issue with accounts which I will come onto!

Having followed Step 2 my final configuration screen looks like the below:

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The reason I show that is because it shows the Source Data Connection. Given that I didn’t set this up, I thought I would investigate further, and it’s a good job I did because it became important to know what user account was being used for synchronization.

Back on the Central Administration, Manage Profile Service page seen below, I clicked on the Configure Synchronization Connections link.

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You can see the Active Directory connection shown on the Picture Export screenshot above. Drilling into the connection shows that it runs using the 123-shpt service account.

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With this knowledge, let’s return to the original blog post we were following here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/dcaro/archive/2010/06/05/replicating-user-pictures-from-sharepoint-2010-to-exchange-2010-and-communications-server-14.aspx

We are now onto Step 3

I kicked off a full synchronization but it didn’t look like much was happening and photos certainly weren’t appearing in AD. At this point I looked at the event logs on the SharePoint server.

What I found was a bunch of errors like this: FIMSynchronizationService – EventID 6050 – Error

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The following two blog posts both helped troubleshoot this.

http://blog.jussipalo.com/2010/02/sp2010-fimsynchronizationservice-errors.html

http://www.tsls.co.uk/index.php/2010/05/06/sharepoint-2010-user-profile-synchronisation-failing/

They also led me to discover the FIM Synchronization Service Manager (SSM) which is located here:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\14.0\Synchronization Service\UIShell\miisclient.exe.

This application is your window on FIM and shows exactly what is happening during the synchronization.

I discovered that my problems were permission related.

What was needed was to ensure that the account mentioned above (in the SharePoint Directory Connection section (123-shpt) has the relevant rights in AD. This is confusing because a number of posts say that it the account which runs the FIM service which needs rights, but this doesn’t appear to be the case.

So I gave the 123-shpt account replicating directory changes permissions as detailed below:

Confirm that the service account used to run Forefront Identity Manager Synchronization Service (FIMSynchronizationService) has the AD Security right of “Replicating Directory Changes” at the domain level

  1. Open the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in
  2. On the View menu, click Advanced Features.
  3. Right-click the domain object, such as “company.com”, and then click Properties.
  4. On the Security tab, if the desired user account is not listed, click Add; if the desired user account is listed, proceed to step 7.
  5. In the Select Users, Computers, or Groups dialog box, select the desired user account, and then click Add.
  6. Click OK to return to the Properties dialog box.
  7. Click the desired user account.
  8. Click to select the Replicating Directory Changes check box from the list.
  9. Click Apply, and then click OK.
  10. Close the snap-in.

 

Having done this the I kicked off another Full Synchronization in SharePoint and whilst viewing though the FIM SSM mentioned above, saw that connections were taking place.

However, there were still errors! Again they were permissions based, and this time it was specific to the end users who I was trying to provision a photo for.

After a fair bit of digging it turns out that the 123-shpt account also needs rights to all users in the domain to provision permissions.

I provided this by setting permissions for the 123-shpt account on the root of the domain. I used the advanced settings to ensure that the permissions only applied to Descendant User Objects. At a high level the permissions needed are Read, Write and Create all child objects however when broken out they look more complex as seen below.

image

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Having made those changes, I kicked off a final Full Synchronization and found that photos were imported demonstrated by viewing the Attribute editor of the user object.

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Signing out and back in on Lync made the photo show up.

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Hope that helps people

Cheers

Nathan

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