Planning, Implementing, and Using Microsoft Lync Server 2010 in Small Business Scenarios

Planning, Implementing, and Using Microsoft Lync Server 2010 in Small Business Scenarios

Microsoft Lync Server is often considered a "big business" solution because of its various moving parts. But with the advent of Microsoft Lync 2010, the complexity of a Lync-based UC solution is now well within reach of the average information worker in the small- to medium-sized business (SMB). Here are some things to consider.

What are some considerations for a Lync implementation in the SMB?

  • Complete solution must be affordable    
  • Cost often trumps high availability and redundancy
  • Solution must be simple for ongoing maintenance
  • Solution should have as few systems as possible: Lync doing PBX features
  • Solution should support user supplied mobile devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone.
  • Planners do not want to read 100-page planning documents

What type of SMB's are a good fit for Microsoft Lync?

  • Information worker intensive
  • Those already using Cisco, Shoretel, NEC or other 2nd Buyer PBX's
  • Consultants, Microsoft Partners, Financial Services, Architects, CPA, Professional Services, etc. 
  • Those who want to integrate business processes with communication solution

What are some prerequisites?

  • Bot Forest and domain level with at least Windows Server 2003 native mode
  • Exchange Unified Messaging will need to be implemented if a complete voice solution is desired

What will the typical server hardware look like for a SMB Lync implementation?

  • If going the physical server route: 1 Lync Standard Edition Front End server with 1 nic and 1 Lync Edge server with 2 nics for total of 2 physical servers dedicated to Lync Server roles

-or-

  • 1 Physical server with the Lync Standard Edition Front End and Lync Edge servers as virtual machines

What Microsoft Lync server, client and CALs will be required?

  • Microsoft Lync Server Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Lync 2010
  • Lync Standard CAL
  • Lync Enterprise CAL
  • Lync Plus CAL

Other Hardware Commonly Required for a Complete SMB Lync Solution

Below are some devices that are common in SMB environments. It is suggested to use Lync Optimized devices to make your life easier (as implementer) and ongoing user experience better. To see a list of Lync Optimized devices click here.
  • Deskphones: IP or USB
  • Wired and/or Bluetooth Headsets
  • Conference room phone(s) and systems
  • PA system or overhead speaker gateway
  • Portable phones
  • PSTN/PRI Gateway (fxo)
  • Analogue support Gateway (fxs)
  • Power over Ethernet switch

Sizing the Physical Hardware

Since all Microsoft Lync sizing documentation is directed at solutions handling thousands of users many in the SMB space ask: What exactly are the RAM/CPU requirements for a relatively small SMB sized Lync solution? The answer has two parts: 

  • In real-world scenarios SMB's are finding they can operate with less than the minimums mentioned by Microsoft as reflected by the experiences shared in comments on this blog post. (click here)
  • But to remain in a supported scenario you will want to observe Microsoft minimums
Having noted that it is important to remain in a supported configuration, you can also note if you are using virtualization you can always test what RAM and CPU you need and be creative in allocating RAM/CPU cores as needed. 

How Much Bandwidth Do I Need? Bandwidth Sizing

Below is a very simple bandwidth calculator. It makes a few assumptions:

  • That all calls to PSTN cloud are going over PSTN/PRI gateway

Click Here for an interactive bandwidth calculator for small business scenarios.
Quick Broadband Reliability Problem: Click Here


Lync Connectivity Outside Your Corporate Network: Edge Considerations

The Lync Edge server is likely the most complex undertaking in a Lync implementation and because of this it is sometimes avoided. What are some of the needed ingredients to get going?

  • 2-4 public, routable IP addresses
  • 1 public certificate that is issues by a Microsoft approved public CA that supports subject alternative name
  • The Lync Edge Server will need two network interface cards2
  • You will need access to your public DNS provider to add several A and SRV records.

Minimum of 2 IP addresses

  • 1 for Web Services. (meeting, dialin, lyncwebservices)
  • 1 for Access Edge, Web Conference Edge, and A/V Edge.

Recommended 4 IP Addresses

  • 1 for Web Services. (meeting, dialin, lyncwebservices)
  • 1 for Access Edge
  • 1 for Web Conference Edge
  • 1 A/V Edge

You will also need a public Certificate that is supported by Microsoft Lync. Yes, you can go cheap and get yourself a lot of headache, but just get a Lync supported Cert. TechNet notes that the certificate must be issued by an approved public CA that supports subject alternative name. Click Here for the approved certificate partner list.


Connecting to the PSTN "Cloud": Trunk Considerations

There are several ways you can connect Microsoft Lync to the Public Switched Telephone Network so you can dial good old telephone numbers:

  • PSTN (aka POTS lines)
  • PRI
  • SIP Trunking

Due to the inflexible nature of PSTN you will likely select PRI or SIP trunking as preferred for a live environment.
Auto Attenant,Subscriber Access and Conferencing will require DID's. You may select whether users need DID's for extensions.

Planning for Lync Disaster Recovery in Small Business

Checkout this excellent write up on Lync Standard Edition in a disaster recovery option:
http://voipnorm.blogspot.com/2010/07/communications-server-14-stand-edition.html

Microsoft Lync for Small Business FAQ

Q. Can I install Lync Server on or in a Microsoft Small Business Server environment?
A. The answer to both of these questions is no3. First of all Lync Server is not supported running on a Domain Controller. Second, Microsoft Small Business Server Active Directory schema is currently not a Microsoft supported scenario with Lync Server. (more info)

Q. Can I install Lync Server on Exchange Server? (collocate Lync and Exchange on same Operating System)
A. No, this is not supported and their will technical difficulties as well. (more info)

Q. Should an IT generalist attempt to plan and implement Microsoft Lync Server?
A. Lync requires competency in almost every area possible: AD, Exchange, WANs and routing, Certificates, telecom and VOIP. Since an IT generalist implementing Lync is basically "learning on a live system" it will likely be a "rough" experience for users. Getting an experienced partner to assist with planning and implementation and the IT generalist taking over day to day administration would be advisable.

Q. Do we need to have a Microsoft Lync Edge Server?
A. This is a very common question for SMB because there is an attempt to keep the solution as simple as possible. The answer to the question is: No, you do not NEED an Edge server IF you only want Lync functionality inside your firewall. Having said that my belief is that ultimately most organizations will want to deploy an Edge. Below are some of the benefits of an Edge server and what you will loose without it:

  • No ability to do web meetings with people outside your network
  • No ability to do Federation with partner organizations (more info)
  • No ability to do PIC federation with Live Messenger, AIM and Yahoo
  • No ability to have needed push notifications on Lync Mobile for iPhone, iPad and WindowsPhone devices
  • No ability to have Lync laptop users outside your firewall1

Q. Can all the servers needed for a small Lync implementation run on one Hyper-V server?
A. Yes, Hyper-V is actually the ideal solution for a small Lync implementation. A Hyper-V server with sufficient RAM/CPU can easily handle all the servers required the SMB size of 50-150 users.

Q. Does purchasing Office365 E4 also provide Lync Server Licensing?
A. My understanding is the Office365 provides user CAL's, but no server licensing. Here are my sources: Click Here, Click Here

Q. Office365 versus on Premise Lync Server?
A. Click Here

Q. What are some commonly asked for features in SMB that are not in Microsoft Lync?
A. Below is a list of some items that are sometimes asked for in SMB. I would suggest considering a UC centric alternative to some of these as a solution. Example: intercom users might now use IM instead; music on hold from external source can now be supplied from an audio file; and buddy dialing can be done from Lync client instead of deskphone. Moving from traditional PBX to UC centric solution will involved some change of mindset to realize the benefits.

  • Call Pickup (pickup another ringing phone)4
  • Call Booking (if all trunks/CO lines are busy, user can subscribe to get a notice when one is free to use)
  • Intercom (2 way peer to peer call where the remote endpoint automatically picks up)
  • Shared Line Appearance/ Key System Functionality (more details click here)
  • Music on Hold from radio or external music source is not supported in Lync6
  • 1 Button "buddy" deskphone dialing (available via 3rd party Lync Qualified deskphone like snom)
  • Call Center features (agent monitoring, call recording/archiving, statistics board, etc)5 

Microsoft Lync SMB Case Studies


Video, PowerPoint, Books and Media


More Resources

  • To Get an automated Small Business Lync Implementation Proposal Click Here


 Footnotes

1 Using VPN to facilitate Lync users outside the firewall without a Edge Server can work, but this deployment scenario not supported by Microsoft.
2 In a virtual environment these two NICs can be virtual. In physical environment they obviously need to be 2 NICs.
3 There have been reports of people who were able to get Lync to install in a SBS environment. (definitely not on an SBS Server) This scenario is definitely not supported by Microsoft and one danger is the issue that both Lync and SBS make changes to Active Directory which could conflict.
4 There are some 3rd party call pickup solutions. Click Here to see some options.
5 Call Center features are available via several 3rd party products: MaxACD, Aspect, Clarity Connect, PrairieFyre and more. Note that Microsoft Lync does have basic call center features like response groups and SQL based call reporting.
6 For more creative options for Lync music on hold Click Here

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Comments
  • Hi Matt great post just one question in Edge configurations you state "1 for the webconference and A/V" how do you share one IP? Do you change the default port of 443 on one?

  • @technomusic Yes, use 80 for webconf and 43 for A/V for example.

  • Great post Matt.. i've add one importent feature which currently does not available in Lync.

  • Thanks Thamara. Also thanks for contribution.

  • Matt Landis edited Revision 82. Comment: massage

  • Hi Matt.

    How is this possible (supported)?

    As far as I know Microsoft does not support Lync without a reverse proxy server (TMG).