Overview

There are a raft of new features in the recently released Lync Server 2013 Preview. Once complete this Wiki should provide a comprehensive overview of what is new and exciting in Lync Server 2013.

In addition to the sections listed below there are a number of other changes worth mentioning. On the server side these changes include making the Monitoring server an optional role as opposed to a dedicated server, the AV server role is also now always co-located with the FE server, support for IPv6, support for Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012. On the client side, other than some changes which are listed below, there is a new Lync 2013 client with a re-designed interface to streamline how you interact with all aspect of Lync.

Enterprise Voice

Lync Server 2013 introduces a number of eagerly anticipated features that add functionality to an already compelling product. In terms of Enterprise Voice these enhancements and new features can be categorized as follows:

Disaster Recovery

E911

Routing

  • M-N trunk support
  • Inter-trunk routing
  • Voice mail escape
  • Caller ID presentation
  • Conference dial out for non EV enabled users
  • Manager/Delegate improvements

Response Group

  • Manager Role
  • Disaster recovery

Call Management

  • Unassigned numbers
  • Call Park

Voice in the Cloud

  • Hybrid deployments


Disaster Recovery

A new method of site resiliency is introduced with Lync Server 2013 which extends the concept of pools introduced with Lync Server 2010. In Lync 2013 you will now be able to pair pool across datacenters. In addition Lync 2013 now also supports SQL database mirroring to maximize availability of the Lync backend servers.

E911

As an improvement into how notifications were handled in Lync Server 2010 you can now specify a distribution group as a contact point during emergencies. Disclaimers that were previously restricted to the global scope can now be customized based on location policy. Finally, you can force clients to request location updates at specific hourly intervals instead of the static 4 hours used in Lync 2010.

 

Routing

With each major product release the Lync product group has offered significant enhancements to Lync’s routing capabilities. In OCS 2007 R2 the routing capabilities were defined in a simple 1:1 relationship with one Mediation server being associated with one gateway. In Lync Server 2010 this became a 1: N relationship where multiple gateways could be associated with a single Mediation server pool. In Lync 2013 this relationship has changed again to an M: N relationship.  Moreover, Lync Server 2013 has significantly improved inter-trunk routing capabilities.

M-N Trunk Routing

An M: N trunk routing relationship means that not only can multiple gateways be associated with the same Mediation server pool but gateways can now also be associated with multiple Mediation server pools or the same Mediation server pool with multiple unique associations. These associations are made by defining a trunk, which is a logical association between a Mediation Server pool and a gateway. From a practical perspective this means that now you must now define your trunks as part of your Topology using Topology Builder.

Inter-Trunk Routing

For organizations migrating to Lync with legacy systems this new functionality will make the entire co-existence and migration process much smoother. Inter-trunk routing makes it possible for Lync 2013 to serve as a gateway for interconnecting an IP-PBX to a PSTN gateway or to interconnect multiple IP-PBX systems. Features include the ability to assign PSTN usages to an incoming trunk in order to determine the route to an outgoing trunk. Media-bypass support is provided in inter-trunk routing.

Call Forwarding and Simultaneous Ringing

Lync Server 2013 provides a wider range of configuration options for call forwarding and simultaneous ringing. For example you can now restrict call forwarding to internal extensions only or to local numbers only.

Manager/Delegate enhancements

With the latest version of Lync, a delegate can configure simultaneous ringing that enables incoming calls to his or her manager to ring all of the delegate’s simultaneous ringing targets.

Voice Mail Escape

While there are many advantages to simultaneous ringing and it is widely used in earlier versions of Lync there was always the possibility that when ringing an alternate device that the voice mail of this other device would pick up the call. To prevent an incoming call from being immediately routed to voicemail, Lync Server 2013 provides the ability to configure a timer. If the call is answered within the range of time defined by this timer Lync Server 2013 determines the call to have been answered by a carrier’s voicemail. At this point, the call is disconnected from the carrier’s voicemail system, while all the user’s remaining endpoints continue to ring. This gives the user the opportunity to answer the call or to let the call be routed to the user’s corporate voicemail. In this way, business-related calls can be recorded in the user’s corporate voicemail system instead of his or her personal mobile phone voicemail.

Caller ID Presentation

With Lync Server 2010, the called party’s phone number can be translated from E.164 format to a local dialing format required by the associated gateway. To do this, you define one or more translation rules to manipulate the Request URI before routing it to the gateway. Lync Server 2013 introduces the option to also translate the calling party’s phone number from E.164 format to a local dialing format required by the gateway.

Conference Dial-Out for Users Not Enabled for Enterprise Voice

While this was possible in earlier versions of Lync using a static route it was always less than an optimal solution fortunately Lync Server 2013 makes it much easier for Administrators to enable users who are not enabled for Enterprise Voice to initiate dial-outs from a conference. This means that meeting organizers who use this Conferencing Policy setting can accommodate participants for conference dial-outs. The meeting organizer can also initiate a conference dial-out, even if he or she is not enabled for Enterprise Voice.

Response Groups

For many organizations the lack of ability to assign management of individual response Groups to specific individuals was problematic and for those that had been used to this functionality in OCS 2007 R2 Lync Server 2010 appeared to take a step backwards. Fortunately, in Lync Server 2013, this has changed for better and now there are two Response Group management roles: Response Group Manager and Response Group Administrator.  In addition Lync Server 2013 provides new disaster recovery mechanisms in the form of failover and failback processes. These failover and failback processes support recovery of the Lync Server Response Group service in a backup pool when an outage occurs in the primary pool. Support for disaster recovery of the Response Group service is enabled as part of the configuration and deployment of paired Front End pools in conjunction with Response Group service import and export cmdlets.

Call Management

Lync Server 2013 introduces the following call management improvements.

Unassigned Number range

In earlier versions of Lync an unassigned number ranged could only be handled with a pre-recorded announcement but with Lync Server 2013 you can transfer these calls to a predetermined destination, have them answered with a recorded announcement, or both.

Call Park

Lync 2013 provides new disaster recovery mechanisms in the form of failover and failback processes. These failover and failback processes support recovery of the Lync Server Call Park service in a backup pool when an outage occurs in the primary pool. In addition parking calls is supported in hybrid Enterprise Voice deployment.

Voice in the Cloud

Hybrid deployments

Hybrid deployments enable customers with users configured on Lync Online to leverage the on-premise Enterprise Voice infrastructure as if those users were on-premise Enterprise Voice users. This key provides Office 365 users the ability to place and receive calls from the on-premise gateway. Other important features included as part of this topology include support for Media Bypass, E911 and Call Park. Media Bypass works in the same way for Lync Online users as it does for on-premise users. When enabled, media bypass is enabled when the Lync Online user and gateway are in the same network location. E911 works the same way as for an on-premise Lync user, the location information and policy of Lync Online users is automatically retrieved by Lync and transmitted during an emergency call.

Conferencing

Lync Server 2013 introduces some significant changes.

HD Video
Lync now supports HD video (1080P) in a conference (also supported P2P). Perhaps more importantly this resolution is supported on dual core systems with hardware acceleration so no more quad core machines needed.

Lync Web App
Lync Web App now offers a much more complete conferencing experience including support for audio and video.

OneNote support
OneNote is an excellent tool which is now supported as a collaboration method in Lync conferences.

Office Web Apps Server


Lync Server 2013 now uses the Office Web Apps Server to render PowerPoint presentations. This in turn allows for higher-resolution displays and better support for PowerPoint capabilities and broader support for mobile devices.

Gallery View


In video conferences that have more than two people but less than six users can see videos of participants in the conference. If the conference has 6 or more users only the most active participants are shown as videos other users are shown as photos.

Archiving

Any document that is shared during a conference is archived into Exchange 2013 data storage if Exchange integration is enabled. This includes PowerPoint presentations, attachments, whiteboards and polls.

Exchange Server Integration

Many of these new features rely on Exchange Server 2013.

Persistent Chat (Group Chat)

Formerly known as Group Persistent Chat now consists of fully integrated server roles, including  as opposed to dedicated servers (and client). In fact many of the changes are as a result of this integration. There are three new server roles:

  • PersistentChatService (Front end server role)

 

  • PersistentChatStore (Back End server role
  • PersistentChatComplianceStore (Back End Server role for Persistent Chat Compliance)

 

In addition the File Upload/Download web service is now collocated with the Front End Servers, the Lookup service has been eliminated because Lync Server 2013 relies on routing using contact objects and there are also Compliance service modifications. The Compliance service now runs on all the Persistent Chat Server Front End Servers, alongside the Persistent Chat service, and thereby provides high availability in a multi-server Persistent Chat Server pool. Finally, the MSMQ share queue that is shared by the Compliance service and the Persistent Chat service is now a private queue shared only by the two services. All compliance services write to the same Compliance Back End database. They also all read from that database for the purposes of sending the data to their instance of the adapter. The Compliance Back End Server is represented as a new Back End Server role.

In terms of Administration there are also some welcome changes including the following.

  • Simplified administration model. Lync Server 2013 Preview has changed and simplified the Persistent Chat Server model by addressing the following key customer requirements:
    • Remove the complex nested hierarchies of scopes and categories.
    • Support to define deny lists as well as allowed lists (scopes) for current MindAlign customers planning to migrate to Persistent Chat Server.
  • Persistent Chat Server includes an administrative user interface experience integrated with the Lync Server Control Panel, and addresses performance issues with the previous versions of the Persistent Chat Server user interface. Also, Persistent Chat Server includes a collection of Windows PowerShell cmdlets to administer and manage Persistent Chat Server categories, rooms (including deleting rooms and purging obsolete content), and add-ins.

Archiving

Like many features within Lync, archiving has gone through many enhancements. In particular Lync 2010 introduced major changes to how the underlying MSMQ infrastructure was utilized in order to improve reliability. However, despite the significance of the changes in earlier versions Lync Server 2013 continues the tradition of introducing major changes.

As with earlier versions of Lync you can archive the following:

  • P2P instant messages
  • Conference IM, Content and Metadata

With Lync Server 2013 you can now also archive: 

  • Whiteboards
  • Polls

 However, you still cannot archive

  • P2P file transfers
  • Audio and video
  • Application sharing

It is also important to know that Group Chat (now known as Persistent Chat) is still archived independently and requires the Lync Compliance service.

In addition to adding the ability to archive Whiteboards and Polls Lync Server 2013 also eliminates the separate Archiving server role. Archiving is now an optional role that you install on an Enterprise or Standard edition Front end server. While this change is significant perhaps the two most significant changes are that Lync Archiving will no longer utilize MSMQ and that you can now utilize Exchange Server 2013 as the archiving store.

With Lync no longer utilizing MSMQ the archiving functionality is now handled by unified data collection agents (archiving agents) which are installed on every Front End server or Standard edition server. Even though these agents are installed automatically they are not activated until archiving is enabled. In terms of archiving storage the big change is the added support for archiving to an Exchange Server 2013 mailbox. Archiving to SQL is still supported and you can even implement a hybrid approach with both SQL and Exchange archiving in your environment. In the event that you utilize Exchange archiving the users Exchange archiving policies will take precedence.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

While Lync Server 2010 supported some VDI deployments there were some limitations. However, with Lync 2013 there some significant improvements which add a number of important capabilities. Perhaps the most important new feature is support for audio and video on VDI thin clients through the use of the VDI plugin. The new features are listed below.

  • Pairing and sign-in
  • Device integration for AV
    • Call controls from the device
    • Presence integration on the device
    • Multiple device support
  • Location and emergency services support
  • Support for desktop sharing and conferencing 

    Perhaps most importantly MS is committed to platform independence including support for RDP, PCoIP, ICA.