Articles in Category: Hosted Lync

Snom 821 Review

on Thursday, 19 July 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

A small review of the Snom 821 UC phone

logo-snom-voip-phones

You will know I'm sure, we've recently become Snom partners & Authorised resellers. We're pretty excited about that, and I got my chubby digits on their new handsets this week. I've spent some time in particular with the 821, and wanted to give some thoughts and opinions.

So lets start with the physicals. Its not a bad looking beast, brushed aluminium (or maybe Magnesium Alloy) stand, completley over engineered, but I do like this, very Mac-ish. It's a full height phone, with traditional 3 x 12 keypad layout, large colour screen, quick dial buttons, and navigation for the phone interface is done through a directional pad and 'ok' and 'cancel' buttons just under the 3" backlit TFT colour display. There's also backlit message notification,presence, mute speaker & headset buttons. Everything is where you expect it.

Overall, it looks ok, quite staid, professional & sober. Dare I say slightly better looking than some of the other phones by other companies, at a similar price point? Well that's just my opinion anyway.

uelclc 

Firing up the phone using just PoE, a brief 'light up the room' process, and we're into the Snom interface proper. During POST, it displays the SNOM splash screen, firmware revision & IP information gathered from a local DHCP server. Your then presented with 'mounting file system' which to us geeks means its probably running some internal Linux flavoured web server and I'm already excited at the prospect of being able to sFTP into the unit, and start screwing up the phone beyond all recognition. Like that HP printer back in the 90's, ...but anyway, thats' another story

s2gcsc

A quick note about firmware, and it's one of the things that make these Snom's so flexible, is that you can obtain both UC and non UC firmeware, meaning it will work with a traditional networked (either on or off premise) PBX. Lync integration is to be fair, somewhat immature in comparison to other models, but we're speaking to Snom to learn the future road map and expect big things from them.

Lync, the missing Link?

Out of the box, once set up logging into the web interface, configuring a single or multiple identities, which simply involves entering your network/Lync sign in information, your presented with a usable phone. That is seemingly, where the Lync integration ends.

A 3rd party application from SINC called SCUPA allows some further Lync integration. Single click context menu dialling from the Lync client itself, and the ability to dump all your Outlook contents to the phone, but if your expecting to see the Lync functionality on the phone display ala Polycom, then your not going to get that here, as of yet.

ujqizx

The displays lovely and clear, with navigation reasonably straight forward. The navigation is a little spongy & unresponsive at times but its got lot's of plus points to it too!

One of the main killer features is the Snom global configuration interface allowing you to administrate many handsets at once, from pushing firmware & resets, to reboots and kicking users off. Auditing is also a snap, and for small to medium sized businesses whom want simple but highly functional handsets at a good price, you could do much worse.

I don't need to say sound qualities excellent, because that's a given. A really nicely weighted handset, with a good overall finish means this is a phone which can definetley do battle with some of the other big boys.

Pro's Con's
Strraight forward install Confusing to configure some options
Easy to adminstrate with lots of features Slightly unresponsive controls
Very nice looking  

If you'd like to hear more about the Snom handsets, or would like free trials of Lync, follow us on @servercentre, call us 0845 413 3800 or email hello@servercentre.net

 

What's new with Lync 2013

on Wednesday, 18 July 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

All about Lync 2013

What's New in Lync 2013?

 
With the recent announcement about Lync 2013 (previously known in beta circles as Lync 15), I'm sure everyone is interested in what's new. Lync 2013 doesn't re-invent the wheel when compared to Lync 2010. Lync 2013 builds on the features introduced in Lync 2010 in a way that makes Lync 2013 a compelling upgrade. Here is a quick rundown of the new features (note this is information from the beta product so things may change before its final release, so don't judge me :) ):

Roles

There has been significant role consolidation in Lync 2013. There is no longer a separate server role for monitoring and archiving. Each front-end server communicates directly with the monitoring and/or archiving database, eliminating the need for a separate monitoring/archiving server.
 
You can no longer install the A/V conferencing server role separately. It is now always co-located with the front-end role.
 
Directors are now an optional role, which is kind of funny because I've always treated them as optional myself.
 

DR/High Availability Options

Lync 2010 introduced the concept of a backup registrar. When a user's home pool becomes unavailable, the client can automatically register with a pre-defined backup pool. This maintains basic voice availability, but the client loses conferencing capabilities, and the user's contact list is unavailable. In Lync 2013, users will maintain nearly all functionality in the event of a failed pool. This is made possible because all user data is now replicated between all Lync servers in the enterprise. Every server maintains multiple copies of the user database, so there is almost no reduction in service availability. I say "almost" because Response Groups are still not highly available (something that was sorely missed in Lync 2010). So, should you suffer a failure on your home pool that hosts response groups, those response groups will not be available.
 
Each front-end server stores a complete copy of all the databases stored in the SQL back-end, so if the back-end SQL database server is unavailable, the front-end will still function.
 
Also, Lync 2013 supports SQL mirroring on the back-end databases. This can reduce hardware costs typically associated with the older clustering options in SQL (separate shared storage).
 

Enterprise Voice

In Lync 2010, if you had multiple mediation servers connecting to the same PSTN gateway or SIP trunk, you had to fake the Topology Builder out by creating multiple DNS A records pointing to the same IP. Lync 2013 now supports M-N trunk routing. This allows you to have multiple trunks to different gateways, and a gateway to have multiple trunks to different Mediation Servers.

Lync 2013 includes support for inter-trunk routing. This feature allows Lync to act as an intermediary between two or more different phone systems. For example, Lync can accept calls from one PBX, and pass the call through to another PBX. This can be very useful in larger environments and allows Lync to be the backbone of a corporate telephone network.

In Lync 2010, you could use trunk translation rules to modify the CALLED phone number before passing it to the next hop. However, you couldn't make any changes to the CALLING number (ie the person making the telephone call). Lync 2013 now allows you to make changes to both the called and calling number. This is very useful when the PSTN provider does not accept E.164 formatted phone numbers. For example, in North America, many PSTN providers do not accept the country code 1 as part of the number and only accepts 10-digit numbers. In the past, an external gateway would have to do the necessary manipulation, but with Lync 2013, all the number manipulation can be done in Lync.
 
There are also several other new Enterprise Voice related enhancements. Delegates can setup simultaneous ringing to their mobile devices for incoming calls to their manager. When a user has setup simultaneous ringing to a mobile phone, and the device is turned off or out of range, Lync 2013 can determine that an incoming call was immediately routed to voicemail, and disconnect that endpoint so the call can continue to ring other endpoints. Caller ID presentation allows administrators to modify the Caller ID format in a much more scalable way than in Lync 2010, which only allowed Caller ID changes based on the route.

Response Groups

Not much has changed here, but you can configure Response Group Managers and Administrators, allowing you to delegate Response Group tasks to other users. If this seems familiar, its because that feature was in OCS 2007 R2, but was removed from Lync 2010 for some reason.
 

Integration with Lync Online

You can now create hybrid deployments with a mix of on-premises and Lync Online servers (similar to Exchange 2010). This means that you can have some users running "in the cloud" and some users on traditional on-premises servers. Microsoft calls this "hybrid voice". You can also have all your users running in Lync Online and make calls via an on-premises PSTN gateway. This means you can allow Lync Online users to dial legacy PBX extensions, or make calls via a traditional PSTN connection (T1/E1 or similar) in situations where SIP trunking isn't desirable or an option. Media bypass will work in this situation, so a user's media stream won't be hairpinned through the Lync Online service when making phone calls from an office running a local PSTN gateway.
 

Mobility

Mobile clients will finally get the featureset people have been asking for. Now, mobile clients will be able to make audio and video calls from their mobile device using either a mobile data connection or wi-fi. Not sure if this will be available at launch or sometime after. 

Persistent Chat

Persistent chat (or group chat), is now a full-fledged Lync service, unlike older versions which was really just tacked on (and quite poorly, in my opinion). You now define servers in the Topology Builder as with other roles, and the persistent chat features are included in the base Lync 2013 client (no separate client required).
 

Other New Features

Other features that don't fall into the above categories include:
  • Full IPv6 support
  • VDI plugin - allows full A/V support in virtual desktop environments
  • H.264 SVC codec support
  • Skype federation support
There are a lot of other small enhancements that go a long way towards improving the overall product or enhancing usability. If I were to go into detail here on all of them, it would become a very long post. I will do future deep-dives into some of the specific improvements at a later time.

Remote Working, The Cloud, Bacon Sandwiches

on Thursday, 12 July 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

When a Bacon buttie is just the beginning . . .

So I got home yesterday to find the complicated wireless thermostat (Honeywell) in my home went pop and I was left with no hot water or heating. A quick call to British Gas, HomeCare number given, and they advised me an Engineer would be with me between 1pm-6pm the following day!

British-gas-calling-ahead

Obviously, that is not without its problems. Awaiting anyone turning up at your home (even if it is some wobbly headed engineer with a slightly alarming oversized head) in some crazy time window like that leaves me in the predicament whereby I need to “work from home”

chestnut

Ahh, working from home, that ol’ chestnut! The thing is, remote working, especially for IT folks, isn’t new. I’m not for one moment suggesting it is. For decades we’ve been able to access Webmail, remote into our work PCs, and talk over Instant Messenger, but something I noticed about Microsoft Lync this morning hit me.

dumb

No, not her above, but the SIMPLICITY of how I can, in one piece of software, fire it up, and see all my colleagues presence, (yes, our engineers are at their desks!) check my conversation history from the previous day, schedule a meeting with the boss, and chat & video conference, all without opening up numerous other web based or local apps. That 4mb Word document I was working on, want to send it to a colleague in the office, I simply fling it over IM. Its so super easy, it always shocks me how good Lync really is.

bacon5 jpg-for-web-LARGE

For me, this really does consummate home working as truly viable. Thanks to Microsoft Lync, I can work from home, whilst eating a bacon sandwich, in the comfort of my kitchen. That picture below is a different type of cloud from that I usually talk about, it’s actually my current view. However, if it wasn’t for one cloud, I wouldn’t have the other, so either way, I’m grateful.

cloud

Microsoft Lync is no doubt within my mind, the pinnacle of remote working technology. I’ve wasted absolutely no time today, in fact I’m more productive because I’ve not had to travel, and I’m good to go from the minute my Lync client launches.

So if you too want to eat bacon sandwiches and stare slightly melancholy out your conservatory window, chase the next door neighbours cat, whilst wearing a Jabra headset, (I do like the call centre look, oh by the way, we do Jabra headsets too, so get in touch), coffee in one hand, figures from Q1 ready to send to your boss in the other, I thoroughly recommend Microsoft Hosted Lync from Server Centre.

We offer Enterprise, which is the full shebang, file sharing, IM and break out Enterprise Voice (meaning you can call landlines and mobiles) for £14.99 a seat. Sandwiched in the middle of the packages, is our medium offering which gives you file sharing and IM, plus Lync to Lync audio and video for just £9.99 or even baby Lync, with IM and file sharing, for as little as £4.99 per seat. That really is a snip. All wrapped up in our legendary phone support from 7am-7pm, there’s always someone there to answer your support queries.

If this blog post was a Tweet, with a single hashtag, it would simply be #getLyncNow

PS - You can follow us on Twitter too! (@servercentre)

A few new Lync apps for you

on Wednesday, 04 July 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

Making Lync more useful than it already is!

Well its not quite Friday yet, but we're simply effervescing so much with a need to talk about
Lync we thought we'd blog today. So your in a for a treat with this midweek snippet of
tech goodness.

After several long trawls through the web earlier today, we we're pretty happy to find
a couple of really good and *useful* apps for Microsoft Lync.


net health


As you know, we're always deploying Lync, and performing the due dilligence on your
Active Directory Network, checking out your server health and ensuring all the
various pre-requisites are met for Lync prior to install is very much a good thing. We
use the Microsoft IT Environment Health Scanner, which and I quote;

The Microsoft IT Environment Health Scanner is designed for administrators who want
to assess the overall health of their Active Directory and network infrastructure.
The tool identifies common problems that can prevent your network environment from
functioning properly.

You can download it from here, and if your a Sysadmin or IT Manager, you'll probably
find it really useful for those on-premise installs. However, you should never
forget to consider the cloud, and hosted solutions provided by us here at Server Centre.
Then you wouldnt need to bother with this :)

presenteeism1

Guy above looks pretty sad. He's probably been trying to sign into Lync for the last
twenty minutes to no avail. Sometimes, signing into Lync when someone else has signed
in previously can cause issues, due to the way Lync caches login credentials. There's a
great little app which allows you to bounce between user or system accoutns with a single
click - its pretty awesome, its from Greig from Ensyst Pty,and you should check it out
you should check it outby downloading it here

Capture-P4L-Setup

If you work in a noisy environment, you won't of helped notice its sometimes possible to
miss IM conversations in Lync, when having to rely on sound prompts. SuperToast from
Modality Systems is designed to alert users to instant messages they may have missed.
If an instant message is not acknowledged within a certain timeframe (configurable),
the user will be notified with a pop up window. Get it here

toastslicewhitebkgd

Anyway, enjoy these Lync treats and we'll be back on Friday with our technology round up.

Cumulative update package (CU6) released for Lync 2010: June 2012

on Monday, 18 June 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

CU6 updates for Lync

It's June, and Microsoft have released their latest batch of Lync cumulative updates for Lync, Lync Server, Lync Attendee, Lync Attendant and of course, you can usually get them all through Microsoft update. We wanted to highlight them below though.

Product Version KBs Download
Lync 2010 (64bit client) 4.0.7577.4103 2701664 Download Link
Lync 2010 (32bit client) 4.0.7577.4103 2701664 Download Link
Server
Lync Server 2010 4.0.7577.199 2493736 Download Link
Group Chat
Lync 2010 Group Chat Client 4.0.7577.4102 2701665 Download Link
Lync 2010 Group Chat Admin 4.0.7577.4102 2707265 Download Link
Lync Phone Edition
Lync 2010 Phone Edition

(Polycom CX700 and LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540)

4.0.7577.4100 2724545 Download Link
Lync 2010 Phone Edition

[PolycomCX500, CX600 and CX3000]

4.0.7577.4100 2701671 Download Link
Lync 2010 Phone Edition

(Aastra 6721ip and 6725ip)

4.0.7577.4100 2701667 Download Link
Lync 2010 Phone Edition

(HP 4110 and 4120)

4.0.7577.4100 2701670 Download Link

Lync Cartoons

on Friday, 15 June 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

Making you smile, on a Friday

Well it's Friday and we thought we'd make you smile, as if your an England fan, you probably won't be smiling later. Welcome none other than up & coming artist Sam Lennie, (www.samart.me.uk) whose drawing us a collection of sketches & doodles about Microsoft Lync & Cloud, in the upcoming weeks.

Here's his first, and it's a goodie.

lync23

Can Lync replace the PBX?

on Thursday, 07 June 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

Will Lync ever replace the traditional PBX?

1940414681 e92d8621a5

Your phone system probably doesnt look like the one above, if it did, we'd congratulate you on your retro-coolness (wheres @oldskookguy when you need him) but you probably have something nearly as old, sitting in your office, right now.

Over the last couple of decades (at least) in offices around the world, when it came to phone systems, there were plenty of choices. From Avaya, to Mitel, Shoretel, (other manufacturers available!) and a range of setups for a few handsets for a start-up, to larger companies with 25+ employees.

Conference equipment, digital extensions and all the bells and whistles you could want. You'd end up with a few boxes stuck in your IT rack, and a bunch of patch cables and you'd also need a server, typically to run the phone software and provide Voicemail storage & the like. It would probably look like something below;

Avaya-IP-400-Control-Units

We have to say, there's absolutley nothing wrong with a traditional PBX, but they are so complicated to support, maintain & update. Of course, thats if the updates are available, and dont actually kill your phone system mid-update. I'm sure many an IT Manager can tell you of those kinds of stories!

Will Lync replace the PBX?

When the Gurdeep Singh, Corporate VP of Microsoft Office Communications Group announced "the era of the PBX, folks, is over..." at a press conference in New York late last year, it left many people thinking whether this was indeed true or whether this was another Microsoft PR initiative aimed at making businesses buy a new application they will not fully use or see the true benefits of.

Lets face it, most people would be inclined to replace their PBX systems but only for something that can perform to the same standards of reliability as their incumbent systems. The one thing businesses should never sacrifice is the quality of voice.

Microsoft claims that there are numerous benefits in augmenting or replacing traditional PBX and conferencing systems with Lync and that its new functionality makes it ready to centralise call control and other phone features to reduce the number of devices that need to be maintained; thereby saving companies money on hardware and licensing costs.

Lync combines three different products in a single package, which are an instant messaging system with presence, an audio and video conferencing tool, and finally a voice call service. It also integrates directly into MS Office, SharePoint and Exchange products.

We eat our own dogfood - you know this. We've used Lync in our office forever, its carrier-grade voice quality means ourselves & our clients enjoy high quality calls all the time. Don't believe us? Try it for 30 days free - get in touch on 0845 413 3800

What about the numbers?

According to Microsoft many new Lync corporate clients have saved millions by replacing their PBX infrastructure with Lync. This claim is supported by industry analysts; Forrester Research predicts in their recent report, that Lync provides a 337 percent ROI (return on investment) and £6.2 million in cost savings for a 5,000-employee business over a three-year period.

So can Lync really replace the PBX!?

cell-phone-778750

We all know what it's like to have innapropriate telephony products.

Okay, maybe you're thinking that this Lync thing sounds good, but can it really provide the enterprise-class service of my current PBX system? The answer is a resounding yes. Lync Server 2010 offers all the features of a traditional or an IP PBX, including call forwarding, hold, transfer, and E911 support, plus features that are unique to Lync, such as skill-based people search and integration with all Microsoft Office applications. So you can rest assured you won't lose a thing by replacing your PBX system with Lync. What's more, don't overlook the simplicity of operation and lower total cost of ownership that Lync's software-based system offers over a solution built on a hardware approach. And even if you're wedded to your current communication system because it is fully depreciated, you can still get the unique features of Lync by adding it as an enhancement. Either way-as a full replacement or as an enhancement-Lync can bring a complete solution to your communications infrastructure.

Call us today on 0845 413 3800 or email hello@servercentre.net to find out what Lync can do for you.

Corporate Benefits of Microsoft Lync

on Thursday, 31 May 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

Microsoft Lync Virtues

corporate portraits British business people

Those boys above mean business hey!? With their shiney suits and snappy ties, a look of "go get him tiger" in their eyes, Gordon Gekko would be proud. What's more, there's a Spitfire overhead, business success is nothing without low-flying 1950's Aircraft right?

ahem...

To be honest, its probably not the ties, suits or aircraft, you see, more and more businesses these days are enjoying the benefits of Microsoft Lync. Maybe you run a MegaCorp or are the IT goto guy for said MegaCorp and have heard of this fancy pants 'converged and unified cloud based communication solution' but fear it may put your job in jeopardy, well, let's extoll the virtues of Lync, and how it can help everyone. Yes even you!

It may not encourage world peace, but it just might cut down your call costs and IT overhead in one foul swoop!

So whilst we won't tell you what Lync is, have a think a moment about some of your pain points which we'll assume;

- Your call costs are through the roof. Sharon in accounts won't stop calling 0845 numbers during lunch, Steve in Maintenence makes that long distance call to his partner Larry (hey, its a modern company!) in the US, your phone bill is sky high!

- Your IT Manager has no time. In between making iPads work, sorting out the MDs home computer for little Johnny, and staying behind to get the things he should of got done in the day including configuring several different applications to accomodate a conference call between seven people in Accounts, whom need to video conference, share a desktop and send across several word files at 6pm sharp, done), he's at his wits end, and will probably leave before the end of the year

- You've recently got a new office in Manchester, but your existing phone system is not only held together with hope & faith, but has no capacity for additional users. Your Manchester office are all using their mobiles currently until you can sort this whole mess out.

*cue fanfare* Lync jumps to the rescue like an over-eager super hero

1

 

- Lync provides a reduction of call costs due to routing calls across cheaper to run/maintain/lease SIP trunking. Over time, you could watch those call costs tumble, whilst Larry & Steve can still talk about what's on TV. Your staff
being happy AND your phone bill being reduced? Surely that's worth something?

- Your poor IT Manager is a good guy, he's probably knowledgable in areas you can only begin to imagine, he could be doing your website, project managing that next big 'widget install' or even training users, but instead, he's running around getting your Exchange & Email system to hold up to the constant throb of abuse from everyone. 500MB attachments anyone? Imagine if his time was freed up to work on important stuff, he'd be so much more worth the salary. Lync would allow him to deploy a single app for IM, Filesharing, Enterprise Voice & Conference facilities, so everyone in accounts could get there conflab conflabbed and he could get home at a decent hour.

- Your office in Manchester would sing with a range of Lync certified handsets and all they would need is an Internet connection via the nearest PC. Lync clients provide follow-me service ensuring anyone can log in anywhere, and get down to business. Whats more, you don't even need to rack up an additional PBX or worry about getting extra lines fitted. You just need a little bit of bandwidth, and a few clicks of the mouse, and et-voila, you have a full comms solution at a fraction of the cost.

 

Now if you had Lync, say for 30 days, you could see the benefits easily! We'd be so sure you'd love Lync, you'd keep it. Over 98% of our customers who have the demo, have the product. That speaks volumes. And whilst we're on the subject of volume, rest assured call quality is carrier grade, so this is the best way of getting a proper phone system, with all the extra features, from as little as £14.99 per user per month. No more gotomeeting, join.me, wobbly Skype calls or ungoverned MSN chats - get everyone on the same page with Microsoft Lync.

For some free practical advice, call us today on 0845 413 3800



On Premise Vs Off Premise Lync - Which is better?

on Wednesday, 30 May 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

There's only one way to decide .... FIIIGGGGHHHTTT

serverrack

So maybe your an IT Manager, Board Member, Business Schmoozer and you've decided (after extolling all the virtues of Unified Communications  - whatever that is) that your going to bite-the-bullet, you'll then need to decide whether to go down the Cloud (hosted) or on premise route for your Lync deployment.

If you have a rack already on site like the one above, (and we don't believe for one minute your cabling is THAT tidy!) then whether you'd want to squeeze in extra hardware items, and factor in extra electrical running costs and air-conditioning, is something you have thought of or even made a decision on?

Server Centre says "hold on to your horses just one minute, and think about it"

The thing with racking physcial equipment, is it's just so damn expensive. We know the reasons people like hardware on-site, typically the reasons are;

- Security

- Ownership and Control

- Governance related Issues

The fact is however, all the above are perceived (even Governance to some degree) advantages where in actual fact, they slow your business down, cost you money, time & generally are a pain in an IT Managers backside. Let's take each one;

- Security - There's more security in a hosted environment as racks are in Enterprise grade data-centres such as ours. Security manned 24 hours a day with CCTV and access control at the perimiter, why bother with this headache? If you get broken into, theft, fire or water damage, maybe even a bomb or act of god, thats your infrastructure, GONE. Not if its in the Cloud!

- Ownership & Control - There's no less control on the Cloud than in your Server Room! With remote hands, physical access if you want it, all you really ever need is to be able to turn it 'off and on again' (that ol' IT Chestnut!) How much control do you really want, need or care about? really?

node4

- Governance - If you work in an industry requiring call recording, activity logging, or data placement assurances, then Lync does all that. Encrypted, recordable & loggable,our UK data centres are in key locations ensuring that there's a good chance your clients what their data to be kept in the UK, and with Server Centre, it is. The same can't be said for other providers! Using Office 365 trials at the moment are you!? Data centres in India are they - hmmm.

Its all about the Money! SHOW ME THE MONEY!

The biggest crux point, is of course cost. Long term, remember Cloud platforms & infrastructure save you money over time, and reduce the need for a large capital expenditure (sure to win you a beer at the Office Christmas party with the Bean Counting Dept). A physical on premise server with the following;

- Physical Server Estate

- Licensing

- Air Con & AC Costs (one year)

- Staffing & Support

- Set up Time

All the little lot above equates to about £35,000 to support around fifty users. Are you really going to make that investment into a range of kit which will be obsolete in three years? With hosted services from Server Centre, you get continual free upgrades on the racked kit, high end VM performance, and you don't have to worry about a thing.

Have you got time for one more thing?

Chances are the answers no, because you'll be too busy on site at 3am provisioning Lync accounts for the new starters on Monday and fixing that complicated Active Directory issue, and making your MD's iPad work with Lync - so remember time, YOUR TIME could be saved dramatically, to leave you to get on with more profitable things and will allow you to show IT doesnt have to be a financial black hole, and in fact, your dept can be a revenue generator! With hosted services from Server Centre, we'll handle support & maintenence, and with JARVIS our provisioning tool, user account provisioning is as easy as click-click-click.

Deployment Tools

As a side note, we really like Microsofts provisioning & planning tool for Lync, and it gives you a great idea on how much kit you actually need, if you were going to do this onsite. We've got it here for you, download it and off you go.

Summary?

Look, do yourself a favour and speak to us today about hosted services and in paticular, Lync. Putting your systems in the cloud won't do you out of a job, but free up your time to work on more exciting projects for your company. You know, like putting in that Nintendo Wii render farm, or setting up two 502 plasmas to watch England get beat at the upcoming Euro Tournament. Anyway, its simple, its easy, only with Server Centre.

 

Call us on 0845 413 3800 or speak to your friendly sales chap here, whose waiting for your call. We like to call him Daniel, you know, because that's his name. Daniel.shea@servercentre.net

Lync can help you win your Road Warrior Battle

on Tuesday, 29 May 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

How Lync can help with Road Warrior- ing. If thats your thing!

roadwarrior l

When we think of Road Warriors, we don't always think of Mad Max! We know some of you, from CIO to Sales Professionals, are stuck in a car, zipping up & down the motorway chasing the latest deal, business partnership or problem solving that on-site customer issue. We're thinking of you, and we want to tell you about Lync!

"GO ON THEN."

In the past, checking in to get email, conversation history, documents and such like all meant not only connecting to the Internet, but then piggy-backing onto a flakier than flaky VPN connection put together by your IT Dept. and held together with hope & faith. Not always easy on the M26 with only 3G for company, and a data cable tethering your phone to your laptop, (excuse the dog bitemarks

WELL NO MORE OF THESE PROBLEMS MY FRIENDS.


With Lync, simply login via your smartphone, fire up your Lync client to take calls on the move. If you have your laptop connected to the Internet, browse with easy historic conversations, and share files with your colleagues back at the office simply with drag and drop. No more VPN - no more drama.

Lync 2010 Office 2010 File tab Share You can see here how awesomely easy it is to just share anything from files, your screen, a whiteboard, all from the comfort of your office. In most cases, a Diesel Mondeo!?

"How else can Lync help me when out on the road."

We're glad you asked, when it comes to making calls, quality is carrier grade. If your client is on Lync too, you can chat, IM and see presence direct from your mobile or laptop. Presense is a massive help, especially when out of the office, all your team know exactly where you are, even if it is cooped up in a hot car in the middle of Barnsley!

lync3 You can even govern who can see what, and its easy as ABC to configure the options straight from the Lync client.

" I want one of those fan-dangled headsets, you know, for that Call-Centre look"

Then no problem, Server Centre have partnered with Jabra, to offer a range of Lync certified high quality USB headsets so you too can look like Madonna. Whats more, try our Lync demo for 30 days and we'll even offer you a headset for free when you have five or more Lync accounts. We can't say fairer than that  surely!?

1109270212362

Moving Office - How Lync could of helped me.

on Monday, 28 May 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

The benefits of hosted solutions when it really matters.

Moving Offices! We've all done it! Maybe your the bill payer, FD, MD, CxO, worried about making rent payments every month, got yourself a shiney glass walled multi-tenant building when trade was good, but now, customers are leaving in droves and your moving across the road to a nice comfortable little basement with one window & a pot plant, but hey,the rents cheaper right?

As a former CIO & Group Technology/IT Manager for a number of companies, the tales I will now spin and pictures I will show are of FIRST HAND experience of how hosted solutions such as Microsoft Lync by Server Cente, could of really helped me in my time of need. Obviously the same is going to apply to you!

To really understand the benefits of hosted services, let's first look at a typical office move, for say 85 people;

- The removal of on-premise hardware. Servers, routers, UPS, cabling, dissasembling the racks, and getting all that shipped, requires logistical skill you maybe have not even begun to think of. What your hoping to be left with in your comms room is this. What you need to know however, it took me three days to strip a reasonably small comms room, to leave in fact, this;

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- Peoples desk based equipment It's easy to think that putting a monitor, base unit, keyboard mouse & phone in a box is an easy thing to do, right? When you consider having to unscrew VGA leads, untangle cable which has'nt been touched for years, and label up sockets and then multiplying this time by many to cover every member of staff, you'd of spent a lot of time. Moving a desk phone connected to a traditional PBX requires a record of extension number, where the user is pyshically plugged in, and where they are going to be in their new home (to keep and maintain there existing DDI). A total nightmare!

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- Moving Telephone Lines As an IT Manager, I lost count how many times I had to explain to CxOs that it was really difficult (read impossible) to move a bunch of ISDN and telephone lines on a Friday night, and make them 'work' in the new place, by Monday morning 9am. Telephone providers need to be approached, numbers need to be ported, ceased, novated, and all the other scary telecom-based terms they use. Lead times to get anything done in the Telecom industry is akin to the time it takes to see England win a World Cup Trophy (thats a long time!)

- Extension Numbers - Every user will have an extension number, inextricablly tied to a specific CAT5 socket on the wall, cross referenced to a CAT5 point on the comms rack, sometimes seven rooms away. Mapping all this out for different users, ensuring you've collated whose got what extension with a hope to try & replicate it at the new site, is shall we say, challenging.

So would Lync have helped?

Now, lets see how a hosted service such as Microsoft Lync could of saved me, my CxO, and my companies time, money and most importantly, less sweat for me;

- On Premise equipment - What on premise equipment? There's just no need, with Lync in the Cloud, I simply dont need to move a four node PBX with head unit, dedicated server, and all the power supplies and cables. Users simply log into their Lync clients at the new location, oh they may have to update there location, HOW EASY IS THAT!!?

- Deskphone Drama - If the users were using something like Polycom's CX600 USB handset, they could simply hook that up to there PC at the new site, and it would come alive the moment they logged into their Lync account. No more would I have to burrow under everyones desk like a ferret, notebad stuck to my forehead with sweat, as I jot down mis-matched CAT5 points and attempt to hook them up at the comms panel.

The two points above would of saved exorbinant amounts of time, and that alone is worth its weight in gold pieces. Go live times like Monday 9am in a new office, are rarely met, and as the office IT guy, you really need to give yourself a fighting chance to get things like this done quickly. Dont think your office will never move, its bound to happen at some point, so why not be ready for it now? Bin the PBX, or at least learn to rely on it less, with Microsoft Hosted Lync, from Server Centre.

Call us on 0845 413 3800 or hello@servercentre.net for more information,

 

Being there Vs Being Virtual,

on Wednesday, 23 May 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

Why Lync can help save you lots of money & time.

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" eating your own dogfood "

Whilst the above doesnt sound too pleasant if your not actually a Canine, it's something we've always promoted here at Server Centre. We live, breath, use & love the technology we sell, promote & deliver to our clients, partners & resellers.

Underarm-sweating

You'll already know we're currently pushing Microsoft Lync massively here in the UK, and finding ourselves drenched in a surprise 25 degree heatwave in London, on the way to a client meeting, and spending an hour & a half to travel approximately 3.6 miles, we wondered whether at this stage, a Lync video conference would of been more suitable?

VideoConferencing 01

Do we still value human-to-human interaction in person? Are we now happy to discuss business to one another when our faces are merely digital representations of ourselves? ( Was'nt that line from the Matrix? Anyway, ....)

In the case of our meeting, real-life 'facetime' was needed but in most instances, ourselves & we guess any of our clients would of just as much enjoyed a Lync video conference, from the comfort of wherever they may be. Here's some Pro's & Con's of our particular business consideration, when conducting meetings for example;

Cons (Expense)

Travel Costs £70 Petrol or £280 Train tickets

Congestion Charge & Parking £22

Time spent prior to and after meeting (5.6 hours, needs multiplying by the hourly cost/rate of particular member of staff)

Benefits

Valuable human-to-human interaction and physical hand-shaking/eye contact

Quite simply, do the 'benefits' which are merely perceived, outweigh the cons? If your a business conducting many meetings, maybe between office locations or your sales team out in the field, would Lync & proper video conferencing be enough? We think it would.

Not only would it save you similar costs to what I've documented above, it'd allow seamless & easy communication at any time, quickly & simply. Who doesnt want that?

We're currently offering a package we like to call Mobile.You. We'll provide you a Polycom CX600 desk phone, (or iFusion iPhone dock), Enterprise Voice enabled hosted Lync, with a phone number, Voicemail, Microsoft Exchange Email account with Voicemail, along with all the typical features you'll now come to expect from Lync.  We'll include full BES Blackberry support, and bundled minutes to help save you further cost on telephone calls, all for £69.99 a month.

http://servercentre.net/executive.html here's our executive package, but we also do a starter package for £49.99 a month too.

Call us today on 0845 413 3800 for more information on Microsoft Lync.

Forget your head if it wasnt screwed on!

on Thursday, 10 May 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

When your memory leaks . . .

Sometimes, you need a physical record. A copy of what's been said. Certain companies and industries such as legals & such like, require this by governance. Well with Lync, its easy! Watch our two minute video which shows you how to access historic conversational data.

Configuring your sound devices to work with Lync

on Wednesday, 09 May 2012. Posted in Hosted Lync

Sometimes, when you have a USB phone, a webcam, maybe a pair of headphones, a seperate Microphone, and integrated Microphone & speakers built into your monitor, that's a lot of devices to give Windows opportunity to play audio from and record audio from. Sometimes, you need to configure Lync to use a particular device & this video walks you through it.


Enjoy

 

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