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Unshackled Communications, Primed for Business

Server Centre's Hosted Skype For Business OnDemand

Unshackled Communications, Primed for Business
Server Centre has been providing Customer and Partner orientated Cloud Services, across Microsoft applications such as CRM Dynamics, Skype for Business and Exchange, for many years. During this time, we have continually developed the technology based solutions we deliver. We pride ourselves on our close engagement with our Customers and Partners, and this has helped broaden and improve our understanding of how and why they consume our services. This close working relationship assists us to improve the benefits our services deliver, and the ease in which they integrate and coexist in business environments. 
 
Our aim has always been to ensure that our Cloud Services remain easily accessible, agile and scalable. Furthermore, we recognise other prominent factors for businesses, related to the challenges that they encounter in delivering business critical services. Key feedback from our Customers has been the need for providing a clear and structured landscape, within which they can mix and match their own added value services across cloud offerings, such as Skype for Business, using Microsoft Office 365, On Premise/Hosted and Hybrid models. In addition, as Unified Communications (UC) platforms have become more feature rich, Customers recognise the benefits of collapsing and retiring some  legacy services like third party conferencing, therein making ease of use and cost saving improvements with partial UC uptake. The Cloud Services that businesses consume need to allow them to pinpoint certain UC areas, with the ability for them to implement strategic uptake and growth during a roadmap, whilst also keeping a clear view of future technologies and projects.
 
We have taken the experiences and business challenges of Customers on board, and created a new Skype for Business OnDemand service structure that helps them target key services, deliver their cloud strategies and make strategic cost savings. We have solutions for Hybrid and mixed Cloud Services, and options within our Skype for Business OnDemand service plans, for targeting both groups of users and key features.
 
Our enhanced Skype for Business OnDemand service starts with effortless access into Instant Messaging and Presence via UC1. Users here can improve productivity with real time messaging to internal Company members, aligned businesses and consumer Skype all combined into one interface. This foundation service allows users to become comfortable with software based UC applications, recognise the integration into their existing Microsoft applications (e.g. Exchange and Dynamics CRM) and become accustomed to IP based telephone and video calls to communicate with other business users and engaged in the experience of collaborative working.
 
We recognise that UC can deliver real business change and cost savings compared to legacy approaches and practices. Therefore, we have created our new UC 2 Voice and UC 2 Meetings service plans to allow a progression and focus in UC, at an affordable cost point. Our Customers can choose a suitable roadmap and target for UC uptake; either enhance the Instant Messaging and Presence  with Enterprise Voice (fully functional Voice user, able to make calls to and from the PSTN with a DDI extension) or Online Meeting Moderation (Web conferencing facilities with International access numbers, application sharing, presentation and desktop collaboration/sharing). Both options allow Companies to migrate and transition previous services, collapse into a single cohesive deployment, and realise the cost savings in a monthly per user subscription model. Progression from one UC level to another is also simple, and can be performed per user via our CloudCentre Management portal.
 
In order to provide comparable feature matches against existing telephony environments, Customers may also choose to deploy our UC3 service plan. Here, the user benefits from a combination of professional business functionality in IM, Presence, Voice and Online Meeting. UC3 users are able to initiate and lead full UC 2.0 communications streams, taking simple instant message conversations and easily transitioning to multi party Voice and Online Meetings through one application interface.
 
A full Enterprise Voice Unified Communications system provides users with email integrated voicemail notifications and audio/visual messaging integrations. Therefore, our UC4 offering rounds off our full Skype for Business OnDemand suite, with messaging features available across mobile, desktop and handset based users. These are all easily integrated back into Customers’ existing on premise solutions, or cloud-based services such as Office 365.
 
We believe that Unified Communications and Contact Centre can be a realistic and achievable emphasis for consumers of Cloud-Based services.
 
We bridge the gap between Unified Communications and Contact Centre applications, with our UC5 and CC1 service offerings. In UC5 we take a fully featured Unified Communications user, and provide ‘Always On’ Call Recording with Silent Call Capability/Supervision, Online Recording  Access/Playback and call review/tagging. This can help Customers meet compliance targets set by their industry and Company policy, or start to build a Contact Centre environment from their Enterprise level UC deployment. 
 
Our new CC service offerings take our UC plans and concentrate them for the business requirements of Contact Centre. Customers can then overlay complex Contact Centre practise over Cloud Based Unified Communication. CC plans allows for identified Contact Centre users to work from the same UC platform as other Company colleagues, but take advantage of and manage inbound Call Flows with IVR, Queueing and Skills Based Call Distribution, along with Call Recording, supervisory features and Statistical Reporting/SLA Management.
 
For further information on our Skype for Business OnDemand and Contact Centre OnDemand services, please see our website at www.servercentre.net. Feel free to contact us about any questions and investigate our service trials in order to verify how well they fit your business.
 
Thank you
Alistair Pidd
Operations Director  

Skype for Business IOS App Updated

Version 6.7

The IOS Skype for Business App has been updated to version 6.7. The update brings Video-based Screen Sharing (VbSS) to mobile devices.

The description released with the update is below

"With this update, we are bringing Video-based Screen Sharing (VbSS) to your mobile devices. A faster and more reliable way of viewing content in a meeting, Vbss is a great improvement over the traditional approach of content sharing. In addition, we also have some design and performance improvements"

If you have enabled the relevant option the app update should be installed automatically if not then you will need to select the update from the Updates menu in the Apps Store.

What changes will I see in the Lync client update

Microsoft have schedued an update to the Microsoft Lync client on the 14th April to rebrand the client Skype for Business. The Lync 2013 client will simply become the SfB client.  The client will ship with two UI’s or skins.  This will allow administrators to choose which one works best for their environment.

Do I need to upgrade?

The update is going to be distributed via Windows Update as an Office update.

Server Centre have enabled the new UI on the default client policies to allow out clients to take advantage of the new client UI.

If you would not like to use the new UI for your users please let us know and we will assign you a new client policy that has the Skype for Business UI disabled.

What changes can I expect?

Sounds

The installer will replace all of the Lync Sounds with the Skype Sounds. This is the most notable change that you will notice.  The sounds are very different then before.

Meeting Links

If you are using Lync Conferencing you will notice that the Lync update will update the Outlook Plugin and change the Lync Meeting to a Skype Meeting

The Join a Meeting link.

Icons

Your Lync icon will look a lot like Skype for Business icon regardless which UI you choose.

Title Bar

The title is going to say Skype for Business.  If you have the Lync UI, it will say Skype for Business (Lync Mode).

 

Goodbye Lync... Hello 'Skype for Business'

We are being frequently asked by more and more clients what is Skype for Business and how will this affect our Hosted Lync 2013 Service with Server Centre? So I thought now would be a good time to pull together a blog post featuring all the frequently asked questions.

If you have any question not answered here please don't hesitate to get in touch!

What is Skype for Business?

In short Skype for Business is the next version of Microsoft Lync, Microsoft took the decision to re-brand Microsoft Lync to Skype for Business to build upon the familiar user experience of Skype with the enterprise security, compliance and control from Lync to create Skype for Business.

Skype for Business takes advantage of the strengths of both Skype and Lync. For example, Skype for Business is adopting the familiar Skype icons for calling, adding video and ending a call. Microsoft have added the call monitor from Skype, which keeps an active call visible in a small window even when a user moves focus to another application.

At the same time, Skype for Business keeps and improves on all of the capabilities of Lync, including content sharing and telephony. For example, transferring a call now takes only one click instead of three which will be a welcomed improvement for our customers.

What will the upgrade cost?

The upgrade is included with your monthly subscription, once Microsoft release the final version, Server Centre will make the required platform changes and offer clients the chance to upgrade. Server Centre will make the new client available for download once it is released.

When will the upgrade be available?

Microsoft are releasing the update to the Microsoft Lync client on the 14th April 2015, this will update the client to Skype for Business.

How will the upgrade work?

Server Centre will build the Skype for Business infrastructure side by side with the existing Microsoft Lync 2013 platform. This will allow our clients to migrate to Skype for business as soon as they are ready without the need for a big bang approach. 

How long can I stay on Lync 2013 for?

Server Centre will aim to migrate all clients to Skype for Business over the next 6-12 months.
 
 

End of Life for Lync Hosting Pack v2

Microsoft has announced the end-of-life for it's Lync Hosting Pack v2, Because Microsoft Lync is one of Server Centre's OnDemand services we thought we’d explain what this end-of-life means for all hosted Lync customers—whether you’re with Server Centre or another hosting provider.

First, the good news: If you’re a Lync customer with Server Centre, the discontinuation of Hosting Pack v2 doesn’t affect you at all because we never liked Lync Hosting Pack or used it (more about that later).

What is Lync Hosting Pack?

Microsoft’s Lync Hosting Pack is essentially a cut down version of Lync tailored for hosting providers because it allows for an easier deployment of a multitenant solution. However, this easier route for the hosting provider comes at the expense of serveral key features for the customer. For example Response Groups can't be used with the Lync Hosting Pack.

Despite the lack of these key features, Lync Hosting Pack is widely adopted by hosting providers because it is offered by Microsoft for multi-tenant environments making the providers job easier.

But that wasn’t good enough for us. With business customers around the world, including many large corporations, our team has always believed that it is more important to ensure customers have access to as many features as possible rather than to take the easy route. Fortunately, our team has the experience and ingenuity to implement the full-featured Microsoft Lync product in a multi-tenant solution. Not all hosting providers do.

Implementing a multi-tenant solution with Microsoft’s full featured base product is no easy task. Tenant segregation must be implemented from the ground-up using Lync and Active Directory permissions and properties. This is presented to our customers and Service Desk through our CloudCentre management and provisioning portal. Hiding all the complexities of provisioning and ensuring all steps are completed.

Server Centre customers are in good hands

We made the decision a long ago to use the full-fledged version of Microsoft products and tackle the complexities of a multi-tenant deployment head-on. This recent announcement from Microsoft proves once again that our team is committed to doing all the heavy IT lifting so that our customers can work smarter in the cloud. Server Centre customers can rest assured that the end-of-life of Lync Hosting Pack v2 will have no impact whatsoever on their services.

A similar deployment option was also available on Exchange 2010 by using a hosting switch at setup. Server Centre chose the more complex deployment despite the extra effort it entailed for our team. Our foresight paid off in the long run as Microsoft later dropped this option in SP1, leaving many hosting providers and their customers between a rock and a hard place.

If you would like to discuss anything to do with our Hosted Lync service please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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