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Microsoft Price Changes Jan 2017

Microsoft have announced GBP price changes to some of their licensing agreements, in order to harmonise prices within the EU/EFTA region. These changes will become live January 1st 2017. For further information see below for the official Microsoft Bulletin:

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/uktechnet/2016/10/21/important-volume-licensing-update/  

 As a Microsoft partner and provider of hosted Microsoft applications, Server Centre Hosting need to make partners and direct customer aware of price rises against our services. Whilst Microsoft increases are between 13% and 22%, Server Centre will work to deliver our services at an increase of 4.75%. This will affect both existing and new service subscriptions. These new list prices will come into effect on Jan 1st 2017, unless otherwise communicated. 

Skype for Business IOS App Updated

Version 6.9

The IOS Skype for Business client has been updated to version 6.9, with the following update description

  • Mute the app's audio completely during a call or meeting
  • Ability  to manually enter your Exchange server domain name under Settings
  • Performance and stability Improvements

The update is available in the app store under Updates if you do not have automatic updates enabled.

Skype for Business IOS App Updated

Version 6.8

The IOS Skype for Business client has been updated to version 6.8, with the following update description

  • New voice settings, allowing you more flexibility with how you use VoIP and cellular line during meetings and calls
  • Support for iOS 10

The update is available in the app store under Updates if you do not have automatic updates enabled.

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 is the Skype for Business Web Scheduler?

A little known feature of Skype for Business is the Web Scheduler, Skype for Business Web Scheduler is a web-based program that you can use to create Skype Meetings if you don’t have Outlook, or don't have a browser that supports Outlook Web App. With Skype for Business Web Scheduler, you can create new meetings, change your existing meetings, and send invitations with your favorite email program.

To access the web scheduler browse to https://scheduler.emailandapps.co.uk
 
Once logged in (using the same username and password as you use for Skype for Business) your can create, manage and view meetings.
 

Create a Skype Meeting

When you sign in to the Skype for Business Web Scheduler, you'll go straight to the New Meeting page.
  1. Enter an Event title for your meeting.
  2. You can leave the meeting location as Skype Call, or add a location, such as a conference room, if you have in-person attendees as well.
  3. Enter meeting details in the Message box, and set the Start and End date and time.
  4. Under Who will bypass the lobby and Who is a presenter, do one of the following:
  • Accept the standard settings, which are best for small working meetings with people inside your organization.
    OR
  • Choose other lobby or presenter options depending on the type of meeting you want to schedule.
  1. Under Attendees and Audio, add the attendees’ names or email addresses, separated by semicolons (;).
  2. Select Save.

Join a Skype for Business Meeting

To join a meeting you created with Skype for Business Web Scheduler, do one of the following:
 
  • Open the email meeting request and select the meeting link.
    OR
  • Open Skype for Business Web Scheduler, select the meeting you want from the list on the left, and then select Join in the meeting summary pane.
 

View, edit, or delete an existing meeting

To view a meeting's details, open Skype for Business Web Scheduler and select the meeting title on the left. Skype for Business Web Scheduler lists only the meetings you've scheduled, not all the meetings on your calendar.
 
To edit or delete a meeting:
  1. Select Edit or Delete in the meeting summary pane.
 
  1. Meeting details with Edit button highlighted
After you've made your changes, send the participants either the updated meeting information or a notice of the meeting cancellation.

IMPORTANT   Skype for Business Web Scheduler doesn’t update your calendar automatically, so participants must be informed of every change you make.

Skype for Business Server Release

Microsoft released the Skype for Business Server software on the 1st May, Work has been started to bring our platform upto date with customers able to use the platform from the 1st June.

All clients will be contacted to arrange for their accounts to be moved to the Skype for Business platform. Customers wishing to remain on Lync 2013 can stay on the existing platform for the next 6 months.

However we encourage all clients to upgrade as there is no loss of service or interuption to the client or associated integration services.

If you wish to register to have your account(s) moved please contact the Service Desk through the normal channels.

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.
 
 

Enterprise Voice for Office 365

Are you looking to add Enterprise Voice to Microsoft Office 365?

Microsoft’s Office 365 service does not provide Enterprise Voice services and is not expected to provide PBX replacement services for the foreseeable future. But, Microsoft does provide an Office 365 subscription plan (E4) to allow customers to deploy Enterprise Voice and enjoy an integrated Unified Communications solution and PBX replacement with the rest of their Office 365 applications.
 
Server Centre have been helping organisations deploy Enterprise Voice utilising their existing Office 365 E4 plans. This enables Microsoft Lync to be deployed on-premise or in a data centre with full Enterprise Voice capabilities.
 
You also have the option of using Server Centre's Multi-tenant Microsoft Lync platform.  

Summary

Summary of options for using Microsoft Lync with Enterprice Voice as a PBX replacement with Office 365.
  • To deploy Enterprise Voice for Office 365, the Lync services move out of O365’s data centers and into yours. Server Centre can provide Managed Colocation facilities or provision the servers on our Enterprise VM Cloud.
  • You can host the Lync services on our Multi-tenant Microsoft Lync Enterprise Platform which speeds up the deployment allowing you to get up and running in hours.
  • To enable your deployment wheather on-premise or within our facilities you will need SIP trunking services that have been certified for Microsoft Lync or standard UDP channels with a Session Border Controller (SBC) to terminate the trunks. Server Centre can provide Microsoft Certified SIP trunks and associated services. Including but not limited to Number porting, Conference Numbers, SIP Trunking, Call recording and Contact Centre solutions.
  • Pricing - the E4 subscription provides the required Enterprice Voice (User CAL) licensing. The Lync Voice licensing components of E4 are comparable to the traditional Lync Std, Ent and Plus CALs.
  • Exchange integration - In Microsoft UC solution, Microsoft Lync provides IM/Presence, Conferencing & Voice/Video, Microsoft Exchange provides Voicemail, Calendar and Directory. In an E4 scenario, Exchange stays on O365 and you can leverage Exchange Online’s Unified Messaging service for voicemail (Auto Attendant and/or Directory) services. The integration model is simular whether Microsoft Lync is on-premise or partner hosted.
  • Single Sign On - If you use the O365 ADFS/SSO sync service you can still tie in Microsoft Lync to privide a seamless SSO experience.
Server Centre has the experience to help you at all stages of your deployment including post deployment support or healthchecks. We can offer fully managed services or experienced consultants to assist with the design.
 
Whatever your requirement, however large or small we are here to help contact us to get the ball rolling.

Hosted Microsoft Lync Enterprise as a PBX Replacement

What is “Hosted Microsoft Lync Enterprise?”

Hosted Microsoft Lync with Enterprise Voice is simply a cloud based Unified Communications solution complete with the full array of Microsoft Lync Enterprise Voice features such as Instant Messaging (IM), Presence, Audio/Video/Web Conferencing, Desktop Sharing and Reponse Groups which includes IVR's and Hunt groups. This solution can be deployed as a standalone PBX replacement or as part of an Office 365 deployment for companies of all sizes.
 
Some of the features and options available with Server Centre's Hosted Microsoft Lync;
  • Microsoft Lync with Enterprise Voice
  • Contact Centre for Lync
  • Call Recording
  • Screen Pop CRM records based on CLI
  • Multi-Party Video
When you deploy Microsoft Lync our customers have realised cost savings, which includes;
  • ISDN rental
  • PBX maintainence
  • Conferencing
  • Travel Expenses to meetings

Server Centre offer a free Microsoft Lync trial including Enterprise Voice and can guide you through every step of the way. Give us a call on +44(0)115 9699950 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

3 Things that may surprise new Microsoft Lync Users

1. The Lync client window is incredibly handy – you will rely on it for everything

Sitting quietly on the desktop, the Lync client is the window connecting you to colleagues, clients & partners.  Its bright colours helpfully indicate the availability and activities of the people you work with every day.  The Lync clients becomes an integral part of your day-to-day activity and signing into Lync is like plugging yourself into your workplace.  Lync makes your whole team feel connected especially fir those working remotely or in different office locations.

2. You will grow very accustomed to receiving information instantly

When you start using Instant Messaging for the first time, it doesn’t take long to get used to having instant responses and solving problems quickly.  Features such as status tag (notification when contacts are available), desktop sharing and the facility to contact colleagues from within shared documents will empower you to work efficiently and collaboratively and this is likely to become the norm across your organisation.

3. You’ll wonder why you’ve not discovered headsets earlier

Headsets are usually associated with pilots and call centres, but once you start using them you won’t go back.  Headsets allow you to accept or reject audio or video calls seamlessly, not to mention the improved HD voice quality when using devices from the Jabra and Plantronics ranges. Not only will your hands and your head be more comfortable while on a call, you can IM or draw doodle diagrams till your hearts content!
 
If you would like to try Microsoft Lync you can request accounts here.

10 Lync Keyboard Shortcuts

10 Keyboard Shortcuts everyone should know

Microsoft have published a guide on Microsoft Lync keyboard shortcuts titled Lync 2013 Keyboard Shortcuts. It's a short PDF listing out all the keyboard shortcuts you can use to get around Lync. We have listed the 10 shortcuts we use the most;

Conversations Shortcuts

Accept a conversation invite (use anywhere) – Windows Logo Key + A
Decline an invite (use anywhere) – Windows Logo Key + Esc
Accept an invite (while in Conversation window) – Alt + C
Engage Privacy Mode – Alt + I
Change between conversation windows – Ctrl + Tab
Save an IM log in Conversation History – Ctrl + S

Phone Calls Shortcuts

Accept a call* – Alt + C
Mute your audio – Windows Logo Key + F4
Place a call on Hold – Ctrl + Shift + H

Meetings/Presentations Shortcuts

Start a “Meet Now” meeting – Alt + M
If Presenting: start/stop sharing, fullscreen/come out of fullscreen, close the sharing stage, switch views gallery/speaker

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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