Installing Skype for Business Server 2019

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the availability of Skype for Business 2019 server preview for download and I thought it was about time I checked it out!

 

Obtaining the installation media

You can obtain the installation media (a 1.68GB ISO file) from here: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Skype-for-Business-Blog/Announcing-the-Skype-for-Business-Server-2019-Preview/ba-p/218435

Easy!

 

The Lab

I’m running everything up at Windows Azure, but by all means feel free to spin up a new VM in your on premises lab if you have one.

My lab is pretty simple, and is setup as follows:

Server Role Notes
DC01.chiffers.com Domain Controller All servers are running Azure’s Windows 2016 base image.
SFB01.chiffers.com Skype for Business Standard Edition Server
CS01.chiffers.com AD Certificate Services

You’ll notice that for now, I’ve chosen to not deploy an Edge server, or Monitoring and Archiving databases.

 

Prerequisites

Skype for Business server 2019 still requires a whole range of prerequisites to be installed, including .Net Framework 4.7

To speed things up, you can install almost all of the required features via powershell:

Add-WindowsFeature NET-Framework-Core, RSAT-ADDS, Windows-Identity-Foundation, Web-Server, Web-Static-Content, Web-Default-Doc, Web-Http-Errors, Web-Dir-Browsing, Web-Asp-Net, Web-Net-Ext, Web-ISAPI-Ext, Web-ISAPI-Filter, Web-Http-Logging, Web-Log-Libraries, Web-Request-Monitor, Web-Http-Tracing, Web-Basic-Auth, Web-Windows-Auth, Web-Client-Auth, Web-Filtering, Web-Stat-Compression, Web-Dyn-Compression, NET-WCF-HTTP-Activation45, Web-Asp-Net45, Web-Mgmt-Tools, Web-Scripting-Tools, Web-Mgmt-Compat, Server-Media-Foundation, BITS, Telnet-Client

(I removed Desktop-Experience from the above command).

Grab a copy of .Net Framework 4.7 from the Microsoft Download Centre if you don’t already have it installed.

A big thanks to Tom Arbuthnot who’s article outlines Microsoft’s recommended server requirements for running Skype for Business Server 2019 too.

 

Running the installer

The ISO contains a folder called OCS_EVAL (ah, memories). Within there we’ll find the setup.exe file we’re looking for.

After a quick Visual Studio Runtime install, we’re prompted for an installation location:

I allowed the installer to check for updates, but none were found

After clicking Next, the familiar looking deployment wizard appears

 

Prepping Active Directory

Alright, as this is a completely new lab environment that hasn’t had any version of Lync or Skype for Business installed, I’m going to need to extend the AD schema.

It’s just as easy as it was in previous versions, running through each of the 7 steps.

 

Installing the Administration Tools

Alright, green tick! Let’s move on to installing the Administration Tools, including the topology builder.

Once that’s complete, We can prepare the first (or in my case, the only) Standard Edition server. The option to install Enterprise Pools is still available, but as this is a lab I’m going to stick with a Standard Edition pool for now.

Note that it would appear that SQL Express 2014 is still automatically installed during the Standard Edition component installation process.

 

Creating the Topology

Once SQL is installed, you can fire up the 2019 Topology Builder and create a new topology. Keep in mind of course that unless you’re spinning up a brand new lab environment like me, you’re probably going to be opening up an existing SfB topology.

As this is a new topology, I’m going to enter a new SIP domain. Chiffers.com sounds pretty good!

After completing the usual process of creating my first site (I’m calling mine Lab 01), my new topology appears – complete with the new Skype for Business Server 2019 folder.

Let’s create our new Standard Edition front end pool – named sfb01.chiffers.com

I’m going to enable all available features for this pool (although I don’t have an Exchange server right now!)

And, of course we can still co-locate our Mediation services on the Front End server.

The wizard still prompts me for the usual Edge Server, Office Web Apps, Monitoring and Archiving details (If I want to deploy these too). Once complete, my server appears under the Skype for Business Server 2019 folder.

 

Publishing the Topology

Ok, time to publish the topology! This took less than 60 seconds.

 

Installing the Skype for Business 2019 Components

Now for the best bit. We get to deploy the SfB 2019 components to our Standard Edition Server.

There’s 4 steps in total to work through. My lab isn’t running super powerful VM’s and so this part took a while

 

Starting the Pool

Once the components are installed and certificates assigned, it’s time to start the pool!

Boom! the Skype For Business 2019 pool is up and running.

Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll delve into the Control Panel and see what’s changed since SfB 2015.

The 5 ways to migrate from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams

Microsoft recently published a technet article outlining the different ways to migrate away from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. The article currently contains 5 different migration methods. Lets take a closer look at each of them, and how they might be used within your organisation.

The 5 migration methods

They say good things come in three’s, but in this case they come in five! Five different methods of moving from SfB to Microsoft Teams. When it comes to migration planning, choice is a good thing

5-migration-methods-teams

 

Migration Method 1: Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration

Ok, so you have a Skype for Business deployment right now, and are looking at moving to Teams. The problem is that Teams just doesn’t meet your requirements right now. This could be due to:

  • Running custom SfB applications such as a call centre app, or on premise UCMA/UCWA app.
  • Teams is missing a feature that you currently use in Skype for Business

If this is you and your goal is to adopt Teams quickly, you can easily start using Teams for collaboration. Your users can quickly faimilarise themselves with Teams and how they can use it to work with colleagues on documents in SharePoint and OneDrive, as well as sharing ideas within their newly created Teams and Channels.

Advantages:

  • No overlapping capabilities between Teams and Skype for Business.
  • Instant messaging and chat will reside in Skype for Business (tied to calling).

Caveats:

  • None!

 

Migration Method 2: Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration and Meetings.

Maybe you already have a Skype for Business deployment with significant use of enterprise voice, but right now some of your calling requirements aren’t yet met by Teams calling (such as a third party meeting service).

If this sounds like you, consider enabling Teams for Collaboration as well as Meetings. Existing Skype for Business scheduled meetings will work as normal, but users will be able to create new meetings within Teams.

Advantages:

  • Start Teams adoption quickly, going beyond group collaboration.
  • Improve your users’ meetings experience.

Caveats:

  • Instant messaging and chat will reside in Skype for Business (tied to calling)

 

Migration Method 3: Islands – The default option

If you choose to do nothing, Office 365 enables “Islands” mode by default.

Both Skype for Business and Teams continue to run within their own “island” and all features and functions are enabled within both products.

You may consider this approach if you’re running a PoC with a number of users, and want them to experience the full range of Teams features whilst still having the ability to use Skype for Business.

Of course, without the right user adoption and communications, things can get messy fast. Be sure that your communication around how each product should be used is solid.

Advantages:

  • Simple to operate, no interoperability.
  • Best Teams experience up-front for all capabilities

Caveats:

  • Requires good user communication to avoid confusion and to drive usage toward Teams.
  • Exit strategy requires users to have fully adopted Teams by the time Skype for Business is   decommissioned.

 

Migration Method 4: Teams only.

Alright, so you’re ready to take the plunge and use Microsoft Teams. Of course, you may still have users using Skype for Business on premise, but you want all of your cloud based users to use Teams.

Advantages:

  • Limits user confusion by providing only one client to work with.

Caveats:

  • Interoperability only supports basic chat and calling between Skype for Business and Teams

 

Migration Method 5: Skype for Business only

And lastly, you may choose to avoid Teams (for now at least), and wish to stick with Skype for Business only.

Keep in mind that at some point you’re going to need to make the move to Teams anyway, but at least you still have the option for now.

Advantages:

  • Continue to meet business requirements that currently can only be met by Skype for Business.

Caveats:

  • Interoperability only supports basic chat and calling between Skype for Business and Teams.

 

Upgrade Journeys

Still following? Good. Maybe go and grab a coffee. Don’t worry, i’ll wait. Ok, you’re back? Let’s push on.

There are two recommended upgrade journeys, one “simple” and the other .. not so much.

Simple Upgrade

If you like keeping things simple (and who doesn’t), there’s a three step process of Selecting users for a  PoCEnabling Teams Collaboration ModeEnabling Teams-Only Mode

That process is outlined in the below graphic:

 

Simple-upgrade-teams

This is a nice and simple way of selecting your users based upon their job roles (and their eagerness for change), then slowly introducing them to Teams before enabling Teams only mode for them.

 

Gradual Upgrade

I hope you’ve finished that coffee! The other recommended upgrade path is the gradual path. I’ll give you a moment to absorb the below graphic:

gradual-upgrade-teams

As you can see, it is possible to migrate different users at different rates. You may choose to move IT into Teams only mode quickly, but choose to move HR and Sales at a slower pace. Which ever method you choose, you’ll more than likely want to end up in a Teams Only mode.

 

Upgrade Scenarios

Alright. At this point you’re probably saying “That’s great Craig. I have a choice. 5 choices to be exact. But uh … which one do I choose?”.

Great question! Of course, you’ll need to have a think about how your organisation responds to change, and how you’ll equip your userbase to start using and adopting Microsoft Teams. The below may help steer you in the right direction, though!

 

Scenario 1: I’m Running Pure Skype For Business Online

In short, move to Teams. You’re not using any custom applications or have any on premise servers to deal with. Sort your user adoption comms out, select some users for a PoC and get them up and running with Teams.

Once everyone is trained and happy, enable Teams Only.

 

Scenario 2: I have Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) deployed

Firstly, kudos. CCE is an awesome product. Secondly,  You’re in a great position to deploy Direct Routing to Microsoft Teams to continue using your existing Sonus or Audiocodes SBC and Phone company.

Consider the approach of enabling Teams in Collaboration and Meeting only mode first of all. you’ll be able to continue using CCE to route calls to Skype for Business as well as direct routing to route calls to Teams.

 

Scenario 3: Skype for Business Hybrid with Sfb / Teams Online

This one is a popular scenario. The good news is you have many options available to you. You could enable Skype for Business with Teams collaboration–only mode, Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and meetings mode, keep Islands mode enabled or jump ship and enable Teams-only mode.

Keep in mind that your existing on premise SfB users will be unaffected by this change. Only your cloud users will be able to communicate with Teams users, and vice versa.

Work to create a plan of moving as many (or all) users from SfB on premise to SfB online, and then to Teams. Leave only those users that absolutely must remain on premise (because of specific SfB on premise requirements).

 

Scenario 4: Skype for Business Server on premise – no Hybrid

There’s good news for you. Microsoft have announced Skype for Business server 2019 for on premise, which we’re told will help you to eventually move your users to Office 365 and Microsoft Teams.

If you have no desire to move users to Office 365 or to Teams, consider upgrading your Skype for Business on premise environment to 2019, once it’s released.

 

Next Steps

Microsoft have outlined the steps mentioned above in their own technet post, which can be found here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-au/MicrosoftTeams/upgrade-and-coexistence-of-skypeforbusiness-and-teams

 

 

SBC Direct Routing For Teams – How are you affected?

What exactly is Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

If you’ve been following along at home, you’ll have heard about the recent announcement with Microsoft Teams now allowing you to directly connect your existing on premise Sonus (Ribbon) or Audiocodes SBC to Microsoft Teams across the internet, to allow your Teams users to make and receive calls from the cloud.

Here’s a handy diagram direct from Microsoft that shows how it works

Hold on a minute Craig, Isn’t PSTN calling already available in Teams?

Er, yes. Sort of. You see, If you were one of the lucky countries to have Microsoft Phone System (CloudPBX for you old skoolers), you can already make and receive calls directly from the Cloud from both Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. All you need is:

  • E5 licensing (or E3 licensing with the Microsoft Phone System Add On) Per user
  • A calling plan per user

If you’ve got both of those things, you can select and assign numbers to your cloud users, and as if by magic, they can make and receive calls from the cloud! Your calls simply route via Microsoft’s PSTN calling service.


I’m not in one of those lucky PSTN cloud calling countries though.

Well that’s ok too. Previously, if you weren’t in one of the lucky countries where Microsoft has enabled PSTN calling directly from the cloud, you could do one of two things to allow you to make calls from Skype for Business:

  1. Move countries
  2. Use Cloud Connector Edition

Cloud Connector Edition (or CCE for short) is a cut down version of Skype for Business that runs on either a server or a special edition of an AudioCodes or Sonus SBC. This box lives on premise with you – although most of the time it’ll sit in your data centre. You connect your existing ISDN, SIP or PSTN services from your carrier to the SBC, and then connect the SBC across the internet to Office 365.

Doing this then enables your Skype for Business Cloud homed users to make and receive PSTN calls via your existing carrier services.

What’s also really great about this setup is that you can connect your existing PABX to the SBC too, effectively allowing you to perform a staged migration of users from your current legacy PABX to Skype for Business in the cloud, all while allowing calls between the PSTN, legacy PABX and Skype for Business.

Lastly, if you’re running CCE right now on premise, you’re 3/4 of the way towards having PSTN calling from Microsoft Teams via this infrastructure. More on this below!


What if I’m running Skype for Business on premise in Hybrid mode with Skype for Business Online?

That’s cool, and it certainly means you’re able to make calls right now from the cloud via your on premise equipment (servers, SBC and SIP trunks).

The great thing about this setup is that you’re also 3/4 the way there towards having PSTN calling from Microsoft Teams!


What if I’m building a greenfield site?

Starting from scratch is an added bonus, and means that you get to decide the direction that you want telephony (and UC as a whole!) to go in.

If you want to explore Teams:
If you’re in one of the lucky countries that has direct PSTN calling from the cloud for Skype for Business and Teams, purchase your E5 licensing and PSTN calling plans and assign the numbers to your users.

If you’re not in one of the lucky direct PSTN calling countries, go down the direct routing path. Purchase a certified SBC from Sonus or AudioCodes, get yourself a SIP trunk, Office 365 E5 licensing and away you go!

If you want to explore Skype for Business AND Teams
Lucky country – Buy those E5 licenses and PSTN calling plans!

Other countries – Consider setting up CCE with a certified Sonus or AudioCodes SBC, then create two SIP trunks – One to Skype for Business online, and the other to Microsoft Teams. You’d then route your inbound calls to either service.


I’m running Cloud Connector Edition, or Hybrid Mode right now. How do I start making calls from Teams?

As mentioned above, if you’re already up and running with CCE or Hybrid mode and your SBC is certified you can create a SIP trunk from the SBC to Microsoft Teams!

Doing so will allow you to route calls between Teams, Skype for Business Online and On Premise, Legacy PABX’s and the PSTN via your existing ISDN, SIP or PSTN carrier trunks.


This all sounds great, but I have questions. Lots of questions!

Completely understandable. This is a moving topic at present and so information is always subject to change!

Microsoft have a great blog post about the topic here: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Teams-Blog/Direct-Routing-enables-new-enterprise-voice-options-in-Microsoft/ba-p/170450

You can always post your question in the comments section below, and i’ll give you a hand!

Surface Hub: Notes from the field

I’ve been working with Surface Hub for around a year, and have ran into a few quirky things that are worth pointing out.


The display

Let’s get this one out of the way straight away. The display is beautiful. Especially when you connect up an Xbox one to It via HDMI! Perfect for kicking back during a deployment.


You broke it

Alright. I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I was the first person globally to break a surface hub (so I’m told, anyways). You see, when you first turn the hub on it’s going to want to do Windows Updates. This is highly recommended and i’d definitely advise letting the device do its thing.

This is particularly important, because if you interrupt the update process, you’ll break it. I learned this one the hard way.

Long story short, we were in the middle of deploying a surface hub and had left the device to update, but at some point all we got was a black screen. We left the device to work itself out whilst we went for an extended dinner break and came back to .. a black screen. I made the (stupid) decision to power cycle the device and when it attempted to boot back up it wouldn’t boot into Windows.

No problem, i’ll just F8 into safe mode. There’s no safe mode.

Ok, then I’ll download an image from Microsoft and reimage the Surface Hub. There’s no image available to download.

To recover the device, We had to ask Microsoft to go and grab a spare pre-imaged hard drive from the warehouse floor, and bring it to us so we could swap it out for the “broken” one. Once that was swapped over, we were back up and running!

The long story short – Don’t interrupt the Surface Hub whilst its doing updates – including if you get a black screen for many hours.

 

Skype Meetings

The surface hub is a fantastic device for hosting and joining Skype for Business meetings. The two cameras work perfectly together to show everyone in the room and around the device, and the ability to draw on and present the whiteboard is awesome.

There are a couple of things to note though:

Only todays meetings appear
The home screen on the surface hub will only display todays scheduled meetings, and on top of that will only show 8 scheduled meetings from today. Meetings scheduled for tomorrow will not appear at all.

Only the next 3 scheduled meetings appear in Skype
Within Skype itself, only the next 3 scheduled meetings will appear in the list. The list is not scrollable either.

Inviting two or more surface hubs to draw on the whiteboard has its limitations
Whilst it is true that you can invite more than one surface hub to draw on the same whiteboard during a Skype for Business call, there are some prerequisites:

  • Office 365 with cloud-based Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) for all users
  • OneDrive for Business deployed for all users who intend to collaborate
  • Currently not utilizing Office 365 Germany or Office 365 operated by 21Vianet
  • Surface Hub needs to be updated to Windows 10, version 1607 or newer
  • Port 443 needs to be open since Whiteboard makes standard https requests
  • Whiteboard.ms, wbd.ms, *.onenote.com, and your company’s SharePoint tenant domain URLs need to be whitelisted for proxies

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/surface-hub/whiteboard-collaboration has all the information you need to get this set up and working.


Microsoft Teams

If your organisation is currently trialling Microsoft Teams along side Skype for Business, you’ll be glad to know that at least some of the features of Teams will work on Surface Hub right now via the built in Edge browser.

Microsoft are working on a app for the Surface Hub as you read this. If you’d like to know more about what you can do right now on Surface Hub, check out my blog post on the topic.


Surface Hub 2
Lastly, there has some really exciting news on the new Surface Hub 2 from Microsoft. If you haven’t already seen the video, go and check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DbslbKsQSk

I for one cannot wait to see one in person!

Surface Hub and Microsoft Teams: What can you do right now?

If you’re lucky to have access to a Microsoft Surface Hub in your organisation, you may be wondering if Microsoft Teams will work on the device.

Microsoft are working on a Teams app for the surface hub, but whilst we wait for that to become available, what features are available to us right now?

 

Signing In to Teams

First things first; If we don’t have a Teams app on the device how do we sign in and use Teams? The answer is to simply browse to http://teams.microsoft.com from the built in Edge browser on the surface hub.

Sign in with your organisation credentials, and you’re in!

 

The interface

If you’ve used the web version of Teams before, you’ll feel right at home. Everything looks and feels exactly the same on the big screen as it would on the small screen. You get easy access to the Teams activity feed via the left hand navigation, as well as chats, teams, meetings and files.

Using the chat screen, you can easily invite team mates into a chat, just as you would on your desktop. Gifs work too!

 

What does work

Surprisingly, quite a lot!

  • The activity feed, and chat work great
  • Voice and Video calls with the built in camera and mic/speakers works
  • Adding Gifs to chat works
  • Scheduling and joining Microsoft Teams meetings works

 

 

What doesn’t work

Right now, the following things don’t work in the web client on the Surface Hub:

  • Adding additional attendees to a meeting once the meeting has started
  • Presenting your desktop, or other content
  • Adding content to a chat

I imagine that a whole bunch of other things don’t work as expected too, but am yet to test every feature.

 

What about the Microsoft Teams surface hub app

It’s coming! We don’t know when, but when it does become available it’ll most certainly be available for download from the App store.

Keep those eyes peeled to Twitter to stay up to date with the latest Surface Hub and Teams announcements!

 

 

Starting Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business IM sessions from a link

An interesting question was raised by a colleague recently:

Craig, How do you start an IM session from a link on a web page?

We all know that you can create a mailto: link that users can click to open their Outlook (or other mail) client and automagically pre-populate the to: field with your email address, but did you know you can do the same thing with Skype for Business?

Skype for Business

To create a clickable link that automatically opens a Skype for Business chat window to you, or anyone else for that matter, use the following format:

<a href=”sip:craig.chiffers@contoso.com“>Click here to IM me via Skype for Business</a>

Here’s how it looks: Click here to IM me via Skype for Business

The text in purple is the SIP address where you want to send the IM. The orange text is what will appear on the web page or within your email signature as the clickable link. You can even get fancy and use a picture or Skype logo if you wish! To do that, simply use the following:

<a href=”sip:craig.chiffers@contoso.com“><img src=”skype-logo.png“> Click here to IM me via Skype for Business</a>

This time, the green text points to the location of your Skype logo, or any other icon that you wish to use.

Here’s how that looks:


Microsoft Teams

Right now, Microsoft Teams doesn’t support the ability to directly start a chat session with a user from a link. I imagine that if/when this is introduced, it will look something like the following:

<a href=”msteams:craig.chiffers@contoso.com”>Click here to IM me via Microsoft Teams</a>

If you’d like to see this feature within Teams, vote for it over on UserVoice!


A Few Things To Note

For the above to work, the user will need to ensure they have Skype for Business installed. If they don’t the links won’t work. Federation will also need to be enabled if the user is outside your organisation.

Microsoft Teams Q&A

This page is a collection of Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business related questions and answers. It’s regularly updated as more information becomes available.

Microsoft Teams Q&A – Last Updated: 15th March 2018

Q: What is Microsoft Teams?

A: Microsoft Teams is a complete communications platform, that takes the best bits of Skype for Business, Yammer, SharePoint, Email and other web sources and presents them in one easy to use application. You can send IM’s, make voice and video calls, phone calls, Share documents, and collaborate all from within the one application.

Q: How do I get Microsoft Teams?

A: Simple! Sign up for an Office 365 plan over at http://www.office.comIf you’re already an Office 365 subscriber, check to see if Teams is available – it more than likely is!

Q: We currently use Skype for Business and Yammer. Should we make the switch to Teams?

A: Yes, but gradually. At some point in the future, Microsoft Teams will likely completely replace Skype for Business online from Office 365 (on premise versions of Skype are safe for now). It’s wise to start evaluating Teams now so that you can familiarize and prepare yourself once your organisation moves across.

You can also check out this short video on the subject of Yammer and Teams.

Q: We currently use Slack, and our devs aren’t going to want to give up slack easily.

A: Sure, change is scary. However, the ability to collaborate so simply in multiple ways within Teams makes it the ideal platform for dev teams to effectively work on. Give it a go!

Q: What about the investments we have made in Skype for Business hardware (phones, meeting room devices) and licensing?

A: Vendors are working hard to ensure their devices are compatible with Microsoft Teams. Right now, if the device is a year or two old and works with Skype for Business, there’s a good chance that with a firmware update from the manufacturer, it’ll work with Teams too.

Q: Are we able to develop custom applications for Teams?

A: Absolutely! There’s an entire section dedicated to creating custom applications for Microsoft Teams over at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/platform/#pivot=home&panel=home-all

Q: I want to be able to send an SMS from Teams

A: Sure. You could write a custom application!

Q: Teams to Standard SIP video InterOP, will there be a open API available to develop one?
or should we depend on the Teams Partnered service providers only?

A: My understanding is that right now there’s only Teams/Skype integration. Whether that will change is a great question. Keep your eyes peeled on the Office 365 Roadmap.

Q: Will Teams support open Federation with other (on-premise or 3rd-party hosted) Skype for Business deployments?

A: Federated communication between other teams and Skype for business environments is on the Office 365 road map (https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-roadmap?filters=#abc) and is currently in development.

Q: Should I be able to copy and paste Screenshots into the Wiki Feature? They keep disappearing.

A: From my testing, I am able to copy and paste screenshots that I took with the snipping tool in Windows into Wiki pages, and they remain in place.

Q: Am I able to invite people from other organisations into Teams chats, file sharing and other things?

A: Yes! Microsoft recently announced that guest access in Microsoft Teams is now fully rolled out, meaning you can now invite anyone into a Microsoft Teams team to chat, share files and more!

 

Do you have a question about Skype or Teams? Leave a comment below or tweet @cchiffers