Enabling a user for Enterprise Voice in Lync Server is a matter of associating a telephone number with the user’s account, merging a user’s audio conversations with the many functions Lync Server already provides. When telephony integration is in place, any calls to the user’s telephone number ring at any Lync Server endpoints the user is signed into, and a user can place calls to the PSTN from a Lync Server endpoint.
Enterprise Voice users have a flexibility not found in most traditional PBX systems because the user has control over many functions that typically require a PBX administrator to configure, such as forwarding and simultaneous ringing. Enterprise Voice users also see visual call controls when in a call where they can mute, transfer, or end calls all with the click of a button, which can be an improvement over traditional key sequences on a phone to perform the same operations.
Voice services are a large component of Lync Server and include some of the features mentioned in the following sections.
Call forwarding settings are available to Enterprise Voice users, and they give some flexibility not found in traditional PBX systems. Enterprise Voice users can control exactly what actions occur when an incoming phone call is received, such as ringing for a specified amount of time before being forwarded to an alternative number or to voice mail.
When an incoming call is received, users can have it ring their work number, mobile number, or home number, or simultaneously ring a combination of any of them. Furthermore, if the user doesn’t answer any of these options, the call can be forwarded after a user-specified timeout, either to voice mail such as Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging or until it rings an additional number.
Endpoints automatically use phone numbers published to Active Directory as options for the users, but individuals can add additional mobile or home phone numbers if necessary.
The flexibility is the key component here because each user can configure settings individually to meet his own needs, and unlike with a traditional PBX, the changes require no effort from the administrator because the controls are part of Lync.
Being enabled for Enterprise Voice enables users to define delegates to answer calls on their behalf, but the delegate functionality is slightly different from team-call, where a group of people are rung on behalf of a user. In the situation of a delegate and a boss, the boss might elect for calls to ring only the delegate first, allowing delegates to screen calls on behalf of the boss and transfer users if necessary.
Delegates have the option to use a blind or consultative transfer to send the caller to a boss. In a blind transfer, the caller is sent directly to the boss without notification, whereas in a consultative transfer, the delegate first calls the boss to check whether he wants to accept the call. Only if the boss desires to accept the call does the delegate transfer the caller.
Delegates can also perform safe transfers in which they remain on the line with the caller and principal to ensure that the two parties are connected before removing themselves from the conversation. A key advantage of Enterprise Voice delegation is that these options are performed using a graphical user interface, and users have no need to memorize phone keys and codes to perform these types of transfers.
Response Groups are a feature Lync Server provides to manage and direct inbound callers to agents. Workflows can be defined in which callers are prompted with specific questions and then directed to a queue of agents who consist of Enterprise Voice users. The callers’ responses to any questions are converted from speech to text and displayed to the agent receiving the call.
Additionally, Response Group agents appear as anonymous to the caller. Administrators can define multiple workflows, queues, and algorithms for routing callers to the correct agents. Agents can also participate formally or informally, meaning they either can manually sign out of a Response Group or can be automatically included in a group that receives calls anytime they are signed in to Lync Server.
Call Park features allow a Lync Server Enterprise Voice user to answer a call at one endpoint and then put the user on hold, or “park” the call temporarily. The user can then pick up that same call at some other location or endpoint.
An Enterprise Voice user can have a private telephone number hidden from address lists and contacts in addition to the primary telephone number, which is published to users. This additional line can be configured to ring with a different sound to differentiate calls to the private line from the regular number.
The concept of SIP trunking is a feature that has been supported in Communications Server since OCS 2007 R2. SIP trunking enables Lync Server to connect either to another IP-based PBX using SIP or to an Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP).
SIP trunking is generally used when integrating Lync Server directly with an existing IP-PBX from vendors such as Cisco or Avaya without the need for a media gateway device. Alternatively, it can be used to provide telephony service to Lync Server without the need for traditional PBX, media gateway, or wiring. Instead, an ITSP provides SIP trunking services across the Internet to allow Lync Server to make and receive phone calls using purely VoIP without a traditional phone infrastructure. It is also the method by which Lync Online users can leverage Lync for telephony functions.
Enhanced 911 features are now provided in Enterprise Voice so users can dial 911 and have that call connected to an emergency routing service. Through the use of the location information discussed previously, the routing service is automatically provided with the endpoint location when dialed.
One of the strongest advantages of Lync Server is that it offers users a completely seamless and consistent user experience regardless of location. Users who travel and use a hotel’s public Wi-Fi have access to the exact same features as users in an office that use the corporate network. This consistent experience is provided without a VPN connection or manual client configuration changes by the user, which allows all features to work from any location.
A Lync Server endpoint is aware whether it connects internally or externally by means of service (SRV) records in DNS, so users don’t need to make any changes to their client configurations depending on their locations. When a user is remote, the signaling is performed over the standard HTTPS port 443, so it is secure and accessible from almost any remote network.
This feature is similar in function to the Outlook Anywhere feature, which has existed for Outlook users since Exchange 2003. Just as users have come to expect Outlook to function identically whether inside or outside the office, remote users have full access to the Lync Server feature set. They can view presence, exchange IMs, host or attend web conferences, share desktops, or perform A/V conversations. This even extends to Enterprise Voice users who can make and receive phone calls with their office numbers from anywhere in the world across the Internet.
Federation is a feature that enables organizations that have deployed Communications Server to communicate easily and securely across the public Internet. As long as both organizations have deployed an Access Edge Server, federation can be used to view presence and exchange IMs.
Organizations can also use federation to participate in web conferences with each other or have audio and video conversations with one another. Similar to the way email has become a standard means of communication, federation for rich collaboration capabilities has emerged as a standard way to conduct business across organizations.
Federation is not limited to organizations with only Lync Server, but can also be used with IBM Sametime or Cisco Unified Presence Server for organizations that have not deployed Lync Server. Lync Server 2013 adds native federation with Skype to its impressive list of interoperability partners.
Public IM Connectivity
A special type of federation called public IM connectivity (PIC) enables MCS users to communicate with contacts using the various public IM networks. Although many organizations have deployed previous versions of a Communications Server and support federation, there are still needs to communicate with public IM contacts at times.
Lync Server supports the following public IM providers:
Additionally, federation to Google Talk users can be provisioned through the XMPP Gateway Server role. PIC connectivity provides presence and peer-to-peer IM for all providers, but in Lync Server, peer-to-peer A/V conversations can also be used with Windows Live and Skype contacts.
For organizations that have archiving or compliance needs, Lync Server provides the Archiving function, which captures IM traffic and web conferencing data. New for Lync 2013, this function is collocated on all the front-end servers in a pool. All archiving data is saved either to a Microsoft SQL Server database or to Exchange Server 2013, depending on the environment and administrator’s choice.
Archiving can be enabled at the pool level to capture traffic for all users or it can be enabled on a per-user basis if archiving needs to be done only for a select group of users. If an organization has no need to capture internal traffic, archiving can also be configured to log only federated traffic.
A key factor in determining the success of an audio and video deployment is insight into how the system performs for the end users. Lync Server provides out-of-the-box monitoring capabilities with the Monitoring function. Like Lync Archiving, the Monitoring function is also now collocated on all the front-end servers for a pool. When deployed, endpoints submit reports when completing an audio or video call, which are then stored in SQL databases dedicated to call records and monitoring data.
Two types of reports are collected. One report, referred to as call detail records (CDR), contains information about when the call occurred and what endpoints were involved. The other is a Quality of Experience (QoE) report that contains comprehensive data, including the Mean Opinion Score (MOS) of various components, which indicates the call quality in both directions. These reports also identify which subnet the endpoints used so that administrators can quickly isolate any issues to a specific device or network segment.
Lync Server also supports synthetic transactions that are PowerShell cmdlets an administrator can run, which simulate actions taken by users against the server. Examples of these transactions are a user signing in, two users sending IM messages to each other, and a test audio call between two endpoints. These synthetic transactions can be used to test user functionality systemwide on a recurring basis or in conjunction with the Microsoft System Center Operations Manager management pack for Lync Server, which includes support for the transactions.