What’s New in Skype for Business Server 2015?

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Skype for Business Server 2015 is the successor to Lync Server 2013, and is expected to be released during the first half of 2015. This is a running commentary of the Skype for Business (Skype4B) features that are available for public consumption.

Server Roles

  • Video Interop Server (VIS) is a new role introduced to enable interop with conferencing vendor products. VIS is essentially a video gateway between Skype4B and legacy video conferencing solutions (VTC’s)
    • VIS has no transcoding capability so VTC’s will need to support H.264
    • VTC users can call Skype4B users, but not the other way around
  • Call Quality Dashboard (CQD) server role
    • The CQD in Skype4B leverages SQL Analysis Services (SSAS) to improve BI within Skype for Business
    • Skype for Business client that will ask the user for their feedback at the end of a call. This data can be compared to what the server has reported

Clients

  • Revamped Windows client more closely matching the Skype (consumer) user experience
  • Improvements to smartphone apps, in particular:
    • Resolving the long delay sending IM’s to mobile users
    • Incoming IM’s being lost – This will be addressed by applying the “Auto Accept” logic used by the desktop clients to accept IM’s on the best available endpoint
    • Conversation history is addressed by the introduction of a uniform server-based conversation history available to all endpoints. The implementation leverages Lync Storage Services to store conversation history directly in Exchange using EWS, and thus removing the dependency on the client to do so. This will only be supported on Exchange 2013+
    • Multi-factor authentication
  • The Skype4B Web App will support WebRTC removing the need for client plugins
  • Rooms get the Surface Hub, a 55” HD or 84” 4K collaboration tool. At this stage it is not Microsoft’s intention to replace Lync Room System

 

Enterprise Voice 

  • Call via Work introduced, allowing outbound calls to be made via existing PABX phones
  • Response Groups scale vastly improved – Supports 800 agent groups, 400 IVR groups, and 2400 agents per pool
  • Remote Call Control depreciated in the Skype4B client. It will remain in the Lync 2013 client for backward compatibility


Meetings
 

  • Meetings no longer expire after the scheduled date, and can be kept alive for up to a year. If the meeting is missed it be be re-scheduled without re-creating the Online Meeting.
  • The meeting service now has automatic and silent retry capabilities to limit the visibility of these to meeting attendees
  • Office Web Apps server is now protected from Domain Controller outages
  • PowerPoint presentations are not made aware to attendees until they are uploaded and ready to be presented
  • Screen sharing frame rates are up from 2 to 8, which Microsoft say will allow standard definition video to be stream to attendees
  • Updates will be provided for Lync Room System including built in server control panel, “Room PC View” allow input another system to be presented, as well as improvements to user interface

 

DR/High Availability

  • SQL Always on support
    • Cross subnet not supported
    • Supports only Synchronous commit mode
    • Does not support read-only secondary replicas
    • No offsite replica support (Azure)
  • SQL Mirroring is depreciated
  • Windows Fabric v2 introduced. Promised to address some of the issues with pool failover and startup. Start-CsPool commandlet introduced.
  • Conferencing will now continue to operate during failover


Migration Options

  • Support for in-place upgrades of purely Lync 2013 environments. In-place upgrades can be completed offline, or online if you have multiple pools.
  • In-place upgrade requirements:
    • Install CU5+ latest hotfix to Lync 2013 topology
    • PowerShell RTM version (6.2.9200.0) or later
    • Have at least SQL server 2012 SP1 installed
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 – KB2533623
    • Windows Server 2012 – KB2858668
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 – KB2982006
    • No schema updates required
  • Lync 2010, OCS or mixed environments will need to follow the normal migration procedures as with Lync 2013
 
Server Patching
  • Simplified process to apply updates
  • Reliable checks for pool readiness built in to update commands
  • Progress indicator to give a graphical representation on the update process.
  • During installation of Skype for Business there is a new option to download and apply updates

Deployment Options
  1. Purely on-premise
  2. Purely online
  3. Hybrib mix of the above
Additionally Skype4B can be deployed in a resource forest, however Microsoft are discouraging this, mainly because hybrid is not supported in this scenario.

New Commandlets
  • Start-CsPool
  • Stop-CsPool
  • Invoke-CsComputerFailover
  • Invoke-CsComputerFailback


Other

  • Skype Federation improved – Voice and Video, search Skype contacts by name
  • SILK codec (Skype) will be the default for peer to peer calls
  • Peer to Peer screen sharing bandwidth reduced 10x when compared to Lync 2013
  • IM history will now Sync across all devices

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. Very informative at one stop page rather googling for S4B. Please share why VIS server role is not fully featured & for federation partners (open & closed) Thank you.

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