Browsing Posts tagged Microsoft

Bob here.  I’ve had several discussions with companies about how Microsoft is looking to use Lync, along with Skype, to muscle into the telephony world, actually replacing old phone systems (ie, PBX’s and the like).

This is a good (somewhat techie) article discussing that very process.  However, most of the discussion is centered on the on site Lync implementations.  I think we’re going to see additional movement in late 2015-2016 timeframe where smaller organizations (

This article excerpt, by Kevin Kieller, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1AZQH5S


Microsoft Lync has had a good year in 2014, with a reported 5 million Lync voice seats now deployed and an ecosystem expanding around the tool. This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges ahead, though, especially as Microsoft moves ahead on its Skype for Business rebranding initiative. Let’s take a closer look at this year’s highlights and next year’s intentions.

As noted, Microsoft has reported deployment of some 5 million Lync voice seats in 2014. Other voice-related Lync highlights include:

  • Lync ranks third among IP PBX vendors in North America in organizations with more than 100 extensions, as noted by Peter Hale, an enterprise consultant with UK-based telecom and IT analyst firm MZA, at Enterprise Connect 2014 in March.
  • In October, for the first time ever, Gartner placed Microsoft in the Leaders section of the Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony.
  • As part of its report, Gartner rated Microsoft as the seventh-largest global corporate telephony vendor with significant annual growth––of 106%––in 2013.

Along with these rating and deployment successes, the Lync software, hardware and services ecosystem continued to grow:

  • An increasing number of IP phone set device vendors, including Polycom, Aastra, HP, snom, AudioCodes, Logitech and Spectralink, now support Lync.
  • A growing variety of USB audio and video devices support Lync: 34 wired headsets, 34 wireless headsets, 14 webcams and 11 USB speakerphones.
  • 55 SIP trunking service providers are qualified to connect with Lync 2013 (and 57 qualified with Lync 2010).
  • The number of Lync-compatible choices for gateways, survivable branch appliances and session border controllers is growing.
  • Lync Room Systems are now available from Crestron, Polycom and Smart.
  • Microsoft now has 81 certified Lync support partners, including 16 global support partners.
  • Lync functionality is expanding via a growing catalog of add-in applications for contact center, reporting, attendant console, recording, knowledge reinforcement and more (see the Office TechCenter for the most up-to-date list of qualified Lync infrastructure components).

And yet with all of the success in 2014, many enterprise communications managers still aren’t convinced that Lync alone can act as a PBX replacement. Consider these results from an attendee quick poll taken during my keynote for the recent Enterprise Connect/No Jitter virtual event, “Microsoft Lync: What Is the Impact for Your Enterprise?” (available on demand). When asked, “What do you think about Lync as a PBX replacement?,” respondents said:

  • Lync can be a PBX replacement: 38%
  • I would combine Lync and a traditional PBX: 40%
  • I would never trust Lync as my PBX: 7%
  • I am using Lync as my PBX: 15%

In 2014 the challenges associated with implementing Lync successfully remain much the same as over the past several years. These are:

  • Convincing naysayers that Lync absolutely can serve as a PBX replacement.
  • Realizing that implementing quality of service/class of service to prioritize real-time traffic on the network is a must.
  • Assembling a team with network, telecom, application and change management skills.
  • Recognizing that after you build your Lync environment you need the tools and skills to manage it (ongoing support often requires very different skills than design and implementation).
  • Committing to monitoring and driving quality, usage and adoption.

Looking Ahead


On Nov. 11, Microsoft announced that the next version of Lync will be called Skype for Business and is expected for release during the first half of 2015.

While much of the focus has been on the new name for Lync, the transition to Skype for Business is much more than a simple rebranding.

The next version of Lync brings together the development teams and technologies associated with Lync and Skype and in doing so provides unique business-to-consumer opportunities as Lync plugs into the massive scale that Skype has achieved: more than 60 million concurrent users, more than 550 million registered users, and 2 billion minutes of communications per day.

Specifically, Skype for Business will let corporate users directly connect to external parties using their Skype ID … no more complex and confusing process whereby Skype users need to sign in with a Microsoft ID in order to connect. Already we are seeing improved video interoperability between Lync for Windows desktop and Skype.

Skype for Business will provide an improved and streamlined user interface. Blind and consultative transfers will take fewer clicks, a small item but one that has been a top user requested feature. Interestingly, the new Skype for Business client will include both the classic Lync interface and the new Skype UI. IT shops will be able to flip the UI for specific user groups through a central policy. This is one of the ways that Microsoft is trying to help smooth the transition to Skype for Business. The promised in-place server upgrades is a second feature designed to accelerate adoption.

Moving Forward


Looking to another poll from the Dec. 10 Lync virtual event, we see that organizations are at many different points in their UC journeys:

  • We are piloting/deploying UC from our incumbent PBX vendor: 22%
  • We are trying to decide which vendor’s UC platform to select: 15%
  • We have not begun piloting/deploying, and don’t expect to in 2015: 10%
  • We have not begun piloting/deploying, but plan to in 2015: 16%
  • We are piloting/deploying UC from a vendor other than our incumbent PBX vendor: 37%

I suspect that most of the 37% who responded that they are piloting a solution not from their incumbent PBX vendor may be piloting Lync. If you are in the process of piloting or upgrading to Lync 2013, then I would recommend that you move ahead. Being on the Lync 2013 platform will make transitioning to Skype for Business easier when you decide to do this.

Lync continued its upward trajectory in 2014 and so far 2015 is looking good for the Skype for Business nee Lync team.

A short time ago we ran a little survey to determine what interest might exist for a sneak preview of the upcoming Windows 9 Operating System Technical Preview.  As an inducement to participate, we said we would enter each person in a drawing for a Simplex-IT “Glitter Rocket!”

The response was strong and the competition stiff. But today we’re happy to announce the lucky winner is Phillip Dipane of the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA). Congratulations to Phil and thanks to all those who participated.

But, you may be wondering, what about the results of the survey?

Perhaps not surprisingly folks showed significant interest in what new features may appear in the upcoming release. In fact , some of those features have already been confirmed while others remain only as speculation.

According to Redmond Channel Partner, “based on leaked screenshots that appeared late last week, the upcoming Windows release is being referred to as the “Windows Technical Preview.” It’s expected to bring back the Start Menu and permit Windows Store Apps to run in their own windows on the Desktop side of the operating system, which has all been confirmed by Microsoft officials.”

“The leaked screenshots show other features that may or may not get included into the final OS build. Examples of possible features that may be included in Threshold or Windows 9 include the elimination of the Charms Bar, Cortana integration, an Update button, a Notification Center showing alerts from apps or from the system, as well as a feature called “Virtual Desktops.” This supposedly lets users compose different screen views, which can be used to pull apps together.”

As you can see from the above chart, Simplex-IT Lunchinars, Webinars and YouTube recordings all placed strongly as preferred methods in which our respondents choose to be updated. For the FIRST word on any developments, however, check out this space. This is where we will breaking all the latest news. Stay Tuned!!

Microsoft has announced it is launching a new home page experience in Office 365. Initially, it will be rolling out to current Exchange or SharePoint customers. You access the new home page from the web experience of Office 365, which you get to by signing into the Office 365 portal. Once you’re there, you just click the Office 365 logo at the top-left of the page. New customers will automatically land on the home page when they first sign into Office 365. It looks like this:

New Office 365 Home Page

The New Office 365 Home Page

In the future, new services will be introduced via the home page, so you should know how to access it.

To accommodate a variety of start preferences, you can determine your own default landing page when you sign in to Office 365 via portal.office.com. They’ve made it super easy!

For the full story of the new Home Page, click here.

Ok, on first glance this looks like it’s no big deal, right? I can hear you saying “I can already take pictures with my Smart Phone.” Yes, but…

Office Lens doesn’t just take a picture. This new update gives you the ability to convert your pictures directly into Word documents and PowerPoint presentations – that are EDITABLE!

For Word, Office Lens recognizes the text and the document layout. All the text, formatting and layout in the Word document is preserved. Images of typed text become fully editable—just like you authored it at your desk.

For PowerPoint, all the handwritten lines and strokes are transformed into PowerPoint drawing objects that can be recolored, resized, repositioned and edited. That great infographic or sketch from one presentation can now be reused in other presentations.

This is truly impressive. But don’t just take my word for it. Watch this short video and watch the magic happen firsthand!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvvPxwyu3tE&feature=player_embedded

Very cool!

Despite the explosive growth of cloud services in recent years there remain those individuals and companies with deep skepticism around the safety and security of their data when it doesn’t’ reside in their own physical data center. With all the headlines about security breaches at Target, Home Depot and, yes, even the NSA, that mistrust is understandable. And when we talk to clients about cloud services like Microsoft’s Office 365, this is a prime concern that is frequently raised.

Trust is defined by Merriam-Webster as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something” and interestingly it ranks as the 77th most searched term on their website (at least it did today when I looked it up!). So it’s no surprise that companies like Microsoft have a significant challenge when it comes to earning and keeping their clients’ trust. But a recent Office Blog goes a long way in showing the steps they take to accomplish exactly that goal.

To view the entire article go to What Does It Mean To Own Your Data In Office 365? How We Aim To Raise The Bar On Visibility And Control Of Your Organization Data With Office 365.

Alternately, you can simply view the five short embedded videos in the article that will explain:

How Microsoft protects your data at rest
Who has access to your data within Office 365
How Office 365 does continuous compliance
Why trust Office 365? and
What does it mean to own your data in Office 365?

Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. That fact remains. Stuff happens. But I think you’ll agree after viewing these clips that Microsoft has done its homework. And they continue to work hard to earn your trust. If you haven’t already, maybe it’s time to reconsider how Office 365 can benefit your organization.

Sarah here. Ever find yourself wanting to learn new technology but not sure where to start?  Not familiar with Azure but wondering what it has to offer to IT professionals?  Working with System Center and need to learn more?  Want to know what’s coming up in SQL Server 2014?  Have no fear – the Microsoft Virtual Academy is here!

FREE eBooks

There are many Microsoft eBooks that are available for FREE!  Some of the titles available include:

  • Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2014
  • Microsoft System Center: Designing Orchestrator Runbooks
  • Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals
  • Rethinking Enterprise Storage: A Hybrid Cloud Model
  • Introducing Windows Azure for IT Professionals

These are just some of the titles available.  These eBooks are available in various formats – including PDF, EPUB, and Mobi for Kindle.  Did we mention that they’re FREE? You can find these books at: http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/ebooks

Online Courses

Regardless of whether you’re at home, in the office, in a hotel on the road, in a coffee shop, or anywhere else with Internet access, you can brush up your skills by taking online courses through the Microsoft Virtual Academy.  So many courses to choose from!  Some topics that are covered include:

  • Security Fundamentals
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
  • Datacenter for a Private Cloud: Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Office 365 Fundamentals
  • SharePoint Online Overview for IT Pros
  • You can find all of these courses over at the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Live Events

If you happen to be able to get away from work to sharpen your skills, there are also Live Events offered by the Microsoft Virtual Academy. Don’t be fooled by the name – these aren’t in-person events.  The MicrosoftVirtual Academy is keeping it virtual, but these online sessions are at a scheduled time, with live presenters.  They also have recorded sessions from past events.  Interesting topics include:

  • DevOps: An IT Pro Guide
  • What’s New in Windows 8.1 Update
  • Moving to Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure
  • Core Solutions of Exchange Server 2013 Jump Start

You can find these and more at: http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/Live-Training-Events

Conclusion

Microsoft has provided a resource for techies to get up to speed on their various technologies – take advantage of this resource to help stay up on where technology is and where it is going!  Check out the Microsoft Virtual Academy at: http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/

As evidence that more and more government entities are turning to Microsoft Office 365 cloud services in order to serve their constituents better and at a lower cost, the County of Los Angeles has recently announced they are rolling out this technology across their public safety, operation, and health and human services. “In all, over 30 departments will make the move,” it’s reported.

For this to happen in the most populous county in the United States, we believe this is making a big statement. Key in their decision, according to Dr. Robert Pittman, Chief Information Security Officer for the County of L.A. was the security and built-in compliance for both HIPAA and CJIS (The Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) provides state, local, and federal law enforcement and criminal justice agencies with access to critical, personal information such as fingerprint records, criminal histories, and sex offender registrations.)

If your agency is thinking about how to move their communications and collaboration forward, you can read all about it here: http://blogs.office.com/2014/06/18/passion-for-service-l-a-county-chooses-office-365/

Office 365Office 365 is well known as Microsoft’s offering for cloud-based email, but there’s a lot more under the hood than you may realize. Join Simplex-IT for our free June Lunchinar and we’ll show you how organizations just like yours are using Office 365 for enhanced collaboration, video conferencing, mobile file access and so much more! Plus we’ll review some of the latest Microsoft offerings for mobile devices, including iPads, iPhones and Android devices.

Note: this will be a BUSINESS discussion and not a technical deep dive, a real world overview about how businesses are increasing productivity and security without a huge up-front investment!

This is an important discussion you won’t want to miss!

When: Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 11:30am-1:00pm
Where: Stow Hampton Inn, 4331 Lakepointe Corporate Dr. (off Rt. 8 at Steels Corners Road)

As an extra bonus, we will be awarding a door prize of a Microsoft Xbox gaming system. Free food AND a free Xbox. How awesome is that!

We remind you, though, seating is limited. To reserve yours, go to http://bit.ly/1tWyTnE, email John@Simplex-IT.com or call 234.380.1277. Come join the fun!

March 27, 2014 – Microsoft has just announced that Office is available for the iPad – specifically, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. That’s right, you can get Office for the iPad at the App Store (for free)! This will give you the ability to view, read and present your Office files. For full editing functionality you will need to purchase Office as a subscription through Office 365. This will give you the added capability of installing Office on up to 5 of your devices!

According to Microsoft, “What makes these apps unique is that they strike just the right balance between being unmistakably Office and being designed for the iPad. If you use Office on a PC or Mac, the iPad apps feel very familiar, so you are comfortable and confident using these apps right away. The Ribbon layout and experience is familiar, with the most common commands under Home, and Chart commands automatically show up when you select a chart.”

“At the same time, these apps were created from the ground up for iPad. The large touch areas on the Ribbon and in overlay menus make it simple to create, edit and format documents using only touch. Resize and rotate objects like pictures with touch-friendly handles. When you hold and move the objects, text flows smoothly around them. No keyboard and mouse required. You can even use iPad features like voice dictation to draft a Word document or AirPlay® to project a presentation wirelessly on a TV screen.”

As if that weren’t enough, Office Mobile is available now for the iPhone and Android phones as well – for free!

And remember, you always have access to your up-to-date documents in OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.

So if you’re one of the many that have been waiting for Microsoft Office capability for the iPad, this is happy news indeed. Just head on over to the App Store and join the crowd!

Microsoft OneNote is an application designed for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It’s been described by some as their favorite Office app and has recently been made available for free on almost any platform. Hours after that announcement on March 17 OneNote jumped to the top of the free application chart on Apple’s Mac App Store (sorry, some premium features are available only in the paid version that comes with Office).

If you haven’t already, now’s your chance to become better acquainted with OneNote – courtesy of Simplex-IT!

This Thursday, April 10, from 11:00am – 12:00 Noon, join our own Michele Bobola for a free, fast-paced webinar and introduction to OneNote. You will learn how to keep track of what’s important to you, how to jot down your ideas, keep track of your notes and clips from the web, draw and sketch your ideas and more.

Using a free Microsoft OneNote account Michele will demonstrate how to store your notes on OneDrive so they are synchronized and available on all your devices whenever you need to refer to them. Other features she will review will include:

  • Making lists
  • Drawing and writing
  • Taking pictures
  • Scanning whiteboards and documents
  • Searching within notes
  • Sharing your notes with others
  • And more

Reserve your space for this free webinar here -
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/complimentary-webinar-onenote-how-to-capture-and-organize-everything-tickets-11060398951 – and we’ll send you detailed instructions on joining a day before the presentation. Or feel free to call 234.380.1277, or email John@Simplex-IT.com.

Then, download OneNote for free at www.OneNote.com and get ready to organize your world!