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Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Planning for Voice Deployment - Devices, Response Groups

8/6/2013 9:15:50 AM

1. Devices

After planning the necessary infrastructure components in a Lync Server 2010 deployment, remember that end users in the environment invest some time planning what the experience will be for them. The devices deployed alongside the Lync Server 2010 infrastructure have a big impact on how the project is accepted and viewed by an organization.


Lync Server 2010 has introduced support for analog devices, which was a feature lacking from Office Communications Server 2007 R2. There are many scenarios where it is simply not possible to remove the requirement for analog devices such as with fax machines, PA systems, or elevator phones. These devices are all analog based and there is no equivalent in Lync Server 2010 to replace them.


Analog devices are not intended to be deployed to user accounts for Enterprise Voice. Therefore, organizations should invest in a handset or headset for Enterprise Voice users.

To support these devices, an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) is required. Analog devices can be connected to an IP/PSTN gateway or survivable branch appliance that supports analog ports. On the server side, a SIP-enabled contact object is created to represent the analog device. Just like with a user account, a voice policy consisting of allowed PSTN usages can be assigned to the contact object and control the features that each analog device is allowed to use. Figure 1 demonstrates how analog devices are integrated with a Lync deployment through physical ports on an IP/PSTN gateway.

Figure 1. Analog Device Support

Because analog devices do not register to a Lync Front End pool, the IP/PSTN gateway or survivable branch appliance provides an interface to associate each analog port with a specified Line URI. Outbound calls from the port use the assigned Line URI, and inbound calls to the Line URI are routed to the associated port.

Handsets and Headsets

Each user enabled for Enterprise Voice services with Lync Server 2010 require an optimized audio device to ensure a good end-user experience. Enabling Enterprise Voice for users enables them to begin placing and receiving calls using the built-in speakers and microphone. However, these calls do not sound good for either party involved.

Using an optimized device enhances the user experience by ensuring that echo and background noise are reduced to a minimum. Many headset and handset options exist for an organization and it is likely that many different devices will be selected. Organizations might standardize on a few specific models, but different levels of users might require different feature sets. For example, users primarily in the office and not making many calls generally prefer a stationary handset, whereas customer service representatives on the phone all day might prefer a hands-free headset. Remote or mobile workers also tend to prefer headset devices, which are more portable and enable them to use a high-quality device regardless of location.

After distributing optimized audio devices to end users, it is important to provide end-user training for how to use these devices effectively. Because most users new to Enterprise Voice are not familiar with these devices, training should include a discussion of the functionality and flexibility available with voice services.

2. Response Groups

Before configuring Response Groups in Lync Server 2010, an organization should run through a number of planning steps to ensure that the workflow creation is as easy as possible. When a completed workflow diagram and configuration are created in advance, the actual creation of the workflow in Lync Server 2010 can be completed quickly.

The following steps ease the process of creating workflows:

Begin by developing a diagram of the desired workflow. This should include all the possible call flows that a user can be routed through. Also be sure to include scenarios for what happens when a caller becomes unresponsive.

Document the exact text that is played to callers so that it is available for text-to-speech translation or to be read for an audio recording.

If using audio files, identify a user who is responsible for the recording or hire a professional agency to create the recording.

Identify the queues required within the workflow. The queue planning phase should include specifying how many concurrent calls can exist within a queue and what action should be taken when the queue reaches capacity. If sending calls to a voicemail box, be sure that the mailbox is monitored in some way so that callers leaving a message receive a response.

Identify the different agent groups that will belong to the queues and the individual agents. Ensure agents are aware they belong to an agent group and are trained on how to handle calls. If using formal groups, make sure agents understand how to log in and out of the group to take calls.

Identify what business hours and holiday schedules will affect the workflow.

After collecting all the required information, proceed with creating the agent groups, queues, and workflow objects.

Thoroughly test the Response Group workflow. This should involve traversing every possible option within the workflow to ensure callers are routed correctly and never unexpectedly disconnected.

Perform any adjustments necessary to the workflow before placing it in production and allowing external callers to reach the workflow.

3. Planning Tool

Microsoft offers a free official Lync Server 2010 Planning Tool application, which can be used to suggest the required server infrastructure based on a number of questions. This tool does not take every scenario into account, but does provide a great starting point when planning a new deployment. Questions regarding user count, expected PSTN usage, and bandwidth estimates are asked along with questions about WAN connections and what kind of PSTN connectivity will exist.

At the end of the question section, a suggested topology displays for each site. Administrators can also enter IP address information and receive a detailed firewall requirements document. The entire topology can even be exported directly to Microsoft Visio or to the Lync Server 2010 Topology Builder to begin a deployment.

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