Adventures with Microsoft Lync

LyncYes I know I’m an open source evangelist, and it’s against the grain for me to do, let alone write, anything with Microsoft products. Well that’s not strictly true, I always try as many technology products as possible – usually to just have a look but this time, Lync is a product I’m quite excited about. I’m not 100% setup yet, but getting there.

For those asking, “what the hell is Lync?” I guess the easiest way to describe it would be an enterprise version of Skype. It ties into your existing Microsoft infrastructure, so Exchange/Outlook, Sharepoint etc providing instant messaging, VoIP calling, voice or video confererencing, desktop sharing or as its otherwise known Unified communications.

Have a watch of this video which gives you a fluffy explanation of what it is/does:

I started with a base 2008 Server install and Lync 2010 but there seemed to be something drastically wrong with the 2010 installer, after a couple of server rebuilds I decided to try Server 2012 and Lync 2013. First of all, Server 2012?? WTF?

Back to business, its not the easiest install to go through and the process made me realise how much hardware would be needed for the bloat contained within. That being said, I’m still looking forward to seeing the results.

First step was to make sure all the prerequisites were in place, .NET 3.5, IIS and messaging features. With all these in place I could fire up the Lync installer, first step C++ runtime installer.

Now we’re at the installer, which installs the deployment wizard. OK so I’ll stop right here, yes its MS bloatware, yes there are a lot of unneeded steps that could surely be combined into one easy wizard, but I won’t go into these any more. Besides, the next steps, although there are multiples, are quite interesting.

Prepare the AD Schema – Obviously with this being an enterprise product you need to have an Active Directory structure in place, in order to install and run a Lync infrastructure first of all the AD schema needs to be updated so it contains the relevant attributes and classes needed  (more details here).

Prepare first Standard Edition Server – This prepares the server to host the Central Management Service needed by Lync, ah what you say? Essentially it installs and/or configures the SQL server and databases needed to build up the environment needed by Lync. It was at this point I realised how bloated big the Lync install is and how much bigger (I guess this would be termed scalable) it could be. For this install i’m setting up what could be termed a “Lab” but for larger environments it could be scalable to 1000’s of users/servers.

Lync Server Topology – another whatty what? Again I guess what adds up to the scalability of this setup is producing a topology, this section gets you to setup the domains and sites – I guess comparable to Active Directory itself – specifying the components of the setup such as voice, conferencing (audio/video/application sharing) call control, mediation services, where SQL servers reside (yes I thought we did that in the last section too), web services etc etc etc.

Once you have specified your configuration you can then publish it. This is as far as I’ve got at the moment, but I will continue this with more as soon as I have it…

I may be able to make a test call soon!