July 6th, 2018 | Tags:

It’s no secret that existing IP Phones have been granted an upgrade path to Microsoft Teams and I’m not talking about Android-based IP Phones (which have a native upgrade story), refer to a video I took back at Enterprise Connect of Polycom’s Trio 8800 running the native Teams IP Phone experience

3PIP interop was originally announced via a blog post from Thomas Binder and has since been updated multiple times, the key information that can be gleamed here is that a 3PIP phone registered to a Teams-enabled SfBO account will be capable of:

  • Incoming/outgoing P2P calls (when calling a Teams-enabled Skype for Business phone user)
  • In-call controls via UI (mute, hold/resume, transfer, end call)
  • Phone notifications about upcoming meetings
  • Calendar access and meeting details
  • One-click join for prescheduled meetings
  • Mute/unmute for conferences
  • List of meeting participants
  • Hold/resume for conferences
  • Hang up from conference calls
  • Ability for IP phones to add another Skype for Business user to an ongoing meeting by using the Add Participant feature

In this post I want to look at “One-click join for prescheduled meetings”. Firstly note prescheduled meetings, this is not “Meet Now” and it’s also only possible at the moment by leveraging the Outlook Microsoft Teams scheduling add-in.

So in my test I created a Teams meeting invite via Outlook and sent this to a user that was signed into a Polycom Trio (in this case the Trio was running in Skype for Business mode). Both users were running in “Islands” mode, more on these coexistence modes can be read here

Sure enough within the Trio calendar there was a “join” button, but how?

Let’s look at the invite, I decided to open the calendar invite and save the meeting as an HTML file. I then opened the file within my browser


There we see a Conference Uri, the “OnlineMeetingConfLink”, this URL clearly re-directs the endpoint to a Teams-specific meeting gateway which then allows the Trio to join the meeting (audio only)

Very cool!

June 20th, 2018 | Tags: ,

Just a quick post, I’m currently camped out at Microsoft and we’re executing the RealConnect on-premises certification for Skype for Business Server 2015. I had to rack my brains when I was asked about how we could:

  1. Remove a single VTC from a meeting via a Skype for Business client (without ejecting others)
  2. As an organizer end the meeting for all participants both Skype for Business users and VTCs

This can be enabled on the RealPresence Collaboration Server via a system flag and is the same flag used to enable the roster for individual VTC participants, specifically:


This flag value can be specified as:

  1. ENABLE_CONSIDER_ORGANIZER  – enables VTCs within Skype for Business roster, conference organizers can disconnect individual VTCs and “ending the meeting” will result in both Skype for Business and VTCs being disconnected
  2. ENABLE_IGNORE_ORGANIZER  – enables VTCs within Skype for Business roster, conference organizers cannot disconnect individual VTCs and “ending the meeting” will not result VTCs being disconnected
  3. DISABLED – disables VTCs from being displayed within the roster (only cascaded link is shown)
  4. <BLANK> this will result in the same behavior as ENABLE_CONSIDER_ORGANIZER

It’s also documented that VTCs can also be prefixed to help identify them versus Skype for Business participants by updating the system flag POLYCOM_EPS_DISPLAY_NAME_PREFIX_IN_LYNC_ROSTER, I usually set this value to “VTC/” (without the quotes)


January 16th, 2018 | Tags:

As most folks are already aware Microsoft Teams has a dramatically different architecture to Skype for Business, gone is the baggage that came with on-premises technology – Teams is built for cloud first so with that comes a number of changes, one of which is the meeting URL.

The first thing that you will notice when you create a Teams meeting is that it is presented with percentage encoding, this is the first thing we’ll need to strip out or decode prior to deciphering the Teams meeting URL. Below is an example of a meeting generated via the Teams Outlook add-in.


Various URL decoders are available, one such example here

Let’s next break this URL into four sections:

1: Thread ID

2: Thread Message ID

3: Tenant ID

4: Organizer ID

Now one of the things you’ll notice within the example above is that the thread message ID is not populated or zero, this is due to the fact that we created the meeting within Outlook, if we create a meeting within a Teams channel and also perform the same decoding outlined above the message ID is now populated:

October 10th, 2017 | Tags: ,

Small update, the Microsoft Ignite presentation on video interoperability with Skype for Business on-premises and online has now been posted. This was a joint Microsoft, Polycom and Pexip session whereby existing certified solutions were explained (including an overview on the certification program itself) and finally an update on the future direction of video interoperability with Microsoft Teams.

Check the session out here

September 26th, 2017 | Tags: ,

This week I’ll be at Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft’s biggest IT Pro event of the year and it’s always a good time to catch-up up with customers, industry folks and learn a thing or two about what’s coming next from Microsoft’s technology stack.

This year Polycom will be sharing details around some new devices and technologies that they’ve been cooking up, one of these being near and dear to me a new RealConnect solution – RealConnect Hybrid. But before we dig into this let’s level set.

Skype for Business has gotten to a point whereby it’s become an extremely credible conferencing platform, delivering voice, video and content (including PowerPoint sharing, polling and white boarding). The experience for Windows, Mac and mobile users is second to none. The gap that Microsoft certified vendors (Pexip and Polycom) address is the ability to bring non-native Skype for Business devices into these meetings, for many meetings this isn’t a requirement so simplicity of deployment and minimal technical foot print is key. These non-native devices (VTCs) are typically expected to have a longer return on investment as they’re often embedded into existing meeting rooms and handled as integrated A/V solutions.

Back in April (2017), Polycom launched RealConnect for Office 365. It was the first (and still the only) solution that allows Office 365 users that leverage Skype for Business and Exchange to schedule meetings with integrated video interoperability capabilities – Polycom also nailed the simplicity piece as the entire stack is hosted within Azure (with little to no on-premises technology foot print). Whilst this was received extremely well, it became immediately clear that something similar needed to be made available for Skype for Business on-premises customers. Again, I go back to my previous statement – “simplicity of deployment and minimal technical foot print is key”.

RealConnect Hybrid is a new solution that facilitates this requirement, in this topology Skype for Business is on-premises and Exchange can be either on-premises or online. Customers can even choose to mix both RealConnect for Office 365 with RealConnect Hybrid if they have a Skype for Business Hybrid topology or when they’re slowly migrating to Microsoft’s cloud.

The illustration below, credit: Jeff Schertz, outlines the RealConnect Hybrid topology.

Unlike other solutions in-market this does not require Skype for Business meeting invitations be sent to a room or service mailbox, the in-meeting experience is identical to RealConnect for Office 365 (gateway mode) and the Polycom platform automatically joins the on-premises Skype for Business meeting via the meeting scheduler’s Edge Server. This multi-tenanted Polycom platform is at time of writing deployed globally within five Azure data centers (see below) and is not only fully resilient but ensures the closest instance to the VTC is leveraged to reduce Internet hops.

  • West and South-central US
  • West and Northern Europe
  • South-east Australia

This is expected to continue growing over time.

The RealConnect Hybrid solution is powered by the Polycom Cloud Relay, this is a minimal footprint virtual machine that houses a number of Polycom micro-services – two of which will be relevant to this solution.

  1. RealConnect Relay – this component is integrated with one of the customer’s on-premises Skype for Business (or Lync 2013) Pools. This configuration is performed via Microsoft’s Trusted Application integration and once deployed meeting join information is relayed securely to Polycom’s hosted service. Only meetings whereby VTCs join are relayed and information that is transmitted is less than a few kilobytes in size!
  2. One Touch Dial Service Agent – this optional component can be enabled for Cisco VTCs that require the need for Click-to-Join capabilities. The use case here is whereby the Skype for Business invitation is sent/forwarded to a resource mailbox assigned to a Cisco endpoint, this can then be translated by a new Polycom multi-tenanted cloud hosted service.

The illustration bellow, outlines the One Touch Dial Service cloud dashboard whereby administrators can monitor, manage and deploy endpoints that require Click-to-Join capabilities:

I’m really excited for this new solution to come to market and seeing how deployment of Skype for Business video interoperability can no longer be a huge undertaking with this solution capable of being up and running in under an hour. Both RealConnect Hybrid and the One Touch Dial Service are set for general availability before the end of the year, with betas starting soon.

If you’re attending Ignite this week feel free to come say “Hi” at the Polycom booth and if you’re keen to learn more about Skype for Business video interop, come to a session I’ll be co-presenting together with Doug Anderson, Srividhya Chandrasekaran (Microsoft) and Marius Nilsen (Pexip) on ”Video Interop for Skype for Business …and path forward to Microsoft Teams” Friday Sep 29th at 9am.

For more information on Polycom solutions that are compatible with Microsoft Teams and the RealConnect announcement read the recent press release here

September 6th, 2017 | Tags: ,

For folks that are either trialing RealConnect for Office 365 or have purchased this solution from Polycom they may already be aware that this solution leverages a new scheduling service from Microsoft – referred to as “Modern Scheduling”. This can only be utilized via an updated Skype for Business add-in which is shipped as a part of Office 2016 Click-to-Run.

For those that are not already aware Click-to-Run or C2R is a distribution model, in this case leveraged by Office, whereby updates are streamed to a Windows Desktop. This allows Microsoft to deliver features and fixes on a more regular basis and is the default installation package for Office 365 subscribers. Microsoft have previously announced that from 2020 this will be the only way to connect to Office 365 services. There’s also a simple way for existing MSI-based installations to be converted to C2R, or create an offline installer for Office 2016 C2R here

With the background on this out of the way there are some other items to be aware of, specifically that when Modern Scheduling shipped some of the existing Skype for Business Meeting Options did not function as they did previously. Some of these impacted that ability to seamlessly bring a VTC into a Skype for Business Online Meeting without manual admittance or presenter promotion via an in-meeting organizational Skype for Business client. Let’s address these one at a time:

  1. The ability to schedule a Skype for Business meeting and set everyone to bypass the lobby (including VTCs) has been fixed in Office 2016 C2R 16.0.8431.2022
  2. For those that also want a VTC to have the ability to present content (without promotion to presenter), the option below will need:

a) Office 2016 C2R 16.0.8320.2145 and

b) To ensure their Skype for Business Online Meeting Configuration is updated as per below, for this to be executed you need to be a Global Administrator:

For more information on Office 2016 C2R mainstream supported versions this is published here, whilst Insider information is published here