May 5th, 2017 | Tags: ,

The Microsoft folks that create some awesome Skype for Business training kindly asked that I collaborate with them on updated RealConnect for Office 365 training. This was recently shared via a blog post and the video that @Korneel Bullens and I produced is embedded below.

March 1st, 2017 | Tags: , ,

Almost a year ago Polycom and Microsoft jointly announced at Enterprise Connect a new cloud video interoperability service – RealConnect for Office 365.

Following this announcement I wrote a post that covered this in more details and talked about this on Microsoft’s Skype for Business broadcast vlog.

We’re now in preview within the US and I wanted to give folks an overview of the provisioning flow, it’s still not the final design – in the future the provisioning app will be embedded within a native Office Store Web App and this has minimal branding. Nevertheless it answers a lot of questions around security and how much effort it takes to get the service deployed – the video is live and it’s 8mins! (including commentary)

February 28th, 2017 | Tags: , ,

As many of you are no doubt already aware Skype for Business on-premises provides a mechanism for users to easily sign into IP telephony devices, this process is referred to as PIN authentication. It provides end-users with an easy way to authenticate with Skype for Business without the need to input a full username and password on the phone. Of course, if the phone is paired with your desktop PC via “Better Together” functionality this makes things easier, but given that 3rd party interoperability program or (3PIP) devices require additional software for network-based pairing – this often isn’t deployed.

Now let’s level set on a few limitations to be aware of with PIN-based authentication:

1. As an IT admin DHCP options needs to be configured appropriately, specifically option 43. This lets the phone know the location for the certification provisioning service, this then in turn facilitates a secure TLS channel between the phone and the Skype for Business server. Once the authentication is completed the phone retrieves a client certificate which facilitates access to various services, this process is referred to as “TLS-DSK”. This private certificate provisioning service isn’t published externally, so remote workers need to use the process previously mentioned, “Better Together”.

Note: Polycom VVX phones can be configured to work in absence of deploying this option (provided Internet time is configured and available), refer to the parameter dhcp.option43.override.stsUri documented within the UCS Lync and Skype for Business Deployment Guide.

For more information on Option 43, I’d recommend you refer to this post by Jeff Schertz.

2. Given that PIN authentication grants the phone access to Skype for Business services this does not help with Microsoft Exchange, for this NTLM sign-in is still required. Once complete calendaring details can be populated – this is important if you want to perform Skype for Business “Click-to-Join” from the phone’s calendar.

So now let’s talk about Skype for Business Online Web Sign-In, this is a new (heavily understated) feature that allows users with Skype for Business Online accounts to sign into their phone with minimal phone intervention or the need for the 3PIP Better Together AKA the “Better Together-over-Ethernet” companion application.

Let’s first walk you through the process and then we’ll examine how it works.

Step 1: We select the new Web Sign-In option via the phone home screen

Step 2: Once Web Sign-In is selected the phone displays a unique device code, this code is generated within the region the phone is set to and is retrieved via the Device Configuration Web Service

Step 3: Via your computer web browser access the web page displayed on the phone and enter the email associated with your Skype for Business Online account

Step 4: Once the email is entered the user is prompted to sign-in with his or her Office 365 account credentials

Step 5: Enter the device code displayed on the phone screen

Once the code is entered the phone vendor details are displayed

Finally the web page acknowledges that sign-in is complete and the browser session can be closed

The phone sign-in completes without any user intervention

That’s it!

Next up let’s look at how this works behind the scenes. The first thing we need to understand is that Modern Authentication (OAuth 2.0) is used to facilitate this authentication process. Note: even with Skype for Business Online set to

“Set-CsOAuthConfiguration -ClientAdalAuthOverride NoOverride”

(as per documentation here) Web Sign-In is still possible.

The flow chart below outlines the interaction via the various services:

Step 1: The IP Phone requests a localized device pairing site and pairing code (valid for two minutes).

Step 2: The end-user opens their local device pairing website within their web browser. After inputting their device pairing code they are redirected to the Skype for Business device pairing website (where authentication credentials are added).

Step 3: Once authentication is completed an OAuth 2.0 access token is shared with the IP Phone.

Step 4: The users UPN is extracted from the token and Skype for Business autodiscovery is performed against this account.

Step 5: The Skype for Business online server responds and issues a user certificate (valid for 8 hours) with the access token. Remember TLS-DSK?

Step 6: SIP registration completes. That’s it!

If you’ve not tried IP Phone Web Sign-In then I’d recommend you give it a go, as always comments welcome.


October 3rd, 2016 | Tags:


So at Ignite Albert Kooiman and I had the opportunity to re-unite and present some more details around the new Office 365 video interoperability service both Polycom and Microsoft are co-developing. This was a 300 level session where Albert and I started with a general overview and then went into more architectural details on this new service due for public preview later this year.

The session is embedded below and PowerPoint available for download here (this is not available on the event page right now)

September 1st, 2016 | Tags:


Earlier this year Polycom and Microsoft jointly announced a new joint cloud video interoperability service.  The goal here is giving Microsoft’s Skype for Business Online users a way to schedule meetings with the ability to easily add video room systems from vendors like Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize etc. You know, the kinds that either don’t play nice with Skype for Business or have direct Microsoft registration capabilities.

This sounds easy right? Well often this isn’t the case, you might need to deploy various boxes, go through a complex integration or even break the existing Skype for Business end-user workflow. This new service is geared toward making this easy, the technology is Polycom’s RealPresence Platform and the solution itself is RealConnect. This is all to be fully integrated with Office 365, hosted within Microsoft Azure and operated by Polycom.

Over the next few months more detailed information will be shared, next week Albert Kooiman and I will discuss this solution and also provide a demo of the experience, so don’t miss our Skype for Meeting Broadcast. Then at Ignite expect an even deeper dive on how this all works.

Webcast join details below:

Join Polycom and the Skype for Business team to hear and see a demo of the new Polycom cloud-based video interoperability service for Office 365 users. Built directly into the Skype for Business workflow, users can easily use this service to create an online meeting that Office 365 and other video endpoint users can join.

Join the Skype Meeting Broadcast, Friday, September 9, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. PST.

Speakers: Angela Donohue, Albert Kooiman, Adam Jacobs

Update: Recording from the Skype Meeting Broadcast is now posted online

January 7th, 2016 | Tags:

Late last year Polycom released UCS 5.4.0 for their VVX portfolio, this was a major milestone as it introduced the ability to register to Skype for Business Online and Microsoft’s new Cloud PBX service. Whilst the VVX handsets are the first and (as I write) only 3PIP devices to support Microsoft’s online authentication mechanism “Org-ID”, the Lync Phone Edition handsets have supported this capability since their CU7 update.

Note: For those interested about Office 365 authentication, whilst Org-ID is the current mechanism, this is being transitioned to a new OAuth-based protocol – ADAL. Both are expected to work side-by-side until this transition is completed by Microsoft.

For more information on how to update your VVX to UCS 5.4.0 refer to a post by Jeff Schertz, here as I will spend time throughout the rest of this article to cover Skype for Business Online IP Phone Manageability.

3PIP IP Phones typically have their own way of being managed, in many cases via a vendor-specific XML files which in turn are provisioned via a centralized server – typically a secure Web or FTP server. Snom some time back introduced the ability to leverage Lync in-band policies by adding custom parameters via PowerShell, whilst this worked it very quickly became difficult to manage and does not address use cases whereby a phone requires a base configuration i.e. correct time/date and the phone itself isn’t signed-in.

We’ve also seen Event Zero take this further and provide a subscription-based solution, UC Commander, this can be hosted on-premises or in their cloud and gives you all the granular controls you might need (at a cost) within an extremely intuitive web-based graphical user interface.

With Microsoft’s Cloud PBX a base set of parameters can be configured via Online PowerShell, to connect to Skype for Business Online PowerShell, follow the following steps:

  1. Open PowerShell, type $credential = Get-Credential
  2. When prompted enter your tenant admin credentials
  3. Leverage the credentials to connect to Online PowerShell by typing, $session = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $credential
  4. Import the Online Powershell session by typing, Import-PSSession $session
  5. To retrieve all available manageability commands type, Get-CsIPPhonePolicy (see output below)

If anything doesn’t go to plan, refer to Microsoft TechNet documentation on Connecting to Skype for Business Online by using Windows PowerShell


So let’s take a look at these parameters and how to change them. First off you might notice that none of these share the same names as their vendor-specific counterpart, that’s due to the fact that some of these may become common between vendors. I’ll however focus on those that are specific to Polycom 🙂

Parameter Default Value Description
UserDialTimeoutMS  5000 Specifies the time in milliseconds to wait in On-Hook mode before dialing out automatically. If a user enters a phone number and does not click dial, the system will dial the number after the number of milliseconds specified. The default is 5000.
EnablePowerSaveMode  True If enabled, phone goes to power savings mode (display turns off) based on values of the PowerSaveDuringOfficeHoursTimeoutMS and PowerSavePostOfficeHoursTimeoutMS parameters.
PowerSaveDuringOfficeHoursTimeoutMS  900000 Specifies the time in milliseconds to wait during office hours before turning on Power Save mode. The default is 900,000.
PowerSavePostOfficeHoursTimeoutMS  300000 Specifies the time in milliseconds to wait after office hours before turning on Power Save mode. The default is 300,000.
EnableOneTouchVoicemail  True Specifies whether the Visual Voicemail feature in Skype for Business Online is enabled. If set to $true, the feature is enabled, otherwise $false.
EnableDeviceUpdate  True Specifies whether the IP device will be updated by the Skype for Business Online service. If set to $true, IP devices will get firmware updates from the service, if $false the device will not be updated. The default is $true. Customers with an on-premises provisioning server are expected to change this to $false
EnableExchangeCalendaring  True Specifies whether an IP device is enabled to connect to the Exchange Online calendaring service. If $true, users are able to connect to their Exchange calendars. If $false, users will not be enabled to connect to their calendars. The default is $true.
EnableBetterTogetherOverEthernet  True False Specifies whether the Better Together Over Ethernet (BTOE) feature is enabled for users. If $true, and if the BTOE plugin is installed on the IP device, the user can tether the device to a PC and sign in to Skype for Business Online. The default is $true $false.
LocalProvisioningServerUser Blank Specifies a username for the provisioning server.
LocalProvisioningServerPassword Blank Specifies the password for the provisioning server.
LocalProvisioningServerAddress Blank Specifies the address of the provisioning server for your organization.
LocalProvisioningServerType  FTP Specifies the server type for the phone. The default is FTP.

To change/set a parameter type:

Set-CsIPPhonePolicy -<ParameterName> <InputType>

For a full list of parameters refer to this TechNet document.