Cloud PBX –  Who, What, Where, When and Why?

It’s no secret that Microsoft have announced that the already feature rich service that is Office 365, will now include “Enterprise Voice” within its Skype for Business Online service.

It has been a long time coming, we dipped our toes in the water in a previous (similar)  iteration that was entitled ‘Hybrid Voice’ – well now it is back and along with additional supported topologies, they are here to stay!

This post is intended to be a ‘living post’; with constant updates as information is released and functionality is unveiled.

Quick Point:

  • Skype for Business Server = On-Premise
  • Skype for Business Online = Cloud
  • Skype for Business Hybrid = integrated On-Premise and Cloud deployment

Today, Skype for Business Server:

So as it stands, anybody wanting to leverage the enterprise grade PBX functionality offered by Skype for Business, must deploy the on premise iteration of the product, Skype for Business Server (or a hosted service via a third party). This enables customers to migrate all telephony functionality into the new on premise infrastructure in a smooth, well structured approach when planned correctly.

There is often reluctance to do this and from experience, this is due to a lack of knowledge of the platform and its eco system partners capabilities.

In a nutshell, yes we can provide support for the following AND more;

  • TDM and analog trunking
  • Multimedia Contact centres
  • Call Billing and Reporting
  • Call Recording (PCI compliance too)

This is just a shortlist of the capabilities, for an overview of all trusted partner applications and supported infrastructure components, the Skype for Business Solutions Catalog is the place to be.

So hopefully, if you did not already, you do have a better understanding of where we are today….

Cloud PBX – What is it and Where are we going?

In line with the ‘New Microsoft’, cloud first, agile software releases etc. the following offerings are being made available;

  • Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling (US only as it stands)
  • Cloud PBX with on premise PSTN connectivity
    • Via an existing Lync/Skype for Business pool
    • Via Cloud Connector Edition
  • Cloud PBX PSTN conferencing

There are also additional programs, but those are out of scope for this post;

  • Android Preview
  • Broadcast Meeting

In addition to the Skype for Business Server offering, Skype for Business Online will now start to offer ‘Enterprise Voice’ functionality in the cloud through your existing tenant service.

It is important to note that initially, the service will not provide all the functionality that on premise counter part does, the following table shows the functionality announced today:

Office 365 Express Route

In my opinion, taking into consideration the nature of real time UC traffic, versus the more static content, in say Exchanged Server, network connectivity has been one of the reasons many organizations have not yet adopted Skype for Business Online.

Microsoft have now accounted for this in the form of Office 365 Express which is now Generally Available.

This service allows organizations to leverage a managed connection, from their local on premise infrastructure into the Office 365 data centre, adhering to the Quality of Service DSCP markings recommended for Skype for Business.

Again, in my opinion, whilst not mandated, I would recommend looking at adopting Office 365 Express Route within your network to ensure end user quality can be guaranteed, as opposed to best effort traversing the internet.

Cloud PBX with PSTN calling

I strongly believe, this is where everything is going. As you will see, each of the methods to achieve voice in the cloud, ultimately leads to this topology.

  • At the moment, this is an option available to the US only with plans for expansion CY16.
  • This offering allows customers, to utilise Microsoft as their sole telephony provider.
  • As it stands, this service is currently only available to US tenants, with a further geographical reach aimed for CY16.
  • Either acquire new telephone number ranges for organisation, or port your existing telephone numbers into the service and have no dependencies for on premise server infrastructure to deliver your telephony services.
  • User accounts are homed in the cloud, telephony services are hosted in the cloud, under a financially backed SLA. A summary of the topology may look like the following:

For customers interested, it is perfectly viable to pilot the service, acquiring telephone numbers for users and allowing for evaluation of the service in line with preview program updates. This is a clean, non disruptive way of testin out the Cloud PBX with PSTN calling functionality.

Whilst there is not feature parity with th, to account for this Microsoft have presented several ways for customers to achieve the Cloud PBX functionality, each of those will be discussed now.

To enable a user, you must;

  • Own an Enterprise Office 365 tenant that contains E5 licenses
    • OR E1/E3 + Purchase of the Cloud PBX License
  • Acquire new or port existing telephone numbers
  • Assign Office 365 E5 to the users in question
  • Assign on of two calling plans (current offerings)
    • Domestic only – which includes all 50 US states
    • Domestic and International – exactly as it states on the tin
  • Assign a telephone number to the user

It is a simple as that, there are additional considerations to be taken into account, Office 365 AADSync, ADFS dependent upon your requirements, but again out of scope for this post.

Cloud PBX with on Premise PSTN

Falling in line with the hybrid topologies, that allow organizations to transition services over time, Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX now supports this platform topology.

As stated earlier, the current cloud PBX service from Microsoft does not provide all of the functionality that is available from  an on premise deployment. To account for this, Microsoft allow for the retention of existing telephony carrier relationships and  on premise deployment applications such as contact centres, through the hybrid topology.

For those users that require corporate telephony, home them in the cloud, for users requiring access to custom ISV applications, they can remain on premise, whilst the organisation continues to integrate new functionality as it arrives within the online service.

This offering breaks down into two further offerings;

  • Cloud PBX with on Premise Skype Business
  • Cloud PBX without any existing on premise Skype for business Lync

Let’s explore each of these further;

Cloud PBX with on premise Skype for Business

This option is similar to the Hybrid Voice topology that was previously released and withdrawn, to and from the market.

It allows organisations to leverage the existing investment made into building out an on premise deployment with a view to transition all services to the cloud.

In this scenario, users are homed within Skype for Business Online, but the voice services required by the user are delivered via the Skype for Business Server (on premise) infrastructure.

Important notes to consider during planning:

  • To enable an SfBOnline user for this Cloud PBX offering, you must have provisioned your company domain (e.g. to your Office 365 tenant
    • domains are not supported
  • Lync Phone Edition must be updated to the minimum required firmware
    • Do not move users online before updating the firmware
    • If a user have been moved online, prior to firmware maintenance – DO NOT update the device firmware nor perform a hard reset
    • Move the user back on premise prior to updating or resetting the phone device
    • If a hard reset if performed, before the device is updated, it will default to PIN authentication, which isn’t supported
      • Which will answer any CX500 question…

System Requirements / Prerequisites

  • Front End Server must be running Skype for Business Server 2015 or Lynch Server 2013
  • Edge Server must be running Skype for Business Server 2015 or Lynch Server 2013
  • Mediation Server must be running Skype for Business Server 2015 or Lynch Server 2013
  • Enterprise Voice is configured and tested on premise, including all PSTN components; SBCs, IP-PBXs, PSTN Gateways…
  • Azure AD Connect 1.0.9125.0
    • Older versions of the tool must be upgraded
  • Hybrid Connectivity (Shared SIP address space) must be enabled between your on premise deployment and Office 365 tenant
  • To support Single Sign On for end users, Active Directory Federation Services must be provisioned
Cloud PBX with On premise connectivity, without Skype for Business Server:

This scenario applies to organisations that have not yet deployed any Skype for Business or Lync infrastructure, but wish to adopt the service for all Unified Communication and Telephony functionality.

In this instance, organisations must deploy a small ‘flavor’ of an SfB deployment called ‘Cloud Connector Edition’. This virtual appliance server is a virtual machine that consists of the following  server roles:

  • Central Management Store (CMS) Role
    • Configuration store for the topology components
  • Edge
    • Access Edge
      • SIP Routing between on premise and online services
    • Media Relay and Media Daly Authentication
      • Media routing and authentication token for media routing
    • Outbound Routing
      • Supports only global policies based on outbound PSTN numbers
    • CMS Replica
      • Maintains a copy of the CMS local and synchronizes data from the Global CMS
  • Mediation Server
    • SIP and Media gateway between Skype for Business and the on premise PSTN gateways
    • Includes as CMS replica
System Requirements / Prerequisites
  • domains are not supported
  • Cloud connector edition is currently supported on Hyper V hosts
  • Cloud connector is provisioned using PowerShell scripts that may change the configuration of your Hyper V Hosts – review them!
  • CMS and Mediation roles can be collected on a single Hyper V Host
  • Edge Server VM must be provisioned on a separate Hyper V hosts that is deployed into a DMZ
  • Administrator permissions over the Hyper V Host
  • Administrator permission to publish the topology in the on premise domain
    • AD Schema
    • Enterprise Admin
    • Domain Admin
  • External DNS Records
    • ap.<Domain Name>
    • mr.<Domain Name>
  • Your Office 365 tenant must have the required SRV records created for it
  • External Edge Certificates must be procured
  • Firewall ports 443, 5061 and 3478

This appliance, is used to create a SIP trunk connection to a supported PBX or SBC appliance, which becomes the gateway for the online homed user account voice traffic. Users are homed online and consume UC services via the online pool, whilst PSTN voice traffic is routed via the Cloud Connector VMs via the existing telephony infrastructure.

The following TechNet article details the required steps to implement Cloud Connector Edition – as this becomes available, keep an eye out for updates to this post!

Calls fail from Lync to Cisco Call Manager via SBC

Good afternoon everyone!

I have recently been involved in a Lync Enterprise Voice Telephony pilot, coexisting with Cisco Call Manager (CUCM) during the pilot phase.

So to help give a better understanding of the issue, the below diagram summaries the setup.




I liked to provide as much info as possible, if you need a quick fix, scroll down to the resolution section🙂

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Persistent Chat – All Channel Servers are down

I was recently rebuilding my home lab, purely as a refresher when I ran into a (new for me) hurdle when deploying Persistent Chat.

I had deployed;

  • Single standard Edition Server
  • SQL Server with Reporting Services, hosting Monitoring and Archiving

I had then decided to update my deployment by adding Persistent Chat to my Standard Edition Server (Collocated)

  • My lab was running the most current windows updates and SfB Updates
  • I updated my topology to include pChat
    • FQDN – SE01.uccorey.local
    • SQL Store – SE01.uccorey.local\rtc
    • File Share – SE01.uccorey.local\UCShare (File Share)
    • Remaining options left at default
  • Successfully published my topology with no issues
  • Started the Skype for Business Persistent Chat Service


When I then went to manage the service, via the Skype for Business Server Control Panel, I was presented with the following error;



The first area I checked was the event viewer logs, initially the “Lync Server” logs were not showing any issues and were only capturing my starting and stopping of the service.

After reviewing the application log, the following error was being presented;


After seeing this, I updated the permissions, on the MGC databases, under the RTC SQL instance located on my Standard Edition Server and then for good measure, restarted the server – which corrected the issue and allowed me to continue on with my pChat configuration.

Hope this helps you!

Skype for Business Broadcast Meetings Part 1

Unless you have been hiding under a gigantic UC rock, you will have no doubt seen the recent announcement from Microsoft around Skype for Business Broadcast Meetings.

Further enforcing the agile software release strategy of Cloud first, On-Premise second – should you fall into the latter category, this is the first Skype for Business feature release that is explicitly going to depend on hybrid connectivity being in place.

In Lync Server 2013, Hybrid connectivity always felt like an afterthought, something to bolt on, to help you get from A to B but there was never any real feature benefit from doing so (IMO – it was purely for migration purposes).

With Skype for Business, this has now changed – there will actually be scenarios where hybrid connectivity is required to not only allow for selective user placement and migrations, but also to enable specific functionality, Meeting Broadcast being the first.

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Skype for Business SEFA Util

For those wondering, Secondary Extension Feature Activation – SEFA🙂

I am slow off the mark with this one, but for those Administrators that have been using Lync Server 2013 SEFA Util, you will be pleased to know what a Skype for Business iteration has now been released!

Download here

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Office 365 E5 – Cloud PBX

So as Day 1 Keynote has now taken place, several additional anouncements have been made; with respect to UC, the most significant being the announcement of Office 365 E5 Licensing SKU…

From a recent summary email;

New Office 365 E5 offering: In October, we will introduce a new premium Office 365 enterprise suite. The new E5 plan will include Cloud PBX, analytics, Power BI, and advanced security capabilities, providing partners with a complete productivity and communications offering for their enterprise customers.

Stay tuned for more updates as they come through!


Skype for Business Mobility App Released

We were teased with the inclusion of an introduction screen in a recent update to Lync 2013 Mobile for Windows Phone, but as of Monday 6th July, version 6.0.1430.0 has been released – Skype for Business for Windows Phone.

Skype4B Intro Skype4B Version










At the moment, it seems to only be available for Windows Phone, with pretty much the same features, with an updated UI as it seems, but I will update if and when I find any differences, also as and when the iOS and Android apps are released – Happy Monday!


Centralised Logging Agent – Key does not exist

I hope everyone is well and enjoying their Skype for Business experiences, today’s post is more of a quick tip as opposed to in depth troubleshooting.

The fix will help you with you when troubleshooting at the component level though!

So a colleague of mine was having issues with Unified Messaging integration (which turned out to be a quick fix with OCSUMUTIL.exe), during the troubleshooting process I suggest he used the CLS logging tool.

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Skype for Business CU1 Released

Good morning, good afternoon and finally good evening!

On June 19th, Microsoft released the first Cumulative Update for Skype for Business Server 2015.

More information can be found here whilst the actual download is here.

In summary, CU1 addresses the following issues;

  • KB3069206 Exchange UM Auto Attendant can’t transfer call to phone/extension number in Skype for Business Server 2015 environment
  • KB3068921 RTCHost.exe process persistently consumes many CPU resources on a Skype for Business Server 2015 Front End server
  • KB3068926 Default presence configuration parameter is incorrect on a Skype for Business Server 2015 server
  • KB3068920 Skype for Business Web App connected to a wireless network crashes during audio/video or application sharing session
  • KB3068196 Call to a RGS number cannot be transferred to an available RGS agent in Skype for Business Server 2015-based client
  • KB3068197 Skype for Business Server 2015 RGS agent receives a toast for a second call after agent accepts the first waiting call
  • KB3068931 You cannot join a Skype for Business 2015 meeting when the server is deployed in Turkey system locale
  • KB3068932 “Device is not allowed to join” when you click a Skype for Business meeting URL on a Windows Phone 8.1 phone

Keep an eye out for updates to my previous post, for details on how to apply this update!

Happy Monday!

Lync Phone Edition Devices – Not updating

During a recent engagement, I had ran into an issue updating the firmware version on Lync Phone Edition Devices.

I initially kicked off with checks around DNS, Certificates, Ports and everything checked out but phones would still not update.

Test Devices had been configured correctly (using serial number and one using MAC) – still no joy.

The IIS logs are extremely useful; Jeff Schertz has excellent blog posts on Configuring LPE for Lync and Updating LPE devices which go into reviewing the IIS logs. In summary, it enables you to confirm whether devices are communicating with the device update site running on within the front-end pool, or in our case – NOT.

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