Monday 27 April 2015

Skype For Business : What is New

Microsoft has re-branded Lync 2013 Client as Skype for Business (SfB) Client and released that update on 14 April 2015. It will rebrand next version of Lync server as Skype for business (SfB) server 2015 and will release officially it on 1 May 2015. This article’s objective is to explain what new features it brings along.

Skype for Business: What’s New

1.    User experience
a.      New Look and Feel: The Skype for Business client looks very similar to the consumer version of Skype. If users in your business already use Skype to stay in touch with friends and family in their life away from work, they will appreciate the power and simplicity of Skype for Business. At the same time, If users are coming to Skype for Business from Lync, they will recognize all of the features they already use but in a fresh new interface with simplified controls and some great new additions:
b.      Call Monitor: The compact Call Monitor window appears during an audio or video call whenever the main conversation window is minimized. To show the full conversation window again, simply double-click or double-tap the Call Monitor. It lets you continue to monitor call progress and mute/end the call, While focusing on other tasks.
c.      Quick Access to call control: Access to the dial pad and call controls is much improved. For public switched telephone network (PSTN) calls, the dial-pad and call controls remain visible throughout the call. For non-PSTN calls, the dial-pad and call controls are accessible with one click
d.      Skype directory integration: Skype for Business users can connect over the Internet with hundreds of millions of Skype users in business-to-business and business-to-consumer scenarios. From the Skype for Business client, users can search the Skype directory and add contacts. Audio and video quality are improved through the use of the SILK codec that Skype already uses.
e.      Skype Meeting and Conversation Window: Simplified arrangement of controls and menus makes it easy to find the command you need. In the conversation window, chat text is formatted so you can easily see who is talking.
f.       File transfer preview: When someone sends you a file, select Download in the IM window to update the file's icon, or right-click or tap and hold to forward, preview, or delete it.
g.      Emoticons: Skype for Business now includes the same set of emoticons found in the consumer version of Skype. You can turn off emoticons in Skype for Business by going to Options > IM.
2.      Voice and Video improvements
a.      Chat and presence reliability: SfB Client will have around 25% reduction in traffic for presence and sign-ins. SfB client caches more data and don’t require a complete refresh of data during re-sign in thus allows reduced traffic use.
b.      Response Group Service (RGS) enhancements: RGS has been enhanced to improve scalability in SfB Server
c.      Call Quality Dashboard (CQD): CQD is essentially archive of QoE data that’s processed by SQL Server Analysis Services to produce a cube-based reports
d.      Call Data Collection and Analysis (Rate My Call): The Rate My Call feature lets Skype for Business Server 2015 administrators collect call data, access standard reports, and export raw data for further analysis.
e.      Call via Work: Call Via Work is a new feature in Skype for Business Server which enables you to integrate your Skype for Business solution with your existing PBX phone systems
f.       Interoperability with Cisco Video Teleconferencing (VTC) systems: Video Interop Server (VIS), new standalone server role introduced in Skype for Business Topology, acts as an intermediary between Skype for Business Server and VTC systems.
g.      Mobile device support improvements: Mobile users can access Conversation history, missed IM and call log data. Meeting functionality available on the desktop is available to them. Android SfB app offers features similar to what’s available on iOS and on Windows SfB app.
h.      SILK Codec in SfB: SILK is available in Lync 2013 desktop client today for peer-to-peer (P2P) calls. SILK will be default codec for all Skype for Business and Skype P2P sessions.
3.      Management of on-premises servers
a.      In-place upgrade: You can upgrade Lync Server 2013 systems to Skype for Business Server 2015 using the new in-place upgrade feature, which uses existing Lync Server 2013 hardware and server investments, thereby reducing the overall cost to deploy Skype for Business Server 2015.
b.      Smart Setup: The Smart Setup feature, which automatically detects and downloads updates, is now part of the Setup program
c.      Improved Front End Server patching and upgrade process: These improvements enable you to patch servers much quicker than in previous versions, and with more reliability and a simpler workflow.
d.      SQL Server AlwaysOn: Skype for Business Server 2015 adds support for both SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups and SQL Server AlwaysOn Failover Cluster Instances. In addition to these features, Skype for Business Server continues support for database mirroring and SQL Server clustering, as in past versions of Lync Server.
e.      Centralized logging and troubleshooting improvements: Reliability and performance have been improved for both the Centralized logging service and the Centralized Logging Service Agent (ClsAgent.exe)--the service executable that communicates with the controller and receives commands that are issued by the administrator.
Skype for Business Server 2015 uses Windows PowerShell cmdlets to manage the logging service agents, initiate tracing, and generate reports. (Lync Server 2013 used ClsController.exe to perform these tasks.)
4.      Cloud Integration
a.      Administrator can sign-in to an O365 tenant and set up hybrid using wizard from SfB control panel
b.      Administrator can move on-premises users to SfB online and vise a versa using control panel
5.      Multi-factor authentication

a.      Skype for Business Server 2015 continues to build on the multi-factor authentication features available in the Lync Server 2013 Cumulative Updates. With Skype for Business multi-factor authentication, it is now possible to provide different authentication options based on geography. For example, customers can configure their environment so that internal authentication relies on Integrated Windows Authentication, while employees authenticating from outside the organization use multi-factor authentication

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