Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lync Server 2010 Virtualization Whitepaper

This document outlines a series of best practice recommendations for running Lync Server 2010 in a virtualized environment.

Download Here

Supported Hypervisors

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V (note that Windows 2008 SP2 is not supported)
  • VMWare ESX 4.0
  • Others that have been validated through the SVVP program

Note: The guest OS must be Windows Server 2008 R2

Supported Functionality

LyncVirt - roles

Scale Comparison Table

LyncVirt - scale

Read the whitepaper for all the details.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Updated Exchange 2010 SP1 Help File (CHM)

Microsoft just released an updated help file for Exchange 2010 SP1.  This one download contains the complete technet content for Exchange 2010 in a single, searchable file.  A must have resource.

Download Here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review of Plantronics Voyager Pro V2

I usually don’t write reviews of products, but I felt compelled to after receiving and using the new Plantronics Voyager Pro V2 optimized for Lync.  This review will not go into all the features of the headset, just the things that I think set it apart from other Lync devices.

First off, this Bluetooth headset is very compact and comes in a great carrying case.  The case is rigid with a magnet clasp and a holder for the Bluetooth dongle.

Here are some images of the device in the carrying case and the components.




Like with all certified devices for Lync, the headset is plug and play and is immediately recognized and usable by my Lync client.

Plantronics - Lync Device Select

But what makes this headset really cool is the optional software that allows you to control some really great features.  The software can be downloaded from

The software has rich plug-ins for Lync, Cisco, Shoretel, Avaya, and Skype.  I choose to just install the Lync and Skype components.

Plantronics - Software Install

The software installs three components: Update Manager, Control Panel, and Battery Meter.  Let’s look at the Control Panel configurations.

plantronics - Device Tab

The Device Settings options allows you to control ringtones and a great new “Smart Sensor” feature.  The device has embedded sensors that detects whether you are wearing the device or not.

Plantronics - Device Settings2

The different components that I choose to install:

plantronics - Applications Tab

Again, the “Smart Sensor” settings that can adjust your Lync presence:

Plantronics - Preferences Tab

Now for my favorite two features:

1) Battery Meter in the System Tray

plantronics - sytstem tray

2) This headset is also paired to my cell phone.  Now when I receive/make a call on my cell, it changes my presence in Lync to Busy.  Once I hang up, it resets my status within Lync!

Plantronics - Presence status Busy

Now that is cool.  I definitely recommend this headset to anyone looking for a PC/cell headset.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lync Server 2010 Best Practices Analyzer Released

The Lync Server 2010 Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) has just released and can be downloaded here.  The Lync BPA is only designed to scan Lync components and not OCS components.  You will need to use the OCS BPA if you need to scan OCS infrastructure.

Lync BPA

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Using the Exchange Processor Query Tool with the Mailbox Storage Calculator

This post describes the new Exchange Processor Query Tool, plus how and when to use it.  The tool can be downloaded here.

ProcQuery - ProcQuery tool blank

The Mailbox Storage Calculator is a key tool when designing an Exchange storage infrastructure.  On the Input Tab, in the Role Requirements section, the processor configuration needs to be entered.

ProcQuery - MB Calc blank

The Old Way

Before we get into the values needed, let’s step back in time before the Exchange Processor Query Tool existed (just so that everyone appreciates this new tool available to us).  We used to have to calculate our own “Adjusted Megacycles” for the Mailbox Calculator.  This included the following steps with a nice little math problem at the end (from the Mailbox Calculator tool instructions):

  1. Open a web browser and got to
  2. Click on Results, highlight CPU2006 and then select Search CPU2006 Results.
  3. Under Available Configurations, select SPECint2006 Rates and click Go.  Under Simple Request, enter the search criteria (e.g. Processor matches x5550).
  4. Find the server and processor you are planning to deploy and take note of the result value. For example, let's say you are deploying a Dell PowerEdge M710 8-core server with Intel x5550 2.67GHz processors (2670 Hertz); the SPECint_rate2006 results value is 240, with a value of 30 per core (known in the formula as "new platform per core value").
  5. The baseline system (HP DL380 G5 x5470 3.33GHz, 8 cores), has a SPECint_rate2006 results value of 150, or 18.75 per core (known in the formula as "baseline per core value").
  6. To determine the megacycles of the M710 platform, we will use the following formula:
    Megacycles/core = ((New platform per core value) * (Hertz per core of New platform)) / (Baseline per core value)

Alright, let’s stop right there….

The New Way

Obviously the “old way” could be a little confusing and cumbersome.  Now with the new Exchange Processor Query tool, we only need to know the following things before getting started:

  1. Processor Type (ex. Xeon x5570)
  2. Number of total processor cores in the planned server

When we open the tool, we first enter in the processor type and select “Query”.  This will query the database of all available models of servers that have this processor type, configurations available, and the Average Result for the Rate Value.

ProcQuery - ProcQuery tool query

Next enter in the number of total processor cores planned for your server configuration.  This will automatically fill in the Average Result Value in “Step 5”.  The Average Value can be used for the calculator or you can use the actual value of the model in the query results:

ProcQuery - ProcQuery tool procnum

Now we enter that value into the Mailbox Storage Calculator:

ProcQuery - MB Calc filled in - markup

With this value filled in, the Mailbox Calculator will calculate the Total Available Adjusted Megacycles and the CPU Utilization Rate.

ProcQuery - MB Calc RoleReq

Friday, February 11, 2011

Exchange Support for Windows 2008 R2 SP1

UPDATE (2/11/2011): The Exchange Team has released a statement that Windows 2008 R2 SP1 will be supported with the following Exchange versions:

  • Exchange 2007 SP3
  • Exchange 2010 RTM
  • Exchange 2010 SP1


As of yesterday, Microsoft announced the release of SP1 for Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7 (see here).  Currently the Exchange team has not announced support for SP1.  The Exchange team will soon release a statement and update the Supportability Matrix that will show official support.  Most likely SP1 will not be supported until SP2 for Exchange 2010 (but again, nothing is official yet). 

I will post again once the announcement is made, but the official word will come from the following places:

The guidance is to always wait for official support from Microsoft before applying any updates to your Exchange Servers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Lync Tools Released: Planning Tool and Visio Stencils

The Lync product team has released the following tools this week:

Planning Tool

The Planning Tool is designed to help companies design a Lync topology based on a series of questions.  The tool will produce what hardware components are needed and allow you to output the results into a file that can be uploaded into the Lync Topology Builder.  The following screenshots show some of the options and questions within the Planning Tool.

Welcome Screen:

LyncPT - welcome

Central Site Options:

LyncPT - central site

Branch Site Options:

LyncPT - branch

Virtualization Support:

LyncPT - virtualization

Datacenter View of Topology Design (note the Hardware and Virtual Configuration sections and the references to external links):

LyncPT - datacenterview-markup

The Planning Tools also allows you to export the configuration to Excel, Visio, Topology Builder or to a printer:

LyncPT - datacenterview-markexport

Several reports are generated that include….

Network Diagram:

LyncPT - network diagram

Certificate, Firewall and DNS reports:

LyncPT - summary report

Thanks to the product team for doing a great job on this!

Visio Stencils

Microsoft has also release a Visio Stencil set to assist in documenting and designing your Lync environment.  These are essential in providing visual representations of the Lync topology.

lyncvisio - icons

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Using the ECP with a Non-Mailbox Enabled Account

The Exchange Control Panel (ECP) was designed to allow administrators and users the ability to perform common management tasks within Exchange 2010 without installing any Management Tools.  This is a great option that the Exchange team included with Exchange 2010.

With Exchange 2010 RTM, it was not possible to log into the ECP unless the user logging in had a mailbox.  This is ok for most users since one of the design goals of ECP was to provide a way for users to “self-service” their account.  Users can get to the ECP by selecting Options –> See All Options…within OWA.



Where this breaks down is that best practices state that users which require administrative rights should split accounts so that the user has an everyday account (that is mail enabled) and a privileged account (that is not mail enabled).  With Exchange 2010 RTM, this pushed administrators to enable their administrator accounts for email or just use their everyday account to administer Exchange.

Starting with Exchange 2010 SP1, non-mail enabled accounts can now log into the ECP.  As an example, the following user ExchangeAdmin is a member of Organization Management and does not have an email account.


Most users access the ECP from the Options menu in OWA.  If ExchangeAdmin tries to log into OWA, they will get the following error:


In order for the ExchangeAdmin to be able to log into ECP, they will need to use the URL that takes them directly to the ECP to log in.  In my example, this is  The non-mail enabled account can now log in and access the ECP:


Now with Exchange 2010 SP1, non-mailbox enabled accounts can log in to the ECP.