Deploying Skype for Business Server (Part 1) Preparing Active Directory

During the planning phase we gather information about the future Skype for Business environment, and the Planning Tool provided the hardware and logical information about servers and roles. In this article, we are going to start deploying Skype for Business Server 2015.
The first step is to download the product, for this article we are going to download the evaluation from here. A registration will be required, and an ISO file will be available to download.
The hardware component was validated using the Planning Tool, the next step is to install Windows Server 2012 R2 (or Windows Server 2012) Standard or Datacenter to support Skype for Business Server 2015, last but not least we must make sure that a Windows Update was run and all updates are in place. Unfortunately, the latest Windows Server 2016 is not yet supported.

Preparing the Server for Skype for Business Server 2015

The first server is to prepare the first server to receive the Skype for Business Server 2015, the setup process can be started by running x:\Setup\amd64\setup.exe (where X: is the drive letter where the ISO was mounted).
The setup will install automatically the Microsoft Visual C++ 2013 which is a requirement for the installation process, and after that a location on the local disk must be defined to store the installation files, by default this location is C:\Program Files\Skype for Business Server 2015 folder. Click on Install, the process will require acceptance of the license terms and after that a connection with the Internet to check the latest updates will be performed, wait for the completion and click on Next when the button becomes available.

The entire process to install Skype for Business Server 2016 is using the Deployment Wizard which is a wizard that has step by step how to deploy the entire solution, and it tracks the progress as we move forward with the product installation.

Before starting the Deployment Wizard, the server where the first Skype for Business Server (Front End role) will be installed will require a series of features, the best way to accomplish that is opening PowerShell as administrator and run the following cmdlet. After the completion, restart the server and then we can continue with the Skype for Business Server deployment process.

Add-WindowsFeature RSAT-ADDS, Web-Server, Web-Static-Content, Web-Default-Doc, Web-Http-Errors, Web-Asp-Net, Web-Net-Ext, Web-ISAPI-Ext, Web-ISAPI-Filter, Web-Http-Logging, Web-Log-Libraries, Web-Request-Monitor, Web-Http-Tracing, Web-Basic-Auth, Web-Windows-Auth, Web-Client-Auth, Web-Filtering, Web-Stat-Compression, Web-Dyn-Compression, NET-WCF-HTTP-Activation45, Web-Asp-Net45, Web-Mgmt-Tools, Web-Scripting-Tools, Web-Mgmt-Compat, Desktop-Experience, Telnet-Client

In order to continue the process after the server restart is by opening C:\Program Files\Skype for Business Server \Deployment and click on Deploy. The Deployment wizard will determine the deployment state and that may take a few seconds during the initial start.

Preparing Active Directory…

The Active Directory preparation is composed of seven (7) steps altogether, but only three are preparation of the Active Directory and the other are checking and the last one is managing accounts to be administrator of the Skype for Business Server 2015 environment.

This operation will modify the current Active Directory, then the best practices requires to have replication in place and running smoothly, and a proper backup before starting this process. Also, you should have all FSMO up and running, we can check these servers by running netdom query fsmo.

The Deployment Wizard will list all steps in the proper order and they are numbered from Step 1 to Step 7 (Item 1), for each step we will have the Prerequisites and Help explaining the process (items 2 and 3), and finally the administrator can run the process using the graphical user interface (item 4). Keep in mind that in order to prepare Step 3, we must complete steps 1 and 2 otherwise the button will be grayed out.

The Prepare Schema (Steps 1 and 2), requires Schema Admins credentials to be performed, we can find that out by checking the Active Directory Users and Computers or running net user <user> /domain and check if the Schema Admins has the current user as member.

After clicking on Run, a small wizard will be displayed, just click Next and then wait for the completion of the process (it may take a few minutes) and the last page of the wizard allows the administrator to check the logs of the operation.

If we want to be a little more thorough, we can open ADSIEdit.msc, connect to the Schema, search for CN=ms-RTC-SIP-SchemaVersion and check the attributes rangeLower and rangeUpper, they should have the values 3 and 1150 respectively.

The Prepare Current Forest (steps 3 and 4) requires Enterprise Admins privileges, and in this step the Skype for Business Server groups will be created in Active Directory (they all start with CS or RTC on their names). In order to prepare the forest, click on run and leave default settings to complete the preparation.

In order to check if the process was successful, check the Users container in Active Directory Users and Computers, and several groups related to Skype for Business should be listed. Make sure to give enough time for Active Directory replication to take place in larger environments.

The Prepare Current Domain (steps 5 and 6) will configure the proper permission for the groups created in the previous step, just click on Run and leave default settings to complete the wizard.

In order to check what was done during this process, we can look at the Security tab of the Active Directory domain object, and we will see at least four (4) entries for the RTC groups.

The final step of this preparation process is to add the future Skype for Business Administrators as part of the group CSAdministrator, by default that group is created empty.

At this point we have our Active Directory ready to support Skype for Business Server 2015, we will continue the installation process in our next article of this series.

Anderson Patricio

Anderson Patricio is a Canadian MVP in Cloud and Datacenter Management, and Office Server and Services, besides of the Microsoft Award he also holds a Solutions Master (MCSM) in Exchange, CISSP and several other certifications. Anderson contributes to the Microsoft Community with articles, tutorials, blog posts, twitter, forums and book reviews. He is a regular contributor here at,, and Anderson (Portuguese).

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