With the new release of Microsoft Office Communication Server 2007 R2 (@Microsoft internally called OCS 13) at the end of February this year, we have a great communications platform with many possibilities to improve communication between each other and availability of users.
In this article I will talk about the new features, their design prospects and how they should be deployed within production to make all new features work properly. In addition, I will talk about a way to communicate easier with Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging and Office Communication Server 2007 R2 – always better together.
Supported Operating Systems
With Office Communication Server 2007 R1, Microsoft only provided 32-Bit support. This lead to a lot of performance problems when using OCS with Unified Messaging functionality. 32-Bit operating systems are not performant enough.
Office Communication Server 2007 R2 is 64-Bit only and therefore requires Windows Server 2003 R2 x64 with Service Pack 2 or, Windows Server 2008 x64 with Service Pack 2, although server core editions of Windows Server 2008 are not supported. This means that each server is now able to provide the performance really needed in big unified messaging environments.
To make sure you provide the appropriate hardware requirements, follow this link.
To provide a best practice based design when planning for OCS 2007 R2 you should refer to the “Planning Tool for Office Communication Server 2007 R2”
Figure 1: Planning Tool for OCS 2007 R2
Phone Call Management Enhancements
Call Delegation Feature
The call delegation feature allows managers to delegate phonecall handling to assistants. The manager will be notified only if an assistant answers a call. Depending on the specific permissions delegated by the manger, the assistant can perform the following tasks:
- Screen 1 to 1 or conference calls on behalf of the manager
- Joining the voice part of a manager’s conference call
- Listen to manager’s voice mail
- Place a 1 to 1 call on behalf of the manager
- Initiate a conference call on behalf of a manager
- Transfer calls to the manager
The assistant can not screen Instant Messaging, Instant Messaging conferences, or data-only calls.
Team-call group forwarding options include the following:
- Ring leader then ring team
- Ring leader and team simultaneously
- Ring team only during working hours
- Ring team when leader status is set to Offline
Response Group Service
OCS 2007 R2 Response Group Service gives administrators the aibility to create and configure one or more small response groups for the purpose of routing and queuing incoming phone calls to one or more designated agents.
SIP Trunking and Enterprise Cellular Telephone Enhancements
With OCS 2007 R2 you can confiugre SIP-Trunks. This means that users in the LAN or WAN can make local or long distance calls by an E.164 compliant number. Any PSTN subscriber can contact the enterprise user by dialing a direct inward dialing number (DID).
Using Dial-in Conferencing you will have the possibility to join a running conference using a Dial-in connection from any PSTN subscriber you want. So you can join users to a conference who are temporary only available via telephone without PC.
Group Chat Services
Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Group Chat enables users to engage in persistent, ongoing IM conversations. Group Chat differs from group IM in that the latter is not persistent. After a group IM session has ended, its state is lost. With Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Group Chat, however, the conversation persists, along with all files, Web links, and other associated data. This persistence makes it possible to maintain complete records of each session. It enables the instant exchange of information across an organization and with external partners in a way that makes it possible to maintain a continuing flow of information among project members.
Group chat requires you to deploy three components that are new with Office Communications Server 2007 R2:
- Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Group Chat Server; which gives users access to Group Chat functionality.
- The Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Group Chat Administration Tool; which allows an Office Communications Server 2007 R2 administrator or delegate to manage chat rooms and users.
- Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Group Chat; a desktop client application that makes chat room conversations and features available to end users. It also enables users to send and receive IM, either in a chat room or singly with another user outside the chat room. If you want to make chat rooms available, you must install this component in addition to Office Communicator.
If archival of chat room content is required for compliance reasons, you can also install the optional Group Chat Compliance service.
Desktop Sharing Enhancements
Desktop sharing enables users to transmit a view of their desktop to others. With OCS Server 2007 R2 you have the possibility to use Desktop Sharing using both Office Communicator 2007 R2 and the Office Communicator Web Access client. This feature must be enabled for specific users on the server. Using Communicator Web Access you will need to install an ActiveX control onto the client. Communicator Web Access users participating in a desktop sharing session by using an Apple Macintosh or a computer running the Linux operating system can view or take control of a program, but they cannot initiate sharing.
You can define in the Office Communications Server meeting policy to revoke control, retake control, or stop the session.
Enhanced Media Quality
With the new performance of 64-Bit OCS users have:
- Improved media resiliency (even with bad network connections)
- Improved voice quality, including suppression of typing noise during calls, improved echo detection and reduced echoing at the beginning of a call, better regulation of audio volume among peer-to-peer callers and conference participants and improved codec selection for calls to the PSTN over low-latency connections.
Enhancements in Archiving, Call Detail Recording and Quality of Experience
Office Communications Server 2007 R2 provides enhanced out-of-the-box monitoring and reporting capabilities for new features and scenarios while simply using the deployment and administration of monitoring components.
Management Tool Enhancements
The key components of the new management console are:
- Simplified Topologies
- Enhanced Administrative Snap-In
- Improved Certificate Wizard
- Simplified Firewall Configuration for the A/V Edge Service with less ports
In addition to the management console, you can use the powershell for administrative tasks, too.
Address Book a s a Web Service
Former releases of OCS 2007 have provided users with global address list information by searching a local Address Book file that the client downloaded from a shared folder on a dedicated file server.
With this release this behaviour changed, because OCS 2007 R2 introduces the Address Book Web Query service to provide global address list information to users of the 2007 R2 version of Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile for Windows Mobile client. By using Address Book Web Query service, clients can provide results to users search queries by sending an HTTPS query over the Internet to the Address Book Web Query service instead of downloading Address Book files onto the mobile device.
As you have seen in the chapters above, Office Communication Server 2007 R2 is a great tool to provide unified messaging functionalities to your users. If you are running Exchange Server 2007 you will see, that the combination of both is the best, you can ever do. The presence information of the user’s Outlook calender is being transferred to the OCS client and a lot of things more. OCS 2007 R2 does no longer rely on old technologies and provides administrators a way to simply deploy unified messaging and collaboration in your companie’s network in a secure and powerful way.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.