Deploying Lync Server 2010 (Part 1)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

You may have notice that Microsoft is grouping all technologies in product families and we can see that with Forefront, System Center and the well-known family called Unified Communications (UC), in the UC family we have the following core products Exchange Server, SharePoint and Lync Server 2010 (former OCS Office Communications Server product) and this is the topic of this article series.

Lync Server is a great product with several options and I wouldn’t dare to explain everything in a single article however, I would like to go over several features and roles of the product as we go along with the series. The main idea of the article series is to understand how the pieces fit together in a Lync deployment and how to deploy them.

Using all products together your company will be able to improve end-users’ productivity and share information in a whole new level. The integration allows Exchange and Lync Server to collaborate on several areas, such as: Voice/Telephony, Presence, Meetings and so forth.

In this article series we will be creating an initial Lync Server 2010 deployment as simple as a single server can go and from that point on we will be working on some additional roles to show you how they can be introduced in an existent environment. Additionally, you learn how all elements integrate with each other and how they add capabilities to the Lync Server.

You may have read my article series published  a couple of months ago here at MSExchange.org  about Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and Exchange Server 2007, the first article is Deploying Exchange Server 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2 (Part 1) and bear in mind that Lync Server is the newest version of OCS 2007 R2 and for that reason some concepts are similar. Also, you may see some similar information in both articles series (this one and the OCS one) such as Planning Tool, Automatic logon and etc…

New features introduced in Lync Server 2010

Lync Server 2010 raised the bar and brought a lot of new features and capabilities compared to the previous version (OCS 2007 R2). It’s time to list some of the new features before going any further with planning and deploying phases of our article series. Here are some of the new features of the Lync Server 2010:

  • Windows Server 2008 and x64 support only. Like other products Windows Server 2003 and 32bits are no longer an option of installation.
  • Deployment improvements: We have a new component called Central Management store which is responsible for all Lync Server 2010 deployment and topology, any changes have to be defined and validated in this component first and then applied/deployed in your environment.
  • Command Line Interface: Yes, now we don’t need to run VBscripts or WMI to get stuff done, we have PowerShell and tons of cmdlets to manage our Lync Server environment.
  • Web User interface to manage: Now, we don’t need to install admin tools, we can use a simple and efficient web administration tool to manage the majority of settings of the product. Note: some settings still require you to use PowerShell.
  • Web based client: The new Lync Web App is built-in with Front-End Server and allows users that do not have the Lync client to join meetings.
  • Director role now is a real role that cannot host any users on it
  • A/V Conferencing Server can be separated from the Front-End for performance and scalability reasons
  • Mediation Server can be collocated with Front-End Server
  • Telephony improvements that allow Lync Server to replace the existent PBX system

It’s just some of the new features and we are going to check them out during this article series. Time to understand the Front-End role and after that fire it up your LAB to start testing the Lync Server 2010!

Lync Server and the Front-End role…

Lync Server shares a lot in common with his big brother Exchange Server, you will notice that during this article series and I can foresee some key areas, such as: RBAC (Role Based Access Control), Lync Server Control Panel, Autodiscover to allow clients to logon automatically, and deployment based in roles.

If you are an Exchange Administrator you know that in order to have the basics to run an Exchange Server without any fault tolerance or high availability you can use a single server (virtual or not) and that server must have these three roles: Client Access Server, Hub Transport and Mailbox.

As a Lync Administrator you may ask a similar question, and in the same scenario described above the answer would be one server as well and that server will host a role called Front-End.  So, by having just a single serve we can have the following capabilities in our environment:

  • Internal Instant Messaging and Presence
  • Application Sharing
  • Audio and video calls between Lync users
  • Telephony integration (if collocating the Mediation role on the same server)
  • Conferencing

Let’s stop a little bit here and I will explain a subtle difference in naming when deploying Lync Server and also go over capacity planning for the initial Lync Server.

Using Lync Server you have two versions of the product: Enterprise and Standard. 

  • Enterprise Edition
    This version of the product provides high availability and fault tolerance when deployed properly where we can have our Lync Databases in a SQL Server or servers (SQL cluster is recommended because with the Enterprise version you definitely aim at avoiding a single point of failure in your design) not sharing resources with the Front-End servers. When you have an Enterprise Deployment the series of Front-End roles is called Front-End Pool.
  • Standard Edition
    This version is the simple one where the database and Front-End components are installed on the same server, in some documentation they refer to it as Standard as well.

Now that we know the basic difference between those two roles you can talk about sizing of the Front-End role. In order to understand the big picture when the topic is Front-End role, let’s start for the number maximum of users of a single Front-End Pool (since I wrote pool I’m talking about Enterprise, right?) is 80,000 users. It’s not a fixed limit but that is the number that Microsoft tested and recommends for an environment.

A Standard edition is able to support up to 5,000 users and each Front-End server of a pool (Enterprise Edition) is able to support up to 10,000 users. These numbers are for physical servers. Based on these numbers a Front-End Pool can have the maximum number of servers to support the number of users plus one server to be used in hardware maintenance and updates when necessary. How about if you have 150k users to be enabled on Lync Server? In this scenario the recommendation is to have two pools to handle that number of users.

Lync Server is fully supported in a Virtual Environment (Hyper-V or VMware) however, the number of users supported is less than the physical environment and there are some gotchas when deploying several roles. The thumb rule is 2,000 users per Standard Edition Virtual, while for the Enterprise is 5000 users per virtual server.

If you are thinking about Virtualization, a few key points may be useful: the operating system must be Windows Server 2008 R2 and if all hardware allocated to the Virtual Machines is very similar to the requirements of the physical boxes then you can have the same amount of users.

Understanding our initial scenario for this article series…

Since we are going to work a lot in deploying new components to our infrastructure, let me explain our initial scenario and from there we can move forward. You can also deploy the same scenario in your test lab in order to follow this article series.

All servers have the prefix POA (I’ve receive this question a couple of times, what is POA? Well, that is the acronym for my hometown Porto Alegre located between Brazil and Uruguay) and my internal Active Directory FQDN (Full Qualified Domain Name) is apatricio.local and my external domain name registered is andersonpatricio.org.

Server name

Server Role

IP

Notes

POA-DC01

Domain Controller

192.168.100.1

 

POA-CA01

Enterprise Certificate Authority

192.168.100.5

 

POA-EX01

Exchange Server – CAS/HUB/MBX

192.168.100.10

 

Table 1

Based on that scenario we will be introducing additional servers to support the new Lync Server workload that we will be adding to our current environment but before doing that we are going to plan the entire process using a tool called Planning Tool which gives us guidance in deploying our Lync project and integrates with the Deployment Tool of the product.

Conclusion

In this initial article we went over the Front-End server role and in our next article we will be planning our deployment based on the above scenario, and then we continue with the Lync Server 2010 deployment itself.

 

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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