What’s New with Skype for Business Server 2015?

By Gonzalo Escarra| July 09, 2015

The next version of Lync Server 2013, rebranded Skype for Business 2015, was launched last month, and along with the new name comes a new set of features:

In Place Upgrade from Lync 2013

If you are running Lync 2013 and are at the latest patch level, you can upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2015 by going through a small series of steps and performing an in-place upgrade. Since the hardware requirements are the same as Lync 2013, an in-place upgrade makes sense and is the recommended upgrade scenario by Microsoft. If you are running Lync Server 2010 you can still upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2015, but the upgrade is a more traditional side-by-side path.

New Server Role, the Video Interoperability Server (VIS)

Many companies have invested in video-conferencing or telepresence systems, and now you can integrate those systems into Skype for Business for a more immersive video experience. The VIS role enables interoperability with certain approved video conferencing room systems (so far only specific Cisco Tandberg systems that support H.264) and enables a richer experience without extra investment. Oh and did I mention this new server role is free?

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Skype Directory Search

In addition to being able to federate with Skype users regardless of using a Microsoft account or Skype ID, now you can search for contacts directly from your Skype for Business client. In order to gain that federation functionality, your implementation will need to be provisioned via Microsoft’s PIC or Public IM Connectivity portal, which enables the federation from Microsoft’s datacenters to your SIP domains.

Call Quality Dashboard

The Monitoring Reports from Lync 2013 get a brand new look and make troubleshooting call quality issues a lot easier. A new “role,” or more like a series of web-based reports that leverage the monitoring database, give you a nice dashboard that can show subnets, users, locations, conferences and other groupings that are trending with potential quality issues. Here is a sample:

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SILK Codec for Peer-to-Peer calls

More a client-side feature than a server-side feature, your peer-to-peer calls between Lync 2013 (latest update) and/or Skype for Business clients will use the SILK protocol, which was originally developed by Skype and later acquired by Microsoft. SILK is built to work around quality issues inherent to home Internet connections, such as jitter, latency and packet loss. This means clearer calls that can withstand worse network conditions than RTAudio was able to.

SQL AlwaysOn Support

Skype for Business Server 2015 adds support for both SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups and Failover Cluster instances, in addition to the previously supported SQL Mirroring and SQL Clustering from Lync 2013.

There are many other features that come with both the new Skype for Business Server 2015 and Skype for Business client. For further details you can visit the Microsoft TechNet article.

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