Lync Mobile Deployment Considerations

Article Written by:  Rob West

If you are a Lync system administrator or IT Pro, you’ve probably heard about Lync Mobility clients being released. Such a cool thing. One-click conference joining, mobile presence, etc. Why wouldn’t you just roll it out, organization wide to everyone with a mobile phone or tablet?

Well, just slow down there, cowboy.

Microsoft provides some good guidance on getting things running in the Lync Mobility Guide and there is a short discussion on sizing in this technet article, but that isn’t the whole story.

Considering PSTN usage

If you have just enough capacity to manage your existing user base and their current Lync PSTN usage, what effect, if any, will deploying Lync Mobile have on this capacity? Will you need to increase the number of trunks or simultaneous sessions to account for an increased load?

What? You didn’t know that Lync Mobile, when used for voice, uses a line on your PSTN circuits? Well – you do now. When a Lync Mobile user dials someone from the Lync Mobile client, or touches to join a conference, one the PSTN lines associated with the user’s front-end server gets used to call the mobile phone.

But, that being said – you need to ask yourself some questions. (Well, maybe you need to ask your users a question, but nevermind.)

  1. When a user is using Lync Mobile, what are the chances they will also use their desktop client to access the PSTN? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t need to increase capacity.
  2. Will increased mobility adoption lead to greater Lync usage in your organization? In other words, when people have it on their phones, which (if you are like me) they check incessantly, will it lead to more usage of the Lync client?

Cultural Considerations

Let’s just say that you’ve solved the capacity problem, or it isn’t a big deal after all. All systems go, right? Well, kinda.

  • Have you asked your users or thought about what carrying Lync presence around with you will do to your culture?
  • Are users ready to be more available?
  • What does this do to work-life balance?

All questions I’d be sure and answer before giving your people this “gift.”

Some organizations thrive on constant contact and pin their productivity metrics to it. Some – the sane ones, IMO – try to achieve a bit more balance.

Supportability

If you’re like most organizations, you’ve just rolled out Lync, or done so in the last 12-14 months. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and already rolled out OCS and Lync is an upgrade. But in any case, you’ve worked hard to train your support staff on how to help users with Lync on their desktops and laptops.

  • Have you prepared them for helping with mobile phones?
  • Are they ready for the additional complexity once Lync Mobile is in the mix?
  • What about BYOD? Will you support Lync Mobile clients on platforms that are not standard for you?

This last one is interesting – as there doesn’t seem to be a way today to block – outside of written policy – specific clients (e.g you’re an iPhone and Windows Mobile shop and you don’t want Android phones, or vice versa.)

Because of this, you might find yourself in the unenviable position of tacitly allowing unauthorized clients using your Lync system because there’s no way to block them. This implies support: “Well, then why does it work?” It also does interesting things to your metrics, and probably, to your InfoSec specialists.

To sum up, the decision to deploy Lync Mobile is a good one, but a little due diligence can go a long way in heading off potential problems in that deployment. Watch for hidden cultural “gotchas” and try to gather as much information about how users want to work so that you’re not surprised by radically shifting usage patterns.

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