Tuesday, August 25, 2009

OCS and the iPhone, now we're talking!

If you have an iPhone and have been frustrated about the solutions available to link up with Office Communications Server 2007 R2 (OCS) then wait no longer (video link below). Modality Systems has created iDialog in the Apple App Store for you at a price of $9.99. While many are shocked at the initial cost, if you weigh the options available from other vendors, it seems somewhat reasonable.


If you have an OCS 2007 R2 Communicator Web Access server you're all set. Typically when we set up these systems we have a split horizon DNS infrastructure so the server URL is the same if you're on the LAN via WiFi or over 3G.

In terms of feature set, most of it is there; just no conferencing (IM), application sharing, or voice callback. The buttons on the bottom of the application show "Contacts", "Chats", "Me", and "Settings".

The Contacts section shows your groups and takes about 5-10 seconds to appear. Each contact is selectable and will show Activity (presence), Calendar, email address, Title, Company, and various phone numbers based on your access level with them. You can tap to IM the person from the same screen. You can also tap a phone number and have the iPhone call them directly.

The Chats section shows any existing IM conversations you're having with people. It is important to note that when you hit the home button, the application doesn't stay running in the background and any conversations will be lost.

The Me section shows your Activity (presence), Note, Location, and phone numbers.

Lastly, the Settings section allows you to enter or correct your authentication settings. You need a domain\username, a password, and the URL to your CWA server.

So far I've found a few bugs with the grouping of IM contacts. Some contacts from other groups show up where they don't belong. Not bad for version 1.0.0 though :)

VIDEO: http://files.me.com/jasonshave/n10xuf (taken with an iPhone 3GS)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

OCS 2007 Caller ID (name) almost there....

...but not quite yet.

I've been waiting for this feature for quite some time as a lot of our customers see the lack of caller ID being a deployment blocker. Early on in the projects we heard different stories from end users who were frustrated with not having this feature. Some of them wanted inbound to work while others wanted outbound and to have the ability to mask their name.

With the latest OCS 2007 R2 updates on July 28, 2009 we now have caller ID inbound, and outbound can be enabled via the following MS KB article: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=972721.

So why "not quite yet"?

First, what you'll notice on a missed call or a voicemail is that the email you recieve doesn't have the name; just the number. I suspect this is due to Microsoft Exchange Server not knowing what to do with the name. Furthermore, I would assume the Exchange team is preparing a hotfix to accomodate the missed call/voicemail with name.....I hope.

Second, I've just finished updating my Tanjay phone to the 3.5.6907.35 firmware and unfortunately it doesn't pass caller ID. Grrrr! Also, if you're not getting caller ID on your MOC client and you have a Tanjay paired with your PC, unplug it and it should work again. It seems as though the Tanjay prevents the MOC client from displaying the name.

If you've ever wondered how it all works, I had a great escalation engineer in India provide me with an explanation.
  1. A PSTN call comes in and goes "ring no answer"; the call hangs up without leaving a message.

  2. OCS communicates with the Exchange UM server using a new "INVITE" command and relays the original information from the "INVITE" that came from the 'gateway' side of the Mediation server. As a side note, many people today are creating special Location Profiles for the Mediation Server so that inbound calls are normalized. This works well for calls that end up reaching users....but again, a missed call will only have the original number, not the normalized one.

  3. The UM worker process performs a lookup in the user's personal contacts to see if it can resolve the number to a name. If successful, a message is generated by the UM server and submitted to the Hub Transport server for delivery to the user's mailbox.

From what I recall at Exchange Ignite earlier this year, there are improved methods for looking up and determining caller ID (name) on onbound calls. As I learn more about this I'll post an update here.