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Feature Overview and Benefits of Microsoft Lync Server 2013 : Presence (part 1) - Presence States , Access Levels and Privacy Relationships

11/18/2013 2:16:44 AM
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1. Enhanced Presence

Many presence engines have only a few presence states, such as Available or Away. These provide some insight into availability but traditionally require manual user management and offer little control over what information is actually published.

The presence engine Microsoft has developed behind Lync Server is referred to as Enhanced Presence, which is a combination of numerous presence states, access levels, interruption management, automated updates, application integration, location information, and multiple points of presence (MPOP). These features interconnect to provide a prolific amount of presence information that is simply not possible in many other systems.

2. Presence States

Lync Server presence consists of a presence icon and a status text string. A number of colors are associated with each presence class, operating on a scale similar to a stoplight from green to red. Although these colors provide a good indicator of presence, they are paired with a textual representation of the user’s presence when published, providing even more insight into the current status. Some colors can take on separate text strings depending on the user’s availability. For instance, the color red is displayed when a user manually sets her presence to Busy, but red can also be associated with the In a Call, In a Conference, and In a Meeting presence states. These are unique presence states, but they indicate a similar level of willingness to communicate at that moment. The core availability classes are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Microsoft Lync Server Presence States

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3. Access Levels and Privacy Relationships

Privacy relationships are the component of enhanced presence used to control the amount of information visible to contacts. In prior iterations of Communications Server, these were referred to as access levels, but they are now called privacy relationships in Lync Server. Instead of publishing the same presence to all subscribers, a user can control the flow of information based on differing privacy relationships assigned to contacts.

The enhanced presence model publishes more than just a user’s presence name; it also includes email address, title, company, address, working hours, and a multitude of other attributes.


Note

A user might not want to expose all of this information to a user, so privacy relationships can be used to distribute only the necessary information to subscribers. A user can also adjust the relationship for each contact individually, giving the user complete control and flexibility for managing the information provided to contacts.


The privacy relationships available in Lync Server are as listed here:

Friends and Family—Shares all contact information except for meeting subject and meeting location. This level is intended for personal contacts.

Workgroup—Shares all contact information except for nonwork phone numbers. Contacts assigned to this relationship level can interrupt the user when his status is Do Not Disturb.

Colleagues—Shares all contact information except for nonwork phone numbers, meeting subject, and meeting location. This is the default relationship assigned to contacts in the organization.

External Contacts—Shares all information except for phone numbers, meeting subject, and meeting location.

Blocked Contacts—Shows only the user’s name and email address. Contacts assigned to this relationship cannot reach the user through Lync endpoints.

The functions allowed and information displayed for each privacy relationship are outlined in Table 2.

Table 2. Information Shared Based on Privacy Relationship

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4. Interruption Management

Access levels control interruption management because they determine whether a contact can initiate a conversation with the user at a particular time. For example, a contact assigned to the Company access level cannot interrupt with a phone call or an IM message when the user’s presence is set to Do Not Disturb, but someone assigned to the Team access level sees the status as Urgent Interruptions Only. This provides a visual cue to the team members that the user doesn’t want to be disturbed, but can be interrupted for a critical issue. When a conversation is initiated, the receiver sees a pop-up notification called the toast in the lower-right corner of their screen.


Tip

Enhanced presence doesn’t only help to suspend toast pop-ups or phone calls. Endpoints have the option to suspend audio sounds when a user’s status is Busy or Do Not Disturb, and as an added bonus, they have the capability to pause Windows Media Player audio when an incoming audio or video call is detected. Although automatically pausing a media player might seem trivial, the value of not having to bring Windows Media Player to the foreground and fumble for a Pause button or Mute button before answering the phone call is significant. This speaks to the seamlessness of Lync Server and the productivity gains it can provide to end users.


 
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