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Feature Overview and Benefits of Microsoft Lync Server 2013 : Presence (part 2)

11/18/2013 2:18:11 AM
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5. Automated Status Updates

Presence is a great indicator of a user’s willingness to communicate, but if left to the users to manually manage, it tends to be inaccurate. A user cannot always remember to change his presence to Busy when walking into a meeting or back to Available when returning to his desk, so Lync Server leverages a user’s calendar and manages these kinds of updates on his behalf. If a user has an appointment on the calendar, his presence automatically changes to Busy during the appointment and then goes back to Available when the appointment concludes.

Endpoints also differentiate between personal calendar entries considered appointments and meetings with multiple attendees. In the preceding example, if the calendar entry is a meeting instead of an appointment, the status changes to In a Meeting instead of Busy, indicating that the user is most likely in the company of others and probably is engaged in conversation.

This calendar integration can be performed from Microsoft Office Outlook if installed, or if the user’s mailbox is hosted by a Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 or later, endpoints can use Exchange Web Services to log in and pull the calendar data directly from the mailbox using Lync Server credentials.

In addition to the calendar integration, Lync Server keeps track of a user’s activity at an endpoint and can automatically mark an endpoint as Inactive or Away after a certain period. This ensures that if a user has walked away from an endpoint without changing his presence, subscribers can see the last presence state with an Inactive designation as part of the status. Even though the user is still signed in, subscribers can tell they probably won’t get a response when trying to initiate a conversation.


Tip

The integration points mentioned previously provide a way to keep presence information up to date automatically. However, the user has the option to manually override her presence to any state.

6. Multiple Points of Presence

Lync Server presence has the added flexibility of being read from multiple endpoints simultaneously. This enables a user to be signed in at multiple locations or endpoints that publish presence independently. The server then aggregates these endpoints and forms a single presence class that is published to subscribers.

For instance, a user can be signed in to Lync on a desktop, again on a roaming laptop, at home on a Mac, and also on a mobile device. Each of these endpoints publishes presence independently, and the server then forms the user’s presence appropriately.

Having multiple clients signed in is generally considered a problem because how does a user know which endpoint to send a message to? Without multiple points of presence, there is a problem. However, when a user sends another user a message, the Lync Server determines which endpoint is currently most active for that user. For example, a user might be Away at three of the four endpoints, so the server sends the message only to the endpoint where the user is available.

If the server is unable to determine which state is most active, it sends the message to the endpoint it determines most likely active and waits to see whether the user acknowledges the toast at any location. If the user opens the toast at an endpoint, the server removes the message from the other endpoints. If an endpoint doesn’t acknowledge the message, the server leaves the message at only one location, the most likely endpoint.

MPOP might not be perfect at all times, but it does enable a user to publish presence from multiple locations and still receive conversations at the most likely endpoint.

7. Extensible Presence

The built-in presence states provide an excellent array of options for users; but the Lync Server platform is extensible, and businesses can build on these choices using custom presence states. These custom presence states enable the user to select one of the standard presence classes and colors, but customizes the text displayed with the status. Although a subscriber might still see a green icon synonymous with availability, the user’s presence can read “Catching Up on Email,” which gives subscribers an additional piece of information to consider before initiating a conversation.

Some applications use the extensibility features to provide more information about an endpoint’s capabilities. Mobile clients generally append a Mobile indicator to the presence status. This gives subscribers information that the user might be slow to respond because he is likely without a full keyboard or computer. Subscribers are aware that they likely won’t be able to have a lengthy conversation but can have a short conversation. This designation might also give users an idea that calling the user’s mobile at that time is probably the quickest way to initiate a conversation.

8. Application Integration

Another component of Enhanced Presence is the automatic availability of presence in other Microsoft products. This means that although a Lync client runs in the background, users are able to see presence for those contacts in Outlook right next to their names. This presence can be seen directly in the context of the mail message, so there is no need to switch between applications to view a user’s presence. Right from the email message or contact card, the user can see the presence and initiate an IM, email, or phone conversation with only one or two clicks of the mouse.

Lync Server can also integrate with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and 2013 Outlook Web App to provide presence and IM capabilities directly within the Outlook Web App interface. This allows users to see presence information within the context of email either from the full Outlook client or while using a web browser.

The same rich presence information is also available in Microsoft Office SharePoint, where users can view presence in the context of documents and files. The contact card displayed in other applications is the exact same card and interface displayed within Lync, ensuring that users have a consistent view of contacts and presence across any application.

With Lync any kind of telephone number displayed on a web page in Internet Explorer suddenly becomes a hyperlink and can be clicked to initiate a phone call. All of these integration points are not overwhelming by themselves, but collectively create an improved, unique end-user experience.


Note

The presence integration discussed previously is provided out-of-the-box with applications such as Outlook and SharePoint. However, presence can also be extended to other applications through the use of the published APIs. Companies can use these APIs to integrate presence into any existing applications or workflows of their own. Microsoft provides a software development kit with tools and documentation of the APIs to help businesses develop Lync and application integration.

9. Location

Another component of presence is the concept of publishing a user’s physical location, which can be as vague as whether they are in the office or at home, or as exact as being on a particular floor of a building. Administrators can configure a Location Information Service (LIS) to integrate with Lync Server, which allows Lync Server endpoints to automatically identify what physical location they are connecting from and then publish that information with the user’s presence. If the Location Information Service cannot identify the user’s location, the user is prompted to enter one; the endpoint retains that information if the user returns to that location at any time so a user never has enter a location twice.


Tip

A user always has the option to block the publication of location if desired.


 
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