About Me

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TsooRad is a blog for John Weber. John is a Skype for Business MVP (2015-2018) - before that, a Lync Server MVP (2010-2014). My day job is titled "Technical Lead, MS UC" - I work with an awesome group of people at CDW, LLC. I’ve been at this gig in one fashion or another since 1988 - starting with desktops (remember Z-248’s?) and now I am in Portland, Oregon. I focus on collaboration and infrastructure. This means Exchange of all flavors, Skype, LCS/OCS/Lync, Windows, business process, and learning new stuff. I have a variety of interests - some of which may rear their ugly head in this forum. I have a variety of certifications dating back to Novell CNE and working up through the Microsoft MCP stack to MCITP multiple times. FWIW, I am on my third career - ex-USMC, retired US Army. I have a fancy MBA. One of these days, I intend to start teaching. The opinions expressed on this blog are mine and mine alone.

2017/10/12

Coaching


Have you ever considered getting some help with professional development? Have you ever had someone, a co-worker perhaps, or a friend or family member ask for help with life? You got kids?

Each of these is a coaching relationship. I gave this subject some thought over the last few weeks. Both of my brain cells hurt. My spare brain cell was in sympathy pain. But in the end, I managed to separate mentor from coach.

A mentor gives general advice/guidance; a coach is focused on one or two specific items that need a change/improvement. For a more concise explanation, see this and this; followed by this and this.

If you walk away from that light reading with a puzzled look on your face, join the crowd. When I started down this path, I thought I had a good handle on the difference, the similarity, and the relative importance of each.

Now I see the need for constant re-construction of my viewpoints on each, and how mentoring is sort of the roof over many different coaching points. One of the critical pieces I consumed was a little video by Robert S. Kaplan. 

Robert S. Kaplan is somewhat successful, and even if you don’t agree with his success, his words about coaching really hit home for me. Specifically, he states that that it is 100% the responsibility of the junior to get coaching. He then follows that up with the statement that it is 100% the responsibility of the senior to provide or perform the coaching that the juniors need. The individual is completely accountable for knowing their own strengths and weaknesses, and then to go get the coaching needed. The senior person is 100% accountable for knowing the juniors’ strengths and weaknesses and providing the coaching.

This 100% thing creates a coaching environment. Your job is not to sit and wait for it, it is your job to go out and get it.

I see how that applies from the Cxx level down to the ACE level. And when you look at it from that perspective, it makes the entire process very palatable. I know that I can surely use some coaching in an area or two. I try to help my team as I note issues. I sure hope they look to me or someone else for coaching.

Kaplan continues on by saying that coaching should be focused on one or two things the coachee can improve on over a set period of time. Coaching requires the coach to KNOW the coachee, or go discover the coachee by interviewing all the other co-workers. But either way, the coaching needs to be about specific skills or attributes that can be improved or accomplished over a set amount of time. Sounds just like a S.M.A.R.T goal, yes?

So, to sum this all up… Are you getting the coaching you deserve? Are you providing the coaching others deserve? Do you ask for help? Do others ask you to help? We are all in this together, and we can either fail together, or we can succeed together. I like the succeed option.

2017/10/06

15 Questions for Leaders to Ask


I got this from here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/10/03/15-questions-to-ask-as-part-of-your-own-leadership-audit/#4903bbdc6255

I think this is some good stuff.

1. When Did I Last Look In The Mirror?

As leaders, let's encourage a culture of accountability, creativity and innovation by continually looking in the mirror to develop solutions for moving forward, particularly if something didn't go as planned. Rather than blaming or pointing fingers, we should reflect on how we'd like to be treated, roll up our sleeves, anticipate risks and leap forward to help. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason

2. Where Are My Blind Spots?

It's no surprise that leaders are extraordinarily talented and experienced professionals in their respective fields. Even still, no leader can attest to knowing everything. Everyone has blind spots and knowledge gaps, and when discovered, they must be addressed. No matter their achievements or the laundry list of recent wins, leaders should be eager to uncover their weak areas and improve them. - Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq., WordSmithRapport

3. Am I Being The Change I Want To See?

The famous quote by Gandhi, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world," is very applicable for leaders. This first requires clarity on the impact you want to have as a leader, then ensures your actions and words role model that impact. If you are not successfully doing what you ask of others, you can't expect them to follow with enthusiasm. - Bonnie Davis, Destination Up

4. What Are My Reactive Triggers?

We all have reactive triggers. Knowing your reactive tendencies will allow you to shift to using these strengths in a creative and strategic way. Not asking this question keeps you reacting to day-to-day fires and situations and will dig a bigger and bigger hole. To step into strategic leadership, you must continually raise your personal awareness of how you react. Do you protect, comply or control? - Jenn Lofgren, Incito Executive & Leadership Development

5. Who Do I Need To Get Feedback From?

The question leaders need to ask is not to themselves, but to every single person who works for them. The best leaders are those who have developed relationships where the answers they get are genuine and honest. "What am I doing well, and what's in the way of my being the best possible leader I can be?" Getting feedback from others is far more important than any question you ask yourself. - David Butlein, Ph.D., BLUECASE Strategic Partners

6. What Don't I Know That I Need To Know?

And who from my team can fill in the gap? This is a great way to grow people around you, as you're paying attention to the fact that everyone knows something you don't. It shows respect for their knowledge, gives you a sense of how they think and can support you, and how you can help them grow, as well. - Donna Karlin, No Ceiling, Just Sky™ Institute

7. How Well Do I Listen And Connect With Others?

As a leader, do you really listen to others? How do you know and how do you demonstrate that you really heard the other person? When we actively listen to another person, trust develops, the other person feels valued and important, and miscommunication, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations decrease. Listening slows down the conversation where each individual feels more connected. - Melinda Fouts, Ph.D., Success Starts With You

8. Have I Made An Impact?

As part of a leadership audit, one must ask oneself if they are making an impact in the people they are leading. Yes, you may start out with a goal or mission, but ultimately a check-in is required to see if your approach needs to be adjusted based on your impact, to support your initiatives or lack thereof. - Niya Allen-Vatel, Resume Newbie

9. Am I Focused On My No. 1 Goal?

The key to leadership is to motivate others and oneself to doggedly pursue a specific goal. Often, in the heat of putting out fires and working on the business, instead of in the business, the pursuit of the primary goal (whether revenue, getting top talent, building a great product, etc.) gets pushed to the side. A "leadership audit" should recalibrate whether the pursuit is on track. - Yuri Kruman, Master The Talk Consulting

10. Am I Growing As A Leader?

We often reach a point in our leadership journey where we feel that we have found a groove and don't step outside our comfort zone. Instead, audit your leadership knowledge, management skills, strategy and innovation. Ask for on-the-spot feedback and conduct a 360-degree assessment with your team. By continuously expanding, you drive your own performance and engagement, and that of your team's. - Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

11. Is My Ax Sharpened?

The saying "sharpen your ax" comes from the parable of a woodcutter who chopped less wood because his ax was dull. Leaders get dull too. Without continuous learning and professional development, leaders can become less effective. So, while cultivating others, don't forget to sharpen your own ax. You'll then work smarter and not harder. Great leaders take the time to invest in themselves. - Tamiko Cuellar, Pursue Your Purpose LLC

12. How Do Unconscious Biases Impact My Decisions?

Unconscious bias affects decisions. We’ve developed many kinds of biases to help us navigate the world with a minimum effort, but they can also hinder someone from considering different options when making decisions. Leaders should learn to accept that we are all biased before we can begin to take positive action to identify them and to mitigate bias with specific strategies. - Maria Pastore, Maria Pastore Coaching

13. What Do I Get Paid To Do?

That's the question I find many leaders are stumped by, or the answer they provide is a template response. What are you paid to do? Generate revenue, build products, engineer solutions? Nope. You get paid to be a leader. What that genuinely means varies notably based on the leader and organization. True clarity on what being a leader is remains one puzzle piece I find many people struggle to find. - Leila Bulling Towne, The Bulling Towne Group, LLC

14. What Fears Am I Not Facing?

Each leader has their own set of fears. Each context brings new permutations for activating those fears. Seasoning can often mean developing skills to work around fears rather than facing them directly. A leadership audit that includes surfacing fears, along with how and when they manifest, is the first step to diminishing their hold. The second is holding yourself accountable to new behaviors. - Maureen Cunningham, Up Until Now Inc.

15. Am I Pushing Or Pulling?

Leaders often share their vision and then tell their reports how to execute. These leaders are "pushing information" out and expecting folks to "snap to it." Evolved leaders work to pull information from their teams. When individuals are asked what their greatest aspirations are, not only does the goal become more compelling, but the team is all in, as they helped to create the vision. - Deborah Goldstein, DRIVEN Professionals


YMMV

AC firmware v3.0.1.x BToE button greyed out

Scenario

BToE is pretty nice.  But let’s face it.  Not always easy to work with.  Especially when a service provider insists that a buried setting be configured so as to disable the manual concepts and default to automatic.

So, let’s figure out how to get an AudioCodes 450HD with the latest firmware (3.0.1.9.367) to play BToE with us like WE want, not how somebody else wants. 

OOBE for a phone that is going to be qualified for SfBO is with the BToE pairing forced to “automatic.”  This results in the button being greyed out when you go to MENU on the phone.  In this mode, BToE pass-though mode works just fine.  Web login to SfBO works as expected.

But what if you want to do something like, pair a wireless laptop with the handset device always CAT5 so you can just grab the laptop and go?  Like a laptop is designed to work? 

The Fix

What we need to do is light up the BToE button so we can get a pairing code (essentially a representation of the device IP).  Not exactly easy to find for those who don’t typically read 200+ pages of setup. Like me.

Hmmm… (page 113 of LTRT-14820 450HD IP Phone for Microsoft Skype for Business User’s manual ver.3.0.1.pdf) says

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Going to the admin manual…. ( page 157 of LTRT-09943 400HD Series IP Phone for Microsoft Skype for Business Administrator's Manual Ver. 3.0.1)

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And that does work to enable the BToE button.

The cfg file is available here – there is the semi-standard “download the file, modify the file with text editor, upload the file to phone routine.”

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Here is how the phone cfg file looks by default…

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And here is how it needs to look.  After uploading the cfg file, the phone will restart and you can then manually pair.  Remember that the manual pair code is case sensitive.

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SfBO policy

Make sure that your Office 365 admins, if that role is not you, changes your online policy for ip phones to enable BToE, and further more to not change the pairing setting.  For more information see this.

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:hYptjYU9T9AJ:https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt629497.aspx+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

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Summary

BToE button greyed out, but automatic pass-through BToE works.  You want control of that button so manual pairing is possible for wireless connections.  Modification of the cfg file is required.

As always,


YMMV

2017/10/05

Restricted Office 365 OWA–Skype on-premises Integration

Scenario

Office 365 tenant established.  Exchange Online (EOL) for the user mailbox.  Skype for Business on-premises for IM/P.  Users are mixed – some have full Office suite, others are just a browser.  Security is tight.  No federation is desired or allowed with partners, vendors, spammers, or public (consumer) Skype. In addition, the requirement also stipulates that no authorized user can use the system remotely without going through a VPN. 

This last requirement means that remote users via the Edge server must be disallowed – but….won’t the Office 365 users be remote?  Great question.  We will cover that down below.

Because of the user software mix, we need the pure browser user to have OWA (EOL) integrate with the SfB on-premises.  Not the most attractive (visually and functionally) solution from the user perspective, but it does work.  Specifically, the function requirement was for OWA users to have presence information and be able to IM.

This article will not attempt to show the end user how to muddle through using SfB with EOL OWA.  The focus is just providing the service.

So, here is a visual of what we want… presence going both directions between the on-premises SfB users, and at least one of the users is using EOL OWA.

OWA User

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On-premises user

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How to

Obviously, we need an on-premise pool of some sort, and an edge server.  And then get your hybrid working.  In this case, the tenant (and the EOL work) was up and running before the SfB project started, so all we had to do was make sure that the Azure AD Connect was done right. 

  Danger Will Robinson!  

Because the AAD Connect was done prior to to SfB schema extension, the AAD connect will need to be FORCED to reread schema and synchronize.  You can read about this in a somewhat related post here. 

Moving on…

Having taken care of the obvious install and configuration items, the next thing is to establish hybrid posture.  If you have not already done so, you can read up on it here, here, and here.  Pay particular attention to this last reference.  Failure to do this will result in a no-go..  If you want all the fancy-schmancy integration, then you will need to do this here also. 

Now that you have all that done, we are done.  Right?

Well, no.  Remember that we needed to have no federation with anyone other than an Office 365 user, and no remote user access?  That seems to be a bit conflicting, yes?  But no.  A remote user is someone using a full client.  A bit of testing showed that Office 365 connecting to the on-premises SfB was a federation user not a remote user.

As a final bit of constraint, we did not want to be changing the external firewall.  So what to do?  Maybe we need to do a little something with Edge configuration and policy, eh?

Here is our Access Edge Configuration:

image

From the top down, we need to federate – Office 365 is a federation.  Per security requirement, no partner domain discovery, which closes out contacting anyone other than our own domain.  No need to send an archiving disclaimer to people we cannot talk to.  Per security, no remote user access.  Lastly, no outside access to web conferencing, so no need for those pesky anonymous attendees.  Just to confirm your deepest doubts, here is the SIP Federated Domains list:

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Here is the External Access Policy:

image

Again, from the top, and note that we only have one thing checked…federated users is the requirement.  Nothing else needed… XMPP is pretty much dead nowadays anyhow; no remote users, ergo, no need for that, and without public user federation, no need for that either.

Conclusion

We had a set of requirements:  OWA integration between EOL and on-premises SfB.  Security concerns were that no other domains be contacted, and none of our domain users can be remote.  EOL users were not using Outlook, just OWA and we needed presence and IM.  We did not do the full OAuth as those features were not part of the specification.

YMMV

2017/10/04

AudioCodes Updated 4xx firmware

Audiocodes has released an updated 3.0.1 version for all 400HD models. Comparing to the 3.0.1 GA, this version includes mainly bug fixes. Please refer to the new release notes document to see the list of fixes. For customers that still did not move to 3.0.1 GA and plan to move to 3.0.1, it is recommended to use this version (instead the 3.0.1 GA).

Version name:

  • UC405HD_3.0.1.276.img
  • UC420HD_3.0.1.276.img
  • UC430HD_3.0.1.276.img
  • UC440HD_3.0.1.276.img
  • UC450HD_3.0.1.89.367.img

According to my source, these new firmwares are anticipated to be posted to the AudioCodes website (www.audiocodes.com) sometime early next week.  In the meantime, my phones (420, 440, 450) seem to get along right well with the new code.

As an interesting side note…my web login/BToE combination now works as expected.  Previously this was not working, and I know our corporate IT recently changed the Office 365 BToE status, and it could have been the firmware.  If you are having issues, maybe this firmware will help you.

I have a zip file with updated documentation and firmware files here.

YMMV

2017/09/12

What Vacation Taught me


I took vacation this year; a formal thing with travel, schedule coordination, planned activities, and days full of interacting with others. Sounds pretty much like work, with the minor exception that this was all family-focused, with my SO being the only arbiter of success. The other differences were the realization that HughesNet has some serious speed constraints, and that I had to stand in just the right spot in the driveway or there was no cell service.

I thought that Virginia on the main corridor between the state capital and the population center on the coast would have had at least nominal cell coverage. But no. Minimal access to internet and cell service. Both restrictions were perfect for me as the whole point to a vacation is to change pace, viewpoint, and take the load off, right?

Too bad for me that my ki does not work that way.

What happened is that my spare brain cell kicked in and started doing the random thought comparison thing. If this has not happened to you before, it is very annoying. In this case, I was watching some sci-fi show about time and travel, another show about fighting the bad guys before they got bad and not getting the task done as promised (hence the protagonist being railed on by his boss). Yes, I was flipping channels.

The random thought comparison thing comes in when all that gets contrasted with my real life. Note that I did not ask for this to occur, it just does. My SO is used to me going blank and starting to drool; coworkers know to stay away. My children just run.

So here are the world-shaking insights that banged into me in those exacerbating moments. Time, fight the fight that needs fighting, under promise and over deliver, “what is the other guys’ perspective”, and my personal need to re-focus.

Time: it is the one thing the we all possess, and once spent, we cannot get back. How are you spending your allotment?

Not every fight needs fighting. Determine which is which. Live with one, pursue the other. I will let you decide which path to take with which fight. Picking which fight to fight is sometimes more about which weapon to choose.

I find an approach to the recalcitrant project counterpart is to leverage some of my limited consulting skills and make my counterpart think that all of what I want is because he/she thought of it. Mostly you can do that with the “help me understand…” sentence preface where you get them talking. A few suggestions along the way and their explanation of their perspective will start aligning with the answer you need them to give. It works, it really does.

How many times have you had someone say “just a sec”? That is an extreme case of over promising, because we all know that waiter is not getting back to our table in “just a sec.” Expectation setting is crucial to positive outcomes. If you layout what you will be able to do, and then exceed that, everyone is happy. If you do the layout and cannot deliver the minimums, everyone is not happy. Very simple. So simple it appears to be in the same vein as “common sense.”

Finally, the re-focus thing cropped up again. How I spend my time, what goals are important enough to survive the latest round of life objective updates, and what am I doing about those goals and objectives needed some introspection.

Goals and objectives simply need to be refreshed on a regular basis. We have our personal goals, our professional goals, and the goals our manager says we have. Review, re-prioritize, shuffle, juggle, change, delete, and add objectives to achieve your goal. If you don’t pay attention to this process, the process will do it for you, and probably not in the way you want. You must do it. Or it will do you.

Just so you know, Stargate (the movie) is a lot deeper than the genre might suggest, and NCIS: Los Angeles has a few spare angles as well.

2017/09/06

AudioCodes X-UM

By now, I hope you already know that as of July 2018, Office 365 will no longer work with SBC connections linking your off-brand PBX to Exchange Online UM services (read voice mail).  For an actual read of the announcement, see this.

Here are the solutions offered by Microsoft:

  • Option 1: Complete migration from 3rd party on-premises PBX to Office 365 Cloud PBX.
  • Option 2: Complete migration from 3rd party on-premises PBX to Skype for Business Server Enterprise Voice on-premises.
  • Option 3: For customers with a mixed deployment of 3rd party PBX and Skype for Business, connect the PBX to Skype for Business Server using a connector from a Microsoft partner, and continue using Exchange Online UM through that connector. For example, TE-SYSTEMS’ anynode UM connector can be used for that purpose. (sic)
  • Option 4: For customers with no Skype for Business Server deployment or for whom the solutions above are not appropriate, implement a 3rd party voicemail system.

Personally, I would change Option 1 and Option 2.  Especially if you have any combination of complexity, multiple locations, and user count.  Couple that risk scale item with sheer lack of calendar, and I think it would be easier to get on-premises fired up and connected.  And, IMHO, doing 2 would make getting to 1 easier with a better user experience.

Option 4 is not really an option is it?  Everyone should want, need, and implement SfB.  Life is better with SfB.  Trust me.

About this time, the alert reader will notice that I skipped Option 3.  That’s because those nice folks at AudioCodes have somewhat solidified their plans for stepping into the breach.  How nice of them! 

AudioCodes has put together a very nice, comprehensive, suite of solutions based on their outstanding hardware and CCE experience. 

image

As the X-UM solution set, there are three of them:

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Here is a bit different look at it…being a visual kinda guy, this is the view that helped me the most:

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And then we have these further details for each scenario:

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Microsoft licensing for the X-UM solution you choose is not covered, which makes sense, there are too many variations.  Here is the official blurb:

 image

How about some architecture oulines?  I like pictures that show me things.  Here is the X-UM Standard and Lite.  Note that the “Lite” version relies on existing on-premises SfB resources.

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Now, based on my current project, I know that there is going to be someone out there in reader-land who needs a visual of the call flows.  I know I do.

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Summary

About now you are most likely wondering which of these will work for you. AudioCodes X-UM is based on proven hardware and proven solution approaches (CloudBond, CCE). If your environment is more complex, needs that existing PBX to coexist with Office 365 for your VoiceMail needs, then choose the flavor that answers your needs.  AudioCodes has you covered for any of the option 3 scenarios and could possibly help you (in the Lite version) with Option 1 and 2 also.

I know that somewhere above 75% of my customers all have some sort of “mixed deployment” usually due to call centers, business process, and culture.  Notice that none of those are easily changed before July 2018.  Ergo, we need to do something else in the short time we have available.  I submit that AudioCodes X-UM might well be that something.


As always, YMMV


Coaching

Have you ever considered getting some help with professional development? Have you ever had someone, a co-worker perhaps, or a friend or fam...