Configuring OCS 2007 on-premise servers to make dial-in capability work with the Live Meeting 2007 client consoleAmong the several “hats” I get to wear, I’m the IT Manager at Unify2, so this project was put on my plate by our CEO and it was pretty fun to get paid to do, too!! Since it all worked out great and because integration with OCS 2007 works so slick, I thought I’d share what it takes to accomplish! OK, here we go. First one disclaimer and one clarification... We chose Global Crossing as our audio conferencing provider and we’ve received excellent support from those guys, but this blog isn’t any kind of recommendation to choose GC as your ACP. Your choice could be different based on… [Your reason here] Also, there’s been a fair amount of confusion among customers between the Live Meeting service and the Live Meeting console used natively against OCS 2007, so just so you know I’m talking about the latter here. I’m talking about the ability to schedule a console-based meeting using OCS 2007 but join using Telephone audio capabilities instead of the default Connect to the meeting using computer audio option in the Outlook add-in.
The current released version of the server, OCS 2007 R2 supports dial-in conferencing out of the box, and we would have opted for R2, but it hadn’t been released yet, so we went with the only choice we had at the time: ACP audio over the PSTN. Once it’s all set up and working on the server, it operates seamlessly on OCS 2007 RTM. And after we migrated to OCS 2007 R2, now our users had three audio options: computer audio, dial-in computer audio and integrated ACP audio over the PSTN. Using OCS 2007 RTM, you could still do "dial-out" conferences using Communicator with people who were remote, but with this feature conference invitees who join the PSTN Bridge can hear audio from the Live Meeting on their phone. And for attendees who join via Live Meeting, the meeting calls them over the PSTN on whatever phone number they choose. It’s very convenient because as the meeting organizer, you don’t have to require all participants to be in the office and as a participant; you can be mobile and still interact with the attendees who are not. The only catch is everyone must use the PSTN for their audio.
Select your ACP
(The acronym is: “Audio Conferencing PROVIDER”)
More providers are coming on board offering this for the first version of on-premise OCS 2007 and like I said, OCS 2007 R2 has dial-in audio as a native feature. But not all customers are ready to move to R2 yet. And not all Microsoft partners have their pilot programs ready to accept ACP clients. So with my IT “hat” on, I checked out this site: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/HP102382181033.aspx and did a little calling around to investigate prices. I found out the cost is anywhere from .02 per user/minute to .04 per user/minute, but price wasn’t my company’s sole consideration. SERVICE and SUPPORT sealed the deal for us, but you’ll need to do your own fact-finding and negotiating with the provider you choose.
Server ConfigurationThe OCS environment you use must adhere to the following requirements:
· OCS 2007 deployed with Access Edge Proxy in place
· DNS SRV Record
· External Certificate on the Access Edge Proxy provided by externally known and trusted Certificate Authority
Client Configuration and schedule time
The client machine you use must adhere to the following requirements:
· LiveMeeting 2007 Meeting Console installed
· Outlook Conferencing Add-in installed
To allow participants who cannot join OCS 2007 Live Meetings to hear audio from the meeting over our PSTN phone bridge, I guided our end users to use the Dial in to the meeting using a telephone conference service option when they scheduled their console-based meetings. (Figure 1 below) So I sent mail asking people to install the Conferencing Add-in for Microsoft Outlook and included a link to a web site with a set of instructions. I asked them to open their Outlook Calendar and schedule a Live Meeting, select ‘Audio’ in the conferencing section of the resulting invite, and add the appropriate details as per the screen shot below: (EXCEPT.. to use our company’s assigned Toll-free Number and to use their personal Participant Code and Leader Code.)
Figure 1: Audio options configuration dialog box for OCS 2007
Exact client configuration:
Provider: [your Provider FQDN] (given to you)
Toll-free Number: [your Toll-free Number]
Participant code: [your Participant Code]
Leader Code: [your Leader Code]
Figure 2: Audio options configuration dialog box for OCS 2007 R2
Test the system
Once our users had completed their client configurations, in that same email and on the Sharepoint site, I asked them to perform a quick test to see if it was working. They did this by scheduling an OCS 2007 Live Meeting with Telephone audio and joining the meeting. Upon joining, they confirmed they received similar dialogue boxes:
Figure 3: Pop-up dialogs showing preconfigured dial-in number and call controls
Initially they saw a different UI than in the first one above asking only what phone number should be dialed. Their chosen number persists for subsequent joins but may be changed every time they join future recurrences of the same scheduled meeting. So in that initial dialog, they enter the appropriate number for the bridge to dial them, enter the Participant Code or their Leader Code as appropriate. They confirmed for me that the bridge dialed and connected them to the conference audio via PSTN and they were good to go!
People like it for the functionality but their hang up is they find it difficult to understand the “either-or” properties of the feature. It’s either computer audio or telephone audio per meeting or series of recurring meetings, so that’s been my challenge as the IT guy, explaining to end users when they should consider using it and when they really don’t want to use it. My guidance has been to consider the convenience factor for all attendees when deciding. If some invitees will be mobile or are external to the company, then I tell them they should consider scheduling a non-recurring meeting using this feature. A single meeting is the choice here because once a series is scheduled; a future recurrence cannot be updated to change the audio option to computer audio. But if a recurring meeting is preferred, all attendees are internal and will always join from Live Meeting at their desk or in a conference room, then computer audio should be chosen and will sound much better in the meeting.