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  • Backups – Check your backups to validate that they were successfully created per your process.
  • Nightly Processing – Review the nightly or early morning processes.
  • SQL Server Error Log – Review the SQL Server error log for any errors or security issues (successful or failed logins) that are unexpected.
  • Windows Event Log – Review the Application Event Log at a minimum to find out if any Windows or hardware related errors or warnings are being written.
    • Some of the hardware vendors write warnings to the Windows Event Log when they anticipate an error is going to occur, so this gives you the opportunity to be proactive and correct the problem during a scheduled down time, rather than having a mid-day emergency.
    • SQL Server 2005 Exposed – Log File Viewer
  • SQL Server Agent Jobs – Review for failed SQL Server Agent Jobs.
  • HA or DR Logs – Check your high availability and/or disaster recovery process logs.  Depending on the solution (Log Shipping, Clustering, Replication, Database Mirroring, CDP, etc.) that you are using dictates what needs to be checked.
  • Performance Logs – Review the performance metrics to determine if your baseline was exceeded or if you had slow points during the day that need to be reviewed.
  • Security Logs – Review the security logs from a third party solution or from the SQL Server Error Logs to determine if you had a breach or a violation in one of your policies.
  • Centralized error handling – If you have an application, per SQL Server or enterprise level logging, then review those logs for any unexpected errors.
  • Storage – Validate you have sufficient storage on your drives to support your databases, backups, batch processes, etc. in the short term.
  • Service Broker – Check the transmission and user defined queues to make sure data is properly being processed in your applications.
  • Corrective Actions – Take corrective actions based on the issues and/or errors that you found.
  • Improvements – Look for opportunities to improve your environment based on the review and analysis you have performed.
  • Learn something new – Although this review and correction process could be time consuming, take some time every day to learn something new to improve your knowledge of the technology you work on every day.

Weekly or Monthly Checklist

  • Backup Verification (Comprehensive)- Verify your backups and test on a regular basis to ensure the overall process works as expected.  What is meant by this is to:
    • Contact your off site tape vendor to obtain a tape
    • Validate that the tape goes to the correct office
    • Validate that the vendor delivers the correct tape
    • Validate that the vendor delivers the tape in the correct time period
    • Validate that the software version you use to perform the restore is compatible with the version from the tape
    • Validate that the tape does not have any restore errors
    • Validate that sufficient storage is available to move the backup to the needed SQL Server
    • Validate that the SQL Server versions are compatible to restore the database
    • Validate that no error messages are generated during the restore process
    • Validate that the database is accurately restored and the application will function properly
  • Backup Verification (Simple) – Verify your backups on a regular basis.
  • Windows, SQL Server or Application Updates – Check for service packs/patches that need to be installed on your SQL Server from either a hardware, OS, DBMS or application perspective
  • Capacity Planning – Perform capacity planning to ensure you will have sufficient storage for a specific period of time such as for 6, 12 or 18 months.
  • Fragmentation – Review the fragmentation for your databases to determine if you particular indexes must be rebuilt based on analysis from a backup SQL Server.
  • Maintenance – Perform database maintenance on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Security – Remove unneeded logins and users for individuals that have left the organization, had a change in position, etc.
  • Shrink databases – If databases or transaction logs are larger, than necessary shrink those files to free up disk space.

Opportunities for Automation

  • Setup alerts for specific error levels or error messages that impact your SQL Servers in order to be notified automatically.
  • Setup Jobs to query for specific conditions in your tables to validate data was loaded or data is being added to specific tables based on your business processes throughout the day.
  • Setup notification on Job success, failure or completion.
    • One word of warning is to check your business critical Jobs on a regular basis just to be sure they are working properly.  Nothing is worse than finding out a key process has been failing for days, weeks or months and the reason notifications have not been sent are due to an incorrect configuration, full mailbox, etc.  It may be 30 minutes on a weekly basis that is time well spent.
  • Setup centralized error handling on a per SQL Server, application or enterprise basis then determine the business rules for specific error conditions.

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What’s new with Lync 2013 – Features and enhancements!

What’s new with Lync 2013 – Features and enhancements!

Lync is Microsoft’s offering for unified communications, also as a part of O365.

Lync 2013 is the next version of the Lync 2010 (current).

Lync 2013 provides you with a seamless and exciting experience across computers, devices, web and phones with three fundamentals:

  • Communicate (have conversations with Microsoft Office Users (internal and external))
  • Collaborate (Web conferencing, Voice Conferencing, Office Integration)
  • Any (where, device, time):  works on the web, mobile devices

Lync 2013 is a gripping upgrade on features offered by Lync 2010. It will increase collaboration experience to a new level becoming all the more cloud ready.


  • IPv6
    • IPv6 has been introduced.
    • Lync still continues to work in IPv4 environment too
  • Persistent Chat Server
    • Helps comply with data privacy regulations by defining  servers in the Topology Builder with other roles
    • Upto 80K simultaneous endpoints
    • Accessed thru Lync client
    • HA (High Availability)
    • Built-in Lync Administration
    • DR (Disaster Recovery)Support
  • Architecture
    • SQL Mirroring
    • User Groups which provide distributed services to users
    • Lync 2010 had 8 front ends while Lync 2013 has  12-20 front ends
    • Lync 2010 had a tightly coupled back end while 2013 has a loosely based one
    • In Lync 2010, Database was used to note presence updates while in 2013 the dynamic data updates are managed by Front end servers
  • VDI Plugin
    • Supports PC and thin clients, major VDI vendors
    • Plugin for audio and video re-directions
    • Office/Line of Business application integratin
    • Device integration
    • Call Admission Control, Location. Call Park
    • IM/Presence
    • Data Collaboration
  • Skype Federation Support
    • Inter-operable with third parties
    • Open Federation
  • Security
    • Authentication and authorization is good
    • It also accelerates protocol validation
    • RBAC custom roles for enterprise
  • Scalability:
    • Can be scaled up by addition of Front end servers resulting in upto – 12-20 servers per pool, 200,000 active users, 1 million provisioned users
    • Distributed workload
    • Move users across pool
    • Mutliple versions of Lync in same environment
  • High Availability- to ensure HA for Lync 2013, we have Lync 15 Bricks
    • Lync 15 Bricks are front end servers which will be used during scale out scenarios
    • What do these Bricks do?  They streamline the Front End Servers (3 FE servers take care of backup copies, manage user state)
    •  Each user will be mapped to a Group, which will be allocated to 3 FE servers with a pool (Primary, Secondary and a tertiary)
    • If the primary has issues, secondary gets activated.
    • Changes to user’s data will be replicated synchronously to secondary and tertiary along with 3 replicas
  • Voice
    • Lync 2010- 1:N
    • Lync 2013- M:N
    • Uses TLS+SRTP for multiple interactions
    • Better resiliency and internetworking
    • No other additional server required
    • Support for inter-trunk routing, allowing Lync to act as an intermediate medium between two or more mediums
    • Centralized Management
    • Delegate capabilities

Modes of Deployment:

The Lync 2013 server comes in three deployment modes

a.    Lync On Premises: 

  • As the name suggests, this is a complete package for an on-premise model.
  • All installations and maintenances of servers occur by your organization. This entails all features of Lync.
  • Is the perfect choice for integrating  Enterprise Voice with an existing PBX system
  • Works with SharePoint Online and Exchange
  • Highly flexible

b.   Lync Online:

  • Again, as the name suggests this model is based on cloud/online services.
  • Provides IM, conferencing and voice within the organization
  • Offers less administration complexity
  • 2 plans
    • Basic plan which covers IM, Audio calls (PC-2-PC), web conferencing.
    • Advanced plan which provides outgoing and incoming  calls to public networks (requires a purchase of this calling feature from O365)

c.    Lync Hybrid:

  • As the name indicates, this is a combination of both on-premise and online sharing the same domain.
  • 2 plans
    • Hybrid Lync Server- On premises Lync server workable with Lync Online solution
    • Hybrid Voice- On Premise Lync Enterprise Voice to enable users to make/receive calls
  • Some specific considerations will be required in on-premises
    • ADFS server running on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
    • A DirSync Server
    • Lync Server 2013
    • Lync Server 2013
    • Microsoft SQL Server Instance

New Add-ons in Lync Meetings:

a.    H.264 SVC Support and Multiparty HD video Gallery

  • High Definition video presented in a video gallery (both Lync Meetings and P2P calls)
  • Ability to select the people to see/speak
  • Allocate a speaker (primary) that the audience can look, hear
  • Detects the current speaker and sets the angles accordingly

b.   Lync Web App for browser access to Lync Meetings

  • Create and join online meetings from Outlook Web App
  • One click Lync meeting from Exchange OWA
  • Permits scheduling changes

c.    Content Sharing

  • PowerPoint broadcasting and upload- Web app (WAC) for sharing ppts

i.    Slides can have animations

ii.    Speakers notes can be viewed as well while presenting

iii.    The new look and feel to the thumbnails and notes experience are aligned with Office 365

iv.    Gives the flexibility to control the slide flow to the presenter or if the presenter wants can give permissions to attendees to navigate as well

  • Play multimedia files (during and post meeting)-  supports WMV, H.264, YouTube- upto 50+MB

i.    Attendees will be muted automatically during a video

ii.    Presenter has the ability to navigate the video

  • View capabilities individual dashboards for active speaker, content only, people only and people & content

d.    Exchange Integration:

  • Requires Exchange 2013 Server
  • Discovery across Exchange, Lync and SharePoint
  • Archives stored in Exchange user mailboxes
  • DR
  • Active Directory based authentication

e.    Administration

  • Single dashboard with end to end visibility
  • Simple and efficient

f.     One Note

  • Great application to make notes
  • Integrates well with Outlook and Lync
  • Ability to share meeting notes with users (grants flexibility to decide which user should receive)

g.    Archiving

  • IMs, ppts, meeting attendance, whiteboard get archived
  • One Archive Policy and Store
  • Provides a very compliant experience

h.   Mobile Presence

Mobile clients will be able to make audio and video calls from device.

  • Contacts (Photo contact list, contact card, enterprise search, distribution groups)
  • Audio Conferencing (Meetings environment, click to join audio conference)
  • Presence (My status, contact presence)
  • Voice (Single number reach, voice mail, call forwarding setting)
  • Instant Messaging (Point to Point (P2P) IM, group conversations)
  • Single Client and User Identity

i.     Video

  • This version has scaled up the life-like video experience to new heights. It has multi view windows to know who is around, who is talking.
  • Enables multiple HD video conferencing with users (upto 250 users conference)
  • Indicators to let you know if there is a video call
  • Alignment and Positioning of camera for best view
  • Cost effective (software based)
  • Highly interoperable (Tele-Presence and Video Conferencing)

j.     Reporting

  • Reports are generated from SQL Server
  • System Center takes care of communication issues

To conclude, Lync2013 definitely has hi-end features that can make Business Communications (internal and external) extremely efficient and effective. It does provide a beguiling experience- anywhere, anytime… The entire layout of Lync has been made lot cleaner and user friendly this time.

For organizations that would want robust unified communications – this is the ultimate choice which can deliver world class services for your Infrastructure.