Monday, January 16, 2017

Microsoft about to release new Skype for Business IP Phone firmware for Polycom VVX devices

LCS/OCS/Lync/Skype has a long history when it comes to management of IP phone firmware updates. OCS 2007 R2 introduced the Device Update Service and greatly simplified the process and the required infrastructure. In the Lync 2010 timeframe the 3rd party IP phone (3PIP) certification added support for non-Microsoft firmware such as Polycom UC Software.

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In Lync Server 2010 for instance, an admin uses the Import-CsDeviceUpdate cmdlet to import a .cab file and approves the update in the LSCP. The client device will periodically query the Device Update Web service and download and install the new firmware.

The same principle applies to Skype for Business Online with Cloud PBX today. Technically speaking the title of this article is incorrect, Microsoft is not releasing the software but merely distributing the Polycom firmware through it’s infrastructure.

Enabling or disabling this feature is a tenant-wide setting and can be done by modifying the CsIPPhonePolicy. By default EnableDeviceUpdate is True.

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For more information about this feature, read Jeff Schertz’s post about this topic: Device Updates with Skype for Business Online.

The major difference with Skype for Business on-premises is that customers cannot upload a firmware version. Microsoft has an internal process to certify 3rd party firmware updates. At the moment of writing the only version that has been approved is Polycom UCS for the VVX line of devices, version 5.4.1.17653. Specifically the following devices are supported:

  • VVX 201
  • VVX 3xx
  • VVX 44xx
  • VVX 5xx
  • VVX 6xx

The issue is that the most recent version of Polycom UCS is currently 5.5.1. That doesn’t sound much newer than 5.4.1 but in reality Polycom has released many interim versions and each version added important new features and fixes. That’s why it’s good to know that Microsoft is currently qualifying UCS version 5.5.1.11344.

If you consider using Skype for Business Online device updates, be aware that the capabilities currently are extremely limited. The device update feature cannot be enabled for a specific set of users or devices and the other management features are limited as well:

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(note: EnableBetterTogetherOverEthernet by default is False)

Most of the configuration items are pretty self-explanatory but if you want to know more, the help page of  Set-CsIPPhonePolicy is very informative.

Microsoft did not communicate a release date for 5.5.1.11344 but my sources say that it shouldn’t take long. For more information, read: New features in the firmware update for Polycom VVX IP phones.

Note

I’m working with Polycom and Microsoft to investigate an issue where Polycom VVX devices receive a ‘400 bad request’ when they query the Skype for Business Online Update Service. If you’re encountering the same, let me know in the comments.

1 comment:

Ingram Leedy said...

Thanks for the info. We've discovered an issue with Autodiscover where is has to be manually set to sync calendar and contacts correctly.

It's fixed in newer versions of firmware (which can be installed manually and then turning the EnableDeviceUpdate to false (so it doesnt revert back) or you can manually set the autodiscover and it works on the current firmware.

We want an OOBE (out of the box experience).