Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Office 365 Phone System numbers, how to convert from User to Service?

When porting numbers to Office 365 Phone System, the admin has to specify if the number should be a service number or a user number. The same applies when new numbers are requested. What’s the difference between the two number types, you may ask. The answer is easy.

A user number is assigned to a single user.

A service number is connected to a call queue, a conference bridge or an auto attendant and is capable of handling simultaneous calls.

A common issue for new Office 365 Phone System customers is where they port an entire number block as user numbers, including the organization’s main number. Soon they discover that the main number should’ve been used with a Call Queue or an Auto Attendant but those features require a the number to be configured as a service number instead.image

If you’re searching for information on how to convert the number type you’ll find many outdated articles stating that this is not possible, requires opening a support incident or recommend to port the number away from Microsoft and then port it back.

The situation has now, end of February 2018, much improved. All you have to do is send an email to Microsoft’s Skype for Business Number Porting Team. They need the following information to be able to process the request:

  • The number that needs to be converted
  • The requested number type: user or service
  • When do you want the conversion to take place?

My experience with a number that’s currently not assigned, so no downtime to communicate with the end users, is that it was converted within 30 minutes after confirming the details through email.

To start the process, simply send an email with the required information to ptn@microsoft.com for North America or ptneu@microsoft.com for Europe.

Please let me know in the comments if you’re experience was as smooth as mine.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Disable voicemail on a Skype meeting room accounts

image of a Surface Hub

If you ever had to create user accounts for modern meeting room devices such as Microsoft’s Surface Hub or 3rd party devices such as the Polycom Trio 8800 you may have noticed that process is basically the same. Create a Room Mailbox with an enabled account and a password, then enable the account for Skype for Business with the Enable-CsMeetingRoom cmdlet.

Recently a coworker transferred a Skype call to a meeting room and when the person in the room wasn’t quick enough to respond, the call ended up in the conference room voicemail box. Understandably she requested us to disable voicemail on this account.

After investigation we found that Azure Voicemail was enabled when we added licenses for Office 365 Phone System and Calling Plan. Disabling voicemail is easy. Either sign-in with the username and password of the meeting room and visit the web based advanced settings: https://aka.ms/vmsettings. Then clear the checkbox for Activate Voicemail.


Alternatively an admin can disable the voicemail feature in Skype for Business Online PowerShell:

Set-CsMeetingRoom <SIP address> -HostedVoiceMail:$false


Check Skype for Business voicemail and options

How to Set up and configure Cloud Voicemail for Skype for Business Online users

Friday, February 16, 2018

HCW does not ‘remember’ mail transport configuration

Centralized mail transport (CMT) is a hybrid mail flow scenario where all outbound email from Exchange Online is routed through on-premises servers first before sending it to the internet. It’s not really common but there are organizations with specific requirements that can be met with centralized mail transport.

As you probably know, when the HCW is run for the first time, the entered configuration is stored on the local hybrid configuration AD object. When an admin starts the HCW again, the HCW will read the configuration form the AD object and use it to pre-populate the wizard with the information that was entered previously.

Last week I was working with a customer with an Exchange 2013 CU19 environment where we built a hybrid configuration. When everyting was setup and tested I re-ran the HCW to add more email domains. In this specific instance I noticed that the checkbox for centralized mail transport was not present:


Continuing with the wizard would effectively break mail flow for this customer because the HCW would disable the centralized mail flow feature and route outbound messaged from Exchange Online to the internet directly.

First I verified the actual configuration in EOP and found that is was set up correctly:


Next I verified the information stored in the local hybrid configuration AD object and found that CentralizedTransport was listed under Features:


After opening a support incident with Microsoft Support the engineer confirmed that this behavior was ‘by design’. I won’t bother you with the argumentation because it made no sense at all. Unfortunately this customer did not have a Premier Support and there were very limited options to escalate the issue.

This is bad and I can think of at least three reasons why. First of all this feature by default is not displayed on the HCW page. The admin has to click on Advanced… for the CMT configuration to appear on the HCW page:


This means that it’s almost impossible to spot the problem. Second problem is that this behavior is simply inconsistent, it doesn’t make sense that the HCW caches all information EXCEPT thing single setting.

But third and biggest problem that I have with this issue is the impact. When discussing this with Microsoft the engineer told me that the impact is minimal because outbound email will still be delivered to the receiving mail server. This demonstrates a huge lack of understanding of why organizations choose to use CMT. Having to explain to your legal department why sent emails are missing from the archive is not a fun job.

And that’s one other problem that I have with this experience. The engineer did not investigate the HCW log files, did not agree with the fact that this is an impacting issue and an inconsistency and did not offer any escalation path. This reminded me of how difficult it can be to work with Microsoft Support if you do not have access to higher support tiers or a TAM.

I realize this is a rare scenario, but if you’re using CMT and run into the same issue, please open a service request and escalate if possible. This should be fixed.