Hello. This is an update to the Lync SDN for Dummies series to cover the release of the Lync SDN Interface v2.1. Yes, I should have had this out a while ago but there is a lot to cover here and quite a lot of new features and functionality (also, Destiny happened 🙂 ).

Part one attempts to cover the “SDN, what does it all mean” question, while part two goes through installing and configuring the Lync SDN interface 2.0. This post will cover whats new in the Lync SDN Interface v2.1 release, and how install and configure some of these new components and features.

First, a few updates to part one:

In September, 2014 I was honored to be asked to be a delegate to “SDN Connect Live Tech Field Day Roundtable” sponsored by Meru Networks. Though networking/WiFi focused in part, it sort of opened my eyes to this whole ecosystem of SDN vendors and products that, even if indirectly, can help provide a better Lync experience for users. I had never heard of OpenFLow before the event. I learned a great deal and it was a great experience. Definitely check out Meru Networks SDN solutions for Lync. Thanks again to Meru Networks, Gestalt IT, and Microsoft Lync MVP @alexlewis.

From TechED Europe in late October, 2014 there is a great session on Software Defined Networking with Microsoft Lync Server 2013 from Jamie Stark and Korneel Bullens. I can’t stress enough how great this session is. A must see/watch/read/listen/whatever.

Another was the launch of the HP SDN App Store in October, 2014. This is a great, centralized resource for HP SDN hardware components but also SDN related applications and services from many other vendors.

Not coming from a networking background, a lot of these things that comprise “SDN” make no sense to me, but its very cool and again, anything that helps the adoption and increased user experience of Lync and Lync voice is my friend.

 

SDN 2.1

Released at the end of September 2014, the Lync SDN Interface v2.1 brings some considerable enhancements and updates to the Lync SDN API. The major enhancements are (taken from the Lync SDN Interface 2.1 Release Notes):

 

Improved scalability and reduced redundancy

– SDN Manager can be deployed in a pool configuration behind a DNS load balancer

– LSM instances can optionally share states stored in a database to support load balancing and automatic failover.

In the Lync SDN 2.0 interface release, two Lync SDN Manager (LSM) servers could be paired in a primary and secondary configuration. With the Lync SDN 2.1 we can now have multiple LSM servers exist in a DNS load-balanced pool. Am I the only one that likes saying “DNS load-balanced”?

 

LSM Installation Options Source: Lync SDN Interface 2.1 CHM, SDN with Lync 2013 session OFC-B430 TechEd EU 2014

 

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So now there are now 4 basic deployment options for the Lync 2.1 LSM:1. LSM Pool. The Lync Dialog Listeners (LDL) connect to a pool of DNS load-balanced LSM’s.NewImage

 

2. LSM Primary/Secondary Failover (Redundant LSM). What we had in 2.0. The LDL’s have a secondary LSM defined and will send to the secondary if the primary is unavailable. NewImage

 

3. LSM and LDL collocated. Essentially a stand-alone option where the data gathered is local to the hosting Lync server and is not shared with other LSM’s. NewImage

 

4. Single LSM. The most basic deployment type. All LDL’s report to a single LSM. No fault tolerance and designed for smaller deployments.

 

LSM SQL Requirements

In Lync SDN Interface 2.1 CHM you will see references made to the location of the configuration information, whether it is in memory or SQL. New to the 2.1 API is the use of a SQL database to share the current call state data and LSM configuration information, allowing for the redundancy of the LSM pool. The recommendation is to home the SDNManager database on the Lync SQL backend, but it can be any SQL server edition, including SQL Express. More details to follow.

 

LSM DNS Requirements

The LDL can be configured to look at DNS for the LSM server or pool via an SRV record. If you are planning to deploy a LSM server or pool, you should have the SRV record deployed before you install the LDL. Note: If you choose to add the SRV record after the LDL installation, you can edit the LyncDialogListener.exe.config file and add the following entry:

<add key=”checkdns” value=”True”/> 

 To add the SDN DNS SRV record (acronyms much?) do the following:

With the appropriate administrative privileges in AD DNS (or follow the process for your DNS service to add an SRV record but we will use AD DNS here.)

1. Open DNS Manager and select the appropriate zone.

2. New, Other New Records, scroll to Service Location (SRV) and select Create Record.

3. In the New Resource Record property sheet, in the Service: field add _sdinternal

4. In the Host offering this service: field type in the VIP name for the LSM pool.

5. For Protocol/Port fields, input _https and Port Number 9332 if using https or input _http and Port 9333 if using http.

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I have made a little table of Lync SDN LSM deployment methods and the location of the call state information as to whether the DNS SRV record is required:

LSM Deployment Type

Call State Location

SQL Required

DNS SRV Needed?

LSM Pool

SQL

Yes

Yes

Single LSM

Memory

No

No

Redundant LSM

Memory

No

No

LDL/LSM/FE Colo

Memory

No, optional for settings.

No

 

SDN 2.1 LSM Installation

The overall installation steps of the LSM are similar to that of LSM 2.0, save for the additional steps and configuration requirements for the new functionalities and deployment options. I will also say that one other observation I had of the Lync SDN 2.1 API over 2.0 is that the documentation is much, much better now. So why am I even writing this you say? I like hearing myself talk is why.

Pre-installation tasks and notes.  – The Lync SDN 2.1 SDN bits are not compatible with the Lync SDN 2.0 bits. If you have the Lync SDN 2.0 LSM installed, you will get the following error when launching the LyncSDNManager.msi:

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Uninstall the 2.0 LSM and try again.

– Launch the LyncSDNManager.msi from an elevated CMD window or you will receive the following error:

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Lync 2.1 SDN LSM Installation Steps

1. After extracting the Lync SDN Interface 2.1 components obtained from the Microsoft Download site, launch the LyncSDNManager.msi from an elevated CMD window.

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2. Choose Paths for install and Logs: ‘Next’

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3. The Lync SDN Manager Topology

This is the most significant departure from the 2.0 install. Here you will choose the “topology” of you LSM deployment. The simplest configuration is the “Set up an individual SDN Manager that does not share settings” as it is standalone and requires no additional components. The most complex configuration would be the “Join (or create) a pool of SDN managers”. We will select  “Join (or create) a pool of SDN managers”. Please review the Lync SDN 2.1 CHM for additional information.

‘Next’.

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4. Lync SDN Manager Database Settings. Like I stated above, the recommended location for the SDNManager database is the Lync SQL back end, but this is not a requirement. Add the SQL back end FQDN and instance in the format of

sqlfqdn.company.com\sqlinstance

to the ‘Database Server’ field. ‘Next’.

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*One minor issue I encountered was that if you have the correct FQDN\Instance entered even though the installer connects, if the currently logged in user only has ‘public’ rights to the instance you may see the following dialog but the database won’t be created because you can’t click ‘Next’.

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Clicking ‘Back’ sort of gave me a ‘loop’ where I couldn’t actually create the database and continue until the account had the appropriate rights. Add the correct rights to the instance and you should see this:

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Note also the ‘Specify the database data and log files directory’ button. Here you can, wait for it, choose the database and log file paths for the SDNManager database. Input the paths as applicable and if you leave the paths blank it will use the default path settings of the instance.

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5. Network Controller Settings. This step has changed quite a bit since the 2.0 release. Here you will add the Network Controller URI(s) and in addition, you can add a list of specific subnets and domains to filer out traffic from.

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Click the ‘Configure’ button to set the URI(s) subnets and domains.

Configuration example from the Lync SDN 2.1 CHM

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Click ‘Next’.

6. Ready to Install. The setup msi will install the Lync 2.1 LSM bits as well as install the SDNManager SQL database.

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Click ‘Install’ to start the procedure.

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Click ‘Finish’ when complete.

We can verify the creation of the SDNManager database by using SQL Studio and opening the SQL server\instance you specified.

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On the LSM machine, verify the Lync SDN Manager service has started.

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Lync Dialog Listener 2.1 Setup

Generally, the LDL 2.1 setup is similar to the 2.0 release with a few noted exceptions. Additional bonus:

The Lync Dialog Listener MSI is now called….get this…. LyncDialogListener.msi (small victories).

Please see Lync SDN for Dummies Part 1 for more info on what the LDL does and how it relates to the LSM.

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LDL 2.1 Installation

1. Launch the LyncDialogListener.msi to start the installation. ‘Next’.

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2. EULA. ‘Next’.

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3. Destination Folder. Choose the location for the LDL and the SDN logs.

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‘Next’.

4. Here is where it gets interesting. It was mentioned earlier in the ‘LSM DNS Requirements’ section that if an LSM pool was to be deployed, that you should provision the LSM DNS SRV record prior to the LDL install. Here is why. Clicking ‘Next’ on the above step will initiate an DNS query for the LSM SRV record. If the SRV record has been pre-deployed and is resolvable, you will see the following dialog box:

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To reiterate, you can edit the LyncDialogListener.exe.config file and add the following entry:

<add key=”checkdns” value=”True”/> 

to set the SRV lookup afterwords.

 

Verify LSM DNS SRV Record

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Checking the ‘Use the existing SRV record to connect to the SDN Manager’ box and clicking ‘Next’ will bring you to the ‘Certificate for Authentication’ dialog. If you are using MTLS, click the ‘Select’ button to choose the certificate.

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If not, just click ‘Next’.

5. Lync SDN Topology. If you are deploying an LSM topology other than an LSM pool, the DNS SRV is not required so you will be taken to the ‘Lync SDN Topology’ dialog. This will occur if the ‘Use the existing SRV record to connect to the SDN Manager’ box is left unchecked in the ‘DNS Service Record Found’ dialog shown above.

The ‘Lync SDN Topology’ dialog is where you will define how the LDL locates the SDN Managers. This can be collocated on the Lync Front End you are currently installing the LDL on, in an LSM pool as discussed earlier, or in an Active/Standby failover configuration. We will choose the ‘In a pool and can be addressed with a pool FQDN’ option.

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Click ‘Next’.

Again, if you do not select the ‘Use the existing SRV record to connect to the SDN Manager’ in the previous step, you have another chance to do so here. Note the Note 🙂 on the ‘DNS Service Records’ dialog.

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If you check the ‘Use the DNS SRV Record to get the URIs for the SDN Manager’ box, it will use the SRV record that was detected earlier but you chose not to check then for some reason. Huh?. You will then be taken to the Choose Certificate’ dialog. If you do not Check the box, you will be taken to the ‘URIs to the Lync SDN Manager pool’ dialog where you will manually set the LSM pool URI.

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Enter the appropriate URI(s). Click ‘Next’. Again, select a certificate if required. Click ‘Next’.

6. All roads lead to ‘Lync Dialog Listener Service Account’. Choose ‘Network Service’ or specify a service account.

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Click ‘Next’.

7. Ready to Install (finally)

Click ‘Install’ to, you know, install. Do I get paid by the word for this?

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The installer will attempt to register.

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More dialog boxes. And complete.

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Finish.

Additional Thoughts:

Some other great info from the OFC-B340 presentation at TechED Europe 2014 Powerpoint. Mr. Stark discussed some Lync SDN deployment case studies that are really worth looking into for more insights.

City of Bellevue

Nectar\Gartner

Also mentioned in this TechED EU presentation was that we might hear some new things about Lync and the coming SDN controller built into Windows 10 Server at MS Ignite in May.

 

Good things.

Please let me know if you have any questions or you need to me to elaborate further on any part of this subject.

Thank you.