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New and Improved Reporting

It’s been a touch over five years now since I started down the path of documenting Lync (now Skype for Business) via PowerShell scripting, my original “Making sense of a TBXML” post went up on September 11, 2011. I remember publishing the big update to it in February of 2013 in San Diego at the first Lync Conference. Since then, the script and it’s updated versions have been downloaded over 8,200 times since I last checked. I’m dreadful at being consistent with updates; unfortunately, I will fix bugs that I find but have a habit of not pushing those updates publically regularly.

With all of that being said, I have finally gotten around to my latest update, or I guess I should say iteration as it has been about a 95% ground up rewrite. For that reason, I am not updating the original script version or post but instead publishing this as a new version.

  • The largest change is to the structure and formatting of the Visio diagram. The previous version used an isometric layout that I spent weeks if not months trying to perfect, only for Microsoft to come along and update the stencils and change the style to the flat Metro UI style.
  • I’ve reworked the Visio diagram to show the firewall traffic ports required for Edge services within the environment; this has been a big request for some time now. It is not 100% complete as I have not implemented the reverse proxy traffic flows entirely, so I have some work for the next update.
  • An example of the Visio diagram is displayed below. I am open to comments, criticism, and suggestions so please feel free to share your thoughts.
  • The Excel workbook containing the voice documentation and configuration is mostly unchanged apart from better data parsing on the backend and some cosmetic changes for presentation.
  • The Word report includes additional information for things like Database Mirroring state, Topology Replication details, Windows Hotfix install details, and a few other new items. I have tried to format the tables in the document better to ensure a cleaner more legible design, but it still may require some manual correction depending on the complexity of the environment.
  • Finally the data collection script itself. I have completely re-done the data collection script to store and sort the information more efficiently. The result is that in my lab, where the previous version of the script generated an XML file that was about 11MB uncompressed, the XML from the new version clocks in at 38MB uncompressed. Don’t worry; it’s still compressed for storage and transfer in a ZIP archive resulting in the file compressing from 38MB down to just 910KB.
  • Before everyone asks, no the data files generated from the old version will not work with this version and vice-versa. I wanted to make it compatible but ultimately it was just too much work for too little benefit.

Download HERE on the TechNet Gallery.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust the Math

It’s been over a year again since I last posted an update. My bad. Hopefully, today makes up for it.

I’ve got quite a few tools in my toolkit that I have developed over the years designing and building Lync and now Skype for Business deployments. Some of those are things like the documentation script I developed while others are people way smarter than myself willing to answer oddball questions. One of those people is Tim Harrington, who has spent a ton of time working with me on developing, debugging, and tuning this whole thing.

Alright enough of that, let’s get down it. Most anyone that knows me knows that I love automating things, oddly enough it seems I’ve started at the end of the deployment and worked backward. First was the as-built documentation script, followed by the install and deployment bits (not yet publicly released), and then finally actually was the design and planning phase.

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Lync Environment Report Update

One of the most requested features for the Lync Environment Report package has always been support for custom Word document templates. I wrote the capability to support it sometime early last year but never got around to making it available publicly. Pat Richard from ehloworld.com asked me about it today, so I packaged it up and now it’s here.

I’ve added a -Template option to the New-LyncEnvReport.ps1 script that accepts the path to a Word document to be used as a template. You will need to open the script and tweak a couple things to make it work with your template though. There is a new section near the top of the script where you can configure the style names for the Section headers and table styles you want to use.

The other big change I made was to remove the auto download option for the Visio stencils from Microsoft’s website. It was still configured to look for the older version which is no longer available. I have updated the script to check the “My Documents\My Shapes” folder for the 2012_Stencil_121412.vss file which is available for download here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35772

You can download the latest update on the TechNet Gallery here: https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Lync-Environment-Report-cbc6fb1a

If you find any errors or encounter any problems, shoot me an email or leave a comment for me.

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Document all the things!

I’m all about automating documentation, you might think it’s because I like writing documentation. Nope, like most others I loathe having to gather a produce documentation but I recognize it’s value and the reasoning for it. And I’ve been saved by it more than once.

That being said if I can automate it I will find a way. Having previously produced my Lync environment documentation scripts, I found I was missing information on a crucial Lync component; the Lync voice gateway. I primarily encounter a lot of AudioCodes gateways and they’re the ones I have the most experience with, so I chose to start with them.

I’m not opposed to expanding this to include Sonus, AcmePacket, or any of the other guys out there. I just don’t have any hardware or config files from those guys to use as reference.

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