Streamlining Access for Unified Communications Infrastructure


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Boost productivity and empower collaboration with anytime, anywhere access. The Dell™ Active Infrastructure family includes advanced networking, VMware vSphere® virtualization and F5® BIG-IP®–based load balancing of Microsoft® Lync® Server workloads.

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Streamlining Access for Unified Communications Infrastructure

  1. 1. 36 2013 Issue 02 | infrastructureReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.The opportunities to heightenworkplace productivity ofteninclude a blend of advancedcommunication technologiesthat enhance coworker interaction andcollaboration. Many organizations aremoving in this direction by embracing theDell Unified Communications solution,which integrates innovative communicationsservices into a single platform designedto support anytime, anywhere sharing ofinformation on any device.Real-time collaboration andcommunications significantly enhancesproductivity by providing immediate accessto coworkers and support teams duringbusiness hours. End-user presence — thecapability to see a coworker’s current statusas available, busy or away — facilitates easyaccess to the right colleague when interactionis necessary to resolve a problem or obtainvital information, even while multitasking.A converged communicationsinfrastructure also enables end users toreadily utilize an appropriate or preferredmethod for contacting others who maybe either inside or outside the enterprisenetwork. Feature-rich interfaces significantlyenhance productivity and minimize costsassociated with communications andtravel by helping to simplify access — frominstant messaging (IM) and voice, video orconference calls to shared applications,virtual desktops and many combinations ofthese communication channels. For manyorganizations, such efficiencies are drivingadoption of a converged infrastructure forcommunications and application delivery thatis designed to fundamentally change the waypeople interact in the workplace.To successfully deploy integratedcommunications technologies suchas IM, social networking, voice mail,conferencing, telephony and video,organizations need an intelligent andflexible network that binds voice and datafunctions together for easy access todependable services. F5 Networks® andBoost productivity and empower collaboration withanytime, anywhere access. The Dell™ Active Infrastructurefamily includes advanced networking, VMware vSphere®virtualization and F5® BIG-IP®–based load balancing ofMicrosoft® Lync® Server workloads.By Fred Johnson and Kamesh KothuriStreamlining access forunified communicationsinfrastructureDive deeperMicrosoft Lync Server enables organizations to consideran investment in voice over IP (VoIP) to elevate workforceproductivity. View this DevCentral webcast to learnmore about deploying Lync server roles and howF5 BIG-IP networking helps ensure their high availabilityfor unifying
  2. 2. | 2013 Issue 02 37Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.Microsoft technologies integrated withinthe Dell Active Infrastructure family enableconverged platforms for supporting aunified communications approach thathelps simplify deployment and enrich theend-user experience.Integrating innovative technologiesfor enterprise-scale communicationsPutting a strategy for unifying communicationsinto action poses potential challenges forIT administrators. Different administrativeteams have traditionally managed voice anddata networks separately. The Dell UnifiedCommunications solution brings togethersystems and networking protocols, suchas the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), forvoice and video with the internet’s HTTPor HTTPS [HTTP with Secure Sockets Layer(SSL)] encryption. Until recently, thesesystems and protocols have not typicallycoexisted within the same infrastructure.They can be successfully integrated throughcomprehensive solutions that neatly bindthese technologies and help simplify servicedelivery for any device no matter whereresources are located.The Unified Communications solutionhelps organizations avoid deploymentcomplexities by implementing anenterprise messaging infrastructuredesigned to consistently deliver easyand reliable communications andproductivity gains. Dell and Microsofthave worked together to deploy UnifiedCommunications for Microsoft LyncServer. Large deployments of Lync Serverweb services that support high workloadlevels often require external hardwarefor virtual load balancing. Organizationscan use F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager™(LTM®) systems that are designed to offermission-critical availability, intelligent trafficmanagement, scalability and enhancedsecurity for Lync Server deployments.Implementing communicationsdelivery on converged infrastructureVirtualization has in part advancedconsolidation and availability in data centersto enable the coexistence of different tiersof enterprise applications on large clusters ofhardware resources that can be managedefficiently. Converged infrastructure buildson this premise by combining servers,networking, storage and managementtools into integrated, optimized systemsthat provide a foundation for virtualizedresource pools with Dell UnifiedCommunications initiatives.The Dell Global Solutions Engineeringteam designed a framework forimplementing Microsoft Lync Server 2010on Dell Active System 800 convergedinfrastructure for application delivery andnetworking1 that can support up to 5,000end users. Dell provides a methodologyfor this solution that offers implementationguidelines, recommended architectures,best practices, and performance testingand results.2 The converged infrastructureconsists of Dell PowerEdge™ R620 serversin a PowerEdge M1000e blade chassis, Dellnetworking switches and Dell EqualLogic™PS Series storage. VMware vSpherevirtualization provides an environment forF5 BIG-IP LTM Virtual Edition (LTM VE) virtualmachines that were deployed for loadbalancing the Lync Server workloads.Services and proxiesThrough strategic awareness ofapplications, resources and end users, F5provides an Intelligent Services Platformand full-proxy technologies designed forapplication delivery and security in complexdata center environments. This platformenables provisioning of key services forLync Server deployments that help ensureinfrastructure reliability for internal andexternal deployments.Load balancing, a single namespace orDomain Name System (DNS) namespace,TCP optimizations and high-availabilityservices are well suited for fundamentalinternal access in Lync Server deployments.Traffic management policies help ensurethat requests from client devices areproperly distributed and persisted to theweb front end (WFE) and Lync Directorservers. Advanced SIP and HTTP healthchecks continuously monitor the LyncServer–based services for availability andresponsiveness. In the event that a LyncServer–based service goes down, the F5application delivery controller (ADC) routesclient devices around the problem tominimize the impact. The service can thenbe repaired and brought back online — aprocess that appears seamless to end users.For Lync Server deployments thatprovide external access, BIG-IP LTMsystems act as a reverse proxy to helpprovide secure communications withoutside entities (see figure on next page).Because many organizations have deployed(the recently discontinued) Microsoft®Forefront Threat Management Gateway(TMG) as a Lync Server reverse proxy,BIG-IP LTM can replace TMG. F5 supportsthe Lync Edge server, WFE and Directorserver traffic requirements such as internaland external interfaces. It also supportsforwarding simple URLs in addition toproviding SSL offload and acceleration, asingle namespace across sites and criticalnetwork security protections for LyncServer resources. Easy access enabled byBIG-IP functionality offers robust supportfor client device types, whether they aredesktop PCs, laptops, tablets, mobilephones or virtual desktops.Programmability and customizationProgrammability is a key feature that is usedwidely in BIG-IP LTM deployments. As data1 For more information on complementary Dell and F5 networking technologies, see “Accelerating Application Delivery With Nimble Networking Platforms,” by Melanie Christiansen and Fred Johnson,in Dell Power Solutions, 2011 Issue 4, “Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Implementation on Dell Active System 800v,” Dell Global Solutions Engineering, February 2013,
  3. 3. 38 2013 Issue 02 | infrastructureReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.centers make the transition to increasinglyefficient and automated environmentsthat minimize human interaction, theytend to be more heavily dependent onprogrammability than traditional datacenters. F5 provides built-in customizationwith an extensible and programmablearchitecture that is based on openapplication programming interfaces (APIs),templates and scripting. For example, F5iApps® deployment for Lync Server is atemplate that helps simplify and accelerateconfiguration for BIG-IP in Lync Serverimplementations. iApps is accessiblein several ways including the TrafficManagement Shell (TMSH), the F5 iControl®API and the web management graphicaluser interface (GUI). When using the GUI,BIG-IP administrators can access theiApps menus on the active unit throughtheir web browser.Creating a Lync Server application serviceon BIG-IP launches the iApps template anddisplays the interview screen (see figure onnext page). Administrators can answer thequestions presented on this screen, andwhen they are done they can complete theconfiguration simply by clicking Finished.Many iApps templates are available inrecent releases of the F5 Traffic ManagementOperating System® (TMOS®) platform.However, iApps templates can be updatedindependently of TMOS releases, and theyare customizable.An updated iApps template for LyncServer is available for download to registeredF5 DevCentral™ community members. Therecent version contains a comprehensiverange of up-to-date policies that supportLync Server deployments based on F5and Microsoft collaboration and testing.Additionally, organizations can createtheir own iApps templates from scratchor by exporting, modifying, renaming andreimporting templates that are based onexisting templates.Organizations can also download the F5Management Plug-In for VMware vSpherefrom the F5 Networks website and installit to enhance managing the VMware®virtualization environment.Supporting infrastructure deploymentfor application deliveryRecent advancements in servers, networkingand storage have enabled organizationsto build efficient infrastructure for privateclouds. The Dell hardware portfolio togetherwith innovative F5 technologies is well suitedto take advantage of these advancementsand help build converged networkinfrastructure for optimal application delivery.Many organizations aim to optimizedata center fabrics for handling highvolumes of data traffic that often movethrough a mix of networking islandscatering to different parts of the datacenter infrastructure. Deploying innovativenetworking switch capabilities is one wayto advance networking infrastructure formanaging data center traffic. Dell providesconverged, intelligent and scalablenetworking switch capabilities for 10 GigabitEthernet (10GbE) and 40 Gigabit Ethernet(40GbE) fabrics. Dell also offers a rangeof topologies and converged networkingfabrics for high-volume data center trafficthroughput that supports modular,scalable and cost-effective server andstorage infrastructure.Dell networking switches complywith standards-based interoperability andadaptive workload intelligence. They alsoefficiently scale to enable IT organizationsto deploy a single physical networkinfrastructure that provides deterministicperformance and quality of service. Theseswitches are designed to work seamlesslywith Dell EqualLogic PS Series storageand Dell Compellent™ Storage Center™storage area network (SAN) arrays built onthe Dell Fluid Data™ architecture. Thesestorage platforms are designed to deliverautomated, optimized performance.Consistent, programmatic integrationacross traditional, software-definednetworking (SDN)–enabled and virtualizedinfrastructure from Dell provides a robustframework for orchestrating, integratingand managing network operations. DellActive Fabric, a flexible, streamlinedand cost-effective networking underlay,Deploying a redundant-pair BIG-IP LTM system for internal and external Lync Server servicesInternal and external end usersand bring-your-own-device (BYOD) supportF5 BIG-IP LTMLync Director servers poolFront-end enterprise servers poolConsolidated Lync Edge serversMicrosoft Lync environmentDell servers, networking, storage, software and services
  4. 4. | 2013 Issue 02 39Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.and Dell Active System Manager canbe deployed for a comprehensive,automated, elastic private cloud. Thiscloud implementation facilitates dynamicnetwork reconfigurations in real time todeliver an optimal end-user experience.Dell Services provides a portfolio ofprofessional support and consulting servicesfor deploying and configuring Dell ActiveSystem 800 converged infrastructure in datacenters. Through its Dell Agile ConsultingService for Microsoft Lync service,experienced technical consultants from DellIT Consulting offer high-level expertise onLync Server engagements and deploying DellUnified Communications–based systemsworldwide for meeting organizationalbusiness requirements cost-effectively. Thisservice also addresses balancing businessneeds with IT requirements while helpingensure regulation compliance and security.For large or complex UnifiedCommunications–based initiatives, bestpractices include accurate scoping andsizing for Microsoft Lync Server deploymentsrunning F5 BIG-IP technology. Dell Servicescan collaborate with organizations toplan, assess and implement UnifiedCommunications–based engagements,helping enterprises keep projects focusedand on schedule. Dell offers a wide rangeof customized consultation services forrobust design and implementation that helpsorganizations achieve successful applicationdelivery deployments.Unifying communicationsfor heightened productivityWhile implementing a Dell UnifiedCommunications–based infrastructure maycall upon IT administrators to address someorganizational challenges, the decision tocombine voice and data technologies intoone infrastructure enables considerableworkplace benefits. For example, the UnifiedCommunications solution can make it easierthan ever before to jump on a quick phonecall, join a group chat with coworkers orreach out to others in a variety of ways forefficient, convenient collaboration.Microsoft Lync Server deploymentshelp consolidate communications servicesonto a unified platform — thereby avoidingthe cost and complexity of supporting awide range of technologies from differentvendors across the data center infrastructure.Utilizing Dell networking switches for arobust networking infrastructure substrate,F5 Networks provides an Intelligent ServicesPlatform for an application delivery networkthat is programmable and efficientlymanages comprehensive Lync Servercommunications in a single point of control.Tight integration of Dell, F5 Networks,Microsoft and VMware technologies offersIT organizations a Unified Communicationsplatform that is designed to deliver enhancedend-user experience, increased performanceand simplified access and management in ahighly scalable infrastructure.Successful implementation of aUnified Communications solution providesan intelligent, flexible infrastructurefor communication technologies thatfacilitates efficient access to dependableservices. In addition, Dell Services providesa comprehensive portfolio of support andconsultation services to help organizationsimplement a Unified Communicationsstrategy efficiently to streamline enterprisecommunications for heightenedproductivity and collaboration.Learn moreLync server on Active BIG-IP LTM with Lync proxy access to Lync communications and Unified Communications Lync planning for Lync Johnson is a partner engineer at F5 Networksdedicated to Dell Product Group sales andtechnology services.Kamesh Kothuri is a product management andsolutions development manager at Dell currentlyfocused on network virtualization, applicationdelivery and infrastructure management.Configuring a Lync Server application service using an iApps template