Friday, 24 March 2017

Licensing & Setup Guide for Exchange Online Room Mailboxes and Skype Room accounts

Hello readers.  Happy Friday.  Hope you're well as always.

This is a quick post on Exchange Online Room mailboxes and Skype Room accounts.  I'll explain a bit about both Room Mailboxes and Skype Room accounts, the licensing required to use them and then how to set them up in Office 365.

Room Mailbox

First, I'll explain why you need either of these in the first place.  If you have meeting rooms in your organization, you really should have a way to book them.  You could get your office manager or front of house team to try and keep track of them.  You could hang a clipboard outside the rooms and post a booking sheet.  You could just let people sort it out between themselves and let the most important people, or the biggest, kick out the people in the room out when they want to go in.  Or you can use a tool you already have, Exchange, and create a booking system.

Exchange has the concept of resource accounts.  A Room Mailbox is an Exchange mailbox used for room bookings.  The mailbox can be configured to auto accept bookings and pop the meetings in the calendar for the Room.  One great thing is that because there is an Exchange Calendar, you shouldn't get double bookings.  If there is already an meeting in the calendar when someone tries to book it, they'll get a message that informs them that the room is booked and it declines the invite.  You can also configure dispute resolution to go to Front of House or something, so they can sort it out.

Skype Room account 

A Skype Room account is a special account enabled in Skype for Business, created from a Room mailbox.  A Skype Room account can log into Skype for Business in the desktop client, a SIP phone or a room system such as a Lync room system, Skype Room System V2, Polycom Trio, Polycom Group Series etc.

When a Room Mailbox gets enabled as a Skype Room account, something really cool happens.  You can see the presence of the room, just like you can with a person.  For instance, if you invite the Skype Room account to a meeting, the presence of the account will change from Available or Away to In a Meeting.  Then you know at a glance whether the room is in use.

Licensing Requirements

A Room mailbox doesn’t require a license for Exchange or Exchange Online.

A Skype Room account must be assigned a license that includes Skype for Business Online Plan 2 before they are able to log in to Skype.  They could just have Skype for Business Online Plan 2 and nothing else.  For my Business Premium tenant, I can add a standalone SfB Online Plan 2 subscription for £4.20 per month and assign that to the Room account. 

E1, E3 and E5 includes SfB Online Plan 2, but you wouldn’t really want to spend £6 for E1, £17.60 for E3 or £30.80 for E5 on an account that doesn’t need Exchange, Office or SharePoint etc.  So, the cheapest way to license a Skype Room Account is SfB Online Plan 2. 

Again, if you want to rock up and dial a number the Room account must have the Cloud PBX add-on and PSTN Calling.  However, if you get a user with PSTN Conferencing add-on to schedule a meeting and invite the room and the Room joins the meeting, the Room account can be used to dial a number to join a participant into the meeting.

Use Cases

For an Online meeting where participants join from their clients, devices or from the web, with no dial in/out to the PSTN.
  • A User that schedules a meeting must have E1, E3 or E5
  • The User with the correct licensing schedules the meeting and invites the room. 
  • The User that scheduled the meeting (aka the presenter) joins the meeting on their laptop or whatever to share content, chooses no audio
  • The presenter clicks/taps join on the room system to join the meeting
  • Participants join from the web or Lync/Skype client.
  • The presenter shares content

For a meeting that requires PSTN dial in
  • The user that schedules the meeting must have E1 or E3 and the PSTN Conferencing add-on or E5 with PSTN Conferencing included.
  • The User with the correct licensing schedules the meeting and invites the room. 
    • Because the user that scheduled the meeting has the PSTN Conferencing add-on, the invite can/will include the bridge telephone numbers configured in the tenant
  • The User that scheduled the meeting (aka the presenter) joins the meeting on their laptop or whatever to share content, chooses no audio
  • The presenter clicks/taps join on the room system to join the meeting
  • Participants join from the web or Lync/Skype client.
  • Participants join by calling the bridge number
  • The presenter shares content

How to set it up

  1. First, you must log in as tenant admin and create a Room Mailbox.  This can be done in ECP or PowerShell.  I like PowerShell, so I'll show you that method.
  2. Then you must enable the Room mailbox as a Skype Room account.
  3. Then you assign the license.


To create the mailbox in PowerShell.  Open PowerShell as Administrator.

First, create and import a new session from PowerShell to Exchange Online
Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted
$org='domain.com'
$cred=Get-Credential admin@$org
$sess=New-PSSession -ConfigurationName microsoft.exchange -Credential $cred -AllowRedirection -Authentication basic -ConnectionUri https://ps.outlook.com/powershell
Import-PSSession $sess

Create a new room mailbox
$newpass='password'
New-Mailbox -MicrosoftOnlineServicesID $rm -room -Name "Room Name" -RoomMailboxPassword (ConvertTo-SecureString $newpass -AsPlainText -Force) -EnableRoomMailboxAccount $true

Create and import a new session to Skype Online
Import-Module LyncOnlineConnector
$cssess=New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $cred
Import-PSSession $cssess -AllowClobber

Find the registrar pool where users are homed
          Get-CsOnlineUser -Identity 'user@domain.com'| fl *registrarpool*

The results
          RegistrarPool
          -------------
          sippoolDB41E02.infra.lync.com

Enable the Room account in Skype Online
          Enable-CsMeetingRoom -Identity $rm -RegistrarPool "sippoolDB41E02.infra.lync.com" -SipAddressType EmailAddress

Create a new session to Windows Azure AD
          $cred=Get-Credential admin@$org
          Connect-MsolService -Credential $cred

Now set the password for the room account not to expire
          Set-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName roommailbox@domain.com -PasswordNeverExpires $true

Check what licensing you have available to assign
          Get-MsolAccountSku

Results
          AccountSkuId                                                  ActiveUnits    WarningUnits           ConsumedUnits
          ------------                                                      -----------      ------------              -------------
          domain:O365_BUSINESS_PREMIUM                   1                  0                            1
          domain:MCOSTANDARD                                    1                  0                           0
          domain:STANDARDEPACK                                 1                  0                           0
          domain:ENTERPRISEPACK                                 1                  0                           0

Now assign a license to the room account

for instance Skype for Business Online Plan 2 (MCOSTANDARD)
          Set-MsolUserLicense -UserPrincipalName roommailbox@domain.com -AddLicenses "domain:MCOSTANDARD"

Or E1 (STANDARDPACK)
          Set-MsolUserLicense -UserPrincipalName roommailbox@domain.com -AddLicenses "domain:STANDARDPACK"

Or E3 (ENTERPRISEPACK)

          Set-MsolUserLicense -UserPrincipalName roommailbox@domain.com -AddLicenses "domain:ENTERPRISEPACK"

That's all folks!
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This is a great TechNet post on what is required - https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt691570.aspx

As always I hope this has been useful.  If this or any other post has been useful to you please take a moment to share.  Comments are welcome. 
 

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