21 October 2011
Microsoft Lync Simultaneous Ring
Phone numbers are dumb. There’s really no way around it-if I want to talk to someone, I need to know (or look up) an arbitrary number that’s 4 or more digits long and dial it. This was bad enough when most people had only one number, but now I’m sure most people have at minimum two or three places where they could reasonably be expected to be reached (home, office, mobile, cottage, private jet etc).
Modern directory systems have made this problem a little easier-for example in Microsoft Lync I can directly click and call a contact at any one of their numbers, but even that doesn’t solve the real problem of which device someone is reachable on right now. People’s behaviours have reacted to this in a couple of ways. First, they may set their office voicemail message to something like “if you need to reach me right away, call my mobile at 5551212”, at which point a caller would have to hang up, dial again, and perhaps be confronted with yet another voicemail system. Another default has been to always call someone’s mobile number, which is why you’ll often see people sitting at their desks, mobile phone to their head, chewing up wireless minutes when there’s a much better communication device sitting right in front of them (PC, Desk phone, etc). With Lync though, there’s a simple option-simultaneous ring. To enable it, look at the bottom of the Lync client for the call forwarding button, click it, and choose the number that will ring in addition to Lync:
Once this option is enabled (reflected by the handy “Simultaneously ring is on” message on the main window), any calls that go to your Microsoft Lync client will also be “forked” to the number you specify. This means that when you call my office number and get routed to me, the Microsoft Lync clients on both of my PCs ring, as does my Polycom Lync phone, my Snom Lync phone, the Lync client running on my home PC, and the mobile phone that’s likely in my pocket at the time, all without having to direct someone to another number. This means that I’m reachable just about anywhere. I can even change my mobile number and not need to worry about giving it out-as long as people are contacting me through Lync, the call will land on that device. Better still, if I don’t answer, everything will go to my one exchange Unified Messaging mailbox, which routes messages to Outlook, and can even give me a preview of what’s in the message. Note that if the number you want to ring does not appear in this list, you can either select “New Number”, or add the number to your profile under the “Phones” section in the Lync options.
As usual though, there are a couple of things to know before setting this up. First, if you answer a call on a simultaneous ring device, your presence will not show as “in a call” in Lync. This is something that may be enabled in the future (provided that the forked platform informs Lync of the user’s presence), but at the moment it won’t be reflected. Second, you may run into problems with voicemail systems on forked devices. If, for example, Exchange UM is configured to pick up a call after 25 seconds (about 4 rings), but your mobile phone’s voicemail is configured to answer in 20 seconds, then the call won’t be picked up by UM, and will instead go to your phone’s voicemail system. If this matters to you, you can either have UM pick up the call sooner, or increase the delay on your phone’s voicemail.
Finally, it’s only possible to simultaneously ring one number right now, so if you want to have both your home and mobile phones ring, then you’re out of luck. Still, not only do you already have your work phone with you anywhere you have an internet connection, but even without internet and a laptop, you never need to give your mobile number out again.
How to set up Lync simultaneous ring: