So we've got our services in order and a partner chosen. Next up in our “Path to Lync Server” series is hardware.

By now everyone who works with Microsoft software knows about their hardware requirements. Lync is no exception – you'll need good servers and an up-to-date network. With Lync Server however, there's a bit more to consider.

You'll need to consider not only the servers and the network, but also communication devices. Computers, phones, conferencing tools – the hardware your users will employ daily with Lync. (See why we asked them what services they wanted?)

Let's get started with the server hardware. Much of the following information can also be found in Microsoft's TechNet Library for Lync Server 2010.

Server Hardware Requirements for Lync 2010

According to Microsoft's documentation (“Determining Your Infrastructure Requirements – Microsoft TechNet”), these are the server hardware recommendations for all Lync Server roles except the Director:

  • 64-bit CPU at 2 GHz or higher; either a dual quad-core or a 4-way dual-core
  • 16GB of RAM
  • 72GB disk space available (10,000 RPM drive recommended)
  • 1 network adapter (2 is better), at 1 Gbps or higher

Note that these recommendations were based on an 80,000 user pool using 8 front end servers and 1 back end server. If your organization is smaller, you may be able to lower these values to suit you.

(If you try that, and it works, let me know. I'd love to hear how well Lync works for different business sizes.)

The Director role doesn't need quite this level of a server. You can use a single quad-core 64-bit CPU (at 2GHz or higher),or dual 64-bit dual-cores.

Back End Servers and other database servers (e.g.,the Archiving and Monitoring roles) have similar requirements. But there's one difference you should be aware of*, so I'll list them out.

  • 64-bit CPU at 2 GHz or higher; either a dual quad-core or a 4-way dual-core
  • *32GB of RAM recommended for Back End Server; 16GB of RAM recommended for the Archiving and Monitoring database (when NOT collocated with the Back End Server)
  • 72GB disk space available (10,000 RPM drive recommended)
  • 1 network adapter (2 is better), at 1 Gbps or higher

There's two advantages of using these recommendations as guidelines.
–Higher-end servers can use DNS load balancing to help cut down on administration overhead.
–If you virtualize servers at these specs, they'll have room for future expansion.

What Operating System?

Lync Server runs on Windows Server 2008 R2. All versions are supported, except for:

  • Server Core
  • Windows Web Server
  • HPC Edition

It's very important to remember – 64-bit only.

Network Hardware Recommendations

Your network should support 1 Gbps Ethernet speeds at least, to take advantage of Lync's audio/video capabilities. (Unless of course you don't intend to set those up.)

SIP Trunking is probably the best way to integrate with the public phone network (PSTN). Make sure you have enough bandwidth to accommodate all the services you want to use – this may require upgraded switches, or a faster Internet connection.

Additional Software Requirements

All servers with Lync server roles on them will need these installed:

  • Windows PowerShell 2.0
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 with SP1
  • Windows Installer 4.5

Database

For the back end database of a Front End pool, the Archiving database, and the Monitoring database, Microsoft requires one of these versions of SQL Server:

  • SQL Server 2008 SP1 Enterprise Edition
  • SQL Server 2008 SP1 Standard Edition (64-bit edition)
  • SQL Server 2005 SP3 Enterprise Edition
  • SQL Server 2005 SP3 Standard Edition (64-bit edition)

Lync Server Standard Edition installs SQL Server Express 2008 (64-bit) for its own use.

Computers

Computers running the Microsoft Lync client must have Windows 7 or Vista SP2 installed. The Lync client will probably run on XP, but 7 will make for a smoother Office experience.

Phones and Other Devices

With the servers and network hardware taken care of, now we can focus on the end user experience.

Remaining hardware is in two categories: Infrastructure Devices and Communication Devices. Both of these are determined by your specific organizational needs.

Infrastructure Devices

These are devices used to optimize your infrastructure for using Lync – PSTN gateways, Survivable Branch Appliances (SBA), that sort of thing.
If you plan on full telephony with the PSTN, you may need a gateway.
If you have multiple offices, you'll need an SBA.
Several vendors provide both now. Here's a list: Infrastructure Partners – Lync
I recommend Dialogic devices – they work really well for us.

Communication Devices

You can guess what this is. I'm not just talking phones though. There are Lync conferencing devices too. A full list of the Lync Device Partners shows what's available now.

This area is very much up to you. How many users do you have to buy for? What kinds of devices would best serve your communication needs? You should already know the answers, thanks to your user surveys. So I'll just give my own hardware recommendations.

If you're getting IP phones, I recommend PolyCom and Snom. (I haven't tried Snom phones yet, but I'm interested to see how well they work.)

USB peripherals include speakerphones, headsets and webcams. Logitech always delivers for us. Never tried a Jabra headset, but I've heard many good things.

Finally, the partner list has a section for conferencing devices. ClearOne, PolyCom and Jabra have devices available. I haven't used ClearOne hardware, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth as much of a look as the other two.

And there you have it. This information, plus the TechNet library's references, should give you a solid idea of what hardware you'll need to run Lync Server 2010. We have just about everything ready for Step 6: Install Lync Server! Check back next week for more.

Path to Lync Server – Step 5: Choose Hardware to Use
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