Configuring Outlook Voice Access

by Shijaz Abdulla on 21.08.2008 at 11:44

Exchange UM is NOT messy!  -- Messy datacenter Courtesy: davidandkelly.com

I was amazed at the simplicity of configuring Outlook Voice Access (OVA) on Exchange Server 2007. You could be up and running with Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging in just a day.

Whatever the case may be, I will have to admit one fact: Microsoft has lived up to their ‘VOIP AS YOU ARE’ campaign. You practically don’t need any extra hardware as long as you have an IP telephony infrastructure in place – one that is not archaic, and you have a VOIP gateway that falls within the List of Supported IP Gateways for Exchange 2007.

Many VOIP hardware vendors have taken advantage of the release of the new Unified Messaging features in Exchange 2007, to push for upgrades and new installations of their own VOIP equipment/solutions. Some try to sell their own replacement for OCS (with voice integration), others try to bring add-ons or a replacement to the Office Communicator client. Some vendors even say that their hardware is necessary to "enable" the Exchange UM features. Others go a step ahead, and try to make an impression that its their hardware that’s doing the Voice access to email.

As far as configuration on your IP Gateway is concerned, the only thing you need to do to get OVA working is to configure the gateway to redirect the Subscriber Access Number (the phone number on which people dial in to OVA) to forward all calls to the IP Address of the Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging Server. In short, its like telling the telephony infra to just forward anything on the OVA phone number to the OVA server and stay put.

Here are the things that I had to do on Exchange Server 2007:

  • Install Exchange Server 2007 UM role
  • Create a UM Dial Plan
  • Create a Unified Messaging Mailbox Policy based on the above dial plan.
  • Create a UM IP Gateway, and set it to point to the IP Address of your VOIP Gateway
  • Create a UM Hunt Group for the above UM IP Gateway
  • Associate the UM Dial Plan with one or more Exchange UM Servers
  • Enable Unified Messaging for one or more users

You don’t need to configure a UM Auto Attendant if you want to just enable Outlook Voice Access.

On our Mitel VOIP Gateway:

  • Forward all calls incoming on the pilot number (our Subscriber Access Number extension) to the Exchange UM Server’s IP address.

 

 

 

Related Posts:

Outlook Voice Access Rocks!
Getting the Exchange UM Test Phone to work
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 1
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 2
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 3
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 4

Outlook Voice Access rocks!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 21.08.2008 at 10:14

I’ve just enabled Outlook Voice Access here in HCT.

This comes after a day of testing with the UM Test Phone.

Outlook Voice Access is a new feature in Exchange Server 2007 that lets users dial a number from any telephone (anywhere in the world) to access their email, calendar, voicemail, and address book. Users dial a predefined phone number, and Exchange server answers the call. Users can login to their mailbox by entering their telephone extension number (stored in AD or Exchange) and their secret PIN number. The PIN number can be auto-generated or specified by the administrator for first time use. On the first use, users can be forced to change their PIN.

The menu is interactive and is speech enabled – you can actually say voice commands and Exchange will do things for you. It’s really exciting. Here’s a sample dialog between me and my server:

I dial the subscriber access number

Exchange Server: Welcome . You are connected to Microsoft Exchange. To access your mailbox enter your extension. To contact someone press the # key.

I enter my extension number

Exchange Server: Shijaz Abdulla, Please enter your PIN, then press the # key. If this is not your mailbox press the * key.

I enter my PIN and press the # key.

Exchange Server: You have no new voice messages and no new email messages. Please say voicemail, email, calendar, personal contacts, directory or personal options.

I wait for sometime and Exchange gives help on each of the above options.

Me: "Email"

Exchange Server: Opening your mailbox.

Exchange Server: First, a message from Saifudheen CEV, titled Test, arrived today at 9.56 AM

Hi Shijaz,

This is a test message

Saif

Me: "Next"

Exchange Server: "Next, a message from Varghese Varghese, titled Antigen uninstallation, arrived today at 9.49 AM

……"

Me: "Main Menu"

Exchange Server: "Sure. Please say voicemail, email, calendar, personal contacts, directory or personal options."

Me: "Calendar"

Exchange Server: "Sure. And which day shall I open?"

Me: "Today"

Exchange Server: "Opening today’s calendar"

First, a meeting that you organized from 10 to 10:30 titled "exam" with no location specified. You can say ‘Attendants details’, ‘Previous’, ‘First’, ‘Last’, or ‘More Options.’

Me: "Goodbye"

Exchange Server: "I heard you say Goodbye, do you want to end this phone call?"

Me: "Yes."

Exchange Server: Thank you for calling. Goodbye!

See the Call Reference Guide to see all the Voice navigation options.

 

This is certainly an Exchange Server feature that wont be missed by users. And it adds visibility for any Exchange 2007 Upgrade project – so consider enabling UM as part of your Exchange upgrade. The upgrade from Exchange 2003 to 2007 is not "just another email server upgrade"!

 

 

 

Related posts

Configuring Outlook Voice Access
Setting up the Exchange UM Test Phone
Preparing for Unified Messaging – Part 1
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 2
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 3
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 4

Getting the Exchange UM Test Phone to work

by Shijaz Abdulla on 19.08.2008 at 17:02

I am done with the setting up of the Exchange 2007 messaging transport infrastructure and moved all the mailboxes at the main site to Exchange 2007. Now I finally can focus on the real charm of Exchange Server 2007 — Unified Messaging!

To start off, one needs to set up servers that run the Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging role. I’ve got two of these installed – running on Windows Server 2008 x64. I then configured the following:

  • UM Dial Plans (with subscriber access numbers)
  • UM Mailbox Policy

Next you need a client machine (PC with a sound card) to run the Exchange UM Test Phone application. Here’s the catch: If you’re running 64-bit version of Exchange Server 2007 (which you would, if it’s a production environment), you need a client machine running a 64-bit OS to run the test phone application. No, chances are that you cannot use one of your 64-bit servers, because they don’t usually have sound cards in them. If you try to run the test phone from the 32-bit OS or without all the files I mention below, the application crashes.

So, I set up the Windows Server 2008 x64 OS on a Dell Optiplex 755 and then installed drivers for the sound card. I disabled the Windows Firewall as well. I also disabled all unnecessary network cards. Next, I copied the whole ExchangeBin folder directly off the Exchange 2007 UM server and pasted it in a new folder on my test PC. Then I copied the contents of the ExchangePublic folder too in the same folder. The ExchangeBin folder contains the test phone application (ExchangeUMTestPhone.exe file).

Then I ran the following commands in the command prompt, to enable the desktop experience:

ServerManagerCmd -i Desktop-Experience

A server restart ensued and then I opened the test phone application (ExchangeUMTestPhone.exe file). It started happily.

Let’s get back to the UM Server. On the UM server, you need to create a UM IP Gateway. Normally this should be your hardware VOIP gateway IP, but if you want to test with the UM Test phone, you need to set this to the IP of the test phone computer. Next, you create a UM hunt group, in which you specify the same gateway you created in the previous step.

Exchange UM Test Phone

 

  • In the setup window, I entered the IP address of my UM server in the Server Address field
  • SIP Port is 5060 (default)
  • Call security is Unsecured in my case
  • Logging options: Both

To test the Outlook Voice Access, simply click on the Call button (green handset icon) on the test phone. Exchange 2007 will answer your call, greet you and ask you if you want to open your mailbox or just reach another user by voice. Outlook Voice Access is so cool! It is an exciting experience.

Now that the Exchange UM server is tested and working fine, I will wait for our VOIP guys to create a hunt group for the subscriber access number so that calls made to our subscriber access number (a.k.a Exchange’s phone number) gets forwarded to the IP address of the Exchange UM server and we can go-live!

See the Call Reference Guide to know the Voice navigation options.

Related posts
Configuring Outlook Voice Access
Setting up the Exchange UM Test Phone
Preparing for Unified Messaging – Part 1
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 2
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 3
Preparing for Unified Messaging, Part 4