OCS 2007 for dummies

Ever since [url=http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/21475]Julie's post[/url] on the complexity of both architecture and deployment of Office Communications Server 2007 I've wanted to do my own dry run from scratch. After a busy holiday I'm just now getting around to it. I wanted to see how long it would take from a "stock" OS build to get OCS up and running for a small (<5000 user) deployment. Granted, I have a lot of knowledge and experience with OCS having been an LCS veteran and worked with OCS since the NDA pre-beta days. However, I did my best to set all that aside and approach it as any IT admin would. Planning took about 2 hours including a 2 page abstract and a quick and dirty visio diagram. Julie's main question seemed to be in deployment so my goal was to install and configure OCS cleanly in the quickest time possible without cutting any corners.

I had 2 DCs, a single Exchange 2007 server and a Sharepoint server. I felt this exemplified an average small/medium MS infrastructure that I would commonly find as a client. I had already setup internal PKI, however third party certs would likely be used in a production deployment. I usually list those as a prerequisite so it doesn't add any project time. I took a stock server build, Windows Server 2003 SP2, and started the clock.

I installed the required IIS components, .Net 2.0 and the required hotfix then began the install prep, schema extension, forest prep and domain prep. Pretty easy so far...

Next was the server install. Since the design called for under 5000 users, I chose the single server OCS Standard deployment. This solution seems to fit for all but large enterprises which will require a more diverse design. The server install began first lighting off the SQL Server 2005 install and progressing on to installing the various OCS server roles. With this I'm just under an hour including creating AD service accounts and standard delegation.

The install process was very simple and installed without any errors. A clean DNS infrastructure is key here, IMO. Next up is the configuration step. Given a good familiarity with your network and pretty simple AD OU structure this is easy. I'm up to almost 90 min taking my time with a cool beverage in hand (hey it's late, gimme a break).

The next step is the bane of most OCS deployments, certificate creation and configuration. This can get very complicated in multiple domain environments using subject alternative names and different internal and external certs. For my deployment, like most I've seen, it's fairly simple; one cert to rule them all. If you use and internal cert you'll need to import the root certificate into the trusted root CA of the certificate store on every client. Trust third party CA certs can skip this step. The installer calls the web cert a separate step but it's really just more of the same.

That's it! A little testing shows Office Communicator is working. Web Communicator is working as well. Presence in Exchange 2007 and Sharepoint is seamless, assuming you have the autodiscover URL created. Voila! In just over 2 hours I've built out a functional OCS deployment from scratch including web functionality and integration with Exchange 2007 and Sharepoint.

All in all, it was a little easier than I expected. The simple, and clean, test environment helped I'm sure, but it's hard to blame OCS for gremlins elsewhere in your network so I still hold this was representative of a real world implementation. Feel free to ask any questions and comment freely. I'll be doing another similiar build in VMs for a set of [url=http://www.cco.com/seminars.htm]OCS Seminars I'm co-presenting with Rand Morimoto[/url] later this month. I'd love to see some readers come by and say hello!!

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