Automated tool shows which contacts are already using Lync.
Lync Online is fast becoming one of the most popular features of Office 365 with many businesses realising they can use enterprise-grade tools to communicate instantly with staff members. However, few have discovered the ability of Lync to “federate” or connect with other users.
Federation is the establishment of a digital relationship and trust between your organisations Lync environment (be it on-premise or part of Office 365) and another organisation running Lync.
Federating with Office 365 is quite simple and I previously wrote about it here in Connecting Office 365 to the rest of the world. Effectively all a user needs to do once federation is enabled is to simply add contacts into Lync and federation will happen in the background.
The question then becomes, how do you find out who else is using Lync? Previously you would have to individually ask other organisations you work with or add the contact to Lync and hope that they show up.
Making it easy
Back in November 2011 a tool was released that makes this whole process much simpler. The “Who Can Federate” tool is easy to use and best of all you can download it from the Microsoft TechNet Gallery for free.
The way the tool works is to scan your Outlook contacts and perform a couple of lookups to determine if the email domains in your contacts are also set up for Lync. It does this by checking DNS records as well as checking the Lync Federation Directory (a non-Microsoft site that lists company domains that use Lync). If a domain is not listed in the Directory you have the option to submit them.
While this tool won’t actually add the Outlook contact to Lync for you it at least allows you to see which contacts are using Lync. If you double-click on any of these contacts in the output list it will bring up a Lync IM window so you can begin conversing immediately. Don’t be alarmed if it first says “presence unknown” for a few seconds as this will change to reflect the person’s true status once federation is enabled.
What the “Who Can Federate” tool really allows Lync users to do is to start moving away from the older form of communication via email-based text and adding presence, voice, video and sharing to really improve the effectiveness of inter-personal communications.
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.