Shared Line Appearances for VVX Phones
In a recent article discussing some of the new Lync features in Polycom UCS 5.0 software the capability of Shared Line Appearance, otherwise referred to as ‘Boss-Delegate’ or ‘Boss/Admin’ was briefly introduced. This article includes a more in-depth look at the feature and its usage.
Throughout the article two phones are used to demonstrate the various new calling features available. A VVX 600 is used to represent the Boss phone, which in the example screenshots is located on the left-hand side. On the right-hand side will be the Delegate phone which is a VVX 500.
Lync Server 2010
Microsoft added the capability for Qualified IP Phones to interface with the delegation features in Lync Server 2010 but much later in the product lifecycle. Thus the server needs to be manually configured first with a one-time change which is applied to the backend RTC database. The Delegation for IP Phones white paper includes the instructions, as do other blog articles like this one from fellow Lync MVP Adam Jacobs.
Lync Server 2013
The required SQL database element is already included in Lync Server 2013 by default, so there are no prerequisite steps .
Before any of these features are made available to the devices the desired Lync user account(s) must be configured as Delegates to another Lync account.
- Sign into a Lync Windows client on a workstation using the boss account and then browse to the Tools > Options menu.
- On the Call Forwarding tab enable the Simultaneously Ring option and then choose My Delegates from the menu.
- The Call Forwarding – Delegates window will automatically appear. Click Add to locate and select the desired Lync contact to delegates administrative duties to. Select the desired ring delay setting and click OK.
- Click OK in the remaining Lync – Options window to save the configuration.
Immediately after selecting OK in the previous window the VVX phones signed in as both the boss and the delegate will report a message to the screen indicating the assignment of delegation.
Additionally the delegate’s phone will automatically add a new tile to the home screen for the boss.
Be aware that there may be two tiles on the home screen for the same contact, which happens when the boss was already added as a favorite to the delegate user’s contact list in Lync. The VVX phone will automatically display both Lync contact in the Favorites group as well as contacts in the People I Manage Calls For group.
These two tiles have different purposes and capabilities. The Delegation contact is used to place calls on behalf of the boss and retrieve calls that the boss has placed on hold, and is always listed first. The Favorites contact works the same as any other favorites have in the past and provides one-touch calling as well as contact card details (via long-press) and is always listed after any delegation contacts.
Now that the boss and delegate users are configured for delegation in Lync then the supported features can used.
Call Status Monitoring
A basic feature of typical shared line appearance scenarios is the ability to see the in-call status of the delegate. For the most part much of this is already available in any Lync client or device by virtue of Presence. When a user is in a call any other Lync user allowed to see the presence status (e.g. not blocked) of that user will see red presence for that contact then they are in a call.
But what is not normally possible is to tell if a call is active or on hold. With the new capabilities provided here the VVX phone indicates this status by providing an additional visual cue: a thin vertical red line on the boss’s delegation contact.
In the following example the boss phone (VVX 600) is on an active call with another Lync contact (e.g. VVX 410) and the display on the delegate phone (VVX 500) indicates this with the red vertical bar.
Another new feature is the ability for the delegate to directly pickup a call that the boss has placed on hold. Typically in Lync a user would need to either transfer the call or send it to the parking lot for retrieval by another user.
- The Boss phone places an active call on hold at which time the Boss contact on the Delegate phone begins to flash the red vertical bar.
- The delegate performs a long-press (press-and-hold for one second) on the flashing boss contact to access the call status screen.
- The delegate presses the Pickup button and the held call is moved to the delegate phone.
- When the boss receives an inbound call the call will also ring simultaneously on any assigned delegate’s phones. The inbound call details will scroll information on the main informational line on both phones describing the caller, if delegation is involved, and who the call is intended for.
- If the boss answers the inbound call the delegate phone will display an alert message informing the delegate that the call was answered by the boss.
- Alternatively if the delegate instead answers the inbound call then the boss phone will display a similar alert message announcing that the call was answered by the delegate.
Calling On Behalf Of
- On the delegate phone press or tap once on the line appearance with the boss delegation contact to bring up the standard dialing menu. Calls placed in this manner will be placed on behalf of the boss.
- Place an outbound call to a Lync contact or number. In the following example the extension of a third VVX phone (1236) was dialed.
- The outbound call is clearly identified on the delegate phone as placed on behalf of the selected boss user.
- When the call rings on the additional VVX phone or Lync client it will also be reported as a call placed by the delegate account on behalf of the boss.
As of December 2015 Microsoft has embedded some new functionality into Skype for Business Server 2015 which has been labeled as Shared Line Appearance (SLA). These new features more closely mimic the ability to have multiple handsets registered to the same shared line as might be done in a traditional telephony platform.
It should be understood that the features covered in this article are different and have historically been referred to a Boss/Admin. Over time more functionality has come to this Boss/Admin feature set unique to the Polycom VVX handsets and now the new, and different, SLA features are also available exclusively to these VVX handsets as outlined in the 5.4.1 firmware release in this article.
The clearest way is understand this is to think of the features in this article simply Boss/Admin and the new features as Shared Line Appearances.