Deploying Microsoft Lync 2013 can quickly become a very daunting and nightmarish task depending on how many users or sites you have, whether you’re implementing a few technologies or the whole suite, or it’s a physical or virtual deployment. The Microsoft Lync Server 2013 Planning Tool greatly simplifies the task and significantly reduces the time in the planning phase.
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Step 1: Download the package ^

Naturally, the first thing we need to do is download the Planning Tool from Microsoft’s website. You can grab it at. The requirements for it are pretty minimal. Basically all you need is:

Step 2: Installation ^

The actual install for the Lync Server 2013 Planning Tool is pretty straightforward. Once you have downloaded it, double click the installation package to begin.

Lync Planning Tool - Install

The first screen just informs you of the fact that we are installing the Planning Tool. Click “Next”.

Lync Planning tool Install EULA

Once you have read the EULA, check the “I accept” box and click “Next”.

Lync Planning tool - Install location

Choose where you would like to install the Planning Tool. Click “Next”.

Lync Planning Tool - Install Verify

The installation package gives you a last chance to change any information. If you are satisfied with your options, click “Install”.

Lync Planning Tool - Installing

After a few minutes, the installation should complete successfully.

Lync Planning Tool -Install Complete

Click the “Finish” button to end the installation. Reboot if necessary.

Step 3: Planning Tool – Selecting features ^

Now that we have installed the Microsoft Lync 2013 Server Planning Tool, we can get to the fun part and start planning our Lync deployment.

Lync Planning Tool - Open

Open the Planning Tool on your Start Menu.

As you will notice, there are links on the left side of the Planning Tool where you can get further information, find training, or get more documentation. Another great feature is that the tool explains to you exactly what each step will accomplish.

The first half of the Planning Tool will walk us through selecting the features we want our completed Lync 2013 deployment to have.

Lync Planning Tool - Start

There are two buttons to select from in the “Get Started” section. The first button, “Get Started”, will start from the very beginning and allow us to select which features we want. The second button, “Design Sites”, assumes you want the default features and will take us directly to our site configuration which I will cover in the next section.

Because I want to show you everything that the Planning Tool has to offer, I will be adding all of the features. Of course you should select which options you want to deploy in your environment. Be sure to read the explanations for each feature. Here are some of the features you can choose:

  • Audio/Video Conferencing
  • Web Conferencing
  • Enterprise Voice
  • Monitoring
  • Archiving
  • Persistent Chat
  • Mobility
  • Disaster Recovery
  • High Availability

Lync Planning Tool - Features Complete

Once you have completed running through the first part of this wizard you will be presented with the “Features Overview Completed” dialogue box. Click the “Design Sites” if you content with the options you have selected and let’s start designing our sites.

Step 4: Planning Tool – Design sites ^

At this point, we are halfway to a complete Lync 2013 deployment design. This part of the Planning Tool will walk us through configuring how many users, what percentage of those users will be using the previously defined features, and other capacity planning questions. This will ultimately help us decide how many servers we need, where they need to be placed on our network, and a fairly in depth diagram.

Lync Planning Tool - Design Sites 1

Once you have chosen a site name, input your total number of users (including branch locations), and total number of external users (such as home users or others not on your network), click the “Next” button.

Lync Planning Tool - Design Sites 2

The next box asks us what we want our SIP domain to be. This would generally be “sip.<company_name>.com”. For our example, I used “sip.contoso.com”. Enter yours into the textbox and click the “Add” button. If you have multiple, you may enter them here also. Click “Next” when you’re done.

Lync Planning Tool - Design Sites 3

These next several dialogue boxes will ask you specifics about your environment or the environment you want Lync 2013 to be able to support. Answer the questions and click “Next” on each step in the wizard. I will be selecting all of the default options for the purpose of this article.

Lync Planning Tool - Design Sites 4

After a few slides, you will reach the “Branch Sites” step. Here you can input all of your branches and the users located at each branch. This will help determine what needs to be deployed to support each site. Click “Next” when you’ve added all of your sites.

Lync Planning Tool - Design Sites 5

The next step asks if you would like to create another site. This article will only be using the single “Site0”; however, you may add as many sites as you need. Each site you add will start you at the beginning of the “Design Sites” step in the planning process and ask you the same questions we just went through in the wizard. Click “Next”.

Lync Planning Tool - Design Sites 6

Finally, we have completed the wizard and answered all of the questions we need to create our topology. Click the “Draw” button.

Step 5: The topology ^

Here is where we see the magic. The Lync 2013 Server Planning Tool has created every bit of documentation we need to successfully deploy Lync 2013. IP addresses, hostnames, ports, hardware, supporting software, etc.

Global topology

Lync Planning Tool - Topology 1

Under “Global Overview” on the right, you will quickly be able to see how many and of what type of servers you will need. Double-click the “Site0” building in the middle of the diagram.

Site topology

You will notice on the bottom of the Planning Tool that there are four tabs. The “Site Topology” tab is the one selected by default when we open our “Site0”.

Lync Planning Tool - Topology 2

Here you are presented with a complete diagram of every device you need to configure. You can literally double-click on any device in this map to the see hardware and port requirements of the specific server or device you must configure.

Lync Planning Tool - Topology 3

By double-clicking one of the firewalls, you can see what ports on which firewall need to be opened.

Lync Planning Tool - Topology 4

Double-click a server to see hardware and port requirements.

Edge network diagram

The next tab over is the “Edge Network Diagram” tab.

Edge network diagram 1

This tab quickly shows where each server should go on the network, the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses of them, and their hostnames. Don’t like what the hostnames or IP addresses are? Just double click them and you will be presented with a modal box to change any of the information.

Edge network diagram 2

This offers very easy and quick customization. Once satisfied, simply click “OK”.

Edge admin report

This next tab contains four tabs inside of it:

  • Summary Report
  • Certificates Report
  • Firewall Report
  • DNS Report

These tabs give detailed information corresponding to what they reference.

Edge network diagram 3

I encourage you to peruse all four tabs. They will most likely answer every single question you have about each and every device that requires configurations.

Site summary

Finally, the “Site Summary” tab gives an overview of the answers we were asked throughout this entire process.

Lync Planning Tool - Site summary

If you ever need to quickly reference what your deployment can support, just click this tab.

Step 6: Saving your work ^

Saving this documentation for later tweaks, reference, or further learning is paramount.

Lync Planning Tool - Saving your work 1

You can either go the normal route by hitting “CTRL+S” or “File->Save Topology…”.

Lync Planning Tool - Saving your work 2

Or you can easily export to Excel as XML or to Visio.

Summary ^

In my opinion, the Lync Server 2013 Planning Tool is an indispensable program in the planning and deployment of Lync 2013. The questions it answers, the granular specificity, and the ability create, delete, or tweak your design as many times as you want to before actually going in and getting your hands dirty is crucial to a successful deployment.

Thanks for reading, guys, and let me know what you think in the comments!

1 Comment
  1. Jamaal Robinson 7 years ago

    Hello. I thank you for the post, it looks really easy. I am a new System admin, coming from a desktop role. I really want to get this right. I am migrating from 2010 to 2013. The 2013 box is 100% virtual and a separate box. Is there a way to import my existing topology from my 2010 box to my 2013 box? I have the tbxml file or would I need to completely redo the topology with the topology builder? Finally, would the planning tool alleviate the need for any other setup tools?

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