Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Lync’s Reverse Proxy–Continuing Availability of TMG technology

As most Lync IT Pros know, in order to connect remote users and get full fidelity requires both an Edge server and a reverse proxy. The Edge Server is a Lync role – to implement, you just add the edge server to the topology builder, then install the software on the edge server. Assuming you have all the ports setup properly on the firewall, installation of the edge is pretty near trivial.

The Edge server does most, but not all, the work required to connect remote users to you Lync infrastructure. In order to get full fidelity for remote users, you also need to implement some other reverse proxy. Features like group expansion and a bunch more require a reverse proxy feature.

Microsoft has always been careful to point out that any reverse proxy will fit the bill – and did not mandate a specific Microsoft solution. Having said that, for years, the standard recommendation was Microsoft’s most excellent Threat Management Gateway (or ISA server as it was previously known).The bad news is that Microsoft has discontinued TMG as a product, and has not really provided an alternative. This decision has understandably brought disappointment to the market. I’ve long believed that the reverse proxy role really should be integrated into Lync’s Edge Server to reduce the number of servers you need to support your remote user population – but thus far that’s not happened.

The good news is that one of Microsoft’s OEM partners, Celestix are able to build the TMG technology into their MSA appliance range until 2023. They will also continue to provide their comprehensive technical support services, ensuring that customers have many more years’ service from TMG. See here for more details.

So if you are considering deploying Lync and have not yet chosen a reverse proxy solution, then this might be one to take a look at. I don’t have any costings so I do not know how much (or little) this solution will cost. Celestix’s product are marketed in the UK by Satisnet, based in Bedford (www.satisnet.co.uk).

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