A Weekend Warrior Installs RP SP2!
They say you can take away the technology from the boy but you can’t ever takeaway the inner GEEK! I proved this once again last weekend when I had one of my GEEK SUNDAYS. No one was in the main office of SMB Nation and I was alone there to perform IT maintenance, including implementing Microsoft Response Point Service Pack 2. I love these days as I don’t get enough geek time as a CEO driving business development and other activities in my “day job.”
For those new to Microsoft Response Point (RP), it is a complete small business telephone system that is voice driven and easy to use. In early February 2009, RP Service Pack two was released at an industry tradeshow (ITEXPO, Miami). I had the opportunity to sit down with the new RP general manager, John Fredrickson, and discuss RP SP2 and beyond.
Response Point SP2 contains the following incremental improvements that I think are especially notable and we are utilizing.
Intercom & Paging
After hours receptionist settings
VPN & Multi-Subnet support (more on this in a moment)
Launch a web page from an incoming call
New trunk devices (e.g. T1 support)
Support for analog phone (FXS) and other devices
Parked call return
Personal contacts can be called with specific services
BEST PRACTICE: You can learn more about the above specific features by visiting www.telephonation.com and looking under the forms for information on the new “Quick Start Guides” that are focused on end-user usage (e.g. how to use the intercom). You will also see a link to allow you to view the February 11, 2009 Response Point Town Hall Meeting.
So now my Seattle Sunday starts in earnest. I arrived at the office and visited the RP website just like anyone else would (www.microsoft.com/responsepoint). Clicking on the Microsoft Response Point SP2 link brings you to a SP2 landing page. Click the Free Response Point SP2 Download – Click Here for SP2 NOW! button. You are then taken to the Microsoft Response Point 1.0 Service Pack 2 landing page inside the Microsoft Download Center.
BEST PRACTICE: Print out and review this page completely! It is your simplified step-by-step installation procedure for SP2. One of the reasons carefully reading is critical here is that you will want to download the hardware firmware upgrades for your respective telephone (Aastra, Syspine, D-Link). You will need these firmware upgrade for a later step.
The basic Response Point SP2 implementation process can be divided into four steps after you download the file (as discussed above). I downloaded the 100 MB RP Sp2 file from the download page without incident. Then I specifically adhered to Microsoft’s four-step RP SP2 deployment approach. Here is my experience:
1. Upgrade the Administrator software on the administrative computer. At this step, following the step-by-step procedures, you will run the setup wizard to update both the Administrator and Assistant programs on the administrative computer you are currently working from. Basically you will click Next, agree to the licensing and then Finish. Simple stuff.
2. Upgrade the base unit software. As part of this process, the setup routine will make a backup copy of your existing Response Point configuration settings and data files (approximately 249 files in my case). Some whirling later and you have a rebooted, upgraded base unit. You will notice “red error messages” listed next to the telephones in the Administrator that the telephones have out-of-date firmware. I discuss that in step four.
3. Upgrade the Assistant software on each workstation computer. I performed this for one machine at the SMB Nation office. I handled this two ways. First, I upgrade the laptop that I was working on to adhere to the suggested four step methodology revealed here. But I had each staff member upgrade his or her own laptop later in the week by clicking on a UNC link to our f:> server storage drive (a folder called DataMaster). The upgrade procedure for the Assistant was standard stuff where you agreed to read a welcome screen
4. Upgrade the device firmware. I viewed this as perhaps the most important part of the SP2 implementation. In my experience with RP, many sins are solved with a firmware update to the telephone unit. What was impressive with RP SP2 is that the telephone device update cycle worked flawlessly. In past firmware updates, I have had to manually restart a telephone here and there (power down\power up) but such was not the case this time. Impressive and bullet proof. If should be noted that the ClearOne speaker telephone for RP that I installed in the same weekend visit did not require a firmware update for RP SP2.
PHOTO: The ClearOne RP speakerphone works amazingly well at SMB Nation.
Branch office communications
This is the first part of my story to get “branch office” RP connectivity between my main Bainbridge Island office and my home office. Essentially I want “Extension 121” to ring all the way to my home office desk. Simple stuff on the white board, but to be honest, an incomplete story as of this writing and subject to a follow-up article.
The first step I took in pursuit of VPN connectivity was stop and READ the VPN quick start guide here (http://www.microsoft.com/responsepoint/help/quick-guides.aspx). Second, I completed the Configure VPN Access from Properties on the Base Unit page from the Microsoft Response Point Administrator. Third, as instructed, I configured the telephones on LAN A at the main Bainbridge Island office. So far so good. My next step was to drive to my home office and ATTEMPT to create a site-to-site VPN between the two locations so all of the RP telephones will be on LAN A. At my home office, I use the Calyptix AE500 firewall\router device and at work, we use ISA 2004 in an SBS 2003 scenario. And here is where my troubles started. To be continued!
Harry Brelsford – CEO – SMB Nation – www.smbnation.com