Lync Development on Office 365: What’s Possible, What’s Not
There’s a lot of buzz around Lync running on Office 365 at the moment. Office 365 is getting the latest features before traditional on-premise installations, and it’s clear that Microsoft see a big future in hosted Lync.
But what about Lync Development? Is it even possible in the cloud? What are the limitations?
Here’s a guide to what you can and can’t do with Office 365:
Yes! You can happily create applications which sit on user’s desktop machines and interact with Lync to automate certain functions. You can embed Lync into your line-of-business applications, and write CWEs to show them contextual information. The experience will be identical to a traditional on-premise Lync deployment.
The reason for this is that the Lync Client SDK only interacts with the local Lync process on the user’s machine. That’s why Lync has to be installed for any applications written with the SDK to work. Because the interaction is only with the client, the back-end infrastructure is of no concern to the SDK.
UCMA Application Development
Well, it depends. It depends on whether you want to write applications which use User Endpoints or Application Endpoints. Not sure? See my post Choosing between User and Application Endpoints.
Applications written using User Endpoints should work just fine. Obviously, the user which you’re signing in as should be set up and recognized by Office 365, but after that you should be good to go. I don’t know if this was possible, or whether my original testing was wrong, but you currently can’t do this. It’s a certificate problem, and I hope they update UCMA in the next version to support this – but as of now you can’t. More details when I can pull them together.
However, if it’s Application Endpoints you want to use, at the moment, you’re out of luck. Today, there’s no way of creating Trusted Applications which run on Office 365. Traditionally, UCMA applications require an Application Server, and you don’t get one of those with Office 365. If this situation changes then you’ll be the first to know, but that’s how it is at the moment.
Microsoft SIP Processing Language (MSPL)
Absolutely not! MSPL scripts sit on the core Lync servers and can be used to alter, refuse or re-route traffic. They require direct access to the server, and if incorrectly written can destabilize a Lync instance. For those reasons, and also because Office365 is a multi-tenant infrastructure, MSPL scripts are not supported. It’s unlikely that this restriction will be lifted in the near future.
Unified Communication Web API (UCWA)
Not so fast! As of today (July 2014) UCWA is only available on-premises. This may change in the future though, and if so – I’ll be sure to update this post. Of all the technologies which aren’t yet available on Office365, this one feels like the one that will move first (though I have no information to back that up), and Microsoft have already said that it WILL happen (though they didn’t say when).
So now you’re all set and you know what’s possible. It’s worth remembering that this is an area that could change quickly: it’s clear that Microsoft see a big future in Lync Online, and I don’t think they’d intentionally leave any of the APIs behind – it’s just a matter of resourcing and timing. I’ll be sure to keep this page updated if/when things change.