Friday, May 1, 2015

Address Book Normalization in Skype for Business

A constant problem with Enterprise Voice in Lync is the fact that phone numbers stored in Active Directory often are not stored in the E.164 format that Lync requires for proper functionality.  If the numbers aren't recognizable, then the Lync client won't show phone numbers like office, mobile or home numbers to other users. The best thing to do is to update all phone numbers in AD to conform to E.164 standards, but this is often not practical for many reasons.

In Lync Server 2013 and older, you could use a special oddly named text file called the Company_Phone_Number_Normalization_Rules.txt to normalize AD phone numbers to E.164 standards as they are being added to the Lync Address Book.  This saved administrators a lot of work, especially when they are unable to change the core numbers in AD.  However, the fact that you had to create this text file and place it in a certain folder on every Lync server was not the most effective way to manage address book normalization.

Thankfully, things have changed in Skype for Business to finally make address book normalization part of a new suite of PowerShell commands, *-CsAddressBookNormalizationConfiguration and *-CsAddressBookNormalizationRule (where * is the typical Get, Set, New).  The Company_Phone_Number_Normalization_Rules.txt is no longer necessary and is ignored in Skype for Business.

When you first install Skype for Business, it is populated by a default set of address book normalization rules, which you can see by typing:
You will get back the default set of rules stored in the Global config as below:
Description :
Pattern     : E164
Translation : null
Name        : Generic_E164
Description :
Pattern     : \++(\d+)[Xx]+(\d{1,15})
Translation : +$1;ext=$2
Name        : Generic_WithExtension
Description :
Pattern     : \++(\d+)ext[=]?(\d{1,15})
Translation : +$1;ext=$2
Name        : Generic_WithLongExtension
Description :
Pattern     : \++(\d+)EXT[=]?(\d{1,15})
Translation : +$1;ext=$2
Name        : Generic_WithLongExtensionUpper
Description :
Pattern     : \++(\d+)
Translation : +$1
Name        : Generic_All
In my opinion, these rules are not well-constructed.  Unless there is some hidden feature I'm not aware of, the E164 rule does absolutely nothing. (UPDATE 2015-Aug-13: Hany Elkady noted in the comments below that removing the E164 rule seemed to stop AD phone numbers already stored in E.164 format from appearing in the address book.  I personally haven't seen this occur but you might want to leave that rule in place.)  The other rules are oddly formatted. You can do the same in a much more flexible way with fewer rules. You can add/delete/modify rules to this by using:
To start with a clean slate, you might want to get rid of the default rules, by running Get-CsAddressBookNormalizationRule | Where {$_.Name -ne 'Generic_E164'} | Remove-CsAddressBookNormalizationRule.

For my typical North American address book file, I add the following rules (assumes North American numbers are stored as either 10 or 11 digits without the +):
New-CsAddressBookNormalizationRule -Parent Global -Name 'NANPA-10-Digit' -Pattern '1?([2-9]\d{9})' -Translation '+1$1' -Priority 0
New-CsAddressBookNormalizationRule -Parent Global -Name 'NANPA-10-Digit-Ext' -Pattern '1?([2-9]\d{9})\D+(\d+)' -Translation '+1$1;ext=$2' -Priority 1
For a more global approach, you might use something like:
New-CsAddressBookNormalizationRule -Parent Global -Name 'Global' -Pattern '((1[2-9]\d\d[2-9]\d{6})|([2-9]\d{6,14}))' -Translation '+$1' -Priority 0 
New-CsAddressBookNormalizationRule -Parent Global -Name 'Global-Ext' -Pattern '((1[2-9]\d\d[2-9]\d{6})|([2-9]\d{6,14}))\D+(\d+)' -Translation '+$1;ext=$2' -Priority 1
The rules you add will be determined by the format phone numbers are stored in Active Directory. It appears that the normalization rule engine hasn't changed since the older versions of Lync, which means that you will still have to enter your normalization rules exactly as you did with the old Company_Phone_Number_Normalization_Rules.txt.

As with older versions of Lync, you can force an update of the address book by running Update-CsAddressBook.  Any phone numbers that aren't normalized are stored in the Invalid_AD_Phone_Numbers.txt file in your address book share under \x-WebServices-x\ABFiles\00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000\00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000.

You can import existing rules from the Company_Phone_Number_Normalization_Rules.txt file by using the command Import-CsCompanyPhoneNormalizationRules.  The RTM upgrade process really should take care of this for you, but it doesn't appear to (at least for me, but I first did Skype for Business months ago).

With this post, I hope to never again have to type the oh-so-memorable filename Company_Phone_Number_Normalization_Rules.txt.

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