Topic Last Modified: 2010-07-18
While planning a unified communications deployment may seem intimidating, Microsoft Communications Server 2010 provides two valuable tools to help you:
- The Communications Server Planning Tool is a wizard that
interactively asks you a series of questions about your
organization, the Communications Server features you want to
enable, and your capacity planning needs. It then creates a
recommended deployment topology based on your answers, and produces
several forms of output to aid your planning and installation.
- Communications Server Topology Builder is an installation
component of Communications Server 2010. You use Topology Builder
to create, adjust and publish your planned topology. It also
validates your topology before you begin server installations.
Individual servers that you install Communications Server on read
the published topology as part of their installation process, and
the installation program deploys the server as directed in the
Communications Server Planning Tool
The Planning Tool takes your answers to its questions and generates a topology based on Communications Server guidelines and best practices. It also provides several views of a deployment based on your answers. It shows both a global view of all your sites (including both central sites and branch sites), and detailed views showing the servers and other components at each site.
Running the Planning Tool does not commit you to any specific deployment or initiate any processes. In fact, running the Planning Tool even before you have a firm plan in mind can be a good way of seeing the kinds of questions you need to think about in your planning process.
You can run the Planning Tool multiple times, answering questions differently, and compare the outcomes. If you have a design you are mostly satisfied with but need to make changes to, you can return to the Planning Tool, load the design, and make the changes. Completing the Planning Tool once takes about 15 minutes.
Once you are completely satisfied, you can use the Export to Topology Builder option to export your planned topology to an XML file that you can then input to Topology Builder.
The Planning Tool is only for your initial topology design. Once you export the topology to Topology Builder and begin working with it there, you can no longer use the Planning Tool to modify your topology.
Communications Server Topology Builder
Topology Builder takes the XML file provided by the Planning Tool, and displays the topology. You can then use Topology Builder to make final adjustments such as specifying IP addresses and fully qualified domain names (FQDN). After you are satisfied, you have Topology Builder validate the topology, and then, if it passes, you can publish the topology. Publishing the topology puts it into the Central Management database (which is created if it does not already exist). Then, when you go to install Communications Server on each server in your deployment, the server reads the topology from the Central Management database and installs itself to fit into its role in your deployment.
Alternatively, if you are very familiar with Communications Server and need less prescriptive guidance, you can skip the Planning Tool and use the wizards in topology builder for the initial design of your deployment, as well as using Topology Builder for the validation and publishing steps.
Using Topology Builder to plan and publish a topology is a required step; you cannot bypass Topology Builder and install Communications Server individually on the servers in your deployment. Each server must read the topology from a validated, published topology in the Central Management database.
High-Level Planning Process
We recommend the following general process for using both the documentation and the Planning Tool to plan your Communications Server deployment
- Run the Planning Tool to get a sense of the kind of questions
you need to think about as you begin the planning process.
- Read New
Server Features to familiarize yourself with the new features
and requirements in Communications Server 2010.
- Read the other parts of this section: Topology Basics You Must
Know Before Planning and Initial Planning
- Now that you are more familiar with Communications Server
features and the kinds of questions that must be answered, run the
Planning Tool again and view the resulting topology and its
- If there are particular workloads or features you are
interested in or need to learn about, read the appropriate sections
of Planning for
Communications Server 2010 (Beta Refresh).
- Re-run the Planning Tool. You can start with the deployment you
created in step 3 and modify the results, or start over from the
If needed, re-run it again until you are satisfied with the output.
- When you have finalized the topology plan, use the export
feature of the Planning Tool to create an XML file that you can use
with Topology Builder. Load that XML into Topology Builder and add
final details such as IP addresses.
- Before you begin deployment, read Preparing Your
Environment and Determining Your
Infrastructure Requirements to familiarize yourself with the
prerequisites and necessary infrastructure for Communications
Server. Additionally, be sure you have read all the sections of
Communications Server 2010 (Beta Refresh) that apply to the
workloads and features that you plan to deploy.
Migrating from Previous Versions
If you are migrating to Communications Server from a previous version, see the Migration documentation for specific instructions for your migration and deployment.