Monday, November 7, 2011

Archive Viewer 4 vs Built-in Lync Server Achive Viewing Capabilities

With Lync Server 2010, Microsoft has added the ability to do basic examination of archived instant messages. One might ask, then, why an extension tool like Instant Archive Viewer is still necessary.

For a tutorial on how to use Lync's built-in scripts to export conversation data, check here.

While this is a functional method of accessing chat logs, it has a number of limitations:

  • Requires use of command-line interface, running on the Lync Server machine.
  • Little ability to fine-tune results - Only able to return all conversations in a date range, or all conversations for a single user.
  • Can only export conversations as Outlook .eml files, one file per conversation, and these files have unintuitive names, increasing the difficulty of finding the desired conversation.
In comparison, Instant Archive Viewer is a much more powerful application.  In addition to the basic functionality that Lync Server provides, Archive Viewer features:
  • Graphical Web interface that is accessible from anywhere.
  • Many options to narrow your searches of your IM logs
    • Ability to search for conversations including arbitrary lists of users
    • Ability to search conversations between specific users
    • Ability to search for conversations featuring specific message text.
    • Ability to search for conversations within a specified timespan, down to the minute, rather than just by date.
    • Ability to filter search by conversation length
    • Ability to specify maximum number of results.
  • Results are are viewable in-browser, and can be printed or saved in PDF and plain text formats.  
  • Queries can be saved, and even scheduled to run on a recurring basis, with results sent by email.
  • Customizable access levels.  It is desirable to limit access to the full database for privacy reasons, but also useful, for example, for a user to view their own chat history, or for a supervisor to have access to his subordinates.  Archive Viewer provides this flexibility through customizable Access Control Lists.
So, in summary, while Lync 2010 provides some limited ability to search chat history out-of-the-box, Archive Viewer gives you more powerful searches, a more convenient interface, and more options for exporting your data.

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