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The Journey to Hybrid UC with Microsoft, Part 2

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The “Real” Hybrid Teams Story Revealed

When we last met, our focus was on laying out the five different modes which Microsoft has defined for the journey to hybrid UC , with the road leading to full Teams deployment. In general, the prevailing wisdom is that Microsoft has done a very solid job of thinking through the various scenarios and laying out very credible modes and pathways that organizations can follow. As a follow up, this post will focus on highlighting the holes in the Microsoft scenarios and suggesting which of the scenarios are most likely to be relevant for most customers over the long term.

journey to hybrid uc

What Are the Analysts Predicting?

The latest research by Nemertes Research forecasts that by the end of this year, 33 percent of organizations will use, or plan to use, Microsoft Teams, compared with 21 percent for Webex Teams. While the two are currently the top contenders, Slack remains a popular solution in some segments with nearly 15 percent, and Google Hangouts chat accounts for just shy of 11 percent. The rest include various offerings such as Atlassian Stride, Symphony, and Workplace by Facebook.

At the same time Gartner forecasts that nearly 20% of all organizations is either using or preparing to use some sort of workstream collaboration app before the end of this current 2018 calendar year.

journey to hybrid uc: gartner

No matter which analyst or fact you choose to follow, all of this strongly suggests that planning for some sort of journey to hybrid UC, or coexistence, between your current unified communication and collaboration system and the new breed of workstream collaboration systems should be part of your organization’s upgrade journey to hybrid UC decision. The planning element surrounding how, when and for how long your organization sits in hybrid mode should center around one or more of the following criteria:

  • Third-party integration points
  • Compliance requirements
  • Requirements for interoperability at all times
  • Current potential mix of Skype for Business on-prem vs on-line
  • Length of time that SfB and Teams will have to coexist
  • Considerations for a large organization with a complex on-premises enterprise voice deployment
  • Existence/usage of “competing” workstream collaboration apps (e.g. Slack and Teams used by different departments and/or geographies)

The Inside Scoop on the Journey to Hybrid UC Happenings

Our experience to date with many different customers who are piloting Teams reveals some important “myth-busting” information about the journey to hybrid UC as follows:

  1. Islands mode is not the panacea: The Microsoft guidance articulates that “Most organizations are likely to deploy in Islands mode. If you plan to move to Teams rapidly and you don’t expect to support coexistence for long, we recommend you use Islands mode.” The key phrase here is “move to Teams rapidly.” This is not an expectation that we have been able to validate in the marketplace. Does Teams have a lot of momentum? Absolutely! Are enterprises ready to put a massive bet on Teams and move everything there soon? No chance.So that leaves us with the fairly conservative, but highly functional mode #1. Skype for Business will be used for meetings and voice and Teams will be used for persistent chat and general collaboration. This arrangement will allow the yin and yang of the Microsoft Intelligent Communications power-play to shine, and will give both organizations and Teams the chance to grow in to their new roles.
  2. Other Workstream Collaboration Hybrid Models: Perhaps this is a Part B of the above point, but the other important nuance of the non-Islands approach is that it allows for the reality of Slack in organizations. We talk with countless organization for whom the Skype for voice and Slack for collaboration patterns is already very established. This will doubtless change over time, but the time horizon is most likely 2+ vs 2- years.
  3. Replacing SharePoint?: Lost in all of the workstream collaboration dialogue is the discussion of what is happening to SharePoint. We have not forgotten, nor have customers. The Teams UI is looking more and more like the natural “front-end” for SharePoint and allowing for an easier way to share and find important enterprise information. As momentum builds for file sharing on Teams, this will end up becoming an important catalyst to drive Teams adoption.inside scoop to the journey to hybrid uc
  4. Data Residency Roadblocks: Totally contrasting with the previous point, we are continuing to encounter customers who are stumbling with their Teams adoption because of certain Office 365 data residency limitations. The focus on extreme security (unusual regulatory or legal situations) means that data stored in Teams can only be used and accessed by certain geo-locations – so for the time being, that limits usage. In order to be extra secure, many of these same companies have also disabled Teams guest access as well.
  5. Inner-Loop vs Outer-Loop: Another different way to think about overlapping Teams and SfB usage patterns is from an inner/outer loop standpoint. This orientation aligns (somewhat) with Microsoft’s island mode position, but is a bit disconnected at the same time. Those with Teams enabled can use it to chat with their inner loop, but they’ll fall back to SfB to IM with everyone else. Microsoft is positioning Teams vs Yammer, in a similar way — even though both support threaded persistent conversations. Let’s hope (for everyone’s sake) that if this inner vs outer orientation becomes more globally prevalent for Teams hybrid scenarios that the Yammer comparison is not the harbinger of things to come. No one (Microsoft, partner, or customer) wants Teams to “turn into” another Yammer-like situation.
  6. Teams On-Prem?: Although Microsoft has so far been steadfast about their insistence that Teams is a cloud-only app, pressure is building for them to reconsider. Might that cloud-only’ notation be eventually changed to cloud-first? Given that we’re close to seeing the new Skype for Business 2019 Server ship and that there are still MANY large (and strategically significant) Microsoft enterprise customers who are well established with their on-prem UC environments, the notion of a Teams client against a SfB 2019 server does not seem far-fetched. If this scenario were to come to pass it’s likely that the Teams client would still look to the cloud for the collab features, but turn to the server for the voice and conferencing. The “invisible hand” may be at play between Microsoft desires and real customer needs if the plumbing can be made to work in a quick and meaningful way. This scenario would obviously totally disrupt most of the hybrid, co-existence and migration scenarios in play today.
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