Microsoft’s “Gateway Drug” to Teams is Slow to Ride into the Sunset
With Microsoft Teams having now assumed such a prominent position in the Microsoft marketing hierarchy, it’s easy to forget that Skype for Business Online was originally Microsoft’s one and only UCaaS offering. Like Skype for Business, Skype for Business Online (SfB-O) is a robust UC platform that connects people for meetings and calls. It gives users access to information about presence, and enables instant messaging, audio and video calling, rich online meetings, and extensive web conferencing capabilities.
But at Microsoft Ignite in 2017, Microsoft shared its vision for bringing together Intelligent Communications and collaboration – AKA Microsoft Teams. While support for Skype for Business will continue, and no end-of-life date exists for SfB-O, Microsoft is pushing Microsoft Teams as the predominate lead horse in the Microsoft stable for messaging, meetings and calling in Office 365. Microsoft Teams represents the hub for users to access the Office 365 Suite, including telephony, video conferencing, messaging, ad hoc meetings, and more.
What Does This Mean?
Anyone who uses Skype for Business Online will ultimately be impacted, but the jury is still out for when, exactly, everyone will need to transition from Skype for Business Online. Microsoft is currently encouraging companies to begin thinking about the migration plan to Teams while still making Skype for Business Online available to ease growing pains.
However, as of October 1, 2018, new Office 365 customers with 500 seats or less were given no choice but to be on-boarded to Microsoft Teams and were not given access to Skype for Business Online (Tenants that are already using Skype for Business Online will be able to continue doing so until they complete their transition to Microsoft Teams). Skype for Business on-prem is still receiving updates from Microsoft, though we suspect that eventually this too will see a similar fate as SfB-O.
Why is SfB-O Still Alive and Kicking?
There are several reasons why Skype for Business Online refuses to die. While Microsoft has claimed that Teams is at feature parity with Skype for Business, many organizations remain unconvinced that all the features are really there and/or if they features shown are really working “as advertised.” Beyond the feature parity concerns (which center primarily around voice), the other high profile concerns are that some customers are simply not ready to introduce the level of collaboration that comes with Teams, or that companies are not ready to introduce a “second” independent collaboration solution (yes, Slack is out there) for fear of complicating communications within their environment.
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How Companies Currently Using Skype for Business Online Should Manage it (While it’s Still Around)
So if you want to keep running Skype for Business Online for now, how should you approach and manage it?
For starters, IT teams will be best prepared by starting to approach Skype for Business Online as a stepping stone to Microsoft Teams from this point forward. Microsoft has made it clear that while the timing is uncertain, it will eventually pull the plug.
Various software and services are available to help monitor and manage Skype for Business Online, including Unify Square’s PowerSuite Software, White Glove Services, and our Cloud Managed Services that help assist organizations using Skype for Business Online as an “on-ramp” to Microsoft Teams.
And, when it’s time to take the plunge into the Journey to Microsoft Teams, our team can continue to support you.