How to Guarantee Seamless Migration from Skype for Business to Zoom

Written by: Unify Square

Top Arguments for Transitioning from Skype to Zoom

As Skype for Business continues to age and creeps closer to end of life, many companies plan to shift to Microsoft Teams. However, transitioning from Skype to Zoom and the move to the cloud are becoming an increasingly popular option. While many companies plan to use Zoom exclusively, others look to run Microsoft Teams and Zoom in tandem. For those more hesitant to take the leap, Microsoft has promised to support Skype for Business on-premises through 2024, but there are a number of reasons to believe it will fade away long before then.

For Microsoft, Teams not only represents the next iteration of Skype for Business, it also marks their move into the workstream collaboration field. Compared to Skype for Business, Teams receive significantly more development effort. New features for Teams appear regularly, and the user experience continues to improve. Correlated with this development effort, Microsoft has been heavily pushing out Teams to existing customers, even going so far as to have it install automatically for Office 365 users. These factors make it difficult to stay with Skype for Business rather than move to the cloud with Zoom.

Zoom presents a fresh option for companies migrating away from Skype for Business. Although a much younger product, Zoom has quickly built a reputation as a best of breed solution for video conferencing, and they’ve recently added PSTN support — something they’re calling “Zoom Phone.” Zoom’s age is also its advantage: it was designed for the cloud and with the mobile-first worker in mind. Compared to Microsoft Teams, Zoom has a much smaller feature set, though its features are geared towards end-user experience, including simplified “join meeting” functionality for first-time users.

IT teams looking for a best of breed unified communications solution should evaluate the move to the cloud and Zoom. Many look to run Microsoft Teams and Zoom in parallel, especially where they already have Office 365, and others choose to use Teams as their collaboration solution. If you are moving from Skype for Business to Zoom, what factors must you consider?

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Making the Move to the Cloud

Skype for Business to Zoom migration

One of the biggest changes when transitioning from Skype to Zoom, for those running Skype for Business on-premises, is the move to the cloud. IT teams accustomed to owning the network infrastructure of their UC solution find themselves with less control of service availability and security. However, given the greater resources UCaaS companies like Zoom can devote to these issues, many enterprises find themselves better off and more agile. That said, rigorous testing and planning to ensure proper network bandwidth for the increased voice and video loads in advance of the move to the cloud is still essential.

Zoom advertises four types of user licenses: Basic (free), Pro, Business, and Enterprise. Licensing for Zoom works differently than for Microsoft. For example, in Zoom, free users can experience many of the benefits of the business license if they attend a meeting hosted by a higher tier user or Zoom Room. Room licenses are important to consider as on-site users may prefer using a Zoom room versus conferencing with a personal license, and this type of set-up could reduce the need for paid user licenses. There are a number of strategic decisions here that can lower overall licensing costs.

Whether or not to transition to Zoom Phone is another decision. Zoom Phone gives users PSTN capabilities, similar to Skype Enterprise Voice. Zoom also offers their Bring Your Own Carrier program which matches up to Microsoft’s Direct Routing for Teams (for those more familiar with Microsoft’s solution set). However, when comparing Zoom Phone to Skype Enterprise Voice, consider that Zoom Phone is a much newer product and especially internationally, not all of the same features are available.

There are also a number of decisions that must be made about existing equipment. Are the existing Skype for Business IP phones and headsets good enough or must new ones be purchased in order to showcase the complete Zoom functionality? Room system hardware should also be evaluated. Zoom supports H.323 rooms, though the experience is not as full as a native Zoom Room and set-up is nontrivial. Still, starting out with existing room hardware makes the transition to Zoom less costly.

Timing is an important consideration if there are existing infrastructure investments. It’s critical to think through other dependent applications (such as call center apps or CRM systems) that may only be set up to work with an on-premises UC system. Plans should be made to continue to fulfill these business needs. Like any migration, Zoom should be phased in gradually.

Interoperability: Phasing in Zoom

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As you move into the deployment stage, look to roll out Zoom group by group. Consider the pilot group carefully: these users should be excited to try the new technology. Good candidates for a pilot are comfortable navigating new software, and some may already be using Zoom on their own in a shadow IT capacity. Avoid VIP users in an initial pilot, as the experience will be less stable than later in the onboarding cycle.

Interoperability is key to ensuring a smooth transition. Zoom offers interoperability with Skype for Business free for Enterprise and Business customers. To enable it, the first step is to contact Zoom customer support. Then, within account settings in the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section, turn on “Allow Skype for Business client to join a Zoom meeting.”

Currently, room systems either support Skype for Business or Zoom natively. IT will have to decide which rooms should switch over to Zoom. However, some room systems like the Logitech Flex for Skype allow users to access the room’s AV equipment on other platforms, including Zoom, by connecting to a laptop.

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Feature Differences and Educating End-Users

move to the cloud

The good news for those looking to transitioning from Skype to Zoom is that Zoom’s emphasis on happy end-users makes the basic functionality relatively easy to pick up. Skype for Business users will appreciate many of the same shared features, including webinars, recording, and basic instant messaging. However, one area of difficulty in transition is ensuring end-user settings enable the right capabilities. Should a meeting be able to start before the host is present? End when the host leaves? When a meeting starts, should video be on? These are just some of the many settings that must be carefully considered.

Some differences for end-users center around Zoom’s video-first experience. Zoom offers virtual backgrounds (for those with green screens) and appearance touch-ups. While Microsoft Teams supports virtual backgrounds, Skype for Business does not. Switching to Zoom could be a good excuse to promote a more video-friendly culture. Encourage employees to keep their video on for meetings. Mac users will also find feature parity that has been missing in Skype for Business. To assist with end-user training, Zoom offers a number of resources, including live demos and recorded tours.

Third-Party Tools Aid Migration Efforts

How do you know whether your migration from Skype for Business to Zoom is succeeding unless you’re measuring it? Multi-platform monitoring and analytics tools like PowerSuite offer single pane of glass visibility into usage and adoption of Zoom compared to Skype for Business or even Microsoft Teams. Our software allows you to compare conferencing quality to support a well-timed service transition.

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