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Unify Square is on the Microsoft Team’s Team

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PowerSuiteSoftware Continues now with Teams 

According to Nemertes, about one third of organizations have adopted team chat applications…and more than 40% of companies are adopting this new category of products on an enterprise-wide basis.  As compelling as that statistic may be, the real reason why Unify Square is so aggressively embracing Microsoft Teams actually stems from the innovative and aggressive approach that Microsoft is taking to make Teams the new centerpiece of their Unified Communications (UC) strategy.  Unify Square has been one of Microsoft’s preeminent UC global partners since way back in the days of LCS and OCS, and our support and focus with our marketing-leading PowerSuite™ software continues now with Teams.

Microsoft is now telling the world that the term “unified communications” is passé and that everyone should pursue the idea of “intelligent communications” with Teams at its core.  Here at Unify Square, we’re more comfortable with calling a spade a spade and prefer the tried and true term of Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C), but our support for Teams is unwavering.  The only question that really remains is the transition timing.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is projecting that most Skype for Business (SfB) features and functionality will be fully ported over to Teams by early CY2019.  Between now and then our Office365 Cloud Transformation Service will be available to customers who are looking to pilot Teams in order to better understand its new work paradigm and test its readiness to become the full Next Generation Calling Platform for the enterprise.  Microsoft has thought through this piloting phase well.

For companies who are embracing Teams for its workchat innovations, but who are not yet ready to switch to flow their conferencing and calling through Teams, Teams can be set up with the UC functionality turned off, allowing other UC platforms to be used in the interim.  On the other hand, for companies who may be Slack devotees, or who are simply not yet ready to embrace the new workchat paradigm, the “old” Skype for Business Online client can still be used to leverage the Microsoft Intelligent Cloud for conferencing and voice.

Given the choice and migration convenience built into the equation by Microsoft, the switcher question then comes down to timing.   The choice could come down simply to the availability of a favorite or mission critical feature.  Below is a handy and “independent” comparison table to help with the choice, click on the image for the full list.

 

Microsoft has worked hard to ensure that the current SfB Online clients will be able to be used “side by side” with Teams clients in a single customer environment.  As an example, a company might rely on Skype for Business Server for on-premises telephony services and one-to-one conversations, but use Teams for group collaboration and meetings.

Microsoft has also worked to ensure that it will be easy to migrate from the SfB client to Teams when the time comes.  They’ve even created a website to walk customers through the process of the Teams pilot and a separate website for information for IT Pros about Teams.

Microsoft is targeting a very aggressive schedule for adding new features and functionality into Teams at a rapid pace — click on the image below for further details.


Having said all that, although Microsoft’s future vision may be all about delivering intelligent communications in the cloud, that doesn’t mean it’s going to foresake enterprise customers who form the bedrock of Skype for Business on premises. In fact, not only is a new version of Skype for Business Server due in the second half of 2018, but there are those in the industry who speculate that it may take another 3-5 years before Teams really becomes the predominant Microsoft UC app.

There are potentially a number of bumps in the road for Microsoft, partners like Unify Square and our mutual Teams-adopting customers to overcome, including:  the complexity of folding in a new document management paradigm, the potential confusion of training users how to use and navigate Teams, the testing and evaluation of a new online cloud server/technology platform, and a potential revisiting of strategies and technologies relating to phones, gateways, session border controllers and performance and operations monitoring & analytics software.

PowerSuite supports Teams

Which is the perfect segue to PowerSuite.  Not only is PowerSuite continuing to maintain our position as market leader for Skype for Business performance and operations software, but we’ve now also grabbed the early lead for supporting Teams as follows:

  • Two of 13 PowerSuite software solutions already supports Teams and we are actively working on making more of our current solutions “Teams-ready” in early 2018
  • PowerSuite Cloud Managed Services already supports Teams, either in hybrid mode with Skype for Business on-prem or in full-cloud mode. This is designed for organizations who need additional assistance running the conferencing and voice workload across both Teams and Skype.
  • As mentioned earlier in this post, our Office365 Cloud Transformation Service helps organizations plan, pilot and migrate to Teams
  • Our UC Network Assessment Service helps organizations lay the network groundwork for supporting both Skype for Business on-prem, hybrid and Teams in the cloud.

Coming a bit later in 2018, PowerSuite will continue to expand its Teams support as follows:

  • We can’t yet share the details, but PowerSuite will launch a new set of solutions which leverage the Teams bot framework and which will support both Teams Voice and Teams “non-Voice” functionality.
  • As soon as Microsoft releases the data-APIs for the new Next-Gen Calling Platform for Teams, the remaining PowerSuite solutions will go “live” making PowerSuite a full-service software solution for the entire Microsoft “Intelligent Communications” platform.

It’s an exciting time to be in the UC&C market.  Keep watching this space for more information and updates.

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