Don’t Get Caught By Surprise When Doing the Intelligent Communications Shuffle
Much has already been written about the ongoing sea change initiated by Microsoft with Microsoft Teams replacing Skype for Business (SfB). We felt it was time (as we decompress from Microsoft Ignite) to document our list of key changes and adjustments that organizations need to expect or anticipate as part of the inevitable (but in many cases, far from immediate) move to Microsoft Teams.
IM Becomes Chat
Skype for Business had instant messaging, but Teams has chat. There are three key implications for IT with this switch. First, persistent chat will go away in the upcoming Skype for Business Server 2019. Second, the messaging experience of the end user will become persistent (versus the short-lived SfB IM). Third, chat messages and file sharing will be synchronized across all end user devices.
Here Today…Not Gone Tomorrow
Microsoft Teams has been architected with very tight and strategic integration with other Office 365 services. As a result Teams will become very “sticky” – thus greatly decreasing the likelihood of a departmental or organizational switch to third-party alternatives.
Teams Replacing Skype for Business Online
While Microsoft has not yet formally announced the date when Skype for Business Online will be discontinued, they have signaled its eventual demise. We’re betting that the end of 2020 will be date when the curtain comes down….so companies should plan to have Microsoft Teams replacing Skype by this date.
It Takes a Village
Putting aside purchase models, both Skype for Business and Skype for Business Online could be implemented independently from other Office 365 services. By contrast, Microsoft Teams has multiple service interdependencies, including SharePoint Online.
My How Quickly You’ve Grown!
Microsoft Teams is, as Microsoft likes to say, born in the cloud. As a result, unlike the on-prem version of Skype for Business, and even unlike Skype for Business Online, IT can expect to experience a more rapid cadence of service and feature enhancements than ever before. This is obviously both a blessing (faster response to customer feature requests), and a curse (harder to keep up with end-user training).
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Direct Routing Is the Secret to Cloud PSTN connectivity
The new Direct Routing (DR) approach for supporting third-party PSTN connectivity with Microsoft Teams is a tremendous achievement for organizations. The SBC will no longer be required to be on the customer’s premises. Therefore, the SBC can be relocated into the cloud — more specifically, directly into a voice carrier’s cloud. This implementation approach will allow organizations to fully shift all Office 365-related voice services to the cloud, thus fully eliminating the requirement for any on-premises infrastructure. When Microsoft launched DR earlier this year, more than 40 voice carriers worldwide announced new solutions and this number is likely to continue to grow. This DR approach will encourage competition, drive product differentiation and spawn innovation within the SBC market.
Azure vs On-Prem
Microsoft Teams will use an entirely new cloud-based architecture (vs both Skype for Business and Skype for Business Online). While the transition to a full-cloud service approach to all conferencing and telephony may require a bit of a leap of faith for the hardcore telephony veterans, the belief that Azure technologies will be up to the challenge of providing a highly scalable service is the growing sentiment in the market.
Meet Global…Connect Local
Microsoft has evolved Teams to support improved UC meeting performance using a Regionally Hosted Meetings service integrated with Azure. This capability allows users to host online meetings from their “local” geo as opposed to the organization’s home-tenant geo. The ability to leverage the large footprint and greater density of Azure data centers, enables users to host online meetings that are closer in proximity to their work locations. With Microsoft Teams, users can join meetings from Outlook, or they can access their prescheduled meetings through the “Meetings” section of Teams.
Chaos with the Teams desktop UX to come?
The Teams UX assumes that Teams is the hub of all collaboration activity for Office 365.
For users who actively use Teams for group collaboration, the integration of Skype for Business functionality into the Microsoft Teams app will be a positive consolidation that offers the benefit of convenience. However, for Skype for Business users who require only chat, online meeting and/or calling functionality, the new Teams UX may seem complex, confusing or even disruptive. This lack of a “simple” client (which has been the hallmark of Skype for Business since its early OCS and Lync days) will require significant change management for end users from IT. And yet, back in the early 1990s when Outlook first took the stage as a consolidated form of email, calendaring and tasks, weren’t the same prognostications also delivered?
The Mobile App Finally Trends Toward a First-Class Citizen Experience
One of the common Skype for Business laments has always been that the mobile client experience was poor and forever trailing. The feature set was immature (vs the desktop experience), as was the performance. With Teams, however, although it is still early days, it appears that Microsoft has finally reacted to all the mobile groans. The new mobile client for Teams provides access to most UC functionality — losing only the ability to share a desktop or apps – and the performance is snappy. It’s clear that the mobile app of Microsoft Teams was designed with the mobile experience in mind.
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