Although Microsoft has announced the Skype for Business Online end of life date, they have not officially announced the end of life date for Skype for Business Server. They have however announced that mainstream support ends in 2020 for Skype for Business Server 2016. IT tech leaders need to start considering Skype for Business upgrade options. Microsoft Teams might be the natural upgrade, but there are also other Skype for Business upgrade options such as Zoom. This guide will walk you through how to upgrade Skype for Business to Skype for Business Server 2019, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.
If you are looking for the best management and monitoring solution for your unified communications and collaboration platforms, learn more about our industry-leading software: PowerSuite.
There’s a long history beginning in 2007 with the name Microsoft Office Communicator before changing to Lync, then finally Skype for Business in 2015.
Its a unified communications platform that includes instant messaging, video & voice calls, conferencing, and more. Adopted by many, Microsoft has built to work at an enterprise scale.
Many organizations have adopted the platform company-wide and Microsoft built Skype for Business to work at an enterprise scale. We have worked with organizations that have a global footprint with multiple 100,000 employees all using Skype.
Microsoft has yet to announce any end of life plans for Skype for Business On-Prem Server. They have communicated that the Online version, called Skype for Business Online will be retired in 2021 and Microsoft is no longer accepting any new customers for that platform. With Microsoft’s commitment and focus on Teams, sooner or later the On-Prem Server will also be retired. This means organizations currently using any version of Skype for Business need to start planning their upgrade options as soon as possible.
As Skype for Business reaches its end of life, an upgrade is going to be hard for many companies, especially larger ones which make this a significant and vital organizational shift. Unify Square’s PowerSuite is designed with features to help ease the transition, like our Usage and Adoption dashboards that can monitor multiple platforms so that you can track the migration. Even better is our targeted Consulting Service designed specifically to help with upgrading Skype for Business to Teams.
Looking at Skype for Business on-prem, the outlook isn’t terrible despite Microsoft’s focus on workstream collaboration with Teams. As long as you upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2019, customers will receive mainstream support until 2024. There is also the option to get extended support to 2025. At the time of writing this, Microsoft hasn’t set an official end of life date, but you could argue that it wouldn’t be long until they do. While this doesn’t mean the end of life for Skype for Business Server anytime soon, it means it’s time to plan your upgrade to the newest release and prepare for a potential end to Skype for Business as Microsoft starts favoring the cloud-based Teams platform.
This short video will focus on our PowerSuite usage and adoption solution. The usage and adoption dashboard is the primary workplace analytics focus area for IT to visualize key metrics regarding your organization’s active usage of both Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams.
Hanging on to Skype for Business 2015 (or the older Lync 2013 platform) won’t be ideal as the mainstream support ended October 13th, 2020. This means there are 3 Skype for Business upgrade options: update to Skype for Business Server 2019, the transition to Microsoft Teams, or move on to a new platform such as Zoom.
While Microsoft is ending Skype for Business Online, they have released the updated Skype for Business 2019 for on-prem deployments. The benefits of updating current Skype for Business Server 2015, or the older Lync 2013 platform to the 2019 version includes a cloud voicemail and a call data connector. It also includes side by side migration for a smoother transition to Teams.
This further cement Microsoft’s focus on getting organizations to switch to Teams as their preferred to communications and collaboration platform. In this sense, upgrading Skype for Business 2019 can act as the transitionary platform before initiating the full switch to Microsoft Teams.
Upgrading to Microsoft Teams is a smooth way to transition to a Workplace Collaboration platform while still staying within the Microsoft ecosystem. What makes Microsoft Teams different from Skype for Business is the collaborative aspect. Features like file sharing, persistent chat, in peer-to-peer communication and team channels, introduce all–new capabilities that Skype for Business lacked. The most notable addition is the team aspect is that groups can be created easily without IT’s help and communication can take place within these channels, along with sharing files and creating meetings in an instant.
Moving to Teams can be scary! Learning how to upgrade Skype for Business to Teams can seem daunting, especially if you are running Server 2015 or the older Lync 2013. There are many changes that both the IT admin and the end-user needs to be ready for:
Microsoft has outlined five different migration methods. However, it's much more complicated than that. And, it’s arguably even more difficult than the traditional PBX move to Skype for Business. That said, if you are planning to make the switch to Teams, our Unify Square consultants are here to assist in every step. We can create a migration plan and detail all the steps in regards to Direct Routing, voice integration, DID porting, security, network readiness, and much more. Learn more about our Migration service.
Also, because the move to Teams is not going to be overnight, you need to have a Skype for Business AND Teams interoperability plan. Because our PowerSuite software can monitor, report and analyze both Skype and Teams at the same time, you have a way to track your progress and look for problems with adoption. We wrote a guide on how to pivot your company from Skype to Teams and its worth a review.
With Microsoft Teams replacing Skype, one key consideration is adding Voice to Teams. Organizations need to work through the complexities of architecting, deploying and configuring their systems to enable seamless voice on Teams. In the new world of Teams, voice is enabled either via Microsoft’s Phone System along with its Calling Plans and Direct Routing.
Direct routing is a set of tools that mediate between your on-premises PSTN or SIP trunk and Microsoft Phone System utilizing an SBC. Either physical or virtual, an SBC can be located on-premises or in a cloud data center. If Direct Routing is new to you then we would recommend watching our latest Voice webinar that explains this in detail and how they work with Session Border Controllers (SBC’s). To learn more, check this out.
What are the key steps to pilot, roll-out, and operate Microsoft Teams at scale? Our second Teams eBook guides you on how to successfully deploy Teams and then discusses the on-going maintenance required.
To get more details and see additional resources to help you plan, deploy, and manage Microsoft Teams, check out our other free assets.
Let our consultants help you through the right steps to have a smooth transition.
Looking to move beyond Microsoft? Zoom is the most significant new contender for unified communications. It offers virtually the same features as Skype for Business and more. Most notably, Zoom Rooms is a game–changer by optimizing an entire room for Zoom meetings to take place. The simple user interface is a strong reason it‘s favored by many and an easy to adopt platform for users. It also offers video and audio conferencing, calls, screen sharing, and more.
A straightforward solution for cloud-calling on Zoom. In order to maximize its utilization, PowerSuite offers a variety of tools to make sure users experience zero to minimal issues. Given the popularity of Skype’s telephony extension, this feature would not be lost in the transition to Zoom. Get more information on Zoom Phone!
As great as the platform is, similar to Skype or Business, Zoom runs into the same issues such as video connectivity problems or call and audio quality problems. These issues can get in the way of Zoom acting as the communication gateway for organizations. This blog post explains Zoom troubleshooting.
Along with PowerSuite’s multiplatform support, Zoom and Slack are highly integrated for those wanting to have both a UC and WSC platform. This means organizations can adopt two platforms while having the ability to monitor both to track usage and adoption. This pairing of platforms can also be done with Teams, among others, but there are some best practices to follow.
Looking at just Zoom, it can also be compared to Cisco Webex based on the UC nature of their platforms and similar structure. Both have features like telephony extensions but the difference is in pricing where WebEx offers many different plans with inquire-only pricing. Zoom, on the other hand, offers a freemium version with plans capping at $20 per host per month for large enterprises. Read more about it here.
If you’re wondering how to choose the right collaboration platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, etc) or navigating interoperability and hardware integration, our Zoom eBook will walk you through the steps of navigating Zoom for the enterprise.
According to Nemertes, 54% of companies are using more than one provider for their communications and collaboration needs. In fact, companies use 3.8 providers on average.
Moving from one platform to another takes a long time, especially deciding which Skype for Business upgrade option to even choose. The choice takes careful planning as it affects the communication channels of an organization. Even when a choice is made, the migration also takes a while to move users to this new platform. This can take anywhere from 6 months to multiple years. Through all this, you will need a management tool that can manage multiple platforms at the same time.
PowerSuite offers this multiplatform solution to help during the transitionary period to help IT track usage and adoption across various platforms being used. Our solution offers actionable insights based on analytics, Gartner-recognized benchmarking technology, and PowerSuite even goes beyond just software to offer the option to have full, 24 x 7 Cloud-Managed Services (CMS). Learn more about CMS here.
Regardless of which platform you choose, PowerSuite is your one tool to monitor, analyze, and secure collaboration & communications environments. PowerSuite is also cross-platform, making it your best tool for multi-platform management. Connect with a consultant to learn more.