Microsoft Teams expands on the capabilities in Skype for Business Online by bringing together files, chats, and apps in an integrated solution, with functionality that enables organisations to move faster and collaborate more efficiently. Because of the richer set of experiences offered in Teams, it replaces Skype for Business as the core communications client for Office 365.
Much has already been written about the ongoing change initiated by Microsoft stating that the Teams application will be replacing Skype for Business (SfB). However, let’s consider a list of key changes and adjustments that organisations need to expect or anticipate as part of the inevitable 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 synchronised across all end-user devices.
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 inter-dependencies, including SharePoint Online.
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 organisations. 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 organisations 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, 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.
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 organisational switch to third-party alternatives.
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 organisation’s home-tenant geo.
The ability to leverage the large footprint and greater density of Azure data centres, 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.
Microsoft brought attention to a number of new features that it has brought to Teams in recent months, including unified presence, cloud-based meeting recording, direct routing, and many more. “Today, more than 200,000 organisations are using Teams, including nearly 70% of enterprise customers who use Skype for Business Online. We encourage your organisation to join them and move to Teams today,” Microsoft says.
What do you need to do if you still use skype for business (S4B):
Since September 2018 Microsoft has been automatically scheduling upgrades for some clients in the following way.:
- You (or your technology partner) will receive (or may have already received) a notice via email or the Office 365 Message Centre that “Teams is Ready” and prompting you to upgrade to Microsoft Teams.
- Included in the communications there will be a proposed upgrade date.
- You will receive a number of reminder emails ahead of the upgrade date.
- Ahead of the scheduled upgrade, S4B users will receive a notice in S4B notifying them that the change is coming.
- On the scheduled date, you will be upgraded to Teams.
Many small-to-medium-sized S4B customers will have their upgrade automatically scheduled by Microsoft as outlined above. Larger organisations may need to work with a technology partner to plan and manage their upgrade timeline.
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