Time is running out for Skype for Business Online customers. After first announcing in 2017 that Skype for Business would be phased out in favor of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft will be officially retiring Skype for Business Online on July 31, 2021. After this date, it will no longer be accessible, as Microsoft host the platform themselves and will be switching it off.
Businesses using the on-premises version of Skype for Business, Skype for Business Server 2019, will not be affected just yet. Mainstream support for Server customers will be available until January 2024 and extended support will be available until October 2025. Afterwards, Server will no longer be updated or provided any further security patches.
With the deadline fast approaching, any businesses still using Skype for Business Online should begin their migration to Microsoft Teams as soon as possible. At this stage, it is recommended that customers plan for a direct upgrade to Teams Only mode. Organizations can still technically implement a gradual upgrade, running both Skype and Teams in parallel using one of the co-existence modes, but the short timescales make this impractical for most organizations.
How should businesses prepare for the Skype for Business end of life?
Invest in Training: Although familiar features from across Skype for Business like chat, video conferencing, and voice calls, are available in Teams, users will still need support during the transition. Experts agree that training is pivotal to successful adoption for Teams. This includes developing user-specific communication strategies, sharing success stories, and hosting company demos. Many Skype for Business Online customers would also benefit from designating a migration expert either in-house, or using external resources. Cloud enablement services, including support during the design, deployment, and ongoing management of Microsoft Teams solutions are available from many providers.
Do the research: Microsoft has released many resources that help Skype for Business Online customers make a smooth transition. This includes free instructor-led training, planning documents, and access to online resources, technical assistance from engineering teams, that help companies onboard solutions. Organizations should additionally pay special attention to any regulatory measures they will need to address with Teams, such as for compliance call recording.
Audit the environment: Developing a detailed understanding of your existing infrastructure, platforms, providers, users and requirements will help you to accurately calculate the scope of the migration, and prevent setbacks later on. Solutions like Pure IP’s ReVeal provide fast, accurate and comprehensive audits of an organization’s existing PBX estate, enabling the creation of an insight-driven design and plan for migrating telephony to the cloud with Microsoft Teams.
Enable telephony in Teams: To make and receive external calls in Teams, users must either have a Microsoft Calling Plan or Direct Routing with a third-party provider. Customers that currently have Phone System with CCE for Skype for Business Online will need to migrate their services to one of these two options. Customers who already use Calling Plans, however, can simply transition inbound PSTN calling to Teams. Even so, given the flexibility, cost savings, and global coverage Direct Routing can offer, companies may want to consider transitioning to Direct Routing, especially if they require voice services at multiple international sites. Our research shows that 80% of Teams Voice customers select Direct Routing, so they can take advantage of existing SIP trunks, specialized voice support, and integrations with applications like contact centers. A third option coming soon, Operator Connect, will sit between Calling Plans and Direct Routing, and will enable customers to simply select their preferred provider directly from the list available in the Teams Admin Center to add and manage telephone numbers.
Ensure the correct licenses are in place: To transition to Teams, all corporate customers must have an Office 365 subscription either through an E1, E3, E5, or F1 license. For Teams voice, customers will also need an Audio Conferencing license (which can be found as part of the E5 license or as an add-on for the E3 license) and a Phone System license (which can be completed either through the E3 or E5 license). Note that all existing licenses carry forward to Teams. For example, if a company has an existing Audio Conferencing license as part of an E5 with Skype for Business, it can then be carried over and enabled with Teams.
Simplify and accelerate your migration to Microsoft Teams Voice
As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Pure IP delivers and manages highly specialized business communications for our customers so they can get the most out of their investment in Microsoft Teams.
Our fully managed global Direct Routing solution, SeRVE for Microsoft Teams, combines the strength, scale, and reach of Pure IP’s own cloud-based voice network, with the speed and flexibility of our managed services, and 24/7 support from our team of expert voice engineers. Each customer also enjoys total control and visibility into their voice systems provided via their own dedicated online customer portal. The solution is fully customizable with a range of cloud enablement and managed services to support customers through every step of designing, planning, deploying, and maintaining their Teams telephony environment.
Alessandra joined Pure IP as the Content and Communications Manager in early 2020, after 5 years within the cinema technology sector.