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Migrating From Skype to Teams? Here’s What to Know

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Many Office 365 customers have implemented Skype for Business Online for collaboration and communications. So, why migrate to Microsoft Teams? Because you must—more on that below. This article reviews the “when” and the “what” of a Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams migration. Consider this an introduction to the factors in your approach.
 
When to Migrate
Skype for Business Online users must migrate before July 31, 2021—Microsoft’s announced end of life (EOL) date. While Microsoft has occasionally extended these dates, customers certainly cannot depend on that occurrence. Many customers use the on-premises Skype for Business Server, which will have Microsoft mainstream support until January 9, 2024. While those premises-based Skype for Business organizations have more time, they will have a cloud migration in the future with the same circumstances.
 
How much lead time should you consider for your migration before the July 2021 deadline? That depends. In smaller organizations with no integrations and standard communications needs, migration can be relatively fast and straightforward. By contrast, in larger organizations, there may be multiple integrations and complicated business requirements for communications and collaboration. There may also be important business process changes to consider. So for larger organizations, a Teams migration may require months of planning, configuring, testing, training, and deployment.
 
What to Consider During the Migration Process
The first thing to know is that Microsoft Teams isn’t just an upgrade to Skype for Business Online. It’s an entirely new platform architected to enable multiple communication functions and complex collaborations. For end-users, it provides a unified user interface for easy and powerful access to integrated work tools. Yet, providing this ease of use and enabling this powerful functionality brings the need to analyze business requirements, review Microsoft Teams’ functionalities, and manage user changes.
 
The second set of considerations revolve around policies. Microsoft provides hundreds of default policy settings, covering such topics as:
  • Who can create new Teams and Channels?
  • Who can set up private Teams and Channels?
  • Who can set up Guest and External access?
  • What presence and messaging options will be enabled?
  • How will files be shared?
  • How long will communications be retained?
This introduction is too limited in space to define these topics, let alone discuss the business implications of individual Teams policies in each subject matter. That leads to a crucial point. You’ll either need to develop expertise internally or engage outside expertise to make appropriate decisions on Teams policies. Those decisions have significant organizational implications for operations, privacy, retention, and discoverability.
 
The third set of considerations center around your environment and the use of Teams. There are many questions associated with these choices, including:
  • Will you support “hard” desk phones or only softphones on laptops and smartphones?
  • Do you need analog line support at sites, thus requiring local gateways?
  • Do you use Skype Response Groups for handling calls, and do you have a plan for using Teams Automated Attendant and Call Queues to replicate this functionality?
  • Do you have an existing contact center or a need for one, and have you selected a Microsoft certified contact center as a service (CCaaS) partner?
  • Will you use Microsoft’s “Calling Plans” for public switched telephone service (PSTN) or install dedicated session border controllers (SBC) and use Direct Routing?
  • Do you desire federation with Slack, Webex Teams, or Zoom? If so, you will need a Microsoft Teams’ integration to do this.
  • Do you have other applications that should integrate with Teams, such as ServiceNow, Monday.com, Trello, and the many others that already have or are developing Teams integrations?
As you can see from this partial list, Microsoft Teams is the opposite of a standalone application. It potentially integrates with many of your existing or potential IT applications. That alone adds complexity, especially in environments where compliance and control are concerns.
 
Going Forward
Modern cloud-based communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams are growing in use. Microsoft Teams hit 75 million daily users in April 2020, an increase from 20 million active users in November 2019. This increase reflects the utility of the platform and its value to existing Microsoft customers, especially in the age of COVID-19 and work from home (WFH). Still, the Microsoft Teams application is complex, and a successful migration in most organizations will require a serious investment in IT, operational, and management resources. If you’re an existing Skype for Business Online user, the July 31, 2021 deadline means that this effort needs to start now.
 
Additional Reading
Take a look at these two related No Jitter articles for more migration tips and making the switch to Microsoft Teams:
 

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