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What Skype4Biz-to-Teams Transition Means for You

Enterprises long committed to Microsoft's UC platform should be used to change, witness to the evolution from LCS to OCS, Lync, Skype for Business, and now looking to the future with Teams. That doesn't mean making the latest transition will be easy, however.

In September at Ignite, the company's annual user conference, Microsoft gave notice that it would be displacing Skype for Business with Teams as its primary communication/collaboration client in Office 365. At the same time, Microsoft announced a new on-premises version of the Skype for Business Server, signaling that Skype for Business will continue to be a CPE play for the enterprise for at least the rest of this decade.

If your enterprise has already embarked on a Skype for Business migration or if you've been considering an Office 365 integration, how do you move forward? Microsoft last month released a few additional details about its Skype for Business-to-Teams roadmap, which is divided into three core parts: messaging, calling, and meetings. Reviewing this document could prove useful in providing clarity around when an enterprise might start its Teams migration.

On the Teams messaging front, Microsoft's roadmap indicates federation and Skype for Business interoperability with persistent chat coming in the first quarter of 2018. This will be important for enterprises carrying on external communication with businesses using Skype for Business.

For calling in Teams, Microsoft still has a lot of work to do. Organizations won't even be able to consider using Teams as a desktop UC platform until the end of 2018, when the necessary calling features begin to roll out. And while the roadmap shows support for Skype for Business-to-Teams calling by the end of this year, support for existing Microsoft-certified SIP phones and call transfers to the PSTN won't be available until late 2018.

Details are sketchy. Does the Skype for Business-to-Teams calling include point-to-point video calling? Does this include joining Skype for Business AVMCU or Teams meetings from the other client? Does it include content sharing? Unfortunately, we still don't know the answer to many important questions.

The same is true of Microsoft's meetings roadmap -- many questions remain. When application sharing arrives later this year, and control capabilities come in the same time frame, does this mean that the RDP will be supported? And does this point toward content sharing interoperability to Skype for Business that also supports giving and taking control? While the roadmap does say that federated meetings functionality will arrive in the Q2 2018, it also shows that Microsoft's own meeting room system support isn't on tap until the end of the second quarter.

The diverging on-premises and online strategies makes interoperability and federation essential to ensuring that Skype for Business organizations and Teams organizations can make full use of all of the features described. This is exactly the topic we explored in our recent webinar with Kevin Kieller, partner at enableUC and Enterprise Connect's leading expert on the Microsoft enterprise communications/collaboration environment. Click here to view on demand.

StarLeaf's position and product direction is clear. No matter what course Microsoft's platform takes, we are fully onboard and committed to delivering enterprise meeting room and management solutions that work today and, more importantly, in the future.