Skype for Business to Teams Rumour – What does it mean to us? Users and Companies alike

Good Morning All

As twitter and other social media streams are in a frenzy about what seems to be emerging as Microsoft’s worst kept secret around the anticipated/leaked name change from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, I thought I would try and bring some order to the proceedings and discuss what I think this means to us as a community and companies alike who are currently running Skype for Business as their UC platform and for some currently there telephony solution.

NOTE: I would like to say, these thoughts are my own, and I haven’t been party to any insider knowledge or back of the classroom chats with Microsoft Redmond or the respective Microsoft product groups.

So if the rumours flying around are true? which I have no reason to deny or believe, Microsoft plan to change the name of Skype for Business (PLEASE NOTE: In my opinion and like others on twitter have said before me, I believe that this name change is primarily related to Skype for Business ONLINE only). I don’t think, although I could be totally wrong that the name change flows through to Skype For Business Server/On-Premises. <That could be the other name change we’ve seen mentioned before as well. ‘Microsoft Telephone System’>.

So what we’ve seen so far and still what we don’t know

If you are a Skype for Business Online users, some people/companies are already seeing the name change and upgrade option within their respective o365 tenant portal. But what does this mean?? On clicking upgrade will your companies desktop and laptop estate jump into life like some crazy ransomware virus attack and start on-mass downloading the so called new technology that is Teams?  OR is it a simple backend Microsoft cloud tenant porting script which moves your tenant to the Teams o365 cloud estate with no end user service impacting outage??

For me and in my opinion it has to be the latter of the two mentioned, as I’m 99.999% sure that Microsoft would not force a customer and their end users to a big bang client upgrade from what they know today as in the skype for Business client application to a totally new and visually different interface thus being Teams in a instant upgrade approach. I think what will happen is that on upgrading the tenant to Teams, if a user wanted OR had the Microsoft Teams client installed, they could at their wish seamlessly start using teams instead of the Skype for Business client application, Though brings me onto my other thoughts of Teams and the big elephant in the room… Is Teams commercially ready for use and functionality savvy enough replace Skype for Business Online? Has Teams got full parity of modules and functions like Skype for Business online OR On-premises for that matter? Simple answer for me is no it doesn’t. Teams is lacking still a number of key and almost critical elements which it needs to take over the role of a telephony solution from Skype for Business. these being..

  1. Telephony? At this moment you are not able to call out from Teams to a PSTN DDI number.
  2. Transferring both internal/external calls is not available?
  3. Can teams work without the Skype for Business client being installed?
  4. Multiparty conferences between Teams and existing Skype for Business users isn’t available as yet.
  5. Team federation capabilities?
  6. What happens if you need 3rd party add-ons IE: call recording etc? does that work with teams?

I’m sure if I thought hard enough I could get the list to 10 key areas of functionality differences between the solutions.

This brings me back to my original second opinion that is, for the foreseeable future i think Teams will be reliant on Skype for Business until the Teams offering gets more mature. And I think Microsoft will continue to offer the Skype for Business client as a alternative to companies who doesn’t want the social aspects of what the Teams application brings. If I was Microsoft (Which I’m not), at ignite I would be presenting to the world that they are making Skype for Business and Teams ‘Dual Fuel’ meaning if a client wants a mix of Teams for some departments but the Skype for Business client for others then YES Microsoft can offer that within office365. If a client wanted old school telephony On-Premises ? YES Microsoft can offer that with Skype for Business server, If a client wanted Teams to be purely OnPremises?? Well that’s another story….

So to summarise for me? 

  • I think there will be a name change as mentioned many times on social media now from Skype For Business Online only to Microsoft Teams, but I think this will be a name change and backend tenant upgrade with the option ‘if you want the functionality of teams then install the client or stick with the statuesque and continue using the Skype for business client as your UC client for IM/P and telephony’
  •  Is Skype for Business server being retired (As I heard someone say on twitter a couple of days ago!!) NO absolutely not.. I think Skype for Business Server/OnPremises will be around for years to come with very little changes to the server deployment methods or server estate apart from patching/upgrades and functionality tweaks along the way.
  • I would have a bet though that in the future that Microsoft will produce a Teams product for server/onpremises, for clients with legality requirements. We might see that in Skype for Business VNext maybe?? who knows..

Don’t forget all, for those of us older UC guys, this will be our 4th name change in the Microsoft UC offering yet here we are still specialising in the solutions available from Microsoft.

As always, I would be more than happy to have a conversation with you or your company around what this change means and what is the best approach for you and your company around your Unified Communications Journey.

Right back to the day job …. Iain



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