Advice to IT pros on the merger of Teams and Skype for Business

  • Posted on December 5, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Teams and Skype for Business merger

This article was originally written by Avanade alum Stephen Tong.

At Microsoft Ignite this year, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Teams will be the destination hub for online collaboration, including conferencing and voice, as the core of their new vision for Intelligent Communications in Office 365. 

As part of the announcement, Skype for Business Online enterprise voice and conferencing functionality will be merged into Teams over time. Skype for Business Server edition, the on-premises application, will continue to be supported separately and a new edition was announced for release at the end of 2018. Hybrid configuration with Office 365 has not been fully defined and we understand more details will be provided in the near future. 

In this blog post, I wanted to provide a few pieces of advice, which we are sharing with our clients who are currently somewhere along their Microsoft 365 unified communications journey.

Start using Microsoft Teams ASAP, but for collaboration workloads first
Microsoft Teams has been available in Office 365 for some time now, and with a high degree of use within Avanade, I can see the benefits it brings to team productivity. We recommend that you should consider deploying Teams in your organizations, but for collaboration workloads only for the time being (document sharing, authoring, channels, channel chat, etc). Microsoft Teams looks and feels a lot different to the traditional Skype for Business client, and there is a continuous change management and user adoption consideration to make here. This is especially important for organizations who have ongoing unified communications change efforts at present, especially with Skype for Business. 

Running Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business side by side to begin with will allow you to introduce Teams where it makes sense, and enables you to monitor and manage your organization’s adoption of Teams based on roadmap and feature availability. 

Skype for Business Server Edition should be your go-to platform for real-time communications capabilities, either on-premises or with a service provider
Microsoft have committed to Skype for Business Server edition (the on-premises version of Skype for Business) with a new version set for release at the end of 2018. We believe that Skype for Business Server edition is the current go-to platform for a fully integrated workplace UC experience and the recommended approach as a PBX replacement that provides a mature, proven solution today. 

With the introduction of Skype for Business Online, we saw the challenge of feature and functionality differences across the two versions of Skype for Business – on-premises and in Office 365. Feature and functionality in Teams will again be different, and vary from both the Server and Online editions of Skype for Business based on the roadmap schedule today for non-channel chat, PSTN calling, meeting and interoperability. 

A caveat to this is for organizations who are well underway with their Skype for Business Online adoption where the capabilities meet their needs. They should continue and complete their migration.

We’d recommend (if you haven’t already) moving your other workloads to Office 365 where you can, but Skype for Business Server Edition is our current recommended path for PSTN integration, conferencing/voice to maintain full functionality for your users. 

Managing and migrating your communications and collaboration suite
Avanade has been Microsoft’s Alliance Partner of the Year for the past 10 consecutive years, and we’ve deployed more than 5 million Office 365 seats – that’s more than any other partner. Our portfolio of UC solutions can help you manage this change:
Cloud or Digital Workplace advisory services, if you are looking for strategic advice in navigating this transition
Leverage our managed services if you are looking to integrate your Skype for Business on-premises environments with hybrid Office 365 scenarios.   
Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) or private cloud services from Accenture and Avanade, in partnership with carriers. 
Consulting services for network assessment, planning and deployment 

Contact us to learn more

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