Microsoft announced its vision of Intelligent Communications at its Ignite 2017 event in September. Intelligent Communications will see the migration of voice and chat moving from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. What does this mean for your organization?
First, this change will not occur overnight. The Voice features will become available in Microsoft Teams soon, but you won’t be forced to migrate your Skype for Business Online Voice service until you’re ready.
Microsoft will continue to support both the Skype for Business Online service and client until the functionality in Microsoft Teams is nearly equal to Skype for Business Online. Hence, Microsoft has re-focused development of new features to the Microsoft Teams infrastructure.
There are some features in Microsoft Teams that are a duplication of Skype for Business features. These include conversations, chats, and meetings.
Microsoft Teams Conversations
Conversations in Teams is very similar to the Persistent Chat role in Skype for Business Server and Yammer for cloud users. Each has its own use case and Microsoft has not announced any migration plans for this feature.
Microsoft Teams Chat
Chat is a form of instant messaging that users are familiar with in Skype, Skype for Business, and other platforms. It allows users to send a typed message instantly to another individual. Some platforms, including Teams, allow for enhanced messages that include emojis, pictures, files.
Microsoft Teams already supports chatting with Skype for Business. This allows for a seamless experience with all users on both platforms.
Microsoft Teams Meetings
Meetings in Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams are not compatible. Meetings in Teams can only be joined by Teams users.
To schedule a meeting, the familiar Outlook method may be used for Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams. If the Teams desktop client is installed, it presents a Teams meeting icon in the Outlook ribbon beside the Skype for Business meeting icon.
If the Teams desktop client is not installed, then Teams meetings must be scheduled in the Teams meetings web interface. It should be noted that the Teams meeting interface only allows scheduling of Teams meetings.
Skype for Business meetings also show in the Teams meeting interface with a Join button. Clicking on the Join button for a Skype for Business meeting will open your Skype for Business client to join the meeting.
To reduce user confusion, your organization can choose to disable meetings in Teams.
Microsoft Teams Voice
Voice in Microsoft Teams will require Microsoft Calling Plans during the initial enablement. Skype for Business Calling Plans are available for US customers. Microsoft has yet to announce details for Calling Plans in Canada. Microsoft plans to support hybrid voice later, with a simplified solution supporting 3rd party PBX and telecom connections.
We recommend that organizations deploy cloud Voice using Skype for Business Online now. The migration path that Microsoft has announced will ease your transition to Teams Voice.
Skype for Business Server 2019
Microsoft announced that a new wave of their productivity server products will be released. Skype for Business Server 2019 will be released in the latter half of 2018. These new releases will include features that have been rolled out in Office 365.
To position your organization for the eventual move to the cloud, we recommend that all Microsoft productivity server deployments be configured to support hybrid mode with Office 365. This will allow the use of cloud only features today, such as Skype Meeting Broadcast while being prepared to start moving users to the cloud when your organization is ready.
We recommend that you start using Microsoft Teams today to experience the conversations, chat, document co-authoring, AI-powered Bots and other features, and see how Teams is the hub for teamwork in Office 365. Consider deploying Skype for Business to start your journey to Intelligent Communications.