One of the biggest revelations to emerge from Microsoft Ignite 2017 was the roadmap announcement to combine Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business.
The once separate UCaaS communication applications are joining forces to become a fully collaborative single client experience.
This new unification is exciting news, to be sure, but it does raise a number of questions for CallTower's Skype for Business users, particularly about what changes will be made, when these changes will take place and whether the change is optional or mandatory. This blog post will help answer these questions, inform your decisions on the matter and show you how CallTower can assist you in this process.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is an all-new chat based UCaaS workspace in Office 365, offering threaded and persistent chat for anyone working together. Teams is considered an evolution in collaboration tools, as demonstrated by its popularity of Microsoft Teams (over 125,000 organizations are now using Teams within six months of launch). The interface is user-friendly and incorporates tools and tricks to aid collaboration and cohesion.
Here's what Microsoft has to say about Teams' function and design, which uses Skype for Business infrastructure:
"Microsoft Teams brings together the full breadth and depth of Office 365, to provide a true chat-based hub for teamwork and give customers the opportunity to create a more open, fluid, and digital environment. Microsoft Teams is built on existing Microsoft technologies woven together by Office 365 Groups.
Teams also provides a calling and meetings experience that is built on the next generation cloud-based infrastructure that is also used by Skype and Skype for Business. These technology investments include Azure-based cloud services for media processing and signaling, H.264 video codec, SILK and Opus audio codec, network resiliency, telemetry, and quality diagnostics."
Teams' Road to UCaaS
Over the next few months, Microsoft plans to roll out PSTN calling and conferencing support to Teams, building the platform on top of the same infrastructure that powers Skype for Business. CallTower is a Microsoft Gold Partner with extensive experience in the UC, conferencing and collaboration space. As such, CallTower is closely aligned with Microsoft's timeline and strategy for Teams, and is committed to providing best-in-class UCaaS solutions for our customers.
By the end of Q4 2017, Microsoft O365 will have the following features in place:
- Application Sharing
- Anonymous Meeting Join
- Extension Dialing
- Lobby Support
- PSTN Calling / Conferencing
- Skype for Business Online Interoperability
By the end of Q2 2018, Microsoft O365 will have the following features in place:
- Auto Attendant
- Consumer Skype Interoperability
- Hosted Skype for Business Interoperability
- Support for existing certified SIP phones
- Support for Skype Room Systems / Surface Hub
Should I move to Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft is still developing the still-gestating Teams platform and porting over calling features from Skype for Business. For example, Skype for Business' current Online PBX resource is still in the early stages of development and moving it to an even newer offering may be intrinsically problematic. CallTower recommends that customers wait for Teams to achieve feature parity with Skype for Business before evaluating how Teams may work for them.
Microsoft and CallTower will continue to support and deploy Skype for Business with a 2019 Skype Server release, and will support Skype for Business interoperability with Teams in a future platform update next year. CallTower sees Teams as an option for a percentage of the workforce, but not a one-size-fits-all solution for all users. If you have any additional questions about Teams, CallTower has the expertise to assist you in the evaluation process so contact us today.
Ready to learn more about the Microsoft Teams Roadmap?