Skype for Business vs Microsoft Teams – Confused? What are the Alternatives?

The recent announcement by Microsoft about its plans to phase out Skype for Business in favour of Microsoft Teams casts a shadow over businesses who were planning to migrate to the SfB for their business telephony. Microsoft is currently talking about only supporting SfB for three years meaning that any business planning to roll it out has a very short timescale to recover any investment. And even for businesses that have already rolled it out, this change of direction means they will very shortly have to start planning and implementing the migration to Teams. This is certainly going to be a significant and unexpected cost for their business.

This change in direction by Microsoft highlights the issue of relying on a supplier for whom voice is only a relatively recent specialty. SfB has struggled to develop comparable functionality to, and reliability of, the systems from major providers like Avaya. The move to Teams and its separate infrastructure for voice and video (based on the Skype consumer model) will undoubtedly create a hiatus in the functionality that can be delivered there as well. There is no guarantee that Teams will be ready in the timescales announced, either. And for customers who want an On-Premise solution it looks like that option will be unavailable with Teams.

Because of this move by Microsoft, Jim Gaynor of Directions on Microsoft has been quoted as saying that “Organizations should hold off on any major transition projects now to avoid having to go through a second transition.”

So what are the alternatives? For businesses with a conventional telephony infrastructure they should be looking to maximise the return on their investment. For those with Avaya systems there are a number of ways to bring full UC capability to their business. This could be through the deployment of Avaya’s Equinox UC client. This provides a complete set of UC and collaboration tools on the desktop. This would be a replacement for the SfB environment removing the confusion around which Microsoft clients to use. Alternatively, if SfB is already widely used within the business, the Avaya telephony capability can easily be integrated with SfB clients. Avaya provides a plug-in that allows users to continue using their SfB client, but with enhanced features that seamlessly integrate with their Avaya VOIP infrastructure and which allow in-call roaming between PC, desk phone and mobile device. In this case businesses get a best in class telephony infrastructure from Avaya and significant cost savings, all integrated into the SfB client that employees have become used to. In both cases the customer is also free to use their SIP provider of choice.

And when the dust has settled on the Microsoft plans then all that will be needed is to integrate the Avaya telephony with the Teams solution. A much simpler option than having to rebuild the telephony infrastructure around whatever new infrastructure Microsoft offers.

JT Global Enterprise specialises in the Take On and Transformation of PBX, UC and Contact Centre systems and is an Avaya Edge Diamond partner. To discuss the best way to optimise your UC roadmap contact us on +44 20 7920 2000, or jtge@jtglobal.com, or visit our website https://www.jtglobalenterprise.co.uk

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