Editors Note: This blog was lightly updated from when it was originally published in 2018 with the latest dates on the Skype for Business phase out as it has been announced Microsoft is ending of Skype for Business and replacing Skype with Teams.
This post is part of our Microsoft Teams Admin Guide series. Check out the other entries in the series as they’re added below:
- The Latest Microsoft Teams Updates: App Store, Personal Views, & More!
- Guide: How to Get Started with Microsoft Teams Templates
- Office 365 Groups vs. Microsoft Teams (Revisited)
- Top 10 Must-Know Answers to Serious Microsoft Teams Governance Questions
- Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Site Architecture: Explained
Back in March 2017 I wrote a blog post predicting that Microsoft Teams would replace Skype for Business. However, this wasn’t officially validated until later in the year at the Microsoft Ignite conference.
And, in July 2019, Microsoft officially announced the end-of-life for Skype for Business would be July 31, 2021. Skype for Business Online will no longer be available and integration with third-party audio providers will cease.
In 2018, Microsoft boasted about the fact that Microsoft Teams is now at feature parity with Skype for Business Online–a very important milestone, as it means that organisations can comfortably switch from Skype to Teams without sacrificing features.
Ultimately cutting down the number of tools that do similar/the same things in Office 365 (now Microsoft 365), such as Skype and Teams, does indeed help to alleviate end user confusion. However, this also presents a different challenge when it comes to Microsoft Teams.
You see, Microsoft Teams is not just a unified communication product; it’s a collaboration tool, a window into other apps and services, (or, as it is being positioned by Microsoft, an “app hub”). What this effectively means is that Teams is a single pane of glass for people to communicate, collaborate, and ultimately work.
When you think about this in the context of the rest of the Office 365 stack, Microsoft Teams adds an extra layer of functionality on top of Office 365 Groups. This means that Teams is giving Office 365 users access to SharePoint Online document libraries and site functionality, OneNote, Planner, and a whole bunch of other features.
Having a Skype for Business replacement with a platform that provides similar functionality and a few more features is one thing, but replacing it with one that provides a considerably larger number of features is a much bigger deal.
Read how AvePoint saved $400K a year ditching its phone system for Skype (now Teams).
What I’m referring to here is the difference between the initial migration and upgrade journey to Skype for Business from communications tools at the time, versus the move from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. By no means am I saying that Skype for Business is simple, or that it didn’t introduce new features and ways of working. What I am saying, however, is that it is solely a communications tool. Microsoft Teams is much more.
Implementing Microsoft Teams means organisations are implementing SharePoint & OneDrive, even if they haven’t deliberately done it yet. That’s because all the file storage of Microsoft Teams is delivered by SharePoint & OneDrive. Teams users also gain access to a SharePoint site and all its wonderful, modern features.
What does all this have to do with the Skype for Business client?
Well, there have been rumblings of and requests (myself included) for a “Teams Lite” client that only gives people access to Skype for Business features. While this has been discussed and there have been nods from Microsoft folks, it most likely will never happen. Why?
Because Microsoft doesn’t just want you to upgrade your Skype for Business client – they want you to use the full feature set of Microsoft Teams and change the way you work.
Skype For Business End Of Life Dates
|Skype Product||Mainstream Support Ends|
|Skype For Business 2015||April 10, 2018|
|Skype For Business 2016||October 13, 2020|
|Skype For Business 2019||January 9, 2024|
|Skype For Business Online||July 31, 2020|
|Skype For Business Server 2015||October 13, 2020|
|Skype For Business Server 2019||January 9, 2024|
If you simply upgraded to Teams Lite client from the Skype for Business client you wouldn’t have to change behaviours around email, attachments, file shares, switching between multiple apps, or the way you work now in general.
So what to do? Your users are getting the full Microsoft Teams client and all that it brings with it, whether you are ready or not.
One of the biggest things that needs addressing is governance.
When people talk about governance in relation to Office 365, it’s usually in the context of SharePoint as that is where it originated. However, in this modern world where the Skype for Business client replacement is considerably more powerful and feature rich, governance now has to apply to the entire Office 365 stack.
Something else that needs to be considered are file shares. There’s no reason for you to be using network file shares if you’re also using Microsoft Teams. And it doesn’t mean you have to adopt SharePoint and make it your intranet (although that would be ideal).
You need to sort out how users are going to access files when using Microsoft Teams. If you don’t, you’ll almost certainly face file duplication as users unknowingly share different versions of files in a Teams channel, than the version in the file share.
Ready to Upgrade? The coexistence mode in the Microsoft Teams admin center can help.
- Islands mode– Allow users to use both Skype for Business and Teams simultaneously.
- Skype for Business with Teams collaboration – Users can use Skype for Business in addition to using Teams for group collaboration (channels).
- Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and meetings – Users can use Skype for Business in addition to using Teams for group collaboration (channels) and Teams meetings.
- Teams only – Users can only use Teams, but they can still join meetings hosted in Skype for Business.
A lot of the conversation about Microsoft Teams is being had by Skype for Business integrators and IT pros, and that is because the product has its marching orders. While there is no official sunset date, the platform and subsequently the Skype for Business client is going away.
When users start switching from the Skype for Business client to Microsoft Teams for their conversations, are you going to be ready for everything else they’ll be using?
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