Assessing the state-of-the-market following Microsoft’s announcements on enterprise voice in the cloud for Skype for Business
Recent Microsoft announcements surrounding enterprise voice for Skype for Business in the cloud caused significant waves in the market. Cloud PBX and PSTN calling will have a dramatic impact on the ecosystem. Yet, real parity between the on-premises Skype for Business Server and the online offering will still take a few years and many companies have concerns about making an immediate full transition to the cloud. These include:
- Availability and regulatory issues requiring local PSTN connectivity
- The current Online enterprise voice feature set is limited
- Quality of Service over the open Internet can be problematic
- Customers may not be in a rush to forgo existing contracts and working network devices
- Customers may prefer a gradual migration of users to the cloud
Microsoft understood this and implemented a strategy to offer a solution for this market reality. At the July 2015 WPC event, Microsoft provided more details regarding deployment options. By offering a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s on-premises based PSTN connectivity, Microsoft took their customers’ concerns into account. Their approach includes four deployment options, the middle two being hybrid versions:
- Skype for Business Server On-premises: Users are registered to the local Skype for Business server; call management and PSTN connectivity are based on-premises. The Exchange Server is on- premises and there is no Office 365 connection.
- Skype for Business Hybrid: Some users are registered to the Skype for Business Server (this could be in an appliance or in a private cloud) and some users are registered to Skype for Business Online. User identity is synchronized with Office 365 and voice mail is in Exchange Online.
- Cloud PBX with on-premises PSTN: Users are registered to Skype for Business Online where the call management is handled by the Cloud PBX, but PSTN connectivity (also known as “bring your own carrier”) is handled on-premises through a local gateway or appliance.
- Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling: Users are registered to Skype for Business Online and are on a Microsoft provided PSTN calling service, all managed by the Microsoft cloud.
Given that reality, a wise deployment of Skype for Business will mix on-premises functionality for corporate and call center users, allowing integration with legacy systems with initial deployment of cloud services. This will lay the foundation for a smooth transition to the full cloud solution down the line. The best way to protect the enterprise’s current investments, ensure a full enterprise voice feature set, guarantee that all company branches around the world are serviced and comply with regulations, is with a hybrid solution which offers the best of both worlds and allows the benefits of Unified Communications today with a secure and smooth migration to voice in the cloud when fully available.
Want to learn more about these 4 options and which one best fits your needs download this white paper – A practical guide for embracing the communications future.