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Migrating to Skype for Business Cloud PBX Microsoft Ovum AudioCodes

Migrating to Skype for Business Cloud PBX: Play by Play Analysis

A Microsoft, Ovum and AudioCodes Joint Webinar

Microsoft Ovum AudioCodes Webinar

I have been accused of being a crazy sports fan. And I’m guilty. We may be in the midst of the Major League Baseball season, but American football is just around the corner. So when we discussed with our friends at Microsoft and Ovum doing a webinar on the adoption of Skype for Business Cloud PBX in an ESPN Sports Center-like setting, I was really excited!

Skype for Business adoption has been amazing, and we at AudioCodes, have been right in the thick of it with our One Voice for Skype for Business solution which includes among other things, CloudBond 365, Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition appliance and our 400 series IP Phones. We understand that it is going to take a sustained drive approach to ensure success, to borrow one football term, as there are migration issues at work here, particularly to the cloud. There will also be a need to change plans when the unexpected happens, as with a Quarterback’s audible play calling at the line of scrimmage to borrow another.

Likened to football plays, we aim to analyze Skype for Business adoption together with experts from Microsoft, AudioCodes and Ovum Research in what promises to be a unique-style webinar on the subject on June 14, 2016 at 11:00 am EDT.

Register Here

Here is a quick summary of what to expect:

  • The Pre-game Analysis: Skype for Business Cloud PBX industry adoption trends
  • The Sustained Drive: Living with BYOSIP, interoperability, migration and co-existence issues
  • The Audible – Adapting to Requirements: The case for a hybrid deployment and maintaining local PSTN connectivity
  • The End Around: Getting past resistance when introducing a new UC experience
  • The Two Minute Drill: Getting the deployment right calmly and quickly while under pressure
  • The Post Game Analysis: Final thoughts

Guest Commentators: 

Jamie Stark

 

 

 

Jamie Stark, Senior Product Marketing Manager
Microsoft

Brian Riggs

 

 

 

Brian Riggs, Principal Analyst
Ovum

Mor Hezi

 

 

 

Mor Hezi, VP, Business Development
AudioCodes

Register Here

 

Skype for Business in the Cloud

Migrating to Skype for Business Cloud PBX the Smart Way

Using a Hybrid Solution Offers the Best of the On-Premises and Cloud-based Worlds

Skype for Business in the Cloud 

Moving towards Cloud PBX

The rapid rise of Microsoft’s Skype for Business is a strong incentive for enterprises to consider deploying the popular Unified Communications suite. The Company’s most recent announcements regarding their on-line version and the replacement of on-premises based PBX with Cloud PBX are also compelling in a period in which the trend to the Cloud is almost universal. However, despite the technical and business advantages of Skype for Business UC, there are many reasons why organizations might want to hold on to a legacy voice system on a temporary or permanent basis. Reasons vary and can range from the need to maintain specialized functionality such as contact centers or alarm systems to investment protection for legacy equipment, to the current functionality gap between the on-premises and cloud-based offerings and even objective availability and regulatory requirements which may mean that Skype for Business Online may not be available at various locations around the world for the foreseeable future.

Planning the Migration to the Cloud

As such, in almost any scenario in the coming years, most enterprises will likely be implementing a migration strategy from a legacy TDM or IP-based PBX system to Microsoft UC, as for all but the smallest of organizations, a full switchover is simply not practical. A smart approach would be to gradually migrate workers who can benefit from the cloud today while keeping other workers who need the full feature set or have other reasons requiring on-premises PSTN connectivity as described above, on the local Skype for Business Server in the near term.

Perhaps the most important thing an enterprise should do in this regard is to develop a voice migration strategy. Such a strategy would compose of several stages including assessing corporate requirements (typically in the headquarters), building an infrastructure that meets those requirements, migrating relevant users to the cloud and finally, expanding that migration by assessing the needs of branch offices, building a corresponding infrastructure and migrating branch users to the cloud as required. By deploying a hybrid system such as AudioCodes’ CloudBond 365, enterprises can benefit from the essential functionality required to ensure a smooth migration to Skype for Business enterprise voice. This can include:

  • Hybrid and pure SBCs which ensure full interoperability between Skype for Business and legacy systems
  • Active Directory integration which enables administrators to control how calls are routed during the migration
  • SBC provided secured SIP trunking connectivity for after the migration is completed

Migrating Smart with a Hybrid System

A deployment of Skype for Business which mixes on-line and on-premises functionality 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 the time is right in the future.

To learn more about how to migrate to Cloud PBX, read AudioCodes’s Application Note: Getting the Cloud Right: A Practical Guide: Migrating users to Cloud PBX with AudioCodes CloudBond™ 365

Make sure to visit us at UC Expo on April 19-20 in London, UK stand #K1016!

AudioCodes at Enterprise Connect 2016

Today, Tomorrow, and In-Between: Skype for Business Observations with Fortune 50 companies

On my flight back to Israel from Enterprise Connect 2016 at Orlando, I decided to recap my top 3 observations about Skype for Business from spending time with some of our largest customers.  During the show, I sat down with one of the world’s largest energy companies, one of the biggest pharma producers, and one huge food maker that feeds us. They all deploy Lync/SfB and they all shared the following views.

AudioCodes at Enterprise Connect 2016

A vision is not enough

“Yeah, I get what Microsoft is trying to do with CloudPBX, but…” was a common amongst them.  Seems the “Everything Cloud” vision is compelling when left described by 2 words only.  Numerous caveats are observed:

  • How do I gradually migrate there? Because overnight replacement of a great number of PBX’s serving x0000s of users is clearly not an option.
  • Do I really want to relinquish control of all my users to a Front-End server that is hosted by Microsoft? I understand Microsoft is racing Google and wants as many Enterprise users on their cloud as possible, but is that good for my company, or just for Microsoft? Can I customize to preserve my competitive enterprise edge?

Show me the money savings

Microsoft seems to have correctly identified that the heavy monthly costs of conferencing services is something these enterprises love to cut.  Offering simple, hop on/off services right within SfB, with intuitive integration into Outlook is clearly a compelling proposition.  However, if I am going to send all my global voice traffic to the cloud for conferencing, I must guarantee excellent voice quality and experience.  Getting this done requires costly MPLS infrastructure.  How do I calculate the actual cost or savings by moving to the cloud?  Overall, it seems Microsoft still hasn’t convinced these customers that the TCO through the cloud offering and on a global level, is a favorable one.

Old habits are hard to break

A clean, wire-free workspace with voice, video and chat integration, and slick “click to everything”.  Nirvana!

There are a few “Buts”…

Not all of the employees easily say goodbye to their phones and switch over to headsets.  Nor are they proving responsible to own a small and expensive wireless ear piece, without losing or taking it out of their pants before washing. The bigger “over the head” headsets annoy some of the users, and it seems most “Born before 1980” are used to transferring a call by a push of a button, and hate reaching out to their computer for that.  Last, but not least, it seems a great number of the international markets associate a desk phone with seniority and status.  Seems the IP Phone is going to be with us for a good number of years to come.

 

Read more

CloudBond 365 gradual migration to CloudPBX

VoIPerfect less-MPLS solution for resilient, quality-assured VoIP

AudioCodes IP Phones with IT management tools for SfB

Skype for Business-To Cloud or Not to Cloud

Skype for Business: To Cloud or Not to Cloud?

Assessing the state-of-the-market following Microsoft’s announcements on enterprise voice in the cloud for Skype for Business

Skype for Business-To Cloud or Not to Cloud

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.

TheVia Group

Enterprise Connect – Partner Day

Day 2 of Enterprise Connect was a day for partner meetings – getting to know the various systems integrators and reseller partners that are supporting Microsoft and AudioCodes.

First stop was a visit with Chris Riggenbach, UC Team Lead at NACR.   Chris is responsible for the strategy and technical lead for UC solutions that include Microsoft and a number of other software vendors.   As a large national partner, NACR has a unique capability to support large geographically diverse businesses and offer complex solutions to improve collaboration and communications efficiencies with services and solutions.

Bob IT hero visiting NACR

Another stop along my day was visiting with The Via Group, a full-service partner based in Houston.   As an early adopter of AudioCodes One Box 365, they’ve crafted a complete bundled solution for business that includes services, devices and connectivity, bought using a OPEX model that makes buying easy.   The Via Group is also working with One Source Networks solution, a cloud based data and voice communications solution that can deliver services globally.

Bob IT hero visiting The Via Group

My final stop for the day was looking into contact center solutions for my Lync deployment with a visit to Acqueon, who have AiQ a Lync-integrated multi-channel contact center offering that supports quality management along with both inbound and outbound traffic.

Bob IT hero visiting Acqueon

Looking forward to Wednesday and the keynotes from Microsoft and Google. Be sure to check back again tomorrow!

Waves - Communications Webification

Things I Picked Up at WebRTC World East 2014

[Post is better viewed on the blog Website]

Last week was a busy one at WebRTC World in Atlanta with several parallel tracks, demos, keynote sessions and many discussions with long-time friends from the industry and some new friends I made at this event.

And here lies my (expected) problem. I’m mainly still seeing the same people I used to meet at the SIP events 10+ years ago, and not enough new faces. We were shown some customer examples by TokBox and a live demo of an easyRTC customer but this wasn’t enough. As an industry, we haven’t yet managed to open WebRTC to the general public of the web developers.  Could it be that WebRTC World is an event more tailored for VoIP experts? Tsahi and Chris are taking a stab at this challenge next week together with Google at the KrankyGeek show that will follow Google I/O.

With all the hype around WebRTC these past couple of years many many are now disappointed as they don’t see the growth happening at the “expected” pace. In the conference’s welcome notes, Phil Edholm addressed this issue nicely presenting WebRTC in the context of Geoffrey Moore’s theory for the Technology Adoption Lifecycle. 

The Chasm - Technology Adoption Lifecycle

Clearly, WebRTC will proliferate only once it is commonly used by web developers. Usage by the existing VoIP communication industry alone will not bring the communications capabilities enabled by WebRTC to the applications and scenarios we envision today. WebRTC, as Phil presented, is driving the communication webification wave. By the end of this decade, the way in which we communicate will change. We just need patience for this technology to take off.

Waves - Communications Webification

 

Keynotes

Google, Serge Lachapelle

The presentation by Serge covered 2 main topics. He started with the story of how WebRTC came to life. From a gap identified by the Chrome team, “Human Communication is not possible in browsers”, to the decision to acquire GIPS and the official announcement of WebRTC. There were 2 big challenges any company looking to launch communications services would run into – building and binding together the voice and video technology and overcoming all legal and royalty issues related to them. Since Serge had already 10 years of experience in breaking down those walls, he knew that they must be solved for the general public of developers and innovators in order to make this successful. Hence, the decision to acquire a leading media engine vendor and invest significant money and efforts into solving the patents tangle.

The technology challenges led nicely to the second part of his presentation that talked about upcoming (expected very soon) releases where a lot of focus has been put, among other things, on quality,  WebRTC over wireless networks, faster connection time and better adaptation to network changes. This is, of course, a short list. We will need to see the release notes of the upcoming Chrome 36 & 37.

In an earlier event in London, Serge spoke about the priority being given to solving WebRTC for mobile. I would have liked to hear in-depth details on that part of the picture. More might come to light next week when Serge covers this topic at the KrankyGeek Show where he will talk about Mobile WebRTC. I will not be there but will surely keep an eye on that half day event.

 

Microsoft, Bernard Aboba

This was an interesting technical presentation. It started with the directive of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for Mobile First, Cloud First continuing with the requirements for achieving high quality real-time communications on mobile. The presentation also covered the area of ORCA and how it will be adopted in WebRTC.

Bernard mentioned that the various Microsoft products such as IE, Lync, Skype, Yammer and others are all independent regarding their decision relating to WebRTC adoption. With Microsoft increasing their transparency about their IE plans through their IE platform status website (a place to see what the Dev team is working on) and the IE Developer Channel (where pre-beta versions of IE can be found), I hope we will soon learn more about Microsoft’s plans for WebRTC.

 

Avaya, Gary Barnett

There were several keynotes by vendors but I’m mentioning this one as it looks like Avaya is right on the money with their current plans for WebRTC in the scope of their Collaboration Environment engine given the company’s market position, customers and DNA. Different from other communications vendors who are trying to copy what others have already done and follow the footsteps of the API platform service providers, Avaya is using WebRTC to enhance their current offering.

In his presentation, Gary talked about how WebRTC plugs-in to Collaboration Environment and makes use of existing capabilities such as speech analytics with the addition of web content brought to the service of the Contact Center agent and manager.

The presentation was given only in the context of Collaboration Environment and the Contact Center segment. There are of course, other products and services such a communications vendor can launch by utilizing WebRTC but no information was given in this regard.

 

TalkBox, Ian Small

As usual, Ian gave a great presentation seasoned with good live demos. On this occasion and at his previous keynote at WebRTC West in Santa Clara, Ian put a lot of focus on media processing capabilities. These are complex things to do but bandwidth adaptation, dominant speaker detection and dynamic layout changing were done by video companies many years ago. The nice thing about what TokBox does is that it makes all this accessible to the web world in a complete and comprehensive solution. They could have just bought all these media processing capabilities from a 3rd party and used them.

 

AudioCodes at WebRTC World Atlanta

In a previous post I talked about the Open vs. Island types of WebRTC deployments; AudioCodes, falls into the “Open” category as an enabler of communication across VoIP networks and vendors in high quality. As such we presented the SBC with WebRTC interface including support for DTLS and other goodies as well as the Opus enabled IP Phone. From this perspective AudioCodes is well differentiated from other comparable vendors who demonstrated products that are more in the GW category. The key differences AudioCodes presented were as follows:

  • Adding WebRTC to the SBC rather than as an external box
  • Opting for Opus all the way instead of G.711 or mandatory transcoding on the GW
  • Taken together, this means a more efficient, lower cost, higher quality solution

In addition to our booth, both Alan Percy and I took part in a total of 8 sessions:

Were you in Atlanta last week? I’m looking forward to hearing your take on this event in the comments section below.

You weren’t there and want more insight as to what took place in the above sessions or others? Feel free to drop us a note in the comments section below or to contact us directly.