One of the biggest challenges today with the vision of transitioning to Microsoft’s recently released Cloud PBX revolves around matching business needs with available features. Although Cloud PBX is on a rapid pace to parity with Skype for Business Server, some of the advanced features are only available on-premises for the foreseeable future. For example, a user who migrates to Cloud PBX today won’t be able to take advantage of features like response groups or integration with contact center software. In addition, the organization will not be able to use existing analog / fax lines or common area phones. So the question is, what can you do if you’re interested in making the move over to the cloud but you can’t afford to compromise when it comes to features? One choice is to wait, but I believe the true answer lies in what we call a hybrid hybrid environment. Yes, you read that correctly – a hybrid hybrid environment.
Bridging the Limitation & Availability Gap
Microsoft has basically allowed – and even encouraged – people to live in a sort of hybrid environment. Users can essentially take advantage of the Cloud PBX features and functionality that exist today while keeping their existing T1s or SIP trunks. This hybrid deployment gives them the ability to do IM, chat, and video calls with other Skype for Business and Skype users – but limitations as compared with a traditional PBX exist.
Features aside, it’s also now possible to have voice calling plans coming from Microsoft services in the form of DIDs in the cloud (PSTN Calling). Unfortunately, Microsoft is encountering the limitations and regulatory pressures of essentially becoming a carrier. As a result, it’s going to take them quite some time before they’ll be able to provide DIDs in regions outside of the US.
These limitations and challenges is where the hybrid hybrid model comes into play. (‘hybrid hybrid environment’ is a phrase we commonly use here in AudioCodes) For customer environments today, it means that as long as they have a full Skype for Business Server environment on-premises, they’ll be able to leverage the best of both worlds with some users in Cloud PBX and other on-premises leveraging full features and connectivity such as T1s, E1s, etc. That is a huge benefit for customers – allowing them to take advantage of the promise of the cloud while staying grounded in the reality of users’ needs today.
The Best of Both Worlds Option
The hybrid hybrid model is something we speak about quite often with our customers and partners. Today, it’s simply the only way to enable real PBX replacement and smoothly and easily get select users around the world on Cloud PBX while still having the ability to leverage full voice features with on-premises connectivity.
Organizations can pick and choose which users will have the feature set of Cloud PBX and which will be enabled for full Skype for Business Server. They’ll be able to take advantage of features that aren’t ready for the cloud such as response groups or integration with analog phones/common area phones immediately. My experience is these are key features that businesses need (especially in larger environments) and subsequently can delay adoption. In a hybrid hybrid environment, you’ll have a full Skype for Business experience without having to delay the migration process to cloud PBX.