Microsoft’s Commitment to UC Deployment Models; On-Premises, Hybrid, & Online

"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses," said Henry Ford.

Technology leaders keep their products relevant in ever changing landscape of the world of business. Their vision is not driven by just the market requirements, it is also propelled by ground-breaking ideas to revolutionize the way a business problem is addressed.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote at Ignite was centred around some of the niche areas like artificial intelligence and quantum technology. He also weaved Mixed Reality (MR) with collaboration of Microsoft Teams to demonstrate how Ford is using it with Hololens for manufacturing purpose.

Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business: The Future Roadmap

In addition to the series of announcements being made at Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft also unveiled its future roadmap for Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event -

  • Microsoft Teams to become the core unified communications platform in Office 365. It was specifically highlighted that Skype for Business(SfB) Online would still be supported in Office 365.
  • Microsoft has no plan to force customers to migrate from Skype for Business (SfB) Online to Microsoft Teams. However, it was evident after attending a slew of sessions that Microsoft Teams would become a superior client in the immediate future. Rich meeting functionalities and integration of the business productivity tool are a few features that would make Microsoft Teams a far richer client than Skype for Business.
  • Microsoft Teams is built on cloud-born infrastructure which has an added layer of Skype consumer version. However, it was a bit surprising that Microsoft Teams is not built over SIP.
  • At this point of time, some of the critically important features like PSTN calling, Dial-In conferencing etc. are already in public preview. Microsoft intends to release these features for general availability at the earliest.
  • Another important feature is ability to record Microsoft Teams based meetings. Recording is now cloud-based and available directly in the channel conversations. A recorded video can be replayed directly from the Microsoft Teams client along with a searchable transcription of the meeting audio. It would help participants to revisit meeting content in a more efficient manner.
  • As far as management & administration of Microsoft Teams is concerned, a common Skype for Business (SfB) Online and Microsoft Teams admin centre in office 365 would be released by early 2018.

You can read about more about features and functionalities of Microsoft Teams at Fifteen features of Microsoft Teams.

Will Microsoft release next on-premises version of Skype for Business (SfB)?

Microsoft revealed its plan to release next version of Skype for Business by late 2018. It will be called Skype for Business (SfB) 2019.

It is, however, important to note that Microsoft has no plan to release Standard Edition(SE) of Skype for Business (SfB) 2019. Also, there won’t be a director role in Skype for Business (SfB) 2019. Microsoft doesn’t have a plan to release persistent chat role either. At minimum, you would need Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server 2016 for deployment of roles. Control panel of Skype for Business 2019 wouldn’t be powered by Silverlight.

It’s important to note that in-place upgrade to Skype for Business (SfB) 2019 wouldn't be supported. Side-by-side would be the only supported upgrade model. Migration will be supported from Lync server 2013 and Skype for Business 2015 to Skype for Business 2019. This model is a resource intensive affair compared to the one where in-place upgrade is allowed.

There won’t be a local installer version of Skype for Business (SfB) 2019 client. There will only be Click to Run (C2R) version of the next client. If you install Office by using MSI, you have to wait until the whole Office product is installed before you can open and start to use the product. But with the streaming capabilities in Click-to-Run, you can open and start to use the product before the whole product is installed.

Hybrid deployment model would be supported between Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business 2019. Advanced call features like Voicemail, AA, and call queues would be supported in the Hybrid deployment model.

I had an opportunity to live blog three of the ignite sessions at Microsoft Tech Community (MTC). You can read these blogs here;

Adding Audio Conferencing Services in Office 365 to your meeting experience

Decipher delegation: Nine things you should know (MSIgnite, BRK3007)

Configure custom policies in Skype for Business Online and Microsoft Teams

I would be glad to hear your observations about Teams and the future of collaboration. You can follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn

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