Microsoft to replace Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams?

Found in the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “team” is defined loosely as “people together doing something”, and that’s exactly my take on it.

15 September 2017

Try looking up “team” in a thesaurus and you get synonyms like club, squad, bunch, troupe, organisation, gang, and the best one – party!

Interestingly, if the rumours are correct, Teams is set to be the next big thing from Microsoft. Microsoft Ignite starts in Florida on the 25th September, and searching through the sessions shows 45 tagged with Teams content and 75 tagged with Skype for Business content. Something big is afoot.

Roll back to July at Microsoft Inspire in Washington DC and neither product had that much coverage in the main sessions, so I wonder what is going to be announced. Over the last year or so, Teams has been introduced into the Office 365 suite and has slowly grown in functionality. “Skype” itself is listed in the Oxford English dictionary, making dropping the brand a very brave move from Microsoft. However, Skype for Business may not be the only one, as the below Microsoft Ignite bio suggests Cloud PBX is also on its way out:

“BRK2038, Cloud Voice is an integral part of Microsoft Office 365. This session will give you insight into the feature set and roadmap of Microsoft’s Phone System (formerly Cloud PBX), and Calling Plan (formerly PSTN Calling) and how it matches the needs of your company.”[1]

Furthermore, there is an additional session that looks like a new a new mobile communication and collaboration client is being created:

“BRK2302, Collaboration on the go with Microsoft Teams mobile apps.  Microsoft Teams is a chat based work-space within Office 365, and we have been enabling powerful collaboration experiences on our mobile apps. Learn how your organization can use the mobile apps for 1:1 and group chat, meeting face to face, team conversations. Make it a hub for teamwork when on the go – work with documents, view content in meetings, interact with chat bots and lot more – while securing your precious corporate data.”[2]

Is Teams The Corporate Dream?

There are plenty of clues regarding what’s to come as you look through the sessions. For me, this “chat-based workspace” is intriguing. In the corporate world, I know from experience that large amount of chats turn into phone calls, and often ad hoc meetings. So, will Teams be the new platform where we’ll have everything in the same place? Add in Security, GDPR Compliance, Cloud Services and easier management into a single vendor solution and I’m starting to think maybe, just maybe…

I have spent years talking through the Microsoft UC offering. I certified in LCS way back in 2005 and have been with the technology through OCS, Lync 2010 and 2013 and the rebrand to Skype for Business and, most recently, the addition of Cloud PBX. With that experience and Security, Compliance and Operational concerns in mind, it really makes you question how Teams can replace a Hybrid Cloud PBX/Skype for Business solution.

But then I look at Microsoft. I was a C programmer many years ago, even a fully certified Oracle DBA. I laughed at SQL Server in the early 90’s; my Oracle RDBMS was king. Now SQL Server is the dominant and de facto standard. LCS has evolved to become a PBX killer; is Teams just the next incarnation?

The Verdict

I don’t play poker and never really call the cards, but on this occasion I think I should. I can’t see both Skype for Business and Teams coexisting as separate products. I can, however, see Teams being the preferred dominant option for Cloud-ready corporations. I think the Skype Server will still exist to support and be an interface for all the non-standard and unsupported voice services an organisation will require outside of the pure Cloud. But I see this fading as generations retire, replacing older solutions with pure Cloud-based technologies.

Skype for Business will one day become just a plain old Cloud service, as technology advancements are always about “when”, not “what”. In my mind we’re at another junction on the Microsoft UC journey, and it’s exciting to speculate about what’s around the next corner. Who knows, Microsoft may redefine the word “Teams” in the same way that “Skype” redefined communication.

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