Microsoft announced that Skype for Business Online will retire July 31, 2021. For organizations still using Skype for Business Online, this means that between now and July 31, 2021, no changes will be made to the Skype for Business service, and communication may continue as usual. However, after July 31, 2021, according to Microsoft, “. . . it (Skype for Business) will no longer be accessible or supported. We encourage Skype for Business Online customers to start using Microsoft Teams and begin planning their upgrades now to allow ample time to complete upgrade prior to the retirement date.”*

What if we are using the on-premise version?

Organizations using Skype for Business Server (on-premise), Microsoft’s announcement does not apply, as the on-premise version is not being retired in 2021. Microsoft introduced Skype for Business Server 2019 in the fall 2018. Extended support for Skype for Business Server 2019 ends on Oct. 14, 2025.

What if we are new to Office 365?

For new customers who subscribe to Office 365, this means you will automatically adopt Teams.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Teams is a powerful communications platform, the fastest growing suite in Microsoft. It is comprised of (and improves upon) all of Skype for Business’ chatting and meeting capabilities, as well as includes additional built-in collaboration features to enhance the modern workplace experience, including (but not limited to):

  • Group/Team Instant Messaging and Video Conferencing – Have conversations right where the work is happening, whether coauthoring a document, or working together in other apps. Teams is the place to have informal chats or set up formal voice or video meetings.
  • Cloud Voice/Telephony – Teams has all of the rich calling features and capabilities that Skype for Business offers while augmenting the experience with real-time sharing.
  • Collaboration Tools Hub – Connect to a variety of apps and tools while also collaborating with your various teams, all through one interface.

Microsoft is encouraging all Office 365 customers to use Teams in parallel with Skype for Business to ensure users are familiar with the Teams platform. Once the organization is familiar with the new platform, then migration discussions should begin.

How long does it take to migrate?

To ensure your organization has proper time to implement your upgrade, consider its size. Microsoft suggests that smaller organizations could migrate in as little as six to eight weeks; while larger organizations could take upwards of 30 weeks.

How do you get started?

Set the foundation for success by engaging in a transition assessment and roadmap. As transition assessment normally involve both technical and business users, it will be important to know and understand a combination of the technical activities involved, as well as the user adoption activities necessary to drive a positive experience.

Sierra Systems can help with your transition. As the #1 Canadian Microsoft Teams partner, we have the qualifications and expertise to support all your transition needs, including: planning, network readiness check, migration planning and implementation, change management, training and support services.

We encourage you to begin your journey to Teams today, in order to stay ahead of the technology curve. Teams is expanding rapidly, so why not adopt now and grow as Teams grows?

Contact us today and take advantage of a free 2-day Microsoft Teams Work Assessment, so we can get your business where you need to be, seamlessly and quickly.

*https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/faq-journey

About the Author: Stacy Wong
Stacy is a Business Systems Analyst Advisor with over 15 years of experience, specializing in Microsoft Office 365 implementations, and custom development. She has held lead roles in various industries across Canada, including airport, automotive, energy, oil and gas and Government. Her background includes integrations of enterprise solutions, renewals of legacy applications and guidance on enterprise-level strategy, governance and information architecture.

About the Author: Bruce Tuncertan
Bruce is a Technology Associate Director at Sierra Systems and possesses over 25 year experience in the Information Technology field.