Skype for Business Online Is Going End of Life: Are you prepared?

Sreeraj Vasukuttan
Sreeraj Vasukuttan

Back in July of 2019, Microsoft announced Skype for Business Online end of life. On July 21, 2021, Microsoft will completely turn off Skype for Business Online. Unlike the Windows 7 end of life, this time, Microsoft is not offering Extended Support Updates. Instead, Microsoft suggests that Skype for Business Online customers upgrade to Microsoft Teams. Why? Teams now supports all of the Skype for Business Online features—messaging, meetings, and calling.

What will happen if you do not take any action at all? Will all of the Skype for Business users under your tenant be automatically switched over to Microsoft Teams? Well, Yes and No. 

Currently, Microsoft does not offer a scheduled upgrade for organizations—except for smaller customers who may not have dedicated IT resources. Instead, Microsoft offers comprehensive guidance and resources for customers who want to upgrade their Skype for Business users to Teams.

With less than a year left until the deadline, I would urge you to start your migration to Teams while you still have some time left.


A Smooth Transition

You may have heard this before: “Moving users from Skype for Business Online to Teams is more than a technical upgrade.” It is true, especially since the users come from a Skype for Business + Outlook world. Your users will be going through a cultural transition in the way they work. When Teams becomes their new hub for work, they will have to transition from an email- and Skype-based workplace to a chat-based workplace. They will have to familiarize themselves with new concepts like channels, tabs, and apps.

Related: Moving to Microsoft Teams: How Does It Compare to Skype for Business?

Microsoft recommends that you do an organizational change readiness assessment to see how much time you need to make a complete transition. This also will give you a sense of the amount of training your employees may require. An assessment will also allow you the opportunity to choose the right Skype for Business Online and Teams co-existence strategy. For example, if your users need some time to get used to the new Teams capabilities, you may have them start with Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration mode. This will allow them to continue using familiar Skype capabilities. Teams itself would be reserved for collaborating in channels, files, and applications. 

Technical Readiness Needs Time 

There are many things for your IT teams to consider before you upgrade your users. First, you must assess your Microsoft 365 / Office 365 infrastructure with associated on-prem technologies—such as SharePoint. You then need to make sure that your network is ready for heavy workloads such as meetings and calls. Teams works best when you have a strong network supporting it. The next step is to ask the following question regarding your meeting and calling infrastructure:

  • How will your Skype for Business Server (which is not retiring on July 31, 2021) installation affect an upgrade plan? 
  • What additional licenses do you own for Skype for Business Online and Skype for Business Server that enable VOIP and PSTN capabilities for your Skype for Business infrastructure? Can you reuse them for Teams? How can you successfully transition those licenses to Teams? 
  • Can I reuse my existing Skype for Business calling and meeting devices—like headsets and conference room equipment—in Teams? 

As you can see, there is a lot for your IT department to figure out. Giving them enough time to transition also means that they can prepare. The readiness assessment also includes preparing your IT Teams in the following: 

  • Microsoft Teams admin training on Office 365 / Microsoft 365 admin center
  • Setting up a support desk for handling Microsoft Teams tickets
  • Assessing your capacity to troubleshoot Teams-based issues


Next Steps: 

Our Microsoft Teams services will considerably reduce the pressure of the transition on your organization. Our Microsoft Teams Rapid Readiness Service can help you quickly assess your environment and determine your overall readiness for a Teams rollout. This advisory service will also provide a roadmap, business/technical requirements, deployment best practices, and design considerations. 

Based on the recommendation from the Teams Rapid Readiness Service, Connection offers Skype for Busines Online to Teams Migration Services as well. We utilize a proven framework to ensure both the technical implementation and end-user experience are a success. There are many paths an organization can take when transitioning to Teams. We will lay a solid foundation for Teams, ensuring the proper policies and governance are in place before the end-user migration. There is no one-size-fits-all migration plan. Organizations may have specific requirements. Our services provide the flexibility you need to implement changes customized to fit your business goals. Reach out to an Account Manager to learn more about our Skype for Business Online to Teams Services. 

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Sreeraj Vasukuttan

Sreeraj Vasukuttan is a Product Marketing Coordinator at Connection. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his family. He also enjoys, reading, watching movies, gardening, and kayaking.

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