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New date for discontinuation of support for SBC in Exchange UM

Well, Microsoft likes to keep us on our toes. You may remember my blog post from back in February when I stated that Microsoft announced the end of support for Exchange Online Unified Messaging for 3rd party PBX connections via SBC (Session Border Controller) would be “discontinued July of 2018. Well… Microsoft has changed that date once again and provided some additional information regarding this change.
According to the Microsoft Exchange Team blog post from TechNet, they state that after receiving concern from partners and customers on this change they announced that they would grant extra time to prepare for this change. The new date for discontinuation will now be April 30, 2019. “Customers with existing deployments remain fully supported until this date. However, Microsoft strongly advises all customers to begin their voicemail transition now.” As mentioned in my previous blog post, the following configurations are not affected by this change:

  • Office 365. We believe the best option for customers is to transition to the cloud and use Office 365. This would include the enterprise voice workload and Cloud Voicemail. Customers would use Microsoft Teams for collaboration and voice services.
  • Skype for Business Server. In this configuration, customers would deploy an on-premises Skype for Business server and take advantage of the services for voicemail supported by the server.
  • 3rd Party Voicemail System. With this approach, the customer acquires a 3rd party voicemail system that provides all the capabilities required to process voicemail and then place it in the user’s Exchange mailbox

With that said, you have 3 options that Microsoft currently supports:

  1. Complete migration from 3rd party on-premises PBX to Office 365 Cloud PBX.
  2. Complete migration from 3rd party on-premises PBX to Skype for Business Server Enterprise Voice on-premises.
  3. For customers with no Skype for Business Server deployment or for whom the solutions above are not appropriate, implement a 3rd party voicemail system.

You may remember that Microsoft used to support a 4th option of “Customers with a mixed deployment of 3rd party PBX and Skype for Business, connect the PBX to Skype for Business Server using a connector from a Microsoft partner, and continue using Exchange Online UM through that connector. For example, TE-SYSTEMS’ any node UM connector can be used for that purpose”. As of February 2018, Microsoft has stated that this is no longer a supported alternative. Microsoft likes to emphasize that they do not plan on certifying this as a plausible solution. Their reasoning for not supporting this alternative is due to the fact that the 3rd party provider being your primary source of support for those solutions, so Microsoft suggests you work with that vendor to ensure longevity and support for that solution if you choose to go that route.
Make sure to check back for more regularly, as I’m sure Microsoft will provide more updates on this subject.

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