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Upgrading to Microsoft Teams: IT Admin Edition (Part 1)

If you’ve read my previous blogs, I talked a lot about the upgrade process from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. However, this covered the overall planning process but did not cover what things would look like from an IT administrator perspective. Well, lucky for you that is what we’ll be covering in this blog! So, if your organization is planning on upgrading to Microsoft Teams and you are the IT admin responsible for getting them there, then this is the blog for you!

Upgrading to Microsoft Teams

So when we use the term “upgrade” what does that even mean? Well, in this sense it means that as an administrator you will be assigning the ‘TeamsUpgradePolicy‘ of ‘TeamsOnly‘ to a particular user. For this to complete successfully that particular user must have their account homed in Skype for Business Online. Without this, you will be unable to assign the TeamsUpgradePolicy of TeamsOnly mode to a user that has their Skype for Business accounted homed on-premises. Great, your end user has met these prerequisites and they are now assigned the TeamsUpgradePolicy of TeamsOnly coexistence mode!

What changed?

So what has changed? Simply put, the routing of all calls and chats to that particular user will land in Teams, regardless of where it was initiated. What about your poor old Skype for Business client? Well… now it will restrict itself to serve as just a meetings-only client. In addition, your meeting scheduling will switch over to Teams so the Outlook add-in will only show the Teams add-in and the Skype for Business add-in will be gone. Something else to note will be the change in how your presence functions. Teams will now be the owner of your presence status, so any changes in Teams presence will reflect within Skype for Business. Something else you may not notice right away will be your updated contact list in Teams. After the upgrade, all of your Skype for Business contacts will carry over to your Teams client upon your next logon. You will notice some minor changes to your Outlook People cards, as they will now invoke the Teams functionality for your IM/Calling/Presence. Lastly, your HID (Human Interface Device) preferences for inputs on your audio devices will be updated to reflect Microsoft Teams as the primary application. Your HID preferences will include things such as your headset’s mute/hangup button.

What data is being migrated?

We’ve covered what is changing from the client/end user perspective, but let’s go a step deeper and discuss what types of data is being migrated when switching from Skype for Business to Teams. As we mentioned in the previous section, contacts will be carried over from your Skype for Business client to your Teams client upon being upgraded. However, something we didn’t mention is that this is done in 2 phases:

  1. At first logon to Teams, contacts are copied from Skype to Business Online to Teams
  2. At next Teams logon after being upgraded to Teams-only coexistence mode, contacts will be copied to Teams and merged with your existing contacts

After both of those phases have been completed, Teams will then serve as the authoritative source for your contacts. However, this does present some caveats for our Skype for Business on-premises folks. If you are currently using Teams in a side-by-side (Islands) approach where your Skype for Business account is homed on-premises you won’t see the contacts in the Teams application. This is because your contacts are moved to Skype for Business Online as part of the Move-CsUser cmdlet and then the 2 phases mentioned above are applied. However, if you aren’t in Skype for Business Online then the Teams client won’t have any of the contacts that are currently in the Skype for Business on-premises client until that user has been fully upgraded to the Teams-only mode.

What about my meetings?

As for meetings, they will be migrated from Skype for Business to Teams via the MMS (Meeting Migration Service). You may be familiar with this tool if you’ve done a Skype for Business on-premises to Skype for Business Online migration. However, if you’re new to MMS, it is responsible for updating your meetings in the following scenarios:

  • When a user is migrated from Skype for Business on-premises to Skype for Business Online
  • When an admin makes a change to the user’s audio-conferencing settings
  • When an admin runs the ‘Start-CsExMeetingMigration’ cmdlet
  • When a user is upgraded to TeamsOnly or granted SfBWithTeamsCollabAndMeetings (Meetings First) modes (*NEW UPDATE FOR MMS*)

MMS Considerations

As an additional reminder/note, MMS can be controlled on a tenant-wide level or user level if need be. Often times MMS is only needed in specific scenarios, so having the flexibility to turn on/off the functionality as well as assign this on a per-user basis can be a godsend for us administrators! However, there are a few limitations you should be aware of prior to using MMS in your organization. The first thing you’ll need in order to use MMS in the first place, is Exchange Online. Unfortunately, if you have Exchange on-premises you won’t be able to utilize MMS and instead you will need to use the MMT (Meeting Migration Tool). The MMT is a client-side tool that does meeting conversions with the add-in inside of Outlook and will need to be run on each PC, which can be quite the hassle as you can imagine. Microsoft is currently working on ways to extend MMS capabilities into Exchange on-premises, unfortunately they just aren’t there yet. Another limitation of MMS is that it does not work with users enabled for third party ACP. Since third party ACP has been retired by Microsoft, this may be a moot point. The final limitation of MMS that you should be aware of is that MMS cannot be used to go back from a Teams meeting to a Skype for Business meeting. So just know once MMS has been completed, there is no going back :).

Note: MMS will kick in when coexistence modes are applied on a per-user level. If the coexistence mode is applied on a tenant-wide level, then MMS will not kick off. If you want to kick this off for all users after switching to TeamsOnly coexistence mode, you’ll need to run the Start-CsExMeetingMigration cmdlet to kick this off for all users. 

Skype for Business On-premises considerations

If you are already in Skype for Business Online then feel free to skip this section, however if you currently have a Skype for Business Server on-premises deployment, then pay special attention! For you on-prem folks that eventually intent on getting your users to Teams-Only mode, you’ll need to have the following things in place:

  • Ensure proper synchronization between on-premises Active Directory and Azure Active Directory
    • Includes the synchronization of all msRTCSIP attributes from on-premises environment
  • Hybrid/split domain must be configured between your on-premises environment and the Office 365 tenant
    • This will allow the sharing of your SIP domain between the on-prem server and online service

For those of you that have a heavy footprint in the Skype for Business Server on-premises environment, there is nothing holding you back from just going out and deploying Microsoft Teams in your environment. However, if you intend on going this route there are a few caveats that come with this approach. The first being that you won’t be able to assign the Teams-Only mode to an on-premises user. This will be blocked as part of the ‘Grant-CsTeamsUpgradePolicy’ cmdlet in PowerShell as well as within the Teams Admin Center, so don’t even try ;). The second being that your users will have no interoperability or federation from within their Teams client. Instead, your users will be forced to use their Skype for Business client. To dig into this a bit deeper, I encourage you to check out one of my past blogs where I break down interop and federation in Teams.

Getting to Teams from Skype for Business on-premises

Time for the meat and potatoes of the blog article, actually executing the commands to get you to Teams! The migration process can be done in one of two ways. The first method mentioned below is a one step migration whereas method #2 will require two steps. Either way, they will result in the same end goal of getting you to Microsoft Teams!

Method 1: Use the Move-CsUser along with the -MoveToTeams parameter which is available in Skype for Business Server 2019 & Skype for Business Server 2015 CU8+

This method will take the Skype for Business account from the on-premises environment and move it into Office 365 and then automatically assign the TeamsOnly coexistence mode. At the same time, all meetings will be converted from Skype for Business meetings to Teams meetings!

Method 2: Let’s say you don’t have Skype for Business 2019 or Skype for Business Server 2015 CU8+ and don’t have the ability to install the admin tools with those particular versions then you can resort to this method. In this method you will just use Move-CsUser and move the user from Skype for Business to Skype for Business Online. From there you will assign the TeamsUpgradePolicy of UpgradeToTeams which is the TeamsOnly coexistence mode.

In this method your meetings will first be moved to Skype for Business Online and then they will be converted to Teams meetings. As mentioned earlier, both of these methods will give you the same end result of you being migrated to Microsoft Teams, so just follow whichever method suites your organization best!

This concludes today’s blog article on upgrading to Microsoft Teams for our IT Admins. In the next blog we’ll wrap things up by showing you the Teams Admin Center upgrade process on an org-wide level as well as a per-user level. In addition, we’ll give you the tools to do this process via PowerShell if you’d rather script this instead. I hope you have found today’s blog helpful and I encourage you to check out Microsoft’s resources for this content, here.

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Brian Siefferman

Brian is a Technical Consultant for Perficient’s Unified Communications practice focusing primarily on Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams workloads. He has been in this role since December 2017 and has an active presence blogging about all things Teams related. Currently, Brian resides in the suburbs of Chicago and enjoys running, swimming, weight lifting, and playing soccer in his free time.

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