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Skype for Business Online is being retired soon, are you ready?

We’re only a couple months away from Skype for Business Online’s retirement (July 31, 2021). Many organizations have been proactive with moving their users off of the service, however, some organizations may have been procrastinating for the past two years in making the switch to Microsoft Teams so now they are faced with scrambling to get everyone moved over to Microsoft Teams before its retirement at the end of July. If you fit into the latter, all hope is not yet lost, as Microsoft has some great resources and options as you plan your transition to Microsoft Teams, which we’ll discuss in today’s blog.

What happens once Skype for Business Online retires?

According to Microsoft, “after Skype for Business Online retires on July 31, 2021, the service will no longer be accessible.”  Something else worth mentioning, for services that integrate with Skype for Business Online, will no longer be supported after July 31st. This includes support for third-party audio conferencing providers (ACP), Skype for Business Online Cloud Connector Edition (CCE), hybrid voice configurations, and Skype Meeting Broadcast. In addition, you’ll no longer be able to move online users out of Teams Only mode after July 31, 2021. For example, if you’re in a coexistence mode you should currently see several different options to choose from (Islands, SfB Only, Teams Only, Skype for Business w/ Teams Collaboration, and Skype for Business w/ Teams Collaboration and Meetings (Meetings First). Going forward, once your users are on Teams Only you won’t have the option of moving them back to one of the Skype for Business Online based options. Microsoft allows customers to use the coexistence modes as a stepping stone for getting to the cloud (Teams Only). With that said, if, at all possible, you shouldn’t be using the coexistence modes as an end-state for your organization, as support for coexistence modes could be deprecated at a later time and you’d find yourself scrambling to get to Teams Only mode in the end. For those reasons alone, Microsoft has made it exceedingly easier to move directly to Teams Only from Skype for Business Server, provided you have configured hybrid connectivity between Skype for Business Server and Microsoft 365. However, Microsoft hasn’t stopped there, for those of you still on Skype for Business Online (hybrid or cloud-only), Microsoft will be scheduling assisted upgrades to help you make the jump to Microsoft Teams!

Let Microsoft help get you to Teams

As mentioned, Microsoft will be offering help with getting your organization to Microsoft Teams, however, there are a few caveats that should be mentioned:

  1. You must be in a hybrid or cloud-only deployment state (sorry you on-premises Skype for Business server folks)
  2. Microsoft will only provide “last mile” technical steps with your transition to Microsoft Teams (more info on this in the coming weeks)
  3. The upgrade duration will vary depending on user volume. Obviously the larger the volume, the longer the upgrade duration. However, Microsoft states that most customers can easily be upgraded within 24 hours from the start of the upgrade

Now that we’ve gotten those caveats out of the way let’s discuss what this assisted program has to offer. Microsoft has started to offer this assisted upgrade to Teams program as a way to reduce the number of technical tasks that you as the customer need to do and also allows for a greater focus on end-user training, awareness, and overall preparedness. If you have signed up for the assisted upgrade to Teams you will receive a series of upgrade notifications. You’ll start seeing these notifications 90 days prior to the scheduled upgrade date. You should see these notifications displayed as “Plan for Change” posts within the Microsoft 365 Message Center, Teams Admin Center, and as in-app flags to end-users. From a post-upgrade end-user experience, users will need to sign out of their Skype for Business Online client, they will begin to utilize the Teams client for messaging, meetings, and calling. To break things down further:

  • Chat and Calling
    • All calls and chats are started and received in Teams
    • Users can communicate (chat/call) with any Skype for Business user
    • Organizations can enable Teams users to communicate with users of the Skype consumer service by managing external access permissions
    • Teams users who attempt to sign in to Skype for Business Online will be redirected to Teams
  • Meetings
    • Users schedule all new meetings in Teams (plugin replaced)
    • Existing Skype for Business Online meetings are converted to Teams meetings
  • Migrated Data
    • Existing contacts from Skype for Business Online including federated (but no distribution lists)

On the backend, the coexistence mode will be set to Teams Only for those users and can only be changed to a different coexistence mode by Microsoft. To get the full breakdown and more information on your upgrade to Teams Only, I’d recommend that you check out the Microsoft Docs page here which gives you all the information you’ll need in your journey to Teams! If you’ve been putting off the upgrade for the past two years, don’t wait another minute, get started today!

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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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