Insync Tech Talk , microsoft teams , skype for business , | 2020/05/27 at 10:11am

Clarification on Skype for business online end-of-service dates

We get asked regularly: “My organisation runs Skype for Business Online – what’s the story with end of life announcements?” amongst other questions, so we thought we would take the time to debunk and dispel any myths about the upcoming dates for the sunset of the Skype for Business Online service.

To be clear, this is purely for the Online Service, and not the on-premises server version. This is still governed by the Microsoft Lifecycle Policy: Skype for Business Server 2015 and Skype for Business Server 2019. Both these products have extended support until 14th of October 2025.

 

What is the actual end-date for Skype for Business Online?

The service will cease to work on/about the 31st of July, 2021. For larger organisations, this isn’t that far away. This will mean that if you aren’t migrated to Microsoft Teams by that date, Skype for Business Online client may not work or even if it does work, may have curtailed functionality. It would be best to plan for total functionality loss/connection for this date.

 

What does this mean for my Skype for Business devices?

Many devices that were used with Skype for Business (that is, can successfully sign in against Skype for Business Online) will also continue to function with Teams, but there are some caveats and exceptions:

  • “Audio only” devices such as the Polycom VVX series will continue to sign in and provide basic calling capability, but more advanced features like answering Call Queue calls will not work (more on what is supported and what isn’t here).
  • Software on audio only Polycom Trio devices that were used with Skype for Business can be upgraded to native Microsoft Teams software
  • Polycom Group series and Polycom Trio devices (that are deployed with Visual+ for video) cannot natively connect to Teams, they will need to use an interop service to support joining scheduled Microsoft Teams meetings.

The following table outlines some of more common devices that are deployed with Skype for Business, and how they are supported with Microsoft Teams:

 

Device Mode Functionality
Poly VVX series Skype for Business Online mode only (Cannot be upgraded to Teams code) Basic calling
Poly Trio series (audio only) Can be upgraded to Teams code Standard Teams Phone (Android) features
Poly Group series Native Skype for Business mode or standard mode Use Poly RealConnect to connect to Microsoft Teams meetings.
Poly Trio series (audiovideo endpoint) Native Skype for Business mode or standard mode Use Poly RealConnect to connect to Microsoft Teams meetings.
Yealink T4x series Skype for Business Online mode (Cannot be upgraded to Teams code) Basic calling
Yealink T5x series Firmware upgrade to Teams Standard Teams Phone (Android) features

How long can I use 3PIP or older phones?

All current 3PIP Phones (Mostly the Poly VVX, Audiocodes, Yealink) will be supported until July 31st, 2023. This means you can run these phones as “Skype for Business Online” device until this date. This date is further out than the Skype for Business Online Service date, due to the fact it can be used with Microsoft Teams via the gateway service in the Microsoft cloud. Prior to this date, we would recommend these devices be replaced with Microsoft Teams native devices.

 

What about Lync Phone Edition?

If you’re still using Lync Phone Edition (LPE) devices with on-premises users, these will need to be replaced. These will not connect to the Microsoft cloud.

 

What about Skype for Business Hybrid functionality? Does this go away with the July 31st 2021 announcement?

Yes and no. Microsoft guidance is if you are using the Skype for Business Hybrid functionality, users should be migrated to Microsoft Teams prior to July 31st 2021. This means users in the cloud should migrate to Teams, and users on-premises will stay as is. The tooling for migrations from on-premises Skype for Business Servers will remain after July 31st 2021.

Upgrade paths for hybrid configurations built around principles of coexistence and interoperability will remain after the retirement of Skype for Business Online”. For more information, see Coexistence with Skype for Business and Understand Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business coexistence and interoperability.

 

What about Cloud Voicemail – if I am using Skype for Business Server?

This will still be supported post July 31st 2021 and is covered by this support statement:

Upgrade paths for hybrid configurations built around principles of coexistence and interoperability will remain after the retirement of Skype for Business Online”. For more information, see Coexistence with Skype for Business and Understand Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business coexistence and interoperability.

Cloud voicemail can continue to be utilised after the July 31st 2021 date.

 

What about if I am running Cloud Connector Edition?

Customers in this scenario should definitely look to migrate to Microsoft Teams. Cloud Connector infrastructure will cease to work when the Skype for Business Online service is retired. We would recommend that customers look to utilise Direct Routing which in most cases can be done without any major hardware/software changes. Customers will need to migrate their users to the Microsoft Teams client and decommission any use of Skype for Business client in these environments.

 

The migration

A complete guide on the transition and upgrade process is detailed here.

Remember, the migration to Teams is not just a technical migration. As Microsoft put it succinctly:

Upgrading from Skype for Business to Teams is more than a technical migration. It represents a transformation in how users communicate and collaborate, and change is not always easy. The ideal upgrade approach should address the technical aspects of your upgrade as well as encourage user acceptance and adoption of Teams, driving a positive user experience and business outcome realization.

Don’t wait til June 2021 to plan your migration. Get in early, get advice and a plan together to make this migration as smooth as possible! Contact us if you need guidance.

Damien Margaritis