Still running Skype for Business? Time to upgrade to Microsoft Teams

If you are running Skype for Business Online, it’s time to do what a lot of businesses have already done: make the move and upgrade Microsoft Teams. Microsoft is retiring Skype for Business Online on July 31, and after that, it will no longer be accessible or supported. So, you need to start planning your upgrade to Microsoft Teams now. July 31 is less than five months away, and, fortunately, you will have the support of Microsoft along this journey in case you run into snags along the way.

Peaceful coexistence as you upgrade to Microsoft Teams

Just like you would run Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2016 in coexistence, the same applies to businesses running Skype for Business Online. You can run Skype for Business Online and Teams together, so you do not need to worry about having people offline as you upgrade to Microsoft Teams. There are a few different modes in which you can run coexistence:

  • Islands mode
  • Teams Only
  • Skype for Business only
  • Skype for Business with Teams collaboration

What do each of these modes mean:

Island mode

Island mode means that you will have an overlapping experience, this means you will have a Skype for Business client and a Teams client, each application is running on a separate island. There are some items that Skype for Business Online will handle which Teams does not handle:

  • External communication
  • PSTN voice services and voice applications
  • HID controls for USB devices
  • Other integrations

Take note that the phone system is not supported in Teams Island mode.

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Teams Only

This refers to a user that has been upgraded and has all the capabilities in Teams. Teams can talk to Skype for Business users in the organization but would need to run the Skype for Business client if they want to make calls, have chats, or meetings with other users that are using Skype for Business.

Skype for Business only

When an organization is running in coexistence mode, an end-user or users will remain on the Skype for Business platform and not teams for all meetings, chats, and calls. They will not use Teams for anything related to Teams.

Skype for Business with Teams collaboration

When you select this mode, you will be introducing Teams into your environment and everything in Skype for Business will stay unchanged like making calls or chats and organizing meetings. You can add Teams collaboration for the following:

  • Teams and Teams channels.
  • Allowing access to files that are in Office 365
  • Teams applications communication capabilities like calling, scheduling meetings, and private calls.

Take note that the bottom option is off by default in this mode.

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Shutterstock / Wikimedia

Before you can start with the upgrade of there are a few things you need to attend to:

  • Ensure that your environment has met all the prerequisites.
  • Check the questionnaire by Microsoft to confirm your organization’s readiness.
  • Prepare your network environment to cater to Teams workloads.
  • Prepare your onboarding checklists to ensure that your Teams configuration is ready before you migrate users from Skype for Business Online to Teams.

The questionnaire can be accessed from the following link.

Upgrading users from Skype for Business Online

Once your IT team has been certified and understands Microsoft Teams, and you have communicated the change coming to your end-users, you can now proceed with your upgrade. You have the option to go big bang and upgrade everyone, or you can upgrade users in stages until the migration is complete.

If you decide on upgrading all users at once ensure you follow these steps:

  • Set the coexistence mode to Teams Only for the entire organization.

If you decide to upgrade users in stages, then follow the following steps:

  • Identify the groups of users you are going to upgrade.
  • Send out a communication to the users.
  • Set the coexistence mode to Teams Only for these users that you decide to upgrade.
  • Repeat step one again.

Upgrading users from Skype for Business on-premises

If you are running Skype for Business server on-premises, you can move them to teams, but the process is slightly different than Skype for Business Online. The first thing you need to do is configure hybrid connectivity in your environment. There are a number of tasks that are out of scope for this article, but you can find the tasks outlined here.

You may also want to read about planning your hybrid connectivity here.

The end goal is to move users from Skype for Business on-premises to Teams Only and there is some more reading that you need to do to achieve this:

Once your migration from your on-premise Skype for Business server is complete, you can decommission your servers and clean up the clients on your end-users’ machines if they do not need it anymore.

Take note that the phone system with Microsoft Teams is only supported after the migrated user is in Teams Only mode.

Post-migration checks

Once everyone is in the cloud, you need to ensure that you monitor your network health as this affects the end-user experience.

Regularly check for new functionality in Teams by following the Teams Roadmap, as you might receive a request from an end-user, and you can advise them when it will be available in your region.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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