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Partners: 5 Reasons Microsoft Is Smart To Ditch Skype For Business Online

Microsoft will be prompting businesses to switch their workplace collaboration solution to Teams, with Skype for Business set to retire in two years.

Two years from today, Microsoft will bring an end to the era of Skype for Business Online.

In its place in Office 365, the company will be prompting businesses to migrate to Microsoft Teams--which includes group chats, instant messaging and video/audio meetings, along with integration of Microsoft and third-party applications.

[Related: The 9 Biggest Microsoft Announcements At Inspire 2019]

The workplace collaboration transition will be complete as of July 31, 2021, when Skype for Business Online will be retired and no longer accessible, Microsoft disclosed this week. Skype for Business Online originally launched in 2014, while Teams debuted in 2017.

Partners applauded the announcement, sharing a number of positives they see in the move with CRN this week.

What follows are five reasons from partners on why Microsoft is smart to shift to Teams in place of Skype for Business Online.

Better Brand, Better Integrations

For starters, “the Skype for Business brand never took off,” said Robby Hill, CEO of Florence, S.C.-based HillSouth.

Using the name “Skype for Business” for the application “was confusing since the Skype name is synonymous with the consumer service Skype," Hill said in an email to CRN.

Additionally, "Teams is a rapidly evolving platform that has better integration with Microsoft SharePoint than Skype ever offered," he said.

A Modern Collaboration Solution

Teams is "a platform built for the cloud, versus the Skype platform that was not necessarily initially architected for cloud," said Ric Opal, principal at Oak Brook, Ill.-based SWC Technology Partners, a BDO USA LLP company. "You've got a mobile experience that's elegant and that was made for mobile, if you will."

Teams also harmonizes with changing workforce demographics, which are creating more demand in the workplace for the sort of interface offered by the collaboration app, Opal said.

"It's not like you're monitoring an inbox. It's more like you're interacting in social media, which I think a lot of people find to be more appealing," he said.

Teams Is Ready

The transition from Skype for Business to Teams has been widely expected, said Jim Banach, practice group lead for workplace at Washington, D.C.-based New Signature, No. 407 on the CRN Solution Provider 500.

"Directionally, Microsoft has been sharing this path with customers and partners for a few years now, and has put this into practice for smaller customers for a few months now," Banach said in an email to CRN. "It’s good to see that they are setting a direction for all customers now."

The Teams app has received "rapid feature advancements in the last year," he noted.

"This announcement shows that Microsoft has the confidence that Teams is ready for customers that have made the decision to bring their communications and collaboration solutions to the Microsoft cloud," Banach said.

Momentum For Teams

Earlier this month, Microsoft said that Teams has 13 million daily active users--representing the first disclosure of daily usage metrics for the Teams app.

Teams competes first and foremost with Slack, which reported having 10 million daily active users as of late January.

"It doesn’t hurt that Teams has also been more widely deployed than its competitor Slack," Hill said.

Partner Opportunities

On the partner side, "the opportunity is massive" with the Teams transition to provide everything from security and compliance, to application development, to user enablement and adoption, Opal said.

"The need for the user to understand and buy in is critical. Because unless you've got 100 percent buy-in, you don't have 100 percent return," he said.

Ultimately, Hill said, "we see good things for the Teams product as part of Microsoft’s business collaboration strategy and cloud business and look forward to helping to make sure customers are properly converted well before the end of life for Skype for Business."

Microsoft "has done a good job at letting partners know this move is coming," said Miguel Zamarripa, CIO of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Simpleworks IT, in an email to CRN. "The overall look and feel of Microsoft Teams is a more user friendly vs. Skype in an internal chat situation."

Two years also gives Microsoft "plenty of time to work out the remaining bugs in Teams and introduce users to new features," Zamarripa said. "Additionally, this time frame also allows Skype users plenty of time to get familiar with Teams and move their contacts and data into the new platform."

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