Friday, January 30, 2015

Introduction to Skype for Business

Today Microsoft Sweden invited us to the office in Kista to get an introduction to Skype for business and to have lunch. Niklas Dahlgren, Arifur Rahman, Emelie Ekblad and Andreas Svanberg from Microsoft were presenting. Martin Lidholm was talking about how to successfully roll out a collaboration platform, and Mats Lillenberg from Länsstyrelserna was talking about their Lync 2010 installation. Thanks Guys!

Why is Lync becoming Skype for business?
More people are familiar with the "Skype" brand rather than Lync, which is one rationale behind the name change. It is easier for people to explain what Skype is, rather than what Lync is. Skype for business will use Skype's colors and logo.

This is the third name change of the product.
LCS 2003 - LCS 2005 - OCS 2007 - Lync 2010 - Lync 2013 - Skype for business

In Swedish the product will be known as "Skype för företag" since "for business" is a translatable term.

Why do people like Skype so much?
  • Skype calls are free!
  • Lync 2013 (S4B) and Skype video calling is already available
  • Realtime translation of text and voice is available in Skype (beta) today

What is "Skype for Business" to be released in the "first half of 2015"?
  • A new client (for Windows supporting the SILK codec, no new client for Mac)
  • A new server
  • Updates to Office 365

All functionality of Lync 2013 will still be present in Skype for business.

Support for SQL Server Always On

Better performance and stability using Windows Fabric 3.x

One new server role will be included in this release, the VIS, Video Interoperability Server role. No content sharing between Cisco VTC and S4B will be available (S4B uses RDP for sharing - Cisco uses a video stream)

Call via work will still be there, but will it ever be used in Sweden?

Broadcast meetings / Large Meeting support / auditorium style meetings.
Will be a cloud solution using Microsoft Azure, even if all connected users are internal.
It will support more than 250 users, but not defined now exactly how many users that will be supported. Probably will more functionality be introduced in this way.

Support for federation with "consumer Skype" users who have a SkypeID or an MSA, with a directory search. However there will be no search from Skype into Skype for business.
Skype / Lync 2013 video is already available.

Consistent Conversation history across devices (Exchange and S4B are integrated tighter.)

Some type of web RTC, voice and video via a webpage, will be supported.

"Native" PSTN connectivity will be available in Lync Online later in 2015, but in the US of A, not in Sweden :-(

Certified devices have always been important in Lync, this will continue in S4B. S4B will not adopt the laissez faire Skype consumer approach. The consumer version of Skype has a test tool that will verify if the connected device is good enough. Certified or qualified? Qualified or optimized? There is a difference but this is mainly American legal mumbo-jumbo and should not even be discussed in Sweden (in my opinion). SIP Trunks and PBXs are certified, headsets are qualified. There are significant quality differences even between different qualified headsets (you get what you pay for.) The qualified program is only for Windows devices and not for devices connected to iOS or Mac.

How good is the new in-place upgrade process?
It "should" work, but of course it depends on the existing system. A side-by-side migration can be performed in case you do not really trust the in place upgrade.

A question on usability from an organization with 35% of users on Windows and 65% Mac users was asked. The current Lync client for Mac is not to great, when will a new better Mac client be released? Mac users will unfortunately still have to use the existing Mac Lync client with the S4B Server. Skype to S4B video calling will not work on Mac.

Not much is new in administration, same tools as for Lync 2013 will remain.
Some new improved reporting will come later on.

When will S4B be released? "Soon", "in the first half of 2015".
In the Office Summit tour more information will be presented further on.

(Hope to see you guys in Amsterdam on February 11-12!)

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