The New Future of Collaboration — Skype for Business

In a recent Twitter conversation, the Microsoft Lync handle @msftLync was tagged, and after a few back and forth messages with others, I received this:

@ We recommend reading our blog for additional information. Stay tuned for updates.

And with this, I decided to write an article about Skype for business.

When Skype entered the market almost ten years ago it literally broke down the distance barrier by bringing people together — from all across the country and the world. People’s lives were drastically changed as they were able to clearly communicate online over video with friends and family to celebrate a birthday, talk about the kids (as well as show them on-screen) and create extraordinary bonds. On the roadmap ahead, Skype will be that and much more. While it’s been long been considered by many as more of a consumer video conferencing application (even though it has been somewhat popular in the SMB and overseas markets), it looks like now the tide is turning.

Skype is used by more than 300 million people for messaging, calling and sharing. From desktop, to mobile to TV, it’s for communicating throughout the day — during the week and on the weekend. Skype, as Microsoft positions it, is a “universal symbol of togetherness.”

Microsoft over the past ten years has disrupted the markets with Lync by unifying all of the different tools people used to communicate for work. Lync had become a core part of Office which has now provided major cloud strategy in terms of collaboration, storage and file share for the enterprise. Lync essentially makes it easy for business people to connect with others to get work done. It gave businesses the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere. Colleagues meet together and make decisions in an instant, and IT professionals know their end-users are fully supported by a secure platform that they can effortlessly manage and control.

Today, many organizations count on Lync for voice, video and conferencing. In fact, Lync integration has turned into major strategy for numerous audio visual industry videoconferencing providers. And in certain cases, Skype as well. Certain industry integrators have also leveraged the Lync integration path with these applications, as well as standalone, as they continue to provide end users with a tremendous value add. For those that are incorporating Lync into their integration strategy, they’re certainly ahead of the AV/IT convergence curve.

Current Lync Server customers will be able to take advantage of these capabilities by updating from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their datacenters. No new hardware is required. For Office 365 customers, Microsoft will do the required updates. Business communications, promised by Microsoft, to be bolder and even more efficient.

In the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new server release and updates to the service in Office 365. Microsoft believes that Skype for Business will once again transform the way people communicate by giving organizations reach to hundreds of millions of Skype users outside the walls of their business.

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The new future of collaboration is coming…

This is the beginning of a series of blog articles to come detailing strategy and the transition from Microsoft Lync to Skype for Business.