The Web is abuzz with talk about Lync Server’s rebranding. I’m just as curious as the rest of you. (If anyone wants to weigh in, please feel free to comment with your thoughts/wild speculations.)
After reading more from fellow IT professionals, journalists “in the know” and the vast pool of brains we call ‘social media’, I think it’s time for some predictions.
(Yes, I was wrong about the Skype-Lync integration path, but humor me here! Predictions are fun!)
Microsoft claims the on-premise server upgrade will require “no new hardware.” For the most part, I believe this will be true. A solid Lync Server 2013 hardware setup should easily handle some additional Skype features (e.g., accessing the Skype Directory).
The only place I could see more resources being useful, would be the Mediation Server role. Which is almost guaranteed to change in 2015, to accommodate the Skype access changes.
Here I pretty much have nothing but questions. Will Skype for Business have the same CAL structure Lync Server 2013 does? Will users need to use their Microsoft account to sign in?
Licensing costs & implementation issues strangled multiple Lync Server installations back when 2013 was released. We had one client who almost gave up on Lync entirely, after they had to pay for enterprise CALs and then add more CALs later on. Microsoft needs to give details on Skype for Business licensing ASAP.
We’ll start seeing the issues appear in the second half of 2015. That’s when businesses will start moving toward Skype for Business. Blog commenters have pointed out several points where they suspect they’ll run into trouble – configuring for firewall rules or proxies, SIP trunking, communication between on-premise Lync users and off-site Skype users. We’ll watch for these.
The Office 365 Question
Announcements have indicated that the Lync Online service will also receive a Skype for Business update. Very little detail beyond that, for now. But I have a concern here…because of another announcement made last week.
Microsoft just released a beta of Skype for Web. A Web-based Skype version, with Skype for Business coming available in an online service too…this is a setup for serious confusion. I hope Microsoft has cross-communication between Skype for Web and Skype for Business completely ironed out.
There are still some organizations using Lync Server 2010. So, I imagine some of you will stick with Lync Server 2013 a while too. Moving to Skype for Business will be a very gradual process over the next 3 years.
I predict that the reactions to Skype for Business will lean slightly negative. At least next year. We have a lot of disparate groups who’ll weigh in on the transition:
- Skype users who may not know about the new Lync tools available
- Businesses who view Skype as “consumer only”
- Lync 2013 users who don’t like or are confused by the new interface
- And so on.
Personally, I’m not completely thrilled with the name change. But I’ll withhold judgment until I have a chance to test the software. Actual performance is always more telling.
Where Help is Needed Now
We have the luxury of time right now. We know a new version of Lync is coming, and we have an idea of what to expect when it arrives.
If I consider these predictions, what I think is needed now is:
- A better understanding of the new features.
- A map of how the old Lync features will transition (if at all).
- Performance measurements on the new on-premise server and the online service.
We will aim to bring you all of these, here at the Lync Insider Blog.
Speaking of which, last week’s poll results are split almost evenly between:
–Skype for Business Insider
–Inside Unified Communications
There’s a couple hilarious write-in votes too. Thanks guys, those were great. I appreciate all the responses so far. We’ll aim for the new blog name – if we do change it! – around the first of the year.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! We’ll see you back here in December for the 2014 home-stretch.