Prepare for Microsoft Retiring Skype for Business with Software Asset Management

Microsoft has announced that Skype for Business will formally be retired on 31 July 2021. The news comes as no surprise, as Microsoft has long seen Teams as a replacement for Skype and has been refining it as a service to ensure it is ready for Enterprise level customers. The announcement provides a definite deadline for customers to migrate as the online Skype service will no longer be accessible.

From the 1 September 2019, all new Office 365 customers will gain Teams for chat, meetings, and calling. Skype for Business Server on-premises customers and Skype Consumer services will be unaffected.

Microsoft is providing technical guidance and planning resources to enable a smooth transition for existing Skype Online customers to fully migrate over to Teams over the next two years. However, customers must also consider Software Asset Management when migrating. There are two main areas where a robust SAM function will provide invaluable assistance and protection for organisations:

1. Use SAM to manage subscriptions through Skype’s retirement

A good SAM tool will import user subscription information to provide visibility of who is currently accessing and utilizing Skype. Users can then be approached to ensure Teams fits their business needs with any issues rectified before Skype is retired.

Visibility of subscriptions will also allow migration progress to be more closely tracked so the number of users on Skype and the number of users on Teams can be monitored to ensure the migration schedule is adhered to, reducing the risk of project slippage.

2. SAM captures unused instances of Skype

The second area where SAM can help to underpin a smooth transition, is visibility of the application. Each client for an existing Skype online customer will have a local install of the client (either the full client or the basic free version). Once Skype is retired from Microsoft online offerings, this application is assumed to be no longer included within Office downloaded from Office 365. This could mean that these applications are potentially unmanaged and unused on client devices, which could lead to applications not being actively updated with patches. These then become a security risk within an organization.

As a customer moves from Skype to Teams, it is SAM best practise to remove these unused applications. A SAM tool will be invaluable in tracking down application installs to understand and mitigate risk. Conversely, a SAM tool can be used to identify Teams application deployments to identify which of an organization’s devices are ready for the switch over.

Software Asset Management will make for a smoother migration from Skype

Teams is the next chapter in Microsoft’s vision for business communications, and Skype for Business Online customers who start planning their migration now are set for a smooth journey toward an entirely new way of working. Software Asset Management is vital in that journey, providing organizations with a clear understanding of how they are currently using the service, as well as how they can use it to its full advantage post-retirement.

Ben Simpson

Ben Simpson

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