Hi, my name is Marcus Schmidt and I’m the Senior Director of Product at West’s Unified Communications Services. Welcome to Whiteboard Fridays.
Let’s talk a little bit about Skype for Business and how you might integrate Skype for Business into your unified communications environment.
Skype for Business Options
- Skype for Business in the Office 365 Cloud – also called “Skype for Business Online,” is basically all hosted and managed by Microsoft.
- Skype for Business Server - can be hosted on-premises or with a partner. This is basically the Skype for Business code packaged-up to be installed on an actual server you own or a server that somebody else is operating for you.
- Skype for Business Clients - Software that runs on your smartphone, tablet, PC, or Mac.
Integrating Skype for Business with Your UC Environment
When you think about integrating with Skype for Business, there's a variety of different things to consider. First of all, if you want to integrate directly into the Microsoft Office 365 Cloud and Skype for Business online, you basically can't. There are no APIs for that, and no way of integrating your dial tone into that. You basically have to pull the Skype for Business data out of the Office 365 Cloud and pull it into a server that you own and operate, or a hosted server. There's a special version of this server called the Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition. Cloud Connector Edition is basically a trimmed-down version of the Skype for Business Server that only supports the things that are needed for Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) connectivity. This is really the only way you're going to get PSTN connectivity into Office 365, unless you take the built-in PSTN connectivity that Microsoft provides.
Built-in connectivity is only available in the U.S. and the U.K. today. With this limited built-in capability, many enterprise customers will say, "I really can't go this way. I've got to pull this data out into a Skype for Business Server and start getting my PSTN connectivity to happen there." West can help you do that. We have Skype for Business and we're a certified Sip Trunking provider into the Skype for Business server.
The other thing to think about when integrating with Skype for Business are the options to integrate at the client level. Basically, you can add on applications to the clients. So when you're looking at your Skype for Business software that's loaded on your PC, you can right click on a contact and say “call that person,” and you end up calling them with some other application. Now the key thing to know here is that it really only works with a PC. I've never seen any other application that works on a Mac, or tablet, or smartphone. You're basically stuck with an “integrated” solution that works on PCs and PCs only, and works okay with either Skype for Business Online, or with the Skype for Business Server. But, you're limited from a client perspective. So basically there's a lot of complexity when it comes to integrating with Skype for Business Server and adding different unified communications capabilities into it, and we'd love to chat with you about those different options, and which one might fit your needs the best. So give us a call and we'd be happy to walk you through the options.
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