Skype for Business in a Nutshell

scott-riley-GCI

We asked Scott Riley, Director of Cloud & Datacentre at GCI Channel Solutions to provide us with a primer on Skype for Business as a starting point for resellers looking to explore the application further.

So what is Skype for Business?

This year Microsoft re-launched their Lync product as Skype for Business (S4B). So S4B is Microsoft’s Unified Communications suite.

In simple terms, it’s an instant messenger, a fully featured phone system, a video calling system and an online web conferencing service (think Cisco WebEx). All of this is wrapped into one simple client and tied into the same user names and passwords that people use to access their email. It’s communications made easy.

The re-brand to S4B makes sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, in my personal experience, a conversation around Microsoft Lync often went like this;

“Hey do you guys use Microsoft Lync?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s Microsoft’s Unified Communications suite for Instant Messaging, Voice and Presence.”

[Stunned silence]

“You know Skype?”

“Of course.”

“Right well it’s exactly like that, but for business.”

“Gotcha!”

These days talking about ‘Skype for Business’ is a much easier conversation.

Secondly Microsoft Lync had approximately 100 Million users worldwide, Skype had 300 Million users. By combining the brands, Microsoft can boast that they have 400 Million users of their combined Skype platform.

A lot people considered Lync was not up to the job when it came to enterprise telephony. So what is the situation with Skype for Business?

S4B is essentially a facelift on Lync 2013, so core functionality like Enterprise Telephony is not changing dramatically in this version. There is a nice changeover to the Skype Silk codec, which means that every call will be very lightweight ensuring high quality voice/video calls even over low bandwidth links. Predominantly the changes are in the client and it’s usability on touch-enabled devices.

This means there are still key areas where Skype for Business needs to be supplemented with third party software for example Contact Centre software, Wallboards and Receptionist consoles. We’ve yet to see any real improvements since Lync 2010 on those fronts.

What would you say are the top three reasons why resellers should sell Skype for Business?

Gain high margin recurring revenue from Lync Support Services

Retain customers from competition who are offering Skype for Business services

Take advantage of the free marketing push and product awareness from Microsoft throughout the course of 2015-16

…and what would you say are the top three reasons why users should opt for Skype for Business?

Chances are their businesses already have the licences – it’s included in Office 365 Subscriptions and Microsoft Enterprise Agreements

Dramatic cost saving on traditional infrastructure e.g. PBX, ISDN circuits and phone calls

Increased operational efficiency by improving business communications

How is GCI Channel Solutions helping resellers with the transition to Skype for Business?

GCI Channel Solutions has been working hard since the announcement of Skype for Business to become experts in the technology pitfalls and benefits so that we can educate our Channel partners and be that go-to resource when it comes to UC opportunities.

We’ve wrapped that information in to our Channel Partner Playbooks, a fantastic resource enabling partners to launch services with white-labelled collateral and pricing books ready to go.

In addition, the GCI technical team has been hard at work on the latest service offering in this space. The Skype for Business appliance.

This is a brand new service which can be deployed into a client site, immediately enabling Skype services with a low-touch, simplified interface (resiliency can be added). It comes complete, as always with our re-assuring GCI third line expertise to back up our Channel Partners wherever and whenever they need us, 24×7.