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skype for business for server alternatives

Skype for Business Server Alternatives. What To Do When Support Ends?

Recently we wrote about Google and how they constantly change their messaging strategy. But Google is not the only big company where things are moving. As they announced in July, Microsoft will stop supporting Skype for Business (starting with the cloud version in July 2021, followed by Skype for Business Server in 2025). Skype for Business users will have to move to Teams, Microsoft’s primary tool for business communication and collaboration. Why is this a problem?

First of all, Teams isn’t a one-on-one Skype replacement. Whereas Team is a full collaboration suite, Skype’s feature set is focused around chat and videocalling capabilities. So what if you do not need a full collaboration suite? Or what if you depend on features that are in Skype but not (yet) in Teams. True, Microsoft promised to work on adding Skype for Business features to Teams, but it may mean that for a while, people will have to do without some of their favorites.

As annoying the change may be for some Skype for Business Online users, companies that rely on the on-premises version of Skype have bigger things to worry about. The thing with organizations using their software on-premises or in the private cloud is that they want to achieve or maintain digital sovereignty. In the case of Skype for Business, if it is no longer available on-premises, that digital sovereignty is compromised.

But you said 2025, plenty of time to think about alternatives right? You’d think, but six years are gone before you know it and even then, it’s not like things will stay the same until 2025. Here’s what Microsoft has communicated will happen.

The End of Life Is Near: What’s the Plan?

SfB Server 2019

End of mainstream support for SfB Server 2019 will end in 2023. The end of extended support is planned for 2025. This means that from 2023 it is no longer possible to request to change product design and features and from 2025 there will be no more no-security updates. Support and security updates from 2025 onwards only available under certain conditions. More information on the Microsoft support types you can find here (although if you’re an SfB user, you probably already know :)).

SfB Server 2015

For users of SfB Server 2015, extended support will also end in 2025. Mainstream support, however, will end much sooner, in 2020. So what’s next? Should you upgrade? Or should you switch to one of the Skype for Business Server Alternatives? That’s a question you need to answer soon.

Both upgrading and switching have their pros and cons so we listed some important considerations below.

Pros of upgrading to SfB Server 2019 

Cons of upgrading to SfB Server 2019

Cheaper on the short term

Limitations in terms of new features and innovations. Development of new/innovative features is reserved for Microsoft Teams.

Less hassle, no need to migrate

The end of SfB Server is inevitable

More time to prepare when the time has come to migrate (if you were going to migrate)

You potentially need to buy new software or hardware (e.g. for SfB Server 2019 you need at least MS Server 2016)

Loss of functionalities in 2019 version: persistent chat, SQL mirroring, in-place upgrades, mobility service, XMPP Gateways

Skype for Business Server Alternatives

It’s clear that no matter your decision, if you’re currently using Skype for Business Server, you will, in the end, have to switch to another solution. The benefit of switching now and not in 2025 is that you avoid most of the cons listed above. The downside is that you’ll have less time to prepare.

Should you decide to look into another, on-premises solution that gives you full control over your technology, you might want to have a look at Kopano Meet. Meet is a new, open source progressive web app for video calling that you can run on-premises or in the private cloud. It’s easy to deploy and its flexible architecture enables easy integration into your existing infrastructure. If you’re interested in the technical specifications of Kopano Meet, check out our documentation.

In terms of data control, Kopano Meet has quite a few advantages over Skype for Business Server. To make these differences a bit more clear, we compared the two tools using the layer model for digital sovereignty.

SfB Server (SIP based)

Kopano Meet (WebRTC)

Data

User is organization is not completely in control of data as the news about Microsoft spying/overhearing Skype users recently showed.

Peer-to-peer and end-to-end encrypted.

APIs

Yes, not open

Yes, 100% open

Source code

Proprietary, closed-source

Open-source, AGPL

Platform Only runs on a number of Windows Server versions. When using legacy software, specific customizations are required. Can be containarized. Runs on most operating systems
Control

The solution is only available from a single vendor, there are few control or migration options.

User organization can operate the solution itself and can have control over all components (source code, hardware, …).

Skills

As the product is being phased out there will be fewer specialists to support customers.

Skills for changing data, program code and processes are available as the source code is open-source

Jurisdiction The provider can be located anywhere, but the code has been developed by a US company bringing it with Patriot Act under US law.

With Meet, the customer is free to decide where to host the solution. This can be either in the U.S. under U.S. law or in Europe under EU law or someplace else.

*Although this news item is primarily about users of Skype for Business Online, it does show that you can never be sure what decision Microsoft will make and how these decisions impact your business. With their focus on AI it would make sense that Microsoft will try to gather data whenever and wherever they can.

Of course, the differences between the two tools go further than this, but the above should give you a high-level idea of how Meet compares to Skype for Business Server in terms of data control. Naturally, we from Kopano will always recommend Kopano Meet, but in the end, you decide.

Want to learn more? Let us know if you’d like to have a chat. We’d be happy to answer all your questions or help you plan a smooth migration from Skype to Kopano Meet.

Toos Stoker
Toos Stoker

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