The Skype Operations Framework was launched at the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and the momentum has really started now training has begun. We've had extensive documentation providing guidance for complete on-premises systems for quite some time now. Once you start to think about how you can combine on-premises with the cloud, though, the situation begins to change somewhat.
That is where the Skype Operations Framework comes into play. It is a new comprehensive guide and toolset for deployment, planning, and execution of the Skype for Business environment. Microsoft produced the Skype Operations Framework to enable companies and partners to use a common approach in operating modern Skype for Business systems, which employ cloud technology like the new Cloud PBX and Skype for Business Online.
Implementing cloud technology isn't necessarily difficult—it's just different. In fact, cloud implementations can actually be simpler than on-premises implementations, when it comes to technology. You are no longer configuring a large number of servers in a data centers and combining them together to create a large global footprint. Because all the hardware is instead handled by Microsoft in the cloud, you do not need to focus on retaining deep configuration knowledge.
Even though the cloud introduces technological simplicity, there are some new decisions that you have to make. You now have to think about exactly how you plan to leverage the cloud to best suit your needs. When traffic starts to flow from your network across the public internet and up into the Skype for Business Online services, there are different issues to consider than if all the equipment was located inside your own IT department.
Guidance for Different Types of Customers
Customers who are beginning to leverage the cloud must think about where migration makes the most sense. Many Skype for Business customers are still working on rolling out full deployments or half deployments. However, these implementations are based on an on-premises methodology. These customers use server pools to basically create their own telephone system inside of their company with on-premises hardware. If you already have a system deployed on-premises, just moving it to the cloud won't necessarily provide better economics. It makes more sense to start by retiring the equipment supporting certain users, such as field workers, remote workers, or sales people working from home or remote offices.
Other customers are in a situation where they are in the process of moving from a legacy platform over to Skype. If you are migrating from Cisco or Avaya PBX systems, the guidance would be to think about moving to Skype for Business in the cloud and then connecting it back to your premises. That way, you can take advantage of all the telephone numbers you already have connected to your old systems. The best approach in this scenario is to leverage the cloud using a hybrid environment instead of standing up Skype for Business on-premises.
Then there are customers who don't care about the existing phone numbers and connections they already have. They just want to move away from their existing provider and into the cloud by completely leveraging Microsoft as their telephone provider. You can do that too, but for the most part, anybody shifting from a legacy platform (which could even be a Skype platform that is many years old) stands to benefit greatly by leveraging the cloud as well.