Skype for Business: What Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM users can expect

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With Lync becoming Skype for Business, Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM users may be wondering how the change will impact existing solutions that use Lync, what they can expect to pay in terms of pricing and licensing for the new product, and the key reasons for adopting Skype for Business now. Skype for Business interface

Here, Jenna Bourgeois, technical sales architect at Neudesic, a Microsoft partner based in Irvine, California, clears up these and a few other pressing questions regarding the changeover.

MSDW:  What key changes do Dynamics ERP and CRM users need to be thinking about with Lync becoming Skype for Business?

Jenna Bourgeois:  The major change is the infrastructure behind Skype. The main complaint end users had in the past, for example, came when they were at an airport and trying to make a Skype call from their mobile phones. Sometimes it worked really well, and other times there was interference and other problems. It had to do with the way Skype was built (using traditional telephony technologies that are extremely limiting). The new version uses the SILK audio compression protocol, which is a much lighter-weight protocol and a complete cloud backend.

MSDW:  How will this development impact users?

Bourgeois:  The premise is that on a go-forward basis, end users will see an incredible improvement in quality. And because of the reduction in bandwidth, there will also be some new feature sets – including the ability to broadcast out to 10,000 people within a single conference call. And, the folks at Microsoft have reassured me that the SILK protocol is efficient enough to transmit on 3G and 4G networks, which could result in more use of tablets and laptops (versus corporate cellular phones).

In fact, Skype for Business directly positions Microsoft to compete with telephony companies where maybe they haven’t been in that position before because of some of these underlying infrastructure requirements. Finally, its end users gain a big advantage because Skype for Business is rolled into the same suite of products (with PowerPoint and Office 365, for instance) that businesses are targeting for use this year. With more companies taking the cloud deployment approach, having the ability to use Skype as a cloud solution fits within that portfolio of solutions for any company.

MSDW:  Are there any downsides to the changeover for the existing Dynamics user?

Bourgeois:  Organizations may face resistance from those individuals who support their current solution (i.e., call center administrators in the traditional Lync environment). Those folks are going to say things like, “Well if we go to Skype for Business, then we won’t have jobs.” That’s one reason it could take some time for these solutions to migrate through organizations.

MSDW:  Does this change impact existing solutions that use Lync?

Bourgeois:  We haven’t identified any technical limitations. We use it internally here at Neudesic and we’ve been using it for the community technology preview. I think there were just a couple of patches that we had to put on our existing infrastructure (where Lync servers are still currently deployed) but they include the patches that support the Skype for Business client.

MSDW:  Does the introduction of Skype for Business give users a better reason to adopt a Microsoft communications solution now if they haven’t already?

Bourgeois:  If customers are looking for a cloud solution that integrates nicely with the existing Microsoft product suite that they have, then Skype for Business is that solution.

MSDW: What does the pricing and licensing model look like for users?

Bourgeois:  Microsoft has always gained market share by being very cost effective. We’re seeing that with both Office 365 and CRM Online. You can never get the total cost of ownership (TCO) lower than what Microsoft has as their existing pricing, and that’s also true for Skype. Microsoft has not created any new pricing model for this particular product compared to every other product that they currently offer. For users, it’s just as important to always calculate TCO and compare not only licensing costs, but also the labor rates/internal resources needed to support your existing system. Only then do you see the great difference between how inexpensive the cloud is versus on-premise options.