Do Skype for Business features and benefits outweigh its drawbacks?

Skype for Business issues are quelled by the right deployment strategy

A cloud hangs over Skype for Business and its customers. On one hand, Microsoft's unified communications platform is popular and growing, according to market data. On the other hand, Skype for Business issues include a significant on-premises versus cloud divide.

Some enterprises might balk at a proposed walk in the cloud, as Microsoft and its competitors lure them to it. Skype for Business in particular straddles the chasm of on-premises product and cloud service. But, experts say, Microsoft is prioritizing development of its cloud product rather than its premises-based option.

Microsoft has had its challenges migrating to a cloud-first strategy and integrating the different pieces, says Irwin Lazar, an industry analyst with Nemertes Research. At the same time, as the cloud accumulates interest, Microsoft customers are increasingly challenged to explain why they would forgo a cloud strategy.

Skype for Business has also taken its lumps over voice quality. That criticism, however, is not quite fair, Lazar says. When people use Skype for Business, they tend to use softphones more so than with other UC platforms. Softphones generally provide lower call quality than desk phones, so the quality issues are not exactly specific to Microsoft.

Companies that have invested in third-party management tools tend to have fewer Skype for Business issues and reap operational cost savings, Lazar adds.

"If you're going to run Skype for Business for telephony," he says, "you better spend some money upfront instrumenting the network so you can prevent problems before they occur and aptly troubleshoot them."

In this handbook, glean some important predeployment tips for preventing Skype for Business issues, while grasping the nuances of enterprise telephony systems. Whether you're deploying Skype for Business in the cloud, on premises or a mix of the two -- and depending on the size of your organization -- a deployment strategy requires ample forethought.