Skype for Business Review

RDS, Conferencing, VoIP and IM are the most valuable features

What is most valuable?

RDS, Conferencing, VoIP and IM are the most valuable features.

The Remote Desktop Sharing (RDS): It allows the users to share the desktop during a collaboration session. This feature gained popularity with our users whilst assisting others or working on a document together.

Conferencing: The ability to host conference calls with multiple users and bring in mobile users or other participants on the click of a button proved superior. All the users, now, have conferencing space which is readily available on a moments notice. Scheduled meetings which are tightly integrated with Microsoft Outlook means the users spend less time organizing meetings; where the users needed to call the support team to book boardrooms or book conferencing resources, this is all now integrated with Outlook. Anyone can now do this easily without engaging with support desks or engaging conferencing of the support teams.

VoIP: The ability to call any user without incurring any charges. Since introducing Microsoft Lync, our users can now call other Lync users in other organizations. Our system is equipped with PSTN calling, which has allowed the users to make calls to PSTN from anywhere in the world. It has introduced flexibility in the way we work. We, now, have our users working on the road all the time and they can call/be called on their Skype number anytime-anywhere.

How has it helped my organization?

We have used Microsoft products and this product is tightly integrated in the Microsoft ecosystem. Everyone in the company uses some aspect of this product.

What needs improvement?

Conferencing and interoperability need to be improved.

The biggest challenge has been seen in terms of interoperability with the other vendors. Microsoft chose standards which are freely available to minimize their costs. This decision means other vendors cannot integrate with Skype because they are using licensed technologies. Conferences on Microsoft cannot be joined to conferences from other vendors; no collaboration across technologies. That means gateways that allow Skype to communicate with other conferencing systems are required. These gateways usually come with limitations on what you can/can't do during a conference. Adding gateways means spending more money without a guarantee that everything will work as intended. It, also, complicates the solution to provide all services.

Luckily, there are vendors who have risen to fill this gap, vendors such as Pexip and Acano. Fortunately or unfortunately, Acano was acquired by Cisco. These gateways allow Microsoft Skype to communicate with any conferencing systems without losing any functionality.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this solution for eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is good so far. We just added more servers to meet our needs.

How is customer service and technical support?

I would rate the technical support an eight out of 10.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Business Enterprise Voice provides the most pain for pricing.

What other advice do I have?

QoS and ample bandwidth are a must. Virtualization can be a source of pain, i.e., if it is not implemented as per the requirements from Microsoft.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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