Skype for Business Review

Much easier and quicker than writing an email to someone and waiting for them to read it

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is for chat and we use it for internal meetings. We also have a federation between a couple of companies, so we also use it for virtual meetings across those companies that we have the federation with. It is our preferred chat and video solution nowadays. 

My last customer used it and Polycom, but Polycom was historic because of the meeting rooms. And the meeting rooms tended to be set up for Polycom, so if you were doing meetings from one meeting room to another one, then we'd switch to Polycom. Otherwise, it was Skype For Business.

What is most valuable?

The simplicity and ease of use are the most valuable features. It's so much easier and quicker than writing an email to someone and waiting for them to read it. If you actually see in Skype For Business that they're online and free, and you just put your question into there, it's a lot faster. The increase in productivity for messaging people is the number one reason for using it.

What needs improvement?

With respect to installing it in a large multinational, I find that installing it so that it gives decent performance across the company, can be a bit of black science. The ease of configuration or the lack of decent tooling to pinpoint your problems is probably its biggest issue. That's not just an issue with Skype For Business. That's pretty much across the board with unified communication systems.

What I'd really love them to provide would be an easy method of linking or connecting to other Skype For Business personnel in other companies who are also using Skype For Business without having to set up a federation. There are lots and lots of companies now using Skype For Business with other unified communications products. You can send someone a link, and then they can come into your Skype For Business meeting. We have issues trying to do Skype For Business.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution since 2006 when it was called Communicator. It's actually been 14 years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We quite often see glitches where it jitters and stuff like this, but that's all to do with the wide-area network links. I'm sure we could improve that if our unified communications guys had better tooling and understanding of the complexities. What we see is that in most companies the implementation is not optimal.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't actually had to contact Microsoft support about Skype For Business related issues. Technical support with Microsoft depends upon your support contracts. If you're paying for the highest level, then it's absolutely fantastic.

You get what you pay for. The standard support contract is no worse or better than any other company. I have to say, the few times that I've had to call Microsoft with a priority support call, and the technical account manager gets put on it and keeps on top of the Microsoft side and stuff, then that goes really well. As well as you could expect it to go. I don't have any experience with Microsoft technical support when it comes down to Skype For Business.

Times in the past with respect to Azure issues that I was experiencing, I know that both the premium and the next level down, they were both absolutely fine. I always ended up talking to people that knew their stuff and when it was resolvable, it got resolved.

What other advice do I have?

I definitely recommend the product. If you are in a complex distributed environment, with offices with varying levels of connection and various different bandwidths of connections and latency, that it's worth spending the extra money to get someone who really knows their stuff with respect to unified communications to set up Skype For Business across their organization. Someone that understands the pitfalls, because how your infrastructure is built is key to whether you're going to get a decent and stable experience or not.

I would rate it a nine out of ten. I would give it this rating purely because of the fact that when it gets installed across a complex environment, you really need someone who knows their stuff to install it. But once it's installed properly, it's absolutely fine. It does what it says on the tin.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
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