Microsoft today launched a preview of Skype for Business, as it makes a power play to take on traditional unified comms providers such as Cisco and Avaya.
The new tool is little more than a rebranded version of Microsoft Lync, but the name change makes sense in terms of streamlining the portfolio and drawing on the success of Skype. While there is little special about the new software, the real news was hidden away in a blog post from corporate vice president for the Skype for Business team Zig Serafin, who said that PSTN connectivity in the public cloud was on its way.
To date, businesses wanting to replace their traditional phone systems with Lync, had to either host the platform on-prem, or choose from small handful of hosted service providers. Microsoft has been promising these capabilities in the cloud for some time, but it has taken time to deliver. In a blog post published yesterday, the corporate vice president for the Skype for Business team Zig Serafin, said:
“We will offer enterprise voice and audio conferencing in Office 365, starting with a technical preview in the U.S. this summer, as well as enterprise-grade PSTN connectivity, beginning in the U.S. later this year, followed by a global roll out.”
The Redmond team has partnered with the likes of AT&T, BT, Colt, Equinix, Orange Business Services, TATA Communications, Telstra, Verizon and Vodafone, to deliver direct connections to Skype for Business customers using Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365.
While this might not seem like bleeding edge technology, followers of the UC market will know that this has been something of a Holy Grail for Microsoft and could prove to be a highly disruptive solution in the communications sector.
The preview of Skype for Business is available to download in its current state for Lync customers ahead of its official launch next month.