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Skype outage a reason to push business apps

With the consumer version of Skype down for hours earlier this week it is a moment for the channel to encourage SMEs to invest in business tools that deliver a better experience

Gardeners always talk about using the right tools for the job and more SMEs could follow the advice of their green fingered friends when they choose their business applications.

Using consumer technology might give the user a chance to side step the IT department and get a job done but it could leave the business open to security thtreats and might even cause more frustration as the service fails.

The latest example of consumer tech not being fit for business comes from Skype, which went down for 15 hours at the start of the week. Many users that have downloaded the software and rolled it out across the business without too much thought found themselves unstuck.

It is not the only example of staff using their own tools and the use by employees of Dropbox has caused plenty of angst for those trying to keep an eye on security and data management.

The Sykpe episode has given some of those in the channel pitching cloud based communication tools the chance to talk of a need for a more coherent strategy from SMEs towards the tools they use across the business.

“For many smaller organisations, the blur between personal devices used by employees and office-sanctioned communication tools has meant an increased reliance on consumer apps in the business environment. It is common to see employees using their own personal Skype accounts to make business calls when by doing so, they are not only restricted in functionality but also put data security at risk," said James Henigan, chief operating officer at cloud services provider Outsourcery.

"The outage of Skype in the last few days has also demonstrated that service reliability, while fine for a free personal-use app, just isn’t of a high enough standard in the business world," he added.

His suggestion was for firms to invest in Skype for Business, the product formerly known as Lync, because it came with an SLA and had a track record of high resiliency and better security.

“The fact is that enterprise-grade applications are needed for a reason. Skype is great for consumers but it should not be confused with the far superior capabilities and functionality of its enterprise-grade cousin and the latest in Microsoft’s business productivity suite Skype for Business," said Henigan.

Skype put out an apology yesterday for the outage and pointed out that its business services were not impacted by the problems that it admitted took a while to fix.

"We released a larger-than-usual configuration change, which some versions of Skype were unable to process correctly therefore disconnecting users from the network. When these users tried to reconnect, heavy traffic was created and some of you were unable to use Skype’s free services, including messaging, presence, and contact list management. Others could not sign in or out of Skype altogether, or make calls to landlines or mobile phones," the firm stated.

Read more on Voice over IP (VoIP) Services

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