A guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:
Since I wrote this blog post back in November 2014, when Microsoft announced the new version of Lync rebranded as Skype for Business (Skype4B), the company has been busy developing and testing the final bits of software code that will eventually go into the shipping product. While the Skype4B server software is still not available for public preview, Microsoft has already made the Skype4Bclient preview available for evaluation.
This was announced by Giovanni Mezgec, the GM for the Skype for Business team in Microsoft, in his blog post on March 16. The Skype4B preview client works with existing Lync 2013 server on-premise environments as well as Office365 Lync Online. As per the blog article, the actual release of the Skype4B client will be made available as a cumulative update this month; and the Skype4B server software and online service will also be generally available at the same time. As of writing this post, IT professionals can get trained on Skype4B deployment and architecture by attending the office summit events locally or via webcast here.Microsoft’s huge ecosystem of UC partners have also been gearing themselves for the upcoming release. In his blog, Giovanni mentioned that “most existing software and hardware solutions that are qualified for Lync 2013 will also be compatible with Skype for Business, thanks to the efforts of our hardware, software, IT pro tools and network infrastructure partners”.
I’m happy to say that Polycom has made significant progress in making our 40+ Lync certified solutions ready for Skype for Business. In my own lab testing of the Skype4B Preview client with Polycom solutions today, the majority of features are working well as they do with Lync 2013. Our RealPresence Group Series of room systems have no major problems in making or receiving calls with the Skype4B client in both P2P and multiparty AVMCU scenarios. Initial testing of our RealPresence Platform solutions comprising of DMA, RMX and CSS for both video and content collaboration between Skype4B clients and our room endpoints have also been very positive. On this note, it is worthwhile to mention that the new Video Interoperability Server (VIS) role in Skype4B server does not affect Polycom’s room systems or RealPresence Platform (RPP) in any way. In fact, the VIS server is designed to bridge video calls between Skype4B and VTCs, which refers to legacy video endpoints that have no native Lync integration capabilities. So technically speaking, Polycom room systems and RealPresence Platform do not fall into this category and therefore does not need to leverage the VIS role. Fellow MVP Jeff Schertz has written an excellent blog article on the technical details (and limitations) of VIS and I strongly recommend everyone to read it to understand VIS better.
Polycom has also demonstrated interoperability with Skype4B as early as February this year during its annual partner conference “Team Polycom” in Orlando. During the keynote, Polycom CEO Peter Leav was on stage with Zig Serafin, Microsoft’s Corporate VP for Skype for Business to talk about the long standing partnership between the two companies followed by the first-ever public demonstration of Skype4B interoperability with Polycom video endpoints.
But it gets even better! Last month at Enterprise Connect 2015, Polycom and Microsoft jointly announced the first of a new series of video collaboration solutions for Skype4B – the Polycom RoundTable 100. Available mid-year, the RoundTable 100 is an affordable and easy-to-use video solution for huddle rooms that will allow small to midsized businesses (SMBs) to enjoy rich collaboration experiences, including voice, video and content collaboration using Skype4B and or Lync via Office 365. This adds on to the already rich 40+ Microsoft certified solutions which Polycom already offers today.
Enterprises already using Polycom solutions for Microsoft can expect to continue enjoying their ROI when Skype4B is released as well as look forward to exciting new collaboration solutions in the coming months.
In conclusion, Skype for Business is almost here and we at Polycom are both excited and ready. Are you?