Skype for Business Redux

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Tom Keating
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Skype for Business Redux

According to ComputerWorld UK, Skype is testing an enterprise version of its VoIP service and has asked businesses with more than 1,000 employees if they're interested in getting in early. This isn't the first time Skype has tried to crack the enterprise market. It is interesting they are focusing on fairly large corporations. It's been my experience that the largest users of Skype tend to be small-to-medium businesses. Larger organizations tend to frown upon Skype being deployed in their environment without IT approval and often block Skype due to security concerns. In addition, larger organizations often have higher phone minutes so they can often negotiate with the carriers for low per-minute pricing. So the cost advantages of Skype termination minutes doesn't make much sense, plus you have the "risk" of quality of service issues with VoIP.

There is the inter-employee productivity angle however. Large corporations DO want the ability for fellow employees to contact each other using VoIP or IM, while leveraging presence information to make sure the coworker is available to speak. But Skype faces an uphill battle in that market as well, since Microsoft has its sights squarely in the enterprise space with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS 2007). Like Skype, OCS 2007 features VoIP, video, presence, and IM, however OCS 2007 has some advantages over skype, including its tight integration into the Office 2007 suite and Active Directory for easy administration. Skype has been trying to break into the enterprise market as a "legitimate" software tool (not installed by employees without IT approval) for quite some time. It will be interesting to see what differentiating features Skype adds to their product to make it a worthwhile tool for IT administrators to actively deploy. Some of their advantages over Microsoft could include better cross-platform support, not tied to Active Directory, and Skype may low-ball their enterprise licensing to compete.

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