Skype for Business just got a whole lot better for enterprise customers

Roughly four months ago, Microsoft launched Skype for Business PBX, PSTN Services and Meeting Broadcast to offer a fully seamless meeting and voice solution within Office 365. More recently, Microsoft has announced a slew of new features including support for hybrid solutions including more robust virtual meeting room solutions; geographical expansion; and improvements to management, analytics and reporting.

Ability to connect legacy video teleconferencing systems to Office 365 Meetings

Polycom, one of the top teleconferencing solution providers has recently teamed up with Microsoft on a two-pronged approach to connect Office 365 with traditional video teleconferencing systems, or VTCs.

Polycom is releasing an update that will add Office 365 support as well as an updated user interface that is more consistent with Microsoft’s Skype Meeting interface.

Polycom also plans to implement a Cloud Video Interoperability service that will be managed from the Microsoft Cloud, and will allow a large number of VTCs, from providers like Polycom and Cisco, to connect to meetings powered by Skype for Business and also offer full audio and video support.

Project Rigel brings modern meeting room solutions to every conference room

Microsoft recently announced a new initiative, Project Rigel, which is meant to address the problem of inferior technologies in most conference rooms. While most meeting rooms come equipped with projectors, displays and telephones, few are setup to offer true video and web conferencing solutions such as IM, whiteboard and screen sharing. Project Rigel hopes to change all that.

Features of Project Rigel allow for a Skype Meeting powered using a Microsoft Surface Hub. It will utilize devices running Windows 10 to offer touch control as well as technology to seamlessly connect users that are located around the world. Microsoft expects the first Project Rigel hardware with this technology to be available sometime in 2016.

PSTN Conferencing now available across 32 countries

As of March 2016, Skype for Business customers in an additional 17 countries can now purchase dial-in conferencing as part of their Office 365 subscriptions. The new countries that were added include:

  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Estonia
  • Japan
  • Ireland
  • Luxembourg
  • Portugal
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • South Korea

This brings the total number of countries that can utilize the simplicity and power of Skype for Business to 32. Microsoft’s PSTN conferencing solution should have local numbers for close to 100 countries at the close of June 2016.

Improvements to management, analytics, and reporting for enterprise customers

In line with Microsoft’s goal to ensure these new tools are both powerful and easy to use, the company is working on additional reporting, analytics, and management tools that should be available in the latter part of 2016. These tools will allow IT administrators to better analyze usage patterns and quality of calls, as well as more quickly identify issues in their hybrid deployments and cloud.

New Cloud PBX capabilities and expansion of Cloud Connector Edition

Microsoft also recently announced the expansion of their Cloud Connector Edition. All versions of Skype for Business Server allow customers to pair their existing telephone carrier with Office 365 Cloud PBX. The updated Cloud Connector Edition enables customers to easily connect legacy phone numbers and phone lines to Office 365 by offering these hybrid solutions as pre-configured, optimized virtual machine images.

Interested to learn how you can improve your meetings with Skype for Business Meetings and Voice Services in Office 365? Contact MessageOps today!

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