Microsoft Teams is the Next Big Thing in Collaboration Tech

Ryan Murphy
December 4, 2017

Microsoft has recently launched Teams, and like all of Microsoft’s moves, this news caused ripples in the tech industry and beyond. Big changes like these matter to folks like us at RP1Cloud and Polycom, as we’ve spent a good amount of time integrating with Microsoft applications: namely, our RealConnect Skype for Business integration. What Microsoft does, especially in the communications sphere, affects our tech and the story we use to make money.

So what is Teams, and how is RP1Cloud affected and keeping up?

Teams is a multi-function collaborative platform designed to compete with the likes of Slack (which, it’s worth noting, is who Zoom has thrown in with). The benefit of an integrated platform like this is that it fits into the host of Office 365, and envelopes the Microsoft applications that most companies are using every day.

Described by Microsoft as “the hub for teamwork in Office 365,” Teams promises to be the one stop shop for chatting, holding calls and staging meetings for intra-office groups. It’s a holistic blend of instant messaging, file sharing, social media – and audio/video conferencing.

Now, RP1Cloud currently offers native integration with Microsoft Skype for Business. Thankfully, Microsoft is still committed to Skype; a new Skype for Business infrastructure is set to go live in 2018.

But like many of their other applications, Skype (or at least its infrastructure – it’s unclear as to how the Skype brand will play a part) is destined to become a subset of the collaboration hub that is Teams. It will still be available as a standalone service for the time being, but Microsoft will be pushing O365 subscribers to use Teams as the sole communications client. Skype will serve as the enterprise-grade communications infrastructure for O365, offering advanced voice, video and meetings within Teams.

Future-proofing Skype for Business integration

Turns out, this is great news for RP1Cloud. Having built our solution on Polycom’s RealPresence infrastructure means that we can still capitalize on integration via RealConnect. RealConnect allows us to offer the only truly native integration with Skype for Business in the cloud – an integration that allows Skype users to join video calls with collaborators outside of their network, who are using standards-based endpoints or otherwise, without any change to the Skype scheduling or join flow.

Polycom has committed to maintaining this integration on a go-forward basis, ensuring a future-proof investment to those using Teams and/or Skype.

“As we have done for nearly 15 years, Polycom will support Microsoft customers in all stages of their collaboration journey, whether it’s Skype for Business, Office 365, or now Microsoft Teams,” said Mary McDowell, CEO of Polycom, in a recent press release. “Polycom solutions will continue to work as they have, delivering the highest quality voice and video solutions to complete the Microsoft collaboration experience.”

This commitment to mutual support is shared by Microsoft as well, who anticipate the future integration of Polycom technology and the Teams ecosystem: “We are pleased to partner with Polycom to integrate their core voice and video devices with the Microsoft Teams platform,” said Bob Davis, CVP, Skype for Business Services & Office Product Group Customer Experience at Microsoft. “Microsoft Teams and solutions like Polycom MSR and Polycom RealPresence Group Series will be a powerful combination for customers that need high quality collaboration experiences.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Teams and how it relates to Skype for Business, Microsoft has released a helpful FAQ document about the journey from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. They’re also offering tips on making the transition from one to the other, and are promising a roadmap/timeline for integrations and phase-outs.

Otherwise, keep in touch with your contacts at Pragmatic to hear the latest on how these developments are impacting RP1Cloud and Polycom solutions.