This article is part of the Project Definition stage of your upgrade journey. Before proceeding, confirm that you’ve completed the following activities:
- Enlisted your project stakeholders
- Defined your project scope
- Understood coexistence and interoperability of Skype for Business and Teams
Choose your upgrade journey from Skype for Business to Teams
As an existing Skype for Business customer, your complete transition to Teams might take some time. However, you can begin realizing the value of Teams today, by enabling your users to use Teams alongside Skype for Business. Given that there’s some overlapping functionality between the two apps, we recommend that you review the available coexistence and upgrade modes to help determine which path is right for your organization. For example, you might opt to enable all workloads on both solutions without interoperability. Or, you might decide to manage the user experience, either by gradually introducing Teams capabilities or by targeting groups of users for select capabilities, until your organization is ready to upgrade everyone to Teams. Use the outcome of your pilot to help assess the right upgrade journey for your organization.
Skype for Business Online will be retired on July 31, 2021, after which it will no longer be accessible or supported. To maximize benefit realization and ensure your organization has proper time to implement your upgrade, we encourage you to begin your journey to Microsoft Teams today.
This article outlines the various modes that enable you to manage which modalities in Skype for Business and Teams are available to your users. As with any deployment, we strongly encourage you to pilot your intended plan with a selected group of users before upgrading your organization to Teams. Remember, introducing new technology can be disruptive for users. Take time to assess user readiness and implement a communication and training plan prior to implementing any of the modes outlined herein.
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Upgrade journey building blocks
To formally prepare your organization for its journey to Teams, you need to start planning for the upgrade scenarios that will eventually let your organization fully embrace Teams as your sole communications and collaboration solution.
To help guide your decision-making process, familiarize yourself with the various modes, concepts, and terminology relevant to upgrading from Skype for Business to Teams. For more information, see Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business coexistence and interoperability
When some of your users are ready to use only Teams for their day-to-day communications and collaboration needs, you can start upgrading these users to Teams by enabling Teams Only mode for them.
If it’s not feasible for your whole organization to move to Teams, you can start by piloting Teams alongside Skype for Business in Islands coexistence mode. As the additional coexistence modes, (i.e. Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and meetings), are become progressively fully available in the next few months, you can also start by fully adopting Teams as a group collaboration solution first while keeping Skype for Business as your organization’s unified communications solution. That is Microsoft’s recommended path for customers using Skype for Business Server (on-premises or hybrid) and customers with significant complexity whose trajectory to Teams will include a long coexistence period.
The following table compares coexistence and upgrade modes.
|Islands||Smaller or simpler Skype for Business deployment
Ability and willingness to manage some short-term complexity to move to Teams more quickly
|Go to the full Teams experience as quickly as possible
Conduct a proof of concept (PoC) of Teams
Recommended upgrade path for organizations who adopted Skype for Business Online
|Simple to operate
Richest Teams experience up-front for all capabilities
|Requires good user communication to avoid confusion and to drive usage toward Teams
Exit strategy requires users to have fully adopted Teams prior to starting upgrade to Teams Only phase
No interop for users in Islands mode; also no federation from Teams when the user’s Skype for Business account is homed on-premises
|Skype for Business with Teams collaboration||Skype for Business deployment with requirements that aren’t yet met by Teams (for example, advanced compliance)
Long-term need for and/or commitment to Skype for Business
|Start Teams adoption quickly, focusing on group collaboration first
Want to keep all unified communications workloads on Skype for Business for now
Recommended use as the starting point for organization starting their journey from on premises (or hybrid) Skype for Business
|No overlapping capabilities between Teams and Skype for Business
Instant messaging chat and meeting scheduling will reside in Skype for Business (tied to calling)
Interoperability with users in Teams Only
|Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and meetings||Skype for Business deployment with significant use of enterprise voice and requirements that aren’t yet met by Teams calling
Long-term need for and/or commitment to Skype for Business
Might be using a third-party meeting service
|Start Teams adoption quickly, going beyond group collaboration
Improve your users’ meetings experience
Recommended use for on premises organizations wanting to take advantage of Teams meetings prior to being ready to fully upgrade (generally due to Enterprise Voice on-premises).
|No overlapping capabilities
Superior meetings on Teams. Features roadmap, UX and cross platform, quality and reliability
"Better Together" experiences between Skype for Business and Teams
Interoperability users in Teams Only.
|Instant messaging and chat will reside in Skype for Business (tied to calling)|
|Teams Only||Teams Only is the final destination for all users, eventually.
Some users need to stay on Skype for Business
You’re upgrading your Skype for Business Online users to Teams while keeping Skype for Business on-premises users on Skype for Business Server
You might have already deployed users in islands mode and are ready to retire Skype for Business for groups of users
|Reduce variable costs on Skype for Business (on-premises server operations, outsourcing contract, and so on)
Go to the full Teams experience as quickly as possible, for at least some users
|Limits user confusion by providing only one client to work with Interoperability with users in Skype for Business Only, Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration, Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration and Meetings||Interoperability only supports basic chat and calling between Skype for Business and Teams, and interop escalation scenarios for desktop sharing and multi-party chat and calling|
|Skype for Business only||Some users need to stay on Skype for Business
||Limits user confusion by providing only one client to work with
User can still participate in Teams meetings they are invited to
|Continue to meet business requirements that currently can only be met by Skype for Business
Interoperability with users in Teams Only
|Interoperability only supports basic chat and calling between Skype for Business and Teams, and interop escalation scenarios for desktop sharing and multi-party chat and calling|
To help identify the recommended upgrade mode based on the capabilities you want to enable in Teams while Skype for Business is still in use, leverage the Skype to Teams Upgrade Wizard.
You can take multiple approaches to upgrading from Skype for Business, either online or on-premises, to Teams:
- In a direct upgrade journey, you first deploy Teams alongside Skype for Business in Islands mode as part of evaluation and early adoption, and then upgrade your users to Teams Only mode with the goal of quickly retiring Skype for Business from the environment for all users in the organization. This is the recommended journey for Skype Business online customers, unless they are concerned their users will be confused with having two tools to conduct the same action (chat, calling, meeting scheduling).
- A gradual upgrade journey delivers a specific coexistence and upgrade mode to a specific group of users (also called a cohort), depending on their communications and collaboration requirements. Over time, the entire organization can converge into using Teams Only and eventually replace Skype for Business. However, if your organization has compelling business reasons to keep Skype for Business—such as a dependency on a Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA)–based solution that integrates with line-of-business applications, or an ethical wall solution currently available for Skype for Business only, or a complex Enterprise Voice deployment that will take time to upgrade to Teams Only—you can upgrade a portion of users to Teams Only mode while retaining Skype for Business users in one of the coexistence modes for a portion of your user population. Gradual upgrade journey is the recommended approach for on-premises (and hybrid) customers starting with Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration coexistence mode and moving from there to Teams Only mode when requirement for the users met (possibly through the Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration and Meetings coexistence mode).
For both types of upgrade journey, if your organization is currently a Skype for Business on-premises deployment only, you need to start planning to implement Skype for Business hybrid before upgrading your users to Teams Only mode. This will also help facilitate interoperability with Teams.
Teams Only mode requires that the users who are part of cohorts be homed in Skype for Business Online, and a hybrid relationship between your Skype for Business on-premises deployment and your Skype for Business Online tenant is required to facilitate the interoperability between Skype for Business and Teams. The move to Skype for Business Online must be completed for users who are part of the cohorts before they’re upgraded to Teams Only mode. Skype for Business Server 2019, and Skype for Business Server 2015 with CU8 update can simplify the mechanics of upgrading on-premises users to Teams by managing the migration to Skype for Business Online and upgrading the users to Teams Only mode in one step.
Direct upgrade journey
The direct upgrade journey is illustrated in the following diagram.
Teams is deployed to all users in the organization and configured in Islands mode. When your organization determines that Teams is ready to fulfill all of your communications and collaboration needs, notify the users and upgrade them to Teams Only mode. At that point, Skype for Business can be retired from the environment.
Gradual upgrade journey
An example of a gradual upgrade journey is illustrated in the following diagram.
Teams is deployed in the organization in Islands mode for evaluation and then move to different coexistence and upgrade modes for different groups of users. For example, a group of users can be enabled for Islands mode, another enabled for Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and meetings mode, while a third group of users might initially be enabled for Skype for Business with Teams collaboration only mode.
Over time, groups of users can be upgraded to Teams Only mode, followed by the rest of the organization. Eventually, the entire organization will be ready to retire Skype for Business and use only Teams for communications and collaboration, or—if business requirements dictate that Skype for Business be retained for a specific group—the majority of users in the organization can use Teams Only.
Decide the required additional work to complete your upgrade journey.
After you’ve chosen the best upgrade journey for your organization, perform your upgrade to Teams.