Microsoft Announces Skype for Business Server 2019

It’s day 2 at Microsoft Ignite Orlando, and we’ve had the announcement many of us in the industry have been waiting for: Skype for Business Server 2019 will be released towards the end of 2018.

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What does this mean?

After yesterday’s announcement, many were wondering what this meant for on-premises Skype for Business deployments. There’s still plenty scenarios out there where on-premises makes sense. Is your investment in your on-premises environment protected? In short, yes.

It’s great to see that Microsoft is investing in another refresh of Skype for Business server. Whilst I do expect the bulk of investment will be within Microsoft cloud offerings, this does ensure that all organisations have more time to get cloud ready, more time to work through existing investments in on premises solutions, and allows more time to ramp down in a controlled manner.

What are the Specifics?

Upgrading to Skype for Business Server 2019

  • In-place upgrades that were supported when upgrading to Skype for Business Server 2015 will not be supported when upgrading to Server 2019
  • Upgrade side by side from Lync 2013 or Skype for Business Server 2015 both supported
  • Prerequisites: Windows Server 2016 & SQL 2016
  • Will support side by side deployment with Cloud Connector Edition (CCE)

Standard Edition or Enterprise Edition?

Easy question to answer: Skype for Business Server 2019 will not include a Standard Edition server deployment option.

Wait what?

Whilst this announcement did raise a few murmurs, it will be supported to deploy Enterprise edition with a single server node. This will mean that a separate back end SQL server will be required for a single server deployment, but I think most can live with this. I think the idea here is to ensure customers in the ‘smaller’ end of the market look to the cloud as a viable option, rather than deploy more on-premises Standard Edition servers, whilst ensuring large enterprise customers can still leverage all that’s typical of an Enterprise edition deployment.

Cloud Services for On-Premises Users

This is probably the most useful & important announcement. When deployed in a hybrid topology (which is not a requirement by the way, Skype for Business Server 2019 can be deployed on-premises only), on-premises users will be able to leverage the same apps that cloud users do. For example, Cloud PBX users use Azure VM instead of Exchange Unified Messaging for voicemail support, as well as cloud based Call Queues and Auto Attendants. With SfB Server 2019, on-premises users will be able to leverage these also.

What else?

  • SfB Server 2019 will be based on a version of the cloud based code of Skype for Business Online
  • Backwards compatibility with UCWA/UCMA will be included, ensuring smooth transition for customers using custom developed applications, 3rd party add ons
  • Whilst a single Enterprise edition server can be deployed, the focus for SMBs will be to utilise Office 365 where possible
  • No more Silverlight! Will be deprecated
  • Hybrid aware Office 365 Portal for server 2019, simplifying user management across Skype for Business On-Premises/Online/Teams
  • Improved interoperability/migration to Teams
  • Director server role to be deprecated
  • Call Analytics and Retention in one portal for all users – IT Pro experience for all troubleshooting, service management metrics, combined single view of what’s going on across all users regardless of where they are: Teams, SfB On-Prem, SfB Online
  • Hybrid Modern Authentication support for all users regardless of location
  • Hybrid will ensure interop between SfB online and Teams with migration paths to move to Teams
  • Cloud Connector edition not going away, will be able to coexist with Server 2019
  • MS working on direct gateway to online (Teams) without the need for server components – i.e. no CCE, direct trunk to Teams
  • TLS 1.0/1.1 will be deprecated in 2019, working on it for server 2015 also, targeted for CU7 in 2015
  • New web meeting experience being developed with WebRTC support
  • SBA support with SfB server 2019: will support coexistence with SfB server 2015 SBAs.
  • Using SBAs with the cloud? Not on the immediate roadmap. The guidance (both formal and informal) here from Microsoft for a period of time has been to utilise network level redundancy/resiliency rather than build out large SBA networks.

All rather exciting. Stay tuned for further updates throughout the week.

Damien Margaritis

Damien Margaritis

Principal Consultant: Modern Workplace at Insync Technology
Damien Margaritis is the Principal Consultant for the Modern Workplace practice at Insync Technology: an innovative Microsoft systems integrator. Damien is also involved with organising the Melbourne Skype for Business User Group, held quarterly at Microsoft’s Melbourne offices.

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