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Thoughts on the discontinuation of support for SBC’s in Exchange Online UM

July 19, 2017 Leave a comment

ICYMI: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Exchange/Discontinuation-of-support-for-Session-Border-Controllers-in/m-p/88228#M1134

Well, this is something I had heard about but kept hoping Microsoft would change their minds on. I get (kinda) the business decision around this. I’m sure the SBC’s were costing a bunch of money, might have been having issues keeping the service quality where Microsoft wanted it, etc.

That said, I’ll be honest, I’m disappointed. I really feel like Microsoft is making a mistake here. Exchange UM always just “made sense” for many organizations. They already were using Exchange (whether Online or On-prem) so they essentially were paying double for any voicemail system. In recent years, I’ve moved solidly in to the “Online” camp and for most organizations I don’t see the value in an on-prem Exchange deployment.

For these organizations, they may not be ready for Skype for Business as a PBX (though, I do hope they all get there). Exchange UM was just a very nice solution that worked well and you could have one voicemail platform as you planned your move to Microsoft or was a money saver for organizations.

With that, I want to call out a few things that might not have been so obvious in the announcement:

  1. If you decide to try Microsoft’s Option #3 (see the post at the top of this article), you will have to deploy a Skype for Business environment (if you don’t already have one). This will require you to pay for the Skype for Business Server licenses, Windows licenses, etc. Or you could potentially purchase something like AudioCodes Cloudbond to drop in as an appliance.
  2. If you have Skype for Business/Lync 2013 deployed already or you choose to deploy it in order to support Microsoft’s Option #3, you will need to EV enable your users. This will make it look to the end user like they can dial out from their Skype for Business client. This could be a confusing situation for users.
  3. If you EV enable your users, you will need to make sure you license them correctly. This means you need to have the Standard and Plus CAL’s for on-prem or if you go hybrid with Online, you will need at least an E3 with Cloud PBX license.
  4. This last one is a gut feeling but my guess is that Exchange UM is just going to go away and this is the first step. Even moving towards Microsoft’s Option #3 without a plan to move to Skype for Business as a PBX is probably just throwing good money after bad and you will have to change again sometime in the near future (within 2-3 years). Microsoft has already moved away from Exchange UM for Cloud PBX users. Exchange UM hasn’t been developed on for quite some time. My feel is that it will go away and Cloud Voicemail will take it’s place.

These are all just my thoughts and reactions after taking a night to sleep on it. I could be wrong on some (or all) of the above statements so take this opinion piece as just that, opinion.

UPDATE:

Some good discussion about this post happened over on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6293444093079019520/?commentUrn=urn%3Ali%3Acomment%3A(activity%3A6293444093079019520%2C6293484439532027904)

Also, AudioCodes has released a solution for Option’s 3 and 4: http://online.audiocodes.com/exchange-online-unified-messaging-x-um

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