Mar 15 2021

Get Ready to Transition Away from Skype for Business in Government

Skype for Business is going away July 31, and Microsoft is offering support to change videoconferencing platforms.

In addition to thinking about how videoconferencing tools can be secured and enhance productivity, IT leaders at agencies across the federal government have one more thing to keep in mind: Skype for Business is about to go away.

Microsoft has said it will retire Skype for Business on July 31, after which the service will no longer be accessible. That means agencies need to start planning a transition to an alternative videoconferencing platform, such as Microsoft Teams.

To make the transition easier for organizations, Microsoft has rolled out a number of resources, including upgrade planning workshops; free, instructor-led training; and FastTrack onboarding assistance.

Many federal agencies have been using Microsoft Teams for some time now. The Defense Department has been supporting teleworking tools for more than 1 million users with its Commercial Virtual Remote Environment solution, which is based on the Teams platform. As FedTech reported, the Department of Homeland Security scaled out its Microsoft Teams videoconferencing capabilities to support a massive spike in remote work last year.

Microsoft Planning Workshops Can Help with the Transition to Teams

To help advise on the transition, Microsoft is offering a series of hourlong, interactive upgrade planning workshops that provide best practices and share key migration considerations.

The “Plan Your Upgrade” sessions, available through March 31, are aimed at a wide audience of stakeholders. By the end, Microsoft says, the planning session will enable IT administrators and other users to articulate a high-level journey to Teams, be aware of common attributes of successful transitions, identify the steps to successful upgrades, and create and implement their own upgrade plans.

Microsoft is also offering free, live online training, starting with a Teams knowledge check to help users find the right class with which to begin. On-demand end-user training is supported by six YouTube videos, which range from 16 minutes to more than an hour in length. The final video is dedicated solely to making the switch.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: See how virtual tools allow agencies to onboard workers from a distance. 

Microsoft’s FastTrack Can Facilitate the Move to Teams

As with the upgrade planning workshops, FastTrack can help government IT leaders and admins plan the migration, but getting the most out of this resource may depend on the agency’s existing IT environment.

The FastTrack service is free to customers with eligible subscriptions to Microsoft 365Azure or Dynamics 365. It includes curated Microsoft 365 self-guided resources, an adoption kit with templates and additional adoption tools.

When setting up Microsoft Teams, it is essential to define which of the four available security configurations (Baseline – Public, Baseline – Private, Sensitive and Highly Sensitive) the agency needs, Susie Adams, CTO of Microsoft Federal, has told FedTech.

“This critical step will determine an agency’s level of protection, as it limits the ability to access and collaborate on files stored within Teams,” she notes.

IT admins must ensure that everyone has access to Teams. “If you already have a subscription that includes Teams, turn it on for everyone,” notes Microsoft. Admins also need to “understand how to get your organization started with Meetings and live events in Teams.”

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