I was really looking forward to attending Microsoft Ignite. No other UC product has impacted the enterprise more than Skype4B. The product was on a fairly linear development path that started with basic IM over a decade ago. But things accelerated over the past few years when Microsoft shifted to cloud-first with Skype4B Online. Hybrid appeared to be a transition, but may now be the destination goal for enterprise. In the past year Microsoft became a UCaaS and global conferencing provider.
- It’s competing with carriers that are hosting Skype4B
- It now sells PCs that compete with partners such as Dell and Lenovo
- Launched its own video room solution that competes with (partner) Polycom
- Ended (or postphoned) its Win 10 initiative on mobile devices
As an analyst, keeping up with Skype4B is harder than any other UC platform. it’s one of the more complex solutions, plus the AR team continuously changes and Microsoft does few briefings each year. I mistakenly concluded that Skype4B was largely unchanged since its last release. While that is mostly true for SKype4B Server, it is not true for the clients or Skype4B Online.
Quite a bit was announced at Ignite. It didn’t seem so at first. Skype4B wasn’t even mentioned during the two hour opening keynote, but Gurdeep’s general session was packed with nuggets. They are all summarized in the 2Pager. The most significant is the general availability of Skype Room Systems (2.0).
Now, for the first time, Cisco and Microsoft are both offer UC solutions that heavily promote native desktop and room video. Video is still positioned as an add-on with many UC and UCaaS solutions.
What I didn’t know was this session was Gurdeep’s farewell Skype4B presentation. It seems Satya has other plans for Gurdeep. I guessed before that Gurdeep was likely headed for AI, but now think it is more likely to involve LinkedIn. Also, Zig Serafin is leaving the company, so two big leadership changes. (I believe these to be unrelated, but the conspiracy theories are intriguing).
These (and more) organizational changes were not covered at Ignite. See The Explosion After Ignite.
I left Ignite feeling very good about where Skype4B is now and where it was headed, but such a management (and AR) shakeup concerns me. I’m thankful BJ and Jamie are still there (knock on wood). Skype4B has momentum, but will its vision and direction change?
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