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Skype Online Cloud PBX – What is included, and what isn’t?

Handy Graph below

In the ever-expanding landscape of Microsoft Office 365 offerings, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to keep up! This is especially true in the case of the Skype Online Cloud PBX features that continue to be released.

Just over one year ago, Cloud PBX functionality was released in Office 365 Skype for Business with great success. Users were able to use Skype online as their primary phone, and completely ditch the old PBX phone. The reliability and call quality were high, and the user experience was very good. These were the primary concerns going in to this ground-breaking service, and the results were fantastic. However, the functionality that was released initially was missing some features that would allow certain Organizations to migrate all PBX functionality to Office 365. There was no on-premises PSTN support, no support for analog devices, no auto-attendants, no support for Unified Messaging, etc.

Fast forward one year to December 2016, and the service offerings have expanded greatly – with many more features on the way! The matrix below will allow you to compare the different Skype for Business PBX solutions: Cloud-Only PBX, Cloud Connector Edition (On-Premises Gateway connected to Cloud PBX), Skype for Business Hybrid (Skype deployed On-Premises and in Office 365), and Skype for Business On-premises only.

 

This Matrix is accurate as of April 2017; check back with us often to keep up-to-speed with all of the Office 365 features that Microsoft has to offer!

 

Functionality

Skype for Business Online
Cloud PBX
(in Office 365, no on-premises Servers / Appliances)

Skype for Business Online
Cloud PBX
With Cloud Connector Edition (CCE)

Skype for Business Online
Cloud PBX
With Hybrid On-premises Servers

Skype for Business
On-Premises

Feature Description /
Additional information

Voicemail

Yes, via Azure Voicemail (Exchange Online) or Exchange Unified Messaging (On Premises)

Yes, via Azure Voicemail (Exchange Online) or Exchange Unified Messaging (On Premises)

Yes, via Azure Voicemail (Cloud PBX / Exchange Online Users) or Exchange Unified Messaging (On Premises)

Yes, via Exchange Unified Messaging (On Premises or Online)

Voicemail support for Skype for Business is provided by Exchange Unified Messaging. Exchange Online users may also use Azure Voicemail, which delivers inbound voicemails to Exchange Online Mailboxes.

Broadcast meeting
(up to 10k users)

Yes

Yes

Yes, for online users only

No

produce and broadcast a meeting on the internet with up to 10,000 attendees, who can attend from a browser on virtually any device. With Skype Meeting Broadcast, you can host large virtual meeting such as internal "Town Hall" style meetings and public webinars. You can record meetings, and you can customize them to gauge audience involvement and satisfaction.

Call answer/initiate
(by name or phone number)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Standard Phone usage - Making and Receiving calls - Either from a Skype Certified Phone, a headset with the Soft client, or a mobile device.

Call delegation and call on-behalf (for example, manager and admin)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Make or answer calls on behalf of a manager you support. Notifications make it clear to all participants when calls are being answered or made for someone else.

Call forwarding and simultaneous ringing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

These features allow you to set up forwarding rules so your calls can go with you anywhere, and you can forward calls to colleagues or to voicemail.

Call history

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Keep track of all your conversations in one place, whether those conversations are from IMs, phone calls, or impromptu and scheduled meetings. Conversations are recorded in your call history.

Call hold/retrieve

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Use when multiple calls occur at the same time. When you answer the next inbound call or place an outbound call, your current call goes on hold automatically.

Call Mute / Unmute

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Put active calls or conferences on Mute and unmute, either via Skype client mute Button, or dial controls when dialed in to conferences

Call transfer (blind, consult, and mobile)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Transfers calls to another person. Or, if you need to leave your office, but want to continue your conversation, you can transfer the calls from your PC or IP phone, to your cell phone or tablet.

Caller ID

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

External Calls that are not contacts or Federated contacts will show the caller ID info (phone number). Calls from inside your company display a detailed caller ID that pulls information from your corporate directory, showing you a picture and job title instead of just a phone number.

Camp On / tag for status change

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

This feature allows you to tag people who are currently unavailable and get notified when their presence changes and they’re ready to take phone calls.

Desk Phone Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

All version of Skype for Business support Skype Certified Desk phones and Headsets

Device switching

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Enables you to play your call or meeting on another device.

Dial-in Conferencing (up to 250 users)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Dial in conferences can be supported on both Cloud and on-premises solutions. It should be noted that for Cloud deployments, on-premises PSTN cannot be used to join conferences (Online SIP trunking only)

Distinctive Ringing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Play different ringtones for the different types of calls you get every day, so you quickly know who is calling you.

Do-not-disturb routing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Controls your inbound communications with presence, enabling you to block all incoming communication except from those you specifically indicate.

Encryption

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Communications on all Skype options can be encrypted

Enterprise Calendar Call Routing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Enterprise calendar call routing allows you to use your Exchange calendar business hours to enable or disable call forwarding and simultaneous ringing in Skype for Business.

High Availability

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

High availability is built in to Cloud offerings, and on-premise solution support highly available and disaster-recoverable solutions.

Integrated dial-pad

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Dial by name or by number anywhere in the search bar and in the dial pad, speeding up the process of making outbound calls.

Integration with On-premises Exchange Unified Messaging

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Microsoft has recently added support for On-Premises Exchange Unified Messaging with Cloud PBX users. The details for this solution can be found here:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3195158

Make Skype for Business calls using your desk phone for audio

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

When your PBX desk phone is configured to work with Skype for Business, you can call people in your organization through Skype for Business, and the audio for the call will flow through your phone.

Mobile Device Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

All version of Skype for Business support Skype Clients on Windows, IOS or Android Mobile devices.

Music on hold

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Plays music when you place a call on hold, so your callers know you’re still there and the call hasn’t accidentally dropped.

Soft Client support (headset)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

All version of Skype for Business support Skype Clients on Windows and Mac.

Team calling (up to 25 users in a team)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sends your calls to your team either immediately or after a set time period.

Video call monitor

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

You can see the speaker’s name and video stream in a small floating window, so you’re always ready to respond to any questions.

Web Conferencing (up to 250 attendees)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Web conferences allow for attendees to join via the Skype for Business Client, a Lync client, or a Web-Based client for non-skype users.

Quality of Service (QoS)

Requires Express Route

Requires Express Route

Yes for On-prem, requires express route for Cloud

Yes

QoS is supported in on-premises and Express Route deployments only.

Toll-free number support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Toll-free numbers may be ported from your existing toll-free carrier.
Toll-Free numbers are also supported within PSTN conferencing on Office 365.

Requires on-premises servers or appliances

No*

Yes

Yes

Yes

Pure Cloud PBX deployments require no on-premises servers or appliances. Cloud PBX with Cloud Connector can be a single server or appliance footprint.
* May require on-premise SSO, AD, etc.

Analog Device Support

No

Yes, with a gateway

Yes

Yes

On-premises and Hybrid solutions allow for support of analog stations. Fax machines and modems are recommended to utilize POTS lines or PBX, and not flow through Skype.

Integration to On-premises PSTN

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

With On-premises, Hybrid and CCE solutions, Skype can integrate to on-premise telephony (SIP trunks, PSTN, PBX, etc.)

Integration to PBX

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

With On-premises, Hybrid and CCE solutions, Skype can integrate to on-premise telephony (SIP trunks, PSTN, PBX, etc.)

Abbreviated Dialing

No

Requires On-premise Gateway

Yes

Yes

Abbreviated dialing refers to the ability to short-dial (4-digit for example) users within the organization. It should be noted that when utilizing Skype for Business, abbreviated dialing becomes essentially eliminated - as click to call works for all peer-to-peer calls in skype clients.
For more info about Configuring abbreviated dialing in a cloud connector edition scenario, see the link below:

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/nexthop/2016/05/11/cloud-connector-edition-interop-with-short-digit-dialing/

Outbound DID Manipulation

No

Requires On-premise Gateway

Yes

Yes

One-premise, Hybrid and CCE deployments allow the administrator to manipulate outbound dialing strings from users for normalization or call routing. This is largely irrelevant in Cloud PBX deployments, as there is no Least cost routing or digit manipulation required in most instances,

Call Parking Lot

No

No

Yes

Yes

On-premises and Hybrid deployments allow you place a call in a parking lot, and allow another user to dial the park number to retrieve the call. This is not yet available in Cloud PBX.

Contact Center Integration

Only Client-side integration

Only Client-side integration

Yes

Yes

Cloud PBX does not currently allow for 3rd-party integration to the backend servers, and thus Contact centers will require on-premises of Hybrid deployment for direct integration.
Client-side integration IS available from Clarity Connect, in a cloud-based federation service.

E911

No*

No*

Yes

Yes

* US-originated 911 calls are sent to a third-party handler that will determine the caller's location, and route the call to the correct PSAP. 

Calls originating from the UK will route directly to the PSAP that correlates with the user's location information in Skype Online.

Least Cost Routing

N/A

N/A

Yes

Yes

On-premises deployments are able to route calls to specific Skype pools or devices based on the dialed number. This feature is irrelevant in Cloud PBX.

Private Line

No

No

On-prem users only

Yes

On-premise users are able to have a second, unpublished private line. This line could have a separate ring tone, and could be an executives personal line.

Transfer to Voicemail

No

No

On-prem users only

Yes

Users located on-premises will be able to transfer calls directly to another on-premise user's voicemail. Cloud users will be required to transfer the call back to the user, which would ring their phone before routing to voicemail.

Common-Area Phones

Requires a license

Requires a license

Requires a license for cloud based

Yes

Phones that are not assigned to a user are allowed in Skype On-premises solutions and Hybrid, but Cloud offerings will require that those use a user account (BreakRoom1 for example), and will require a license.

Branch Survivability

No

No

For on-prem users only

Yes

In on-premises solutions, you are able to place a gateway with Survivable Branch appliance functionality at Branch locations. This will allow users to continue using PSTN even in a primary site or WAN outage.

Busy options

No

No

For on-prem users only

Yes

Users in on-premises solutions can determine what happens to communications based upon their free-busy status.

Call Admission Control

N/A

N/A

For on-prem users only

Yes

On-premises solutions have the ability to route incoming communications to other Skype pools based upon over-utilization. This feature is irrelevant in Office 365.

Response Groups

Call Queues

Call Queues

Yes for on-prem, Call Queues for Cloud

Yes

Response groups are hunt groups within Skype for business, and currently only supported in on-premises or Hybrid solutions (And Response group users must reside in the on-prem Skype deployment).
Call Queues enables incoming calls to route to the next available attendant in the order that they were queued.

Shared Line Appearance

No

No

For on-prem users only

Yes

Shared Line Appearance is a feature in Skype for Business on-premises deployments for handling multiple calls on a specific number called a shared number. SLA can configure any enterprise voice enabled Skype for Business user as a shared number with multiple lines to respond to multiple calls.

Public meeting support (Static ID)

No

No

For On-prem meetings only

Yes

When a meeting is generated in Skype online, it is given a new meeting ID every time, and expires in 15 Days. For on-premise Skype Meetings, users have the option to select whether they want a unique meeting ID, or their static meeting ID (which is always available to dial in to).

International Support

Limited

Limited

Yes

Yes

Cloud PBX support native PSTN calling in the US, UK, France and Puerto Rico only. Users outside of these countries may use PSTN calling (Excluding India), but they would have US phone numbers, and be routed via the US datacenter.
International plans include 600 minutes per user per month and minutes can be pooled across users.

Call Quality Logs

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

On-premises solutions allow for a deployment of the monitoring server service, which writes to SQL. The monitoring service in Skype for Business Server 2015 provides a way for administrators to collect usage and quality data for the communication sessions that take place in their organization, which allows them to identify trends and problems.

Cloud solutions offer the Call Quality Dashboard, and some powershell commands to assist in trending and troubleshooting.

Room system integration

Yes*

Yes*

Yes

Yes

* Rooms systems that are not on the Skype-supported list may require a 3rd party integration solution such as Pexip. The Skype supported Room Systems can be found here:
http://partnersolutions.skypeforbusiness.com/solutionscatalog/meeting-room-systems
Skype on-premises solutions have more flexibility in regards to integration with existing room systems.

Call recording

Client only

Client only

client only for cloud users

Yes

Skype clients have ability to locally record calls on-demand, but for backend call recording solutions, on-premises deployment is required.

Auto-attendants

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Organizational Auto Attendant is a new feature in Cloud PBX that allows admins to configure an automated system to answer inbound calls to their company, ask the caller using speech recognition for their intended destination, and route the calls accordingly to users and departments inside the company.
On-premises Skype for Business requires Exchange Unified Messaging (Cloud or on-premises) for support for Auto-Attendants (and voicemail).

 

With these flexible offerings from Microsoft, there is a good fit for virtually any organization. Contact Enabling Technologies today to find out how Microsoft Unified Communications can streamline your Organization, reduce cost, save time, and improve communications!

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