Skype for Business End of Life: what you can do about it

Sara Ana Cemazar
December 21, 2023
·
min read

As the sunset date for Skype for Business looms, many organizations still grapple with its impending end. Announced two years ago, the "end of life" phase signifies more than just a transition; it's a critical juncture for IT leaders and C-suite executives to reassess communication tools and data security strategies.

For businesses, this shift isn't merely about finding a new tool; it's about adapting to a changing digital landscape where a customizable, secure and scalable communication platform can uplift efficiency, conversation impact and collaboration.

This blog post investigates the implications of Skype for Business End of Life for enterprise businesses and provides proactive steps to mitigate risks and secure future communications in a post-Skype era.

When did Skype for Business end of life retire its services?

Skype for Business officially retired its services on July 31, 2021. Despite this, many businesses continue to use the platform, exposing themselves to significant risks. 

Without ongoing updates and security patches, these organizations are increasingly vulnerable to the evolving tactics of hackers.

The lack of support also means that any new vulnerabilities discovered post-retirement will not be addressed, leaving systems open to potential breaches and data theft. 

This situation places a critical emphasis on the need for businesses to transition to supported communication platforms that offer regular updates and robust security measures to protect their data and operations in an ever-evolving digital threat landscape.

What are the consequences for users of an end-of-life product?

The consequences of using an end-of-life product like Skype for Business end of life are multifaceted and can significantly impact an organization's operations, security, and budget. 

Here's a detailed look at the repercussions:

1. Stagnant Performance

As products reach their end-of-life, they no longer receive updates or improvements. This stagnation means performance can degrade over time. Users may experience slower response times, more frequent crashes, and incompatibilities with newer technologies. 

This leads to decreased productivity and frustration among team members who rely on efficient workplace communication and collaboration tools.

2. Security Vulnerabilities

Perhaps the most critical concern is the increased risk of security breaches. Without regular updates and patches, end-of-life products become easy targets for hackers.

These vulnerabilities can lead to unauthorized access, data theft, and other malicious activities. For businesses, this is not only sensitive information but also customer trust and corporate reputation.

3. Lagging in Useful Features

Technology evolves rapidly, and newer communication platforms have advanced features that enhance collaboration and productivity.

By clinging to an outdated system, organizations miss out on innovative tools that competitors might be leveraging, such as enhanced video conferencing, integration with other business applications, and improved mobile capabilities.

4. Unpredictable Costs

While it might seem cost-effective to stick with an old system, unexpected expenses can arise from using an end-of-life product. Costs related to maintenance, troubleshooting, and potential downtime can add up. 

5. Regulatory Compliance Challenges

Industries like Healthcare, Government, and Defense are governed by strict regulatory standards that require up-to-date security measures. Using outdated software can lead to non-compliance, resulting in hefty fines and legal consequences. 

Furthermore, in a data breach, businesses might face additional regulatory scrutiny and damage to their reputation.

Is MS Teams the best replacement for Skype for Business end of life?

As Skype for Business end of life retires, many organizations are considering Microsoft Teams as a natural successor given its integration within the Microsoft ecosystem and enhanced capabilities. 

However, whether it's the best replacement depends on specific organizational needs and preferences.

Where Do MS Teams Excels?

Microsoft Teams has a wide range of features that facilitate not just communication but also collaboration. It provides seamless integration with Microsoft 365 applications, enhancing productivity by allowing users to collaborate on documents, schedule meetings, and share resources all within one platform.

Teams also offer superior video conferencing features, extensive chat functionality, and robust security measures.

Why You Should Consider Other Options?

However, Teams might not be the perfect fit for every organization. For businesses not heavily invested in the Microsoft ecosystem, or those looking for a simpler, more straightforward communication tool, Teams might feel unnecessarily complex and feature-heavy.

Additionally, some organizations may find the transition to Teams challenging due to its different interface and broader set of functionalities compared to Skype for Business end of life. 

There are also concerns about data privacy within the vast Microsoft ecosystem and the potential for feature bloat.

Skype for Business end of life: alternatives to consider

When Skype for Business is no longer viable, exploring alternatives is essential for maintaining seamless communication and collaboration within your organization. Let’s look at the top five alternatives to Skype for business.

1. Rocket.Chat

Skype for Business End of Life

As a Skype for Business alternative, Rocket.Chat offers a secure and compliant collaboration platform that puts control, privacy, and customization at the forefront. 

  • Comprehensive Security: With options for self-hosted, air-gapped, or secure cloud deployment, it meets diverse security and compliance needs. This includes ISO 27001 certification and support for GDPR, CCPA, LGPD, and HIPAA.
  • Robust encryption: Its end-to-end encryption ensures conversations remain private. The platform is not just about messaging;
  • Collaboration: It's a comprehensive communication solution offering team collaboration, omnichannel customer service, and a chat engine for app integration.
  • Rapid integration: With its customizable nature and open API, Rocket.Chat allows you to integrate with your ecosystem and tailor the experience to your needs. 

These offerings make Rocket.Chat an attractive choice for organizations prioritizing control, security, and a personalized communication environment. Trusted by millions worldwide, it's a robust solution for those seeking more than what standard platforms offer.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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2. Element

Skype for Business End of Life

Element stands as a compelling replacement for Skype for Business end of life, offering a similar data ownership model but with enhanced security through end-to-end encryption. It's more than just a messaging platform; it's a comprehensive collaboration tool boasting VoIP capabilities and enterprise-grade functionality.

Element's strength lies in its commitment to data sovereignty, whether deployed on-premise or in the cloud, and its ability to facilitate secure, encrypted communication even in air-gapped environments. 

3. Mattermost

Skype for Business End of Life

Mattermost emerges as a robust on-premises alternative to Skype for Business end of life, tailored for dynamic, modern workspaces. 

As an open-source platform, it offers the flexibility for companies to host their communication tools within their secure environments, ensuring maximum privacy and control.

Mattermost offers features like enterprise-grade encryption, custom emojis, unique workflows, and multi-language support, it enhances team collaboration effectively.

4. Zulip

Skype for Business End of Life

Zulip stands out as a strong open-source, threading-based alternative to Slack, particularly favored for its structured conversation model. Users at Stanford appreciate its unique 'topic' feature, which ensures every message is categorized, enhancing clarity and context-switching ease.

The UI is praised for showing unread messages per topic and supporting multi-line messages. Zulip's 'message drafts' and full markdown support, including syntax highlighting for code snippets and LaTeX for equations, are also notable.

5. TroopMessenger

Skype for Business End of Life

Troop Messenger offers a streamlined team chat solution, phasing out the need for emails and physical meetings. It fosters productive team communication with features like swift search, video conferencing, and instant messaging, all while ensuring corporate interactions remain private. 

With additional capabilities like power code, third-party app integration, and powerful analytics, Troop Messenger is an efficient tool for modern workplace communication.

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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