The State of Persistent Chat 2021: Skype for Business Server vNext

Following our previous post regarding the state of Persistent Chat in the context of Skype for Business, we are pleased to bring you our latest post in the series concerning the state of Persistent Chat in 2021.

From the information gathered, this is what we know so far:

  • A new version of Skype for Business server is expected to be released in the second half of 2021.
  • This new version is speculated to be named: Skype for Business Server 2022 and is currently referred to as Skype for Business Server vNext.
  • Following the upgrades in Skype for Business Server 2019, the upgrades coming in Skype for Business server 2022 could be equally noteworthy.
  • Skype for Business Server 2022 will be only be available on a subscription model.
  • The process of upgrading from your system to Skype for Business Server 2022 will depend on which version you currently have deployed:
    • Lync 2013 or Skype for Business 2015: Side by side deployment and migration.
    • Skype for Business 2019: In-place upgrade.
  • Extended support for Skype for Business 2019 will run until: 14/10/2025.
  • Extended support for Skype for Business 2022 is assumed to run until: Second half of 2028.

With a subscription to Skype for Business 2022, customer organizations will enjoy new product updates, bug and security fixes and support access. The range of product updates has yet to be officially communicated but we will post an update when this information becomes available.

For customer organizations currently using an earlier version of Skype for Business and who expect to stay on-premise with their Skype for Business 2022 deployment are urged to start planning their SfB Server 2019 deployment as soon as possible. Following the transition to SfB Server 2019, when SfB Server 2022 becomes available they will be able to perform an in-place upgrade.

According to Microsoft, if your organization is already running Skype for Business Server 2019, Skype for Business Server 2022 will support an in-place upgrade for a period of approximately two years. Administrators will be able to easily upgrade existing servers to the subscription-based codebase without needing to add or change servers.

Regarding the Persistent Chat experience that Skype for Business users have grown accustomed to, in a previous blog we mentioned that it is still possible to run your Skype for Business 2015 Persistent Chat server role in a Skype for Business 2019 topology. Following your in-place upgrade from SfB Server 2019 to SfB Server 2022 it should also be possible to run the Persistent Chat server role following the procedure as outlined in our blog.

In other news, the retirement of Skype for Business Online is set for July 31, 2021. Skype for Business Online customers with existing Microsoft 365 tenants will continue to experience the same services up to the retirement date. Following the retirement of SfB Online it is assumed that customer organizations will be ushered towards MS Teams. Please note, the retirement of SfB Online will not affect Skype for Business Server products.

Skype for Business Server 2022 represents a commitment by Microsoft to continue to support on-premise workloads, well into the 2020s. In the cloud, Teams is Microsoft’s preferred platform for collaboration. Neither of these products, however, offers a true future-proofed Persistent Chat solution that upholds the core principles of real-time persistent chat. For organizations that require a best-in-breed, mission-critical and real-time Persistent Chat solution, we would like to point you to our very own MindLink Chat Engine (MCE). MCE is designed to work in tandem with other modalities from Microsoft products – like IM, presence, and voice.

That wraps up this edition of the State of Persistent Chat in 2021, should there be any further news we will be sure to keep you in the loop with our blog, please sign-up below for to be notified of any updates.