Skype for Business Server: the aftermath of 2019 retirement

Sara Ana Cemazar
April 18, 2024
min read

Skype for Business Server was an intercommunication and collaboration server software created by Microsoft for business purposes. It featured real-time messaging, voice and video calls, and online meetings. Organizations relied on their on-premises infrastructure – a setup they hosted themselves – allowing them direct control over the flow of information over Skype for Business Server.

Since the announcement of Skype for Business Online retirement in July 2019, Microsoft has set the final retirement date as July 31, 2021. 

The company aims to position Microsoft Teams as the prime collaboration and teamwork platform within the Microsoft 365 productivity suite. This retirement of Skype for Business led organizations to use Microsoft Teams and other Skype for Business alternatives.

In this blog post, let us explore the aftermath of Skype for Business Server retirement.

What happened after Skype for Business Server retirement?

1. Planning the transition

Microsoft ensured the transition between Skype for Business and Teams was seamless through co-existence modes that allowed for the smooth interoperability of both apps.

2. Support for on-premises customers

However, Skype for Business Online has been retired, and Microsoft has ensured support for on-premises deployments. Companies can still move to the new service at their own pace.

3. Aiding the migration process

The services included comprehensive assistance in the form of documentation, workshops, and tools that automated the process. The phased decommissioning of Skype for Business Online allowed for this transition to happen gradually, with Teams being the successor.

4. MS Teams: The cloud-powered future

This step also marked Microsoft's transition to the cloud-centric ecosystem, implying that Teams' powerful cloud platform provides the latest and most advanced features.

The difference between Skype for Business and MS Teams

Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams are collaboration platforms developed by Microsoft. However, they differ when it comes to the features, functionalities, and coexistence modes, especially on-premises deployments.

  • Persistent Chat: Unlike Skype for Business, where the chat history is often lost, Microsoft Teams' persistent chat feature enables people to save the chat history indefinitely.
  • Team Messaging: The Teams feature allows the creation of dedicated teams for constant discussions, file sharing, and collaborations, which is a more structured way than Skype for Business.
  • Meetings Experience: Although both platforms support meetings, Microsoft Team has more features, such as background blurring, customized backgrounds, live captions, and more, which enhance the meeting experience.
  • Integration and Guest Access: In addition to the Microsoft Teams Apps Store, which enables the integration of third-party apps, this platform also provides a guest access option for external collaborators, enabling a more flexible collaboration environment.
  • File Storage: Teams are equipped with SharePoint integration, which enables them to provide robust file storage features and thus improves the document management experience within teams and channels.

Microsoft's end-of-life support for Skype for Business Online was a landmark event, signaling the direction of technology towards cloud-hosted collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams. 

On-prem alternatives to Skype for Business Server

Microsoft Teams primarily operates in the cloud but offers limited on-premises options. Hence, businesses are moving to on-prem alternatives to MS Teams and Skype for Business. 

Let’s go over some top choices:

1. Rocket.Chat

Open-sourced communication and collaboration platform Rocket.Chat can be a reliable alternative to Skype for Business as one of the most secure messaging apps on the market. Its asynchronous chat facilitates crystal-clear communication through channels and threads, helping to prevent message loss.

Rocket.Chat is not limited to just messaging. The chat app offers audio/video calls, file sharing, read receipts, and push notifications to keep the contact as smooth as possible. 

Rocket.Chat empowers users with interface customization and granular controls. It also offers robust moderation capabilities and device management, which are essential for contemporary teams.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

Talk to sales

2. Mattermost

Mattermost is specifically tailored for technical and operational teams. Its distinctive features include team messaging, custom integrations, audio/screen sharing, and workflow automation tailored to technical tasks. 

Mattermost offers task management capabilities, self-hosting, service control, and flexible deployment options that decrease response time by 90%, improve incident resolution, and make data control possible. Besides strong identity/access controls and compliance auditing, its open-source architecture allows for extensive customization and integration.

3. Element

Element matches the Skype for Business functionality with specific tools for teamwork and communication that make collaboration easy to use. It ensures security and productivity on all devices by encrypting end-to-end. The chat function, location sharing, polling, and screen sharing support active engagement.

Personalized chat rooms keep communication organized. Element's main strength is its data sovereignty, interoperability, and compliance features, which allow air-gapped collaboration in many sectors, such as healthcare, defense, and cybersecurity. Its enterprise-grade features, such as identity management and auditing, enable different teams in any sector to use the system.

4. Troop Messenger

With Troop Messenger, teams get the same robust teamwork features as they do with Skype for Business, including instant messaging and audio/video calling. It uses an end-to-end encryption technique to ensure secure conversations. 

Troop Messenger is mainly known for its powerful collaboration features, ease of communication, and cloud deployment. The role-based access controls, LDAP integration, and audit logs ensure that businesses are always protected.

5. Threema

Threema provides an alternative to Skype for Business that has privacy as its essence, enhancing the privacy of individuals and businesses through powerful end-to-end encryption

In contrast to other peers, this team communication app does not require personal data to set up an account, giving users the assurance of anonymity and the Swiss-made guarantee of not being bound by jurisdictional limitations. It enables GDPR-compliant messaging, and also offers businesses secure video calls and efficient management tools.

6. Wire

Wire is a robust software that sets new standards in secure collaboration. Widely used by top organizations, Wire provides confidentiality by onward encryption throughout messages, voice, and video conferences. It implements a zero-knowledge security system and Wire Federation, which makes it stand out among tools with end-to-end encryption. 

As a 100-member capacity platform, Wire allows for secure voice and video calls across platforms and adheres to regulations and guidelines. Both Wire Cloud and Wire On-Premises provide a flexible and secure chat platform.

Secure collaboration solution: Why does Rocket.Chat stand out

Before choosing a Skype for Business Server alternative, businesses consider security, collaboration features, scalability, and deployment optionsRocket.Chat meets robust security standards with features like end-to-end encryption, guest user access, and collaboration tools such as audio/video calls and file sharing.

The personalized interface and advanced management functions provide secure and effective communication for businesses. Try Rocket.Chat today for a smooth and secure collaboration channel.

Frequently asked questions about <anything>

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
Related Article:
Team collaboration: 5 reasons to improve it and 6 ways to master it
Want to collaborate securely with your team?
Deploy Rocket.Chat on-premise or in the cloud and keep your conversations private.
  • Digital sovereignty
  • Federation capabilities
  • Scalable and white-labeled
Talk to sales
Looking for a HIPAA-ready communications platform?
Enable patients and healthcare providers to securely communicate without exposing their data.
  • Highly scalable and secure
  • Full patient conversation history
  • HIPAA-ready
Talk to sales
The #1 communications platform for government
Deploy Rocket.Chat on-premise, in the cloud, or air-gapped environment.
  • Secure data governance and digital sovereignty
  • Trusted by State, Local, and Federal agencies across the world
  • Matrix federation capabilities for cross-agency communication
Talk to sales
Want to customize Rocket.Chat according to your own preferences?
See behind the engine and change the code how you see fit.
  • Open source code
  • Highly secure and scalable
  • Unmatched flexibility
Talk to sales
Looking for a secure collaboration platform?
Keep your conversations private while enjoying a seamless collaboration experience with Rocket.Chat.
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Cloud or on-prem deployment
  • Supports compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, FINRA, and more
Talk to sales
Want to build a highly secure in-app chat experience?
Use Rocket.Chat’s APIs, frameworks, and managed backend to build a secure in-app or live chat experience for your customers.
  • Supports compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, FINRA, and more
  • Highly secure and flexible
  • On-prem or cloud deployment
Talk to sales

Our best content, once a week

Share this on:

Get your free, personalized demo now!

Build the most secure chat experience for your team or customers

Book demo