Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging Drops Support for Third-Party PBX

Is it time to change your UC strategy?

MS UM 3rd Party BinIf you’re a Microsoft customer, then you might need to make a couple of changes to your UC plan, now that the brand has announced that they will be cancelling third-party PBX support for the Exchange Online Unified Messaging service. The support will come to an end in July 2016, which means that you’ve got about 10 months to figure out whether you’re going to use another service, or completely migrate into Skype for Business.

According to an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, Michael Brandenburg, there could be some complicated days ahead for IT admins as they try to figure out a solution to cope with the new Microsoft changes. The announcement from Microsoft outlined that the brand would be both retiring session border controls, and ending third party PBX support for their Exchange Online Unified Messaging while placing a stronger focus on Skype for Business and exchange protocols.

Pressure to Act Fast

Although Microsoft believes that their new change won’t affect many customers, they’re still placing some companies in a difficult position, with such a short deadline for the change. Many of the customers that are using the Exchange UM will be larger organisations with several Session Border Comtrollers (SBCs), and it will take time for those companies to completely transform their UC strategy.

Even if you’re already on the path to Skype for Business migration, you’re going to need to speed up your activities if you want to be ready in time. Migrations can be complex experiences, particularly for businesses that need to replace their existing PBX solutions. If you’re planning to maintain your integration with Exchange UM, then there’s a risk you’ll be exposing yourself to user-facing and software issues.

The latest Microsoft announcement is leaving some customers wondering whether Microsoft and similar UC vendors on the market will ever be able to truly support a hybrid UC environment.

Potential Partner Opportunities

Third-party vendors for Unified Messaging may be able to take advantage of the announcement by offering PBX support to customers who want to continue using Exchange Online. Additionally, other Microsoft partners will be able to consider building new connections to help simplify the migration process for customers.

On the other hand, UC vendors that provide interoperability with Skype for Business on desktop could come to the rescue of UM customers by supporting Exchange Online with Microsoft APIs.

Will You Be Affected by the Change?

The abolished support for Exchange Online UM won’t affect everyone. If you’re using third-party voicemail with APIs from Microsoft, or you’re connected to Skype for Business, then you should be fine. If you are going to struggle as a result of the change, then Microsoft suggests you can try one of four options for migration:

  1. Move totally into Office 365 and a cloud PBX
  2. Move into the Skype for Business Server with on-premises options
  3. Use Online UM through a Microsoft Partner to connect with Skype for Business
  4. Try deploying a third-party service for voicemail


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Written by Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter

Hi I'm Rebekah, I have an unwavering passion for the technology sector, and I regularly stay up to date with the latest in UC and Cloud