Make Phone Calls from Office 365 with Skype for Business Online

By Anthony Caragol| September 04, 2015

You’ll soon be able to make phone calls from Office 365 with Skype for Business Online. We’re getting tons of questions from Skype for Business Administrators at BDO Digital and I’d like to take a moment to address a few of them.

What does this mean for making phone calls with Skype for Business?

Very simply, right now Office 365 tenants selected for the preview can assign phone numbers to their users and make inbound and outbound calls from their Skype for Business clients. They can also host conferences with PSTN connectivity—all within Microsoft’s cloud.

Skype-For-Business-Image

Can it replace my PBX?

That’s exactly the intention, but not today, and maybe not this year. The first wave of the enhancements will allow for basic inbound and outbound calling, conferencing, and voicemail. Full feature parity including response/hunt groups, common area phones, E911, and more serious reporting won’t be available until a later date. If you’re running in a small office with very simple requirements, you might be a good candidate for the first wave.

Is it a good idea to put my PBX in the cloud?

Someday it will be strange to have telephony on premises, but it’s going to be a slow transition. Regardless of the location of the phone system, there are still many factors to consider and your network quality is key. If you don’t need much and can tolerate a few poor quality calls, outsourcing may be a no-brainer. If you have complex requirements including reporting, call centers, multiple E911 locations, and need to guarantee quality voice calls, a comprehensive deployment plan and careful planning are critical to success. It’s also important to keep in mind that you also have the option to outsource a portion of the system while keeping the most critical components in your infrastructure.

What do you think of it so far?

To be honest, it’s fantastic. I haven’t had any serious issues and call quality has far exceeded my expectations. We at BDO Digital are very excited to see this take shape.

When will the ability to make phone calls from Office 365 be available?

The basics will be available before the end of this year. More advanced features will roll out in 2016.

I want to replace my PBX now, should I wait?

Not necessarily. If you have a phone system that needs to be replaced, all of the features are available right now in Skype for Business which can run in your own datacenter. It can be configured in a hybrid approach so that when the cloud is ready, you will be too.

Transforming business for the digital age