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Microsoft Teams & Skype for Business Integration Continues: Will They Become One?

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When Microsoft Teams was released the integration between Skype for Business was very tentative for two products that do many similar things from the same vendor. In fact the very first time I saw Microsoft Teams, when it was being announced at the Microsoft Global MVP summit, one of my first questions to Dan Stevenson was “Why isn’t presence integrated?”

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The question of how Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams will interact is of interest because of the functionality overlap & users will live in some app, not three. I wrote a detailed technical article of how Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business integrate and relate to each other when Teams was released to help clarify technically and UI-wise what is happening.

It looks like with the latest round of development Teams & Skype for Business are continuing to “come together” with “Integrated Presence” announced as “In Development” as of July 2017 on the Office 365 Roadmap page and “Calling interop with Skype for Business” (audio & video calling) and more already Launched.

Here is a list of recent items related to Teams and Skype for Business:

  • Integrated Presence (Feature ID: 15286)
    • Ability for users in Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams to have the same presence state
  • Calling interop with Skype for Business (Feature ID: 15285)

    • Ability to make 1-1 audio and video calls with users in Skype for Business

  • Outlook Schedule add-in (Feature ID: 15279)

    • Ability to add a Microsoft Teams meeting add in to Outlook so that users can schedule Microsoft Teams meetings from within Outlook

  • Not mentioned on the Roadmap, but am I seeing that MEME’s now are supported for Skype4B Chats? (I think so, if not mistaken)

From this motion it appears the products are moving in the direction of being more seamlessly integrated. At the moment Skype for Business has a more “outward and instant collaboration focus” with PSTN Calling, PBX features & Dial in Meeting, but Microsoft Teams is more “internal & less realtime focused” on teams and no external access. But this difference is being diminished as Microsoft Teams gets more meeting (Outlook Meeting Scheduler Plugin mentioned above) and calling functionally (Hold, Call Transfer functionality added recently to Teams). It’s not hard to imaging Microsoft Teams with PSTN Calling.

An obvious question for those using and supporting Skype for Business is how the two products will live together into the future. A very popular item on Microsoft Teams User Voice is “Complete Skype for Business Integration into Teams” by fellow Skype for Business MVP Josh Blalock  which has over 2,000 votes and is noted as “under review” by Microsoft Teams user voice manager @skprufo. Will Microsoft Teams functionality be surfaced in Skype for Business client as a replacement for Persistant Chat? In spite of my Skype for Business + Teams concept article, (screen shot below) I really doubt it.

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While there were integration points to Microsoft Teams from when it was released, Microsoft Teams is starting to get a more fully functiona client API via Microsoft Graph that allows developers to write the kind of apps & add-ons that are necessary to make Microsoft Teams “one client to handle all communications” that a user can live in.

From appearances, my guestimate is, and that is all it is, things will go the other way with Microsoft Teams user interface getting more and more what it needs to work with Skype for Business and be one client that users can live in for internal and external communications.

Original Skype4B & Teams Integration at GA:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2017/01/microsoft-teams-tip-10-disable-skype.html

Skype4B & Teams CONCEPT UX
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2017/04/a-concept-for-integrating-skype-for.html

Keeping Skype for Business Server Environment Secure from Hacks & Exploits

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A recent Skype for Business exploit was found & fixed in a timely fashion by Microsoft, but this incidence underscores the importance of UC security once again. In this article we will 1) look at some historical Skype for Business/Lync hacks/exploits and 2) some things that can be considered to preemptively stave off these types of issues.

Brought Force Password Attacks: All Users (even non-Lync/Skype for Business Users) Need to Have Secure Passwords

Login pages facing the web potentially expose all domains users, even those who are not Lync or Skype for Business users, to brute force attacks and so all users need to have secure passwords. Even those test users and perhaps especially those test users.

Overview of this method is that lyncdiscover is used to find servers and then a login page like dialin or scheduler is used to launch a password brute force attack. The video below gives the details. (more docs)

Lesson: The importance of all domain users having strong passwords and why MFA is important.

Exploits Like “Skype for Business 2016 XSS Injection”: Keep Skype for Business Server & Client Up to Date

On July 12, 2017 an exploit appeared in the Exploit Database which is described below:

XSS injection is possible via the Lync 2013 SDK and PowerShell. No user-interaction is required for the XSS to execute on the target machine. It will run regardless of whether or not they accept the message. The target only needs to be online.

This was addressed by Microsoft before the exploit was published, so that is great, but the update needs to be installed.

Lesson: The lesson here is that you need to keep your servers and clients up to date.

What Are Some Things That Can Be Done to Mitigate Risk?

 

Implement Multifactor Authentication

Configure multifactor authentication. To get started take a look at:
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn308571.aspx

Modern Authentication
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Skype-for-Business-Blog/Modern-Authentication-for-the-Skype-for-Business-Online-Windows/ba-p/65742

Secure with App Security Layer

See:
https://kemptechnologies.com/solutions/waf/
https://skypeshield.com/skypeshield-features/

If you have any additional ideas on way to keep Skype for Business secure, I welcome your comments.

First Impression: Yamaha YVC-1000MS USB Speakerphone Certified for Skype for Business

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At Microsoft Inspire 2017 Yamaha announced that their YVC-1000MS USB speakerphone has become Microsoft Skype for Business Certified. A question might be: Why would Microsoft take on another speakerphone vendor?

The folks at Yamaha noted that the ability to bring a wired room microphone into a Skype for Business meeting was a driver. This is facilitated with an RCA jacks on the back of the YVC-1000MS as shown on the picture below. (Port/terminal number 6 in the picture) The YVC-1000MS mixes the USB, Bluetooth and audio input jack. The devices allows up to 2 RCA Mics.

 

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There is mixer software (YVC –1 000 Configurator)  that you can download from Yamaha website. ( Manual | External Mic. Setup Guide” for documentation) The YVC=1000 Configurator allows you to select how the inputs are mixed. (below)

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Another unique feature is the Tuning Fork Button, which automatically optimizes the acoustic settings by learning about the environment of a room as it operators.

The speakerphone also supports up to 5 remote microphones which have DSP’s that can eliminate noises other than voices. (I didn’t get to test that, so no word on that)

A quick video look at YVC-1000MS at Microsoft Inspire 2017

The device connects to Skype for Business via USB and depends on the Skype for Business client for call control as there are no buttons for call pickup on the device. There is also Bluetooth and NFC pairing.

The devices is $1299 MSRP and includes one remote mic in that price. Additional mic are $399MSRP.

More Info:
http://www.yamaha.com/products/en/communication/usb_conference_speakerphones/yvc-1000/