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Considering Skype For The Enterprise

I recently wrote about how Skype is going to be using the revenue generated from the IPO to attack the business market. The company does a good job highlighting its penetration into fringe business cases--mobility and international calling--and emerging business cases, such as video calling, but perceptions of Skype as prone to security and other problems have been a barrier to enterprise-grade use. Should you consider Skype for enterprise-wide deployment? Let's discuss.

Skype also added ways of tying into existing telephony infrastructure. Businesses can connect PBXs to Skype through Skype trunks with Skype Connect (or what's been referred to as Skype for SIP). Skype Connect already has over 2,400 active global customers and has already been certified by Avaya, Cisco, SIPfoundry and ShoreTel, among others, as interoperable with their products. Skype for Asterisk allows for Skype integration into the Asterisk environments. At the same time, Skype is building out the necessary support services for delivering enterprises-grade services. Sales teams have been improved and there's talk about paid, 24x7 support.

So should you consider Skype for your Business? Certainly, if you're considering a new deployment, but even in existing deployments Skype has lots going for it. Keep in mind, however, that while Skype has gone to great lengths to improve  the availability of its network and to make it easier to diagnose problems with the client, all softphone quality remains unpredictable, highly susceptible to the processes running in the client and network traffic conditions. Skype already has consumer-grade telephones that can utilize its network. It should consider providing the same for business-grade telephones.

Directory integration will also remain an issue. Enterprises today have their personnel and extension information already stored in a directory, such as LDAP. Tapping into those databases will make Skype significantly easier to roll out within the organization. Finally, compliance remains a problem. Right now, there are no integrated compliance mechanisms with Skype. You can't, for example, log chats in Skype for Business in a centralized location. Similarly, calls are encrypted, which makes call logging a problem.

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