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 In Blog, Productivity, Technology, Unified Communications

There are big changes in Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging this year. If you rely on Exchange for Unified Messaging, it’s time to make adjustments to preserve this valuable functionality.

In addition to no longer supporting SBCs for Exchange Online UM, Exchange Server 2019 omits UM functionality entirely.

 

“One thing to note is that Unified Messaging role will not be available in Exchange Server 2019. Customers who currently connect either a 3rd party PBX or Skype for Business Server to Exchange Server won’t be able to do so with Exchange Server 2019 mailboxes. Those customers considering an upgrade to Exchange Server 2019 should consider migrating to Skype for Business Server 2019 and using Cloud Voicemail, or migrating to Office 365 with Cloud Voicemail.”

– Microsoft Exchange Team, 7/24/18

 

This can leave IT administrators with an urgent dilemma in order to preserve key functionalities their staff have come to rely upon. Do they put off upgrading to Exchange 2019? Or do they upgrade now and switch to either Cloud Voicemail or another solution?

How Much Time Do You Have?

The short answer is that you’ll lose Exchange UM when you upgrade to Exchange Server 2019, but you have some flexibility in choosing when you do. Some organizations may choose to continue with Exchange Server 2016. However, not only does this keep your organization from benefiting from the 2019 upgrades, but it also leaves your organization on a collision course with Exchange Server 2016’s end of mainstream support in October 2020.

 

Possible Issues with a Push to the Cloud

As mentioned in the quote above, Microsoft is offering their own solution: upgrade to their Cloud Voicemail. However, this is only available to customers that use Skype for Business Enterprise Voice or Cloud Phone System from Microsoft. For some organizations this may work – more companies and government organizations are shifting to a Cloud infrastructure mandate, but it isn’t the right fit for everyone.

Budgeting and Retaining the Value of 3rd party PBX Investments
Communications infrastructure is expensive. The scale of the cost involved in a rip & replace of existing PBX & phone investments constitutes a significant drain on an organization’s annual budget. The level of effort required for installs, account administration, and training can be herculean. Organizations plan for such changes well in advance, then expect those investments to last for years once they’re implemented.

UM not being included in Exchange Server 2019 caught many by surprise. Customers may have completed an install of a system that will be affected by this change only a few months before the announcement. Even if they’ve had one in place for a few years, they may be unwilling to take on the expense of a rebuild when they have comparatively new and functional hardware in place.

Missing Specialty Voicemail Features
Microsoft’s Cloud Voicemail offering is new. That means it hasn’t had the decades of feature development that most traditional voicemail systems have. If your organization relies on one of the hundreds of specialty features available on the market, that may throw a wrench in your upgrade plans.

Preserving Physical Control of Voicemail Data

For organizations in specific industries, regulations or internal security policies may prevent them from allowing data, including voicemails, to be stored off site in the Cloud. They may need to know the physical location of stored messages at all times. For situations like this, a Cloud solution may never be an option.

 

A Cost-Effective Alternative UM Solution

Fortunately, there is a less capital- and time-intensive solution than a rip & replace approach. If your organization isn’t ready to migrate away from an on-premises 3rd party PBX or Skype for Business server to the Cloud, you can continue to utilize Exchange-style Unified Messaging with a single addition. This enterprise-grade Unified Communications solution slots into your existing infrastructure, interoperating seamlessly with all major PBX and email systems. As a result, you can continue to use all your existing IT investments and migrate to the cloud at your own pace.

XM Connect replaces Exchange Unified Messaging with an alternative that is designed to feel the same to your end users. Additionally, it helps boost employee productivity and delivers further value through introducing a range of other powerful functions, such as voice-recognition personal assistant,  IVR, automated attendant, mobility features, etc. Additionally, if your organization does decide to migrate to the Cloud in future, XM Connect is available as a Cloud solution that maintains its industry-leading interoperability across both Cloud and on-premises solutions.

The XM Connect 9 SU2 release adds full Unified Messaging support for Exchange Server 2019 systems, along with Office 365 and previous Exchange Server releases (2016, 2013, 2010, 2007).

 

If this sort of solution sounds like a fit for your organization’s needs, reach out to us to discover more about what XM Connect has to offer. XMedius has already replaced over 100,000 Exchange UM seats since Microsoft’s SBC support and Exchange Server 2019 announcements.

 

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