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Microsoft to Discontinue Support for Session Border Controllers in Exchange Online Unified Messaging…What’s Next?

 In Blog, General, Technology, Unified Communications

In today’s increasingly connected work environment, Unified Messaging (UM) is a way for organizations to simplify everyday tasks for their employees. Giving the workforce the ability to access voice and fax messages in their email inbox saves them the effort of having to check multiple applications or reach for the desk phone to listen to new voicemail messages, when most of their time is spent working within their email inbox. Given the widespread use of Office 365, Microsoft Exchange Online Unified Messaging has been the go-to UM choice for many of today’s companies, yet Microsoft’s recent announcement revealed that these customers will either have to fully migrate to a Microsoft-provided voice solution, or shop around for an alternative.


As of April 30, 2019, Microsoft will be ending support for Session Border Controllers (SBC), which connect third party PBXs to Exchange Online Unified Messaging. If you have a Cisco, Avaya or other third party phone system that’s connected to Office 365/Exchange Online UM, this announcement affects you.


What does this mean? Without a replacement UM solution, voicemail functionality will be lost. Incoming calls that aren’t answered will continue to ring, until the caller hangs up. With no option for the caller to leave a voice message. If you’re impacted by this announcement, you’ve probably already determined that going without voicemail capabilities is not going to work for you. Not giving customers the option to leave a message is probably not good for business.


If you find your organization is using a third party PBX connected with O365, there are different options to keep your unified communication (UC) applications operating. Let’s take a look at the alternatives and what to keep in mind for finding the right solution to meet your business needs.


Microsoft migration options

Microsoft has 3 qualified options for organizations impacted by this change:



  1. Office 365. Complete migration from third party on-premises PBX to Office 365. This would include the enterprise voice workload and Cloud Voicemail.
  2. Skype for Business Server. Complete migration from third party on-premises PBX to Skype for Business Server and voicemail supported by the server.
  3. Third Party Voicemail System. For customers with no Skype for Business Server deployment or for whom the solutions above are not appropriate, implement a third party voicemail system.


Switching to a third-party solution might seem intimidating at first, but the process doesn’t have to be disruptive. CX-E not only integrates seamlessly with your current UC landscape, but ensures that if you change your PBX in the future, you can still enjoy the same UM benefits.


Download our quick guide to learn more about your Microsoft migration options.



Do you have a similar problem?

We’ve been working with a large credit union, with over $5 billion in total assets, who realized they would lose key telephony functionality if they did not take action to find another solution. They’d already invested in an Avaya PBX (a VoIP solution) and Office 365, to access voicemail through Exchange Online UM.


This organization had a few options to keep their voicemail, unified messaging and voicemail-to-text transcription alive. They knew they did not want a short-term, stop gap solution, and they weren’t ready to throw away their desk phones. A third party UM solution was their best option since it was a long-term solution that allowed them to leverage the PBX in place.


This large credit union had a company directive to move to the cloud when and where possible. After their thorough research, they determined CX-E met their technical requirements, security concerns and it provides a long-term vision for their UC landscape.


What to consider when looking for a Microsoft migration option

When weighing your options for an alternative solution for Exchange Online UM, there are different factors to consider.


  • How critical is it to minimize disruption? Deploying a new system might require retraining of your users, which means extra efforts by the IT staff and some loss of productivity while employees get up to speed on new features.
  • Utilizing your existing UC landscape allows you to reduce costs instead of having to rip out your current solution and replace it with a brand new one.
  • When you are road mapping your UC environment, you might not be ready to migrate to an entire Office 365 suite, including cloud voicemail. You will want to have a smooth migration, on your own terms.


The more users learn about their available options, the better equipped they are to find the best alternative to meet their demands. If you’re assessing which option would work best for your organization, XMedius can help. Speak with a knowledgeable expert to review your current UC landscape and start building a plan that meets your specific business needs.



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