Exchange & Office 365 UM
Functionality Changes and Solutions
Microsoft has made two major changes to Exchange’s Unified Messaging functionality.
As these changes affect a large number of organizations, it is vital to identify and plan for any impact they might have on your infrastructure.
Change 1: No 3rd Party PBX Connections to Office 365
Microsoft has ended support for Session Border Controllers (SBC) within Office 365. This means that organizations who use Exchange UM today and want to move to Office 365 will no longer be able to use their on-premises PBX to connect through an SBC to Exchange Online Unified Messaging.
Change 2: Unified Messaging Removed from Exchange Server 2019 and Exchange Online in 2020
UM functionality is not included in Exchange Server 2019 and will be retired from Exchange Online in early 2020. Many organizations rely on Exchange for their Unified Messaging functionality. Unfortunately, when they upgrade to the new version, their PBX-linked UM system will cease to function
With over 35 years of experience in voicemail and Unified Communications (UC), XMedius has experts on PBXs, Unified Messaging, and Microsoft Exchange Server integrations to help you find your best solution.
Here’s a simple guide to your options for solving this challenge.
No Office 365 SBC Support
You will be impacted by this change if your organization wants to move to Office 365 and continue to use Unified Messaging with:
- A Cisco PBX system
- An Avaya PBX system
- Another 3rd party PBX system
You will not be able to use your PBX with Office 365 Exchange Online for automated will lose all automated attendant and voicemail functionality. No voicemail, no call routing menus.
Your system will be unaffected if your organization transitions to Office 365 with:
- The Microsoft Phone System, Cloud Voicemail and Cloud Automated Attendant
- A 3rd party voicemail UM solution that integrates with your phone system and Office 365
According to Microsoft’s original announcement in July of 2017, the reason was to “provide a higher quality of service for voicemail, using standard Exchange and Skype for Business protocols.” Since Exchange 2019, does not include Unified Messaging, the removal of SBC support makes sense.
SBCs are an important device in networks using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for companies’ telephone service. The actual list of functions SBCs carry out is a long one (and varies by model), but the key aspect in this instance is acting as a bridge between the phone system (PBX) and Microsoft Exchange Online/Office 365, to play greetings and messages, record phone messages, and transfer calls.
Now that Microsoft has ended SBC supportand removed UM from Exchange, this traditional setup will not work.
Microsoft has left organizations with two possible options:
- Discarding Their On-Premises PBX
Complete migration from 3rd party on-premises PBX to Skype for Business Server or the Microsoft Phone System, Cloud Voicemail, and Cloud Automated Attendant.
- Third-Party Voicemail System
Customers who want to keep their PBX can implement a 3rd party voicemail system that integrates with Office 365.
Organizations using Lync Server 2013 and Skype for Business Server 2015 are being transitioned to Microsoft Cloud Voicemail in early 2020. In addition, Skype for Business Server 2019 will be reaching end of mainstream support in 2024, so investing in the solution now, even while linking it to Microsoft Cloud Voicemail & Cloud Automated Attendant, will only deliver short term benefits.
XMedius offers a Unified Communications solution, CX-E, that easily solves the problem and is classified under Microsoft’s “Third Party Voicemail System” option. CX-E doesn’t use an SBC to connect to Exchange. It instead connects via a software API which is unaffected by Microsoft ending SBC support.
In addition to keeping your unified messaging functionality running, CX-E can upgrade your system with a host of other powerful features, including personal assistant, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) applications, informal call center functionality, outgoing notifications, and more.
Where can I find more information?
Here are some additional resources to help you get ready for the change.
Microsoft Omits UM Functionality in Exchange 2019
If your organization is using Exchange Unified Messaging on Exchange Server 2016, your UM system should continue to work until you upgrade to Exchange Server 2019. Of course, Microsoft will eventually discontinue support for Exchange Server 2016, which will likely force you to upgrade.
When you upgrade to Exchange Server 2019,
You will be impacted by this change if your organization uses:
- Exchange Unified Messaging
Your system will be unaffected if your organization uses:
- Skype for Business and Enterprise Voice with Cloud Voicemail and Cloud Automated Attendant
- Microsoft Phone System with Cloud Voicemail and Cloud Automated Attendant
- A 3rd party voicemail UM solution
If you upgrade to Exchange Server 2019, UM functionality will no longer be present and your UM system will immediately stop functioning until you make additional changes.
If your company runs Exchange Server 2016, you will be able to keep your UM functionality, for now.
Exchange 2016 will reach end of mainstream support by Microsoft after October 2020. At that point you have a choice of either letting a major part of your telephony infrastructure go unsupported (and thus vulnerable to cyber-attacks) or searching for another solution.
If your UM functionality breaks down because of this change, there are three possible solutions:
- Replace your PBX with Skype for Business Server 2019 Enterprise Voice
This will allow you to migrate away from Exchange UM and start using Cloud Voicemail and Cloud Automated Attendant.
- Replace your PBX with Microsoft Phone System
This will also allow you to migrate away from Exchange UM and start using Cloud Voicemail and Cloud Automated Attendant.
- Add a Third Party Unified Messaging Provider
This will allow you to continue to use your PBX while still maintaining support for unified messaging functionality via your on-premises Exchange Server.
XMedius offers a Unified Communications solution, CX-E, that easily solves the problem by replacing the Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging system entirely with our own feature-rich UM system.
In addition to keeping your unified messaging running, CX-E delivers a host of other powerful functionalities, including the ability to keep your existing PBX infrastructure, connecting hardware from multiple vendors, secure messaging, IVR (interactive voice response) applications, personal assistant, informal call center functionality, outgoing notifications, and more.
Contact XMedius to be better equipped to deal with changes
Is your organization caught in the crosshairs of this change? The Unified Communications experts at XMedius can help you understand the ramifications and how we can help. Reach out to us now so you can get out ahead of the problem and beat the deadline.