We use cookies to give you the most personalized experience possible on our website, and to collect information about how visitors use our site. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you’re ok with receiving cookies from the XMedius website. You can disable cookies in your browser settings at any time, but please note that parts of the site will not work properly if you disable cookies.

For more information on how we use cookies, read our privacy policy.
CLOSE X

Exchange Online UM Functionality Changes and Solutions

Microsoft has announced two major upcoming changes to Exchange’s Unified Messaging functionality that will affect (either one or the other) a large number of organizations.

Change 1: Ending Session Border Controllers (SBC) Support

Microsoft is soon ending support for Session Border Controllers (SBC) within Exchange Online/Office 365. Many organizations currently rely on an SBC as a bridge between third-party PBX phone systems and Exchange Online Unified Messaging. This will disable their UM system.

Change 2: Not Including Unified Messaging in Exchange Server 2019

Microsoft has also announced that UM functionality will not be included in Exchange Server 2019. Many organizations rely on Exchange for their Unified Messaging functionality. This will disable their UM system when they upgrade to the new version.

centralize-messaging

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 the details and your options for solving this challenge.

Microsoft Ending SBC Support

Does Microsoft ending SBC support affect me?

You will be impacted by this change if your organization uses:

  • Exchange Online Unified Messaging in combination with:
    • A Cisco PBX system
    • An Avaya PBX system
    • Another 3rd party PBX system

You will lose all automated attendant and voicemail functionality. No more voicemail, no more call routing menus.

Your system will be unaffected if your organization uses:

When is Microsoft Exchange ending SBC support?

The announced support-end date is December 1, 2019. This is an extension of the original deadline, which was July of 2018.

Why is Microsoft ending SBC support?

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.” Now that Microsoft has announced the removal of Unified Messaging from Exchange 2019, the removal of SBC support makes sense because as soon as Office 365 upgrades to Exchange 2019, SBC access will no longer be needed.

What do session border controllers (SBCs) do?

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, so Exchange UM can play greetings and messages, record phone messages, and transfer calls.

With the end of Microsoft’s SBC support, these two systems will no longer be able to talk to each other.

What are my options?

Microsoft has recommended three possible options for their customers:

  • Office 365
    Complete migration from 3rd party on-premises PBX to Office 365. This would include the Microsoft Phone System, Cloud Voicemail, and Cloud Automated Attendant.
  • Skype for Business Server
    Complete migration from 3rd party on-premises PBX to Skype for Business. You’ll eventually need to use Cloud Voicemail and Cloud Automated Attendant once Office 365 upgrades to Exchange Server 2019, as that version of Exchange omits UM entirely.
  • Third-Party Voicemail System
    For customers with no Skype for Business Server deployment or for whom the solutions above are not appropriate, implement a 3rd party voicemail system that can integrate with Office 365.
What about connecting my PBX to Microsoft UM through a Skype for Business Server?

Previously, Microsoft suggested a fourth option to current customers using both a PBX and Skype for Business: connecting Skype to the PBX via a connector from a Microsoft partner, then using voicemail routing to run Exchange Online UM through that connection.

They have now reversed that recommendation:

Now that Microsoft has announced that Exchange 2019 will not support Unified Messaging, pursuing this option would only provide short term relief. As soon as Office 365 upgrades to Exchange 2019, this option will no longer work.

In other words, while you can set such a system up, it will not work very long.

How can XMedius help?

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 Ending UM Functionality in Exchange 2019

Does Microsoft excluding UM functionality from Exchange Server 2019 affect me?

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 via an Exchange Server on-premises deployment

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
When is Microsoft Exchange losing UM functionality?

If you upgrade to Exchange Server 2019, the Exchange 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.

What are my options?

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.
How can XMedius help?

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

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.