January 8, 2018 will be the end of life for both Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2. What does this mean for you? It means that after that date, you will no longer be able to receive support for these products, and these products will not be patched by Microsoft when bugs or security issues occur. Currently we’re in extended support, but after January 2018, that will all end.
Your Microsoft Office Communications Server installation will keep working after January 8, 2018, but for all the reasons listed above, we strongly recommend moving off your OCS 2007 or OCS 2007 R2 deployments before this date.
On-premises and online may be new terms to you. On-premises environments are housed on servers and devices you own, and you maintain them, configure them and replace them over time. Your Office Communications Server 2007 and 2007 R2 deployments are on-premises. Skype for Business Online tenant environments are maintained by Microsoft, while specific configuration is done by you.
As noted by the mention of Skype for Business Online, if this is the first time you’ve considered upgrading your OCS 2007 or OCS 2007 R2 in a while, there’s some nomenclature you need to know about, because we’ve had a few name changes along the way, which we're outlining below.
Lync Server 2010 was the next version of the product after Office Communications Server 2007 R2.
Lync Server 2013 followed Lync Server 2010.
Skype for Business Server 2015 is the latest on-premises version of the product.
Office 365 has Skype for Business Server Online, which is an online version of our Skype for Business Server product.
For more information about Office 2007 servers reaching retirement, see Plan your upgrade for Office 2007 servers.
What are my options?
We have several options for you, based on your organization's needs.
Moving to a new Office 365 tenant.
Migration to a newer on-premises version of Lync Server.
You may also migrate to a new version of Skype for Business Server subsequently.
You may opt for a Hybrid deployment of either Lync Server 2013 or Skype for Business Server 2015 with Office 365.
Let’s look at these options in more detail.
Office 365 tenant
Office 365 has Skype for Business Online, which is always going to be the latest version of Skype for Business available to customers. It’s designed to be managed by Microsoft, which give you access to Skype for Business Online’s increased functionality, combined with removing any overhead in maintaining this environment (and that includes worrying about future upgrades—Office 365 will do that for you).
While there is no upgrade path from Office Communicator Server 2007 to Skype for Business Online, depending on what you want and need, that may not be important. You could opt for a new Office 365 tenant, get licenses for all your users, and add everyone in.
Office 365 is a fantastic option for organizations who are concerned about maintaining on-premises environments (including the need to meet hardware and software Systems Requirements for later Lync Server and Skype for Business Server versions), and who have the time to manually relocate their users into an Office 365 tenant.
You can find more information about setting up an Office 365Skype for Business Online tenant here.
If you want to know how to install Skype for Business Online once your subscription’s done, we have that information here.
There are also third-party partners who can help you with this.
Lync Server 2010
Lync Server 2010 is an upgrade path for your Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2 deployments. We’ve well-documented this out at the following links.
But should you do this upgrade? This is a great option for users who want to (or need to for compliance or other reasons) maintain an on-premises presence for their deployment. This will allow you to migrate your users and information over, which can be more convenient. It will require that you set up a new Lync Server 2010 environment, meeting the System Requirements, and maintain that environment on-premises. The testing and validation will take some time, and need to be practiced before you do your final migration.
It’s also vital to note that Lync Server 2010 will be reaching its end of life on April 13, 2021. So while you’re still going to be able to get help with this product right now, thanks to the extended support phase it’s living until that date, Lync Server 2010 end of life is something you should plan for sooner, rather than later. One recommendation we would make would be to look at the System Requirements for Lync Server 2013 and System Requirements for Skype for Business Server 2015, and invest in that infrastructure with an eye to further migrations.
Can I upgrade from Lync Server 2010 to Skype for Business Server 2015?
This is a desirable request for a lot of our customers, and we’re happy to say that, if you move your on-premises deployment to Lync Server 2010, there is a supported side-by-side upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2015. We’re in the process of documenting this out, and it will be available for you to review in the May 2017 timeframe, to see if that’s a good option for you and your organization.
Note: This will still require you to follow the directions to move from OCS 2007 or OCS 2007 R2 to Lync Server 2010 first.
Lync Server 2013
If you’d prefer to go to Lync Server 2013 you can migrate to it directly from Office Communications Server 2007 R2, or you can take the path of migrating to Lync Server 2010 first, as it also has a migration option for Lync Server 2013. Lync Server 2013’s got a lot of things to recommend it, including the ability to enjoy support and updates through to April 11, 2023.
To migrate from Office Communications Server 2007 R2 to Lync Server 2013, follow this guidance.
To migrate from Lync Server 2010 to Lync Server 2013, this information will be most helpful.
Lync Server 2013 allows you to also take advantage of Office 365 functionality via a Hybrid deployment. A Hybrid deployment lets you connect your on-premises Lync Server 2013 environment up to an Office 365Skype for Business Online subscription. You can enjoy the best of both worlds, and even migrate users back and forth between on-premises and online, as your business needs dictate.
Skype for Business Server 2015
There is no direct way to go from Office Communications Server 2007 or Office Communications Server 2007 R2 to Skype for Business Server 2015. You will need to follow the guidance above to create a tenant in Office 365, or migrate on-premises to reach Lync Server 2010 or Lync Server 2013 first.
Note: We would recommend migrating to Lync Server 2013, as it has an In-Place Upgrade functionality to take you to Skype for Business Server 2015. This will also require you have met the System Requirements for Skype for Business Server 2015.
If you’re on a version of Lync Server that can upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2015, there are some excellent reasons to choose that option.
Scenario 1: Hybrid
You can, just as in Lync Server 2013, create a Hybrid deployment to allow your users to exist on-premises or in Office 365 as needed for your organizational needs. There’s more on this in the Planning topic.
Scenario 2: Skype for Business Server 2015 on-premises
If your business needs to remain completely on-premises, the best option is to in-place upgrade your Lync Server 2013 installation to Skype for Business Server 2015. This will give you support and updates for the next 8 years, and allow you the richest feature-set of any on-premises deployment.
If you want to review information for other Microsoft 2007 server products arriving at their end of life, you can review that information too.
You may have additional concerns regarding certain aspects of your communication infrastructure, such as legacy on-premises phone systems. We have some documentation that may help with your decision-making.
Depending on your organizational needs, there are a lot of good options listed here. If, after reviewing this information, you feel you need additional insight and guidance, we understand, and would recommend our Partners for consultation.