On July 31, 2021, Skype for Business was retired. As it was an integral part of the Microsoft Office 365 package, numerous companies around the world were compelled to search for Skype for Business alternatives.
Microsoft announced MS Teams and Microsoft Audio Conferencing as replacements to Skype for Business. However, some organizations were less than enthusiastic about the switch due to data security and data privacy concerns.
Skype for Business End of Life poses a challenge for privacy-conscious organizations in all industries, but it’s especially important for government-related and public sector organizations. Read on to find out how this software’s retirement affects organizations, and what are the best Skype for Business alternatives on the market.
Is MS Teams a viable Skype for Business alternative?
Having to quit the software you’re used to is always tedious. Skype for Business was a platform that facilitated not only video calls but also chatting between coworkers and partners. As such, it was an important part of the daily routine for its users.
Communication via chat and video is crucial for remote and hybrid work that is becoming the preferred way to work. Because of the importance of everyday communication among and with employees, companies were left to find an alternative to Skype for Business.
MS Teams is not up to the task?
Skype for Business wasn’t a perfect solution by far. Now, when they have to switch to another provider, companies might want to take the opportunity and provide state of the art communication tool.
Unfortunately, Microsoft Teams is not it. MS Teams is a popular solution due to Microsoft’s wide user base, but it’s simply not the best solution on the market.
For example, users keep reporting issues like insufficient notifications, confusing file structure, less than optimal meeting experience, limited channels, and limited flexibility. All in all, MS Teams is not lean, user-friendly tool that organizations wanted to offer as a replacement for Skype for Business.
Privacy and security concerns
Some privacy-conscious organizations hosted Skype for Business on-premise. So after the retirement was announced, companies had three options: either run a legacy version unsupported, migrate to Skype for Business Server 2022, or look for another on-premise option.
The first two options are not options at all - they don’t make sense from a privacy and security point of view. Both mean staying stuck on the current software version without ever evolving beyond that, posing several challenges and risks to the organization, especially if it’s security-minded.
MS Teams is cloud-based without the possibility of an on-premise deployment. For organizations that value data privacy and data sovereignty, this is a huge drawback and leads to the dismissal of MS Teams as a viable Skype for Business alternative.
In some cases, organizations are not looking for on-premise deployment - they will opt for a cloud, but one that upholds their privacy and security criteria. Unfortunately, MS Teams’ clouds haven’t always been able to fulfill this criterion.
For example, government-related and public sector organizations in EU member countries want to store their data in secure clouds. However, Microsoft Office 365 was banned from use in German schools and in French ministries over privacy concerns. The concern at hand? The US Cloud Act empowers US government agencies to request access to customer data from all US-based companies - no matter where their servers are located.
6 best Skype for Business alternatives for privacy-minded organizations
The fact that Skype for Business is discontinuing its services could be taken as an opportunity to find a secure, yet feature-rich and user-friendly solution that employees will love to use.
Here we listed communication platforms that offer both secure cloud services and on-premise hosting, and have experience working with organizations in highly regulated industries such as government and defense, and others.
Take a look at this table comparing most popular alternatives to Skype for Business in comparison with MS Teams.
Rocket.Chat is a versatile communication platform that’s been deemed one of the most secure messaging apps for organizations. Rocket.Chat can be deployed on-premise, but it’s also an open source software, meaning that it is extremely flexible. This is also advantageous for companies in highly regulated industries.
As an alternative to Skype for Business, Rocket.Chat offers chat with options to share rich media and organize communication in threads, teams, and channels. Moreover, teams can engage in video conferencing via Jitsi, integrated into the platform.
What makes Rocket.Chat an interesting alternative to Skype for Business is its federation services. Namely, Rocket.Chat gives organizations the opportunity to connect even with people outside of their organization - and independent of the communication tool they use on their side.
This interoperability feature is a great way to have smooth communication not only with colleagues but also with partners and other external stakeholders.
Troop Messenger is a collaboration tool that keeps employees connected on a single interface. Besides offering the possibility for on-premise deployment, Troop Messenger also features server-side encryption, message deletion, and fingerprint credentials.
When it comes to its messaging features, Troop Messenger is a good alternative to Skype for Business with features such as answering in stipulated time periods, responding later tagging, and reading and delivering status. Integrations with GoogleDrive, DropBox and others can help employers drive adoption and engagement with the tool.
Zulip is another Skype for Business alternative that offers on-premise hosting. Besides that, it features advanced authentication protocols and configurable access control policies.
Zulip undergoes regular external audits to maintain its position as a secure messaging app.
TLS encryption, Single Sign-On, and Auto delete messages help Zulip users to be fully GDPR and HIPAA compliant.
Element is a highly secure messaging app that makes a great alternative to Skype for Business. Besides on-premise deployment, it’s open source and end-to-end encrypted.
Element also features federation services, making it possible to communicate with users outside of your organization and regardless of the communication platform used on the other end.
The data from unlimited voice and video calls can be stored in decentralized storage, cloud, or on-premise.
Mattermost is an open source communication platform built for companies with strict security, privacy, and compliance requirements. As such, it’s a good alternative to Skype for Business.
Besides on-premise deployment, Mattermost ensures encryption in transit and at rest. It can be set up to comply to data privacy regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and others.
Wire is a modern day instant messaging platform based in Switzerland, a country known for secure online services. It can be used as a team communication tool but it could also serve as a personal messaging app.
Wire is open source, end-to-end encrypted, and requires only email address to set up, making it a really secure alternative to Skype for Business.
Rocket.Chat: secure communication as a business priority
Skype for Business End of Life might have caused distress in your organization, but it’s also a good opportunity to explore what else is there.
Rocket.Chat is an open source and end-to-end encrypted messaging app that can be deployed on-premise. It supports text, voice, and video messaging and sending documents of various formats.
Organizations in government and defense idustries choose Rocket.Chat for its security features that don’t compromise user experience. Find out why so many companies choose Rocket.Chat over other tools and contact our sales team to see how we could fit into your organization.