Skype for Business Server 2015 Hybrid is easier than ever! Hybrid is becoming a huge buzzword. Hybrid Cloud. Hybrid Cars. Hybrid everything! And each is "hybrid" in a different context. Today, I want to discuss implementing Hybrid in a Skype for Business environment. And with the user friendly GUI interface, integrating your Skype for Business Server with Skype for Business Online has become a simplified process.
What is Hybrid?
A hybrid deployment is simply integrating two environments/infrastructures to function and behave as one. Prior to Skype for Business Server 2015 (Lync Server 2013), this had to be done manually with PowerShell scripts and configuration in Lync Control Panel & Office 365 Admin portal. Skype for Business Server has introduced a user-friendly GUI interface to accomplish this task more easily
What exactly does Skype for Business Hybrid mean? Well, simply put, Hybrid within your Skype for Business deployment is when you have an on-premise Skype for Business Server 2015 and Skype for Business Online (Office 365), and you want to connect the two environments. This way you can have some users in your on-premise environment and others in your online environment, while they are all part of the same SIP domain, and communicate freely as if they were all in the same physical deployment.
Why implement a Skype for Business Hybrid?
Why add the complexity to an already deployed Skype for Business Server 2015 deployment? Or the reverse: why complicate your simple Skype for Business Online environment with a whole new on-premise deployment? Here are a few key reasons:
1. Flexibility. In today's work environment, users are scattered geographically, and also have varying functionality needs. While some can operate fully within the available feature set of Skype for Business Online, others may need more enterprise-level features that are only found in on-premise, such as advanced Enterprise Voice & Persistent Chat functionality.
2. Cost Savings. By having some Skype for Business users remain cloud based, you save significantly on licensing costs compared to those users that are on-premise.
3. Leaner On-Premise Environment. The more users you have in Office 365, the less resource your on-premise deployment has to be. This goes beyond Skype for Business, as well. If those Office 365 users are also using Exchange Online, or SharePoint Online, those on-premise deployments can also likely be scaled down over time.
Skype for Business Hybrid Prerequisites
• Directory Synchronization. A mechanism for directory synchronization between your on-premise Active Directory and Azure AD instance is required. If SSO is required, you will need to have ADFS with the ADFS Web Proxy configured.
• On-Premise Topology. In order to set this up, you cannot have a mix-and-match topology. For a Skype for Business Server 2015 deployment, all servers must be running Skype for Business Server 2015. Likewise, if you have a Lync Server 2013 deployment, all servers must be running Lync Server 2013.
• Federation Requirements. The Federation configuration that is in place in your on-premise deployment must be mirrored in your Online environment.
• DNS. The SRV records for your SIP domain, both _sipfederationtls._tcp and _sip._tls, need to be configured to point to the on-premise Reverse Proxy, not the Office 365 addresses.
• Network Considerations. There are also various requirements for ports and protocols that need to be allowed through your firewall.
Configure Skype for Business Hybrid Server
Assuming that you have already satisfied all the pre-requisites above, it is now time to connect your environments using the provided wizard in the Skype for Business Control Panel (on-premises). From the Skype for Business Control Panel, on the Home tab, click the Set up hybrid with Skype for Business Online link. The wizard signs you in to both environments, checks that all prerequisites are met, runs the necessary PowerShell cmdlets, and finalizes the hybrid configuration of Skype for Business. Prior to this version, all of these steps were done manually, allowing more steps for application or user error to occur. At a high level, the Skype for Business Hybrid wizard does:
1. Signs you into Office 365 (admin)
2. Checks prerequisites above
3. Enables Federation on Edge Server
4. Federates Skype for Business with Office 365
5. Configures Shared SIP address space
6. Confirms success and functionality
With that, your Skype for Business Hybrid is configured. You can move users back and forth between on-premise and the cloud at will, with the Skype for Business Control Panel. And users will be unaware of their location as the infrastructure is seamlessly unified. Hopefully this helps to clear up the process of integrating your Skype for Business on-premise to online. and I hope it laid out a foundation for you to begin planning your hybrid environments!