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So it’s taken me a little while to get the next couple of posts sorted but I’m delighted that this week I’ve got two responses ready to share and they are both from people who aren’t straight up Skype for Business consultants so it’s great to get some slightly different takes on  what’s going on with Microsoft & O365.

Today’s post is by Rich Gibbons who is a total MS Licensing guru… (If you are in a pickle – and let’s face it who isn’t on licensing – then he can probably help set you straight!).

Richard Gibbons

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Rich has been in IT for 14+ years and has seen the rise of Cloud. He’s sold it, licensed it, used it and trained on it…he’s worked with SMBs and Enterprises to investigate, test and deploy Office 365…and all the fun licensing permutations that brings! He’s always happy to discuss licensing, Microsoft and tech in general. If there was ever such a thing as a licensing MVP then Rich would be top of the list…

Is SfB on-prem going to be left out in the cold because Microsoft wants everyone to have an O365 subscription?

It’s true that the move to the Cloud is very much on – it’s happening and it’s not going away. However, it’s far from an instant process and I think on-premises will continue to factor in for the foreseeable future.

What does this look like over 5 years?

I’ve been working with Office 365 since it was called BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) back in 2008, so 9 years now. People were worried back then that this would lead to the on-premises world disappearing – particularly around Exchange – but I think it’s fair to say that on-premises Exchange is still a thing in 2017. It may well be as part of a hybrid deployment but it’s still there and the skills are needed.
The Cloud offerings are more compelling now than back in the day but there are still reasons that organisations can’t/won’t move to the Cloud and I think they will exist, in one form or another, for at least the next five years. While Office 365 is a fantastic solution and works very well for most organisations, I think there will always be some for whom Cloud (from any vendor) isn’t the right fit. This may well lead to on-premises skills becoming rare and highly sought after in the future, like a COBOL programmer now!

My job is based on installing/upgrading/managing SfB on-prem if we go cloud what do I do next? / is my job at risk?

This is a very common question and one that I’ve heard repeatedly over the past 9 years. When I worked selling Office 365 to customers, it was always a key part of the customer discussion…working with the IT team and various application admins to show them that it wasn’t going to replace them – to steal a phrase – it’s evolution, not revolution.
A lot of it comes down to the individual – are you willing to take spend the time and effort (and in some cases money) to re-skill in these new technologies, be it Skype for Business, Exchange, SharePoint etc.? It’s very much a case of “who moved my cheese” – if you’re brave enough to move further into the maze (Cloud), you’ll find all manner of new cheese (skills and opportunities) to keep you more than full (fulfilled and well paid) for years to come.

How does that vary by job role – i.e. IT Pro, Consultant, Contractor?

I think the above applies to all job roles. While I think on-premises opportunities will still exist in the future, they will be harder to find so if you’re a consultant or contractor, you’ll probably find longer and longer gaps between engagements.
If you’re a full-time Exchange administrator and your organisation is staying on-premises, that’s great…for now. However, that could change at any time – perhaps Microsoft add that 1 killer feature that makes Cloud a viable option, perhaps you get a new CEO who is less risk-averse and sees the benefits of Cloud outweighing any possible issues, perhaps it just starts to make financial sense for your organization to move this workload to an OPEX model…whatever the reason, and there are many, it could come out of the blue. If you’ve been skilling up in the ways of the Cloud anyway – effectively future proofing yourself – you’ll be all good. You’ll be in a position to lead your organisation into this brave new world, making IT, and you in particular, the vanguard of this move to the Cloud. Taking a positive, pro-active approach to the move will mean that, when people look back at all the wonderful benefits Office 365 has afforded them (individually and the company as a whole), it will be you and your team who are responsible for so much of it. There will no doubt be parades, parties and perhaps even a statue in the car park!
Alternatively, if you’re not on-board with Cloud when the decision is made to move, you will have a few options:

  • Fight it – come up with various reasons why the move isn’t right (even if it is)
  • Rush – hurrying to get skilled up and certified, cramming things in to fit into a deployment schedule
  • Leave – find another on-prem role and hope this doesn’t all happen again a little further down the line!


I think it’s important for everyone to become more familiar with the Cloud and Office 365. Learn about PSTN Calling and Cloud PBX and Meeting Broadcast and all these other things, learn how Skype for Business Online can offer technical and financial benefits to organisations, learn how to differentiate when actually on-premises may still be better. Even if you’re not a fan of Cloud and you don’t want to pro-actively start deploying Cloud solutions, it pays to know what’s going on. To quote Sun Tzu (as all good business writing should!):

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory, you will also suffer a defeat.

If you know yourself AND the enemy, you need not fear the result of 100 battles.

So, either way, I’d recommend getting skilled up in Office 365 and being prepared to move more and more towards Cloud deployments.

Keep an eye out for the second post coming tomorrow with yet another different spin on our cloudy conundrum.