Advice through experience in Office 365, Security, and Azure
Beginning to Learn Skype For Business?

Beginning to Learn Skype For Business?

In my role as a Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft, I often engage with customers and Microsoft Partners from many different backgrounds. The backgrounds are typically based on years of experience with many the Microsoft enterprise products to those with a focus only on Cisco and/or Avaya Voice over IP products. Microsoft Skype for Business online (as part of Office 365) or on-premises is used by millions of customers a continues to grow at a fast pace. With this in mind, many customers and Microsoft Partners knowledgeable in so many areas often ask how they can begin learn the product architecture, installation, configuration, etc.

My response about how best to learn Skype for Business is gauged based on the requestor’s experience level. Someone experienced with the setup and administration of an Office 365 Exchange environment has a different starting point than someone who has been focused on products from other vendors. With this being a question that is often asked, I am writing this blog to provide information on the many different public and Microsoft Partner training resources available.

There is an old Chinese proverb I believe is very appropriate when learning something new – “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” There is no shortage of TechNet and other articles available to read and learn from. There are also a large amount of great video training available to consume. The best way I have found to learn something new is by simply doing it in a lab. This can be done by utilizing the many virtual labs Microsoft has made available or setting up my own scenarios in a home lab environment to learn in. Over the years, I have made personal financial investments in my home lab environment to keep it updated and flexible.  I looked at the financial investment as really an investment into my career growth. With a lab resources always available, I have been able to replicate most scenarios over the years to develop a quick design idea or problem resolution.

I have provided a number of great resources below in three sections to help anyone looking to learn more about Skype For Business beyond just the end user experience. The content below ranges from a 100 high level training to a 400 deep dive level.

Reading Content:

  • Skype Operations Framework (SOF)
    • Launched in 2016, SOF is a comprehensive approach to deploy a Skype for Business environment full of training, tools and assets to ensure a successful deployment.

AudioVideo Training:

Lab Learning Resources:

  • Home Lab:
    • If you are interested in learning more about Skype for Business on-premises, the best thing to do is build a home lab. With just a laptop running Hyper-V, 32gb memory, high-end processor, and solid state drive(s) you’ll have enough resources to effectively run several Hypervisor systems for testing.
    • 180 Day evaluation versions of Microsoft Windows Servers and Skype for Business Server software is available here:
  • Virtual Lab:
    • Within this site are many great Microsoft Virtual Labs focused on Skype for Business. To filter the list, on the left of the site select Office, then place a check beside Skype for Business.
  • Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Partner Only Training:

  • Skype for Business Airlifts
    • Microsoft provides partners with access to create several Office 365 tenants for training and demonstration purposes. Each tenant can be pre-populated with users and data based on specific industries.

Where should you start?

With all of these great resources, where do I recommend you to begin on your learning journey, you ask? If I was coming from a non-Microsoft background I would begin by watching several of the 100 level MOOC sessions followed by setting up the trial software in a home lab and getting deeper into the technology from there (including into the online setup). If you are already familiar with Microsoft Exchange and/or other products, I would recommend you setup an Active Directory environment at home with several users, phones, etc. along with Azure Active Directory Sync to a trial Office 365 tenant.  From there, setup a hybrid connection with Skype for Business in Office 365. Finally, setup Enterprise Voice on-premises to learn it as well as Cloud PBX, PSTN Calling and PSTN Conferencing in Office 365. As you develop your lab design, you may need to pay for add-on services, but consider this an investment in your career.

Have fun and embrace your new journey to learn Skype for Business.

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