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August 10, 2020

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Exchange UM Retired: Auto Attendants are now part of Teams

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Table of Contents

Please note this announcement refers to Unified Messaging which is the processing of voicemails and Auto Attendant in Exchange Online. Storage of voicemails will continue to be supported in Exchange Online and Exchange on-premises Servers.


Microsoft Announcement about Exchange UM Retire

Microsoft is retiring Unified Messaging (UM) in Exchange Online and replacing it with Cloud Voicemail and Auto Attendant services. This impacts voicemail processing and Auto Attendant in Exchange Online for all customers using these workloads. The following servers connecting to Exchange UM Online will be transitioned by Microsoft to Cloud Voicemail on or before February 28, 2020:

  • Lync Server 2013
  • Skype for Business Server 2015

For complete announcement, please refer to this link.


Exchange UM Retire Impact

As stated in the Microsoft Announcement also, it affects Auto Attendants created in Exchange Online and the Voicemails. In real world, it means after the date of Exchange UM retirement, the disruption of this service would pop up any time as End of Support was called. Any Exchange UM Auto Attendants created and in use would fail to work and route calls as expected. Hence the transition should be made in advance to avoid inconveniences. For the Voicemail part, it should continue to work until unless we don’t have our Lync/Skype server patched with latest CU.

One thing worth noticing here is that, Cloud Auto Attendants and Cloud Voicemails actually lacks some of the Exchange UM features for now.

  • PSTN Dial-in Access – Cloud Voicemail has no option to dial a regular phone number to listen back to your voicemail. For example from your mobile/cell phone. All listen back is via your email.
  • Play on phone (PSTN) - to play message – the ability to click play and have your PSTN phone ring and play the message back to you. useful for those without headsets/speakers on their PC.
  • Message Waiting Indicator light on some phones.
  • Group Voicemail - Sending a voice message to a group of users.
  • Voicemail notification using SMS.
  • Fax integration – I don’t know of anyone who used this, but it’s gone.

What are my options after the Exchange UM Retirement?

Two core services of Exchange UM are Auto Attendants and Voicemails, how the transition should be made to avoid the disruptions in their services due to retirement is the question now and what things should be kept under consideration for it. We’ll look one by one into the mentioned services to have a clear plan for the transitions.


How can Auto Attendants be used after the Exchange UM retirement?


Using On-Premise Workflows/Response Groups

In some cases where the Exchange UM service is already down and the Auto Attendants have failed to work now, as an immediate remedy, one may transfer their Main Line number to Lync/Skype server Workflows/Response Groups or the same Exchange UM Auto Attendants structure could be implemented using Workflows/Response Groups for the continuous use excluding any kind of dependency on Cloud.


Use Cloud Auto Attendants in MS Teams configuring Hybrid Setup

For the second option, to continue using Auto Attendants feature in Cloud, the Auto Attendants should be transitioned to MS Teams now. For doing that, there are some topology requirements one should consider first to tackle any issues that could pop up moving on.


Server version requirements

To configure your deployment for hybrid with Teams or Skype for Business Online, you need to have one of the following supported topologies:

  • A Skype for Business Server 2019 deployment with all servers running Skype for Business Server 2019.
  • A Skype for Business Server 2015 deployment with all servers running Skype for Business Server 2015.
  • A Lync Server 2013 deployment with all servers running Lync Server 2013. However, if hybrid voice connectivity is required, you must use a mixed version topology as noted below.

A deployment with maximum of 2 different server versions as listed below:

  • Skype for Business Server 2015 and Skype for Business Server 2019
  • Lync Server 2013 and Skype for Business Server 2019
  • Lync Server 2013 and Skype for Business Server 2015

If hybrid voice is desired in any topology, both the edge server that is designated as the Federation Edge as well as the pool associated with SIP federation must be running Skype for Business 2015 or later. Users can remain on a Lync 2013 Pool if one exists.

Note: Lync 2010 is not supported for Cloud Auto Attendants, and one should upgrade to the newer versions as desired keeping the above information in mind.


Summarizing the work that needs to be done for transitioning the Auto Attendants to MS Teams:

  • Setup Hybrid between Lync Server 2013 and Skype for Business 2019 (for the current Lync 2013 environments)
  • Setup Hybrid Voice between On-Premises and Cloud
  • Setup New Auto Attendants in Cloud (MS Teams)
  • Assign Hybrid Voice On-Premises Phone Numbers to MS Teams Resource Accounts

To get help creating the MS Teams Auto Attendants for this scenario, please refer to this detailed article.


Transition to Pure Cloud Solution

Another option is to go purely for Cloud and not a Hybrid setup. The migration could be done from Lync/Skype server to MS Teams containing the follow major work:

  • Assign Licenses to Users as per requirements
  • Setup Call Queues and Auto Attendants in the Cloud
  • Migrate Users in the Cloud
  • Port Service Numbers to Microsoft
  • Port User Numbers to Microsoft
  • Assign Ported Numbers to respective Objects (Users/Auto Attendants)

How to Configure Cloud Voicemails now?

First thing first, if someone is using Lync Server 2010, unfortunately that is not supported anymore, and one needs to upgrade as per the requirements. For the environments configured with Lync Server 2013 and above, as per Microsoft statement, the Voicemails should be transitioned automatically, and nothing needs to be done from the Admins of Lync or Skype environments.

One thing that should be noticed here, if the Lync/Skype servers are not patched yet with latest CU’s, there is a high probability that voicemails will stop working. Please try to patch them as soon as possible to emit any kind of inconvenience.


You may refer to below given link for Lync Server 2013 CU’s:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2809243/updates-for-lync-server-2013

For the Skype for Business Server 2015 CU’s, please refer to the below link:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3061064/updates-for-skype-for-business-server-2015

Please use the following given link for Skype for Business Server 2019 CU’s:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4470124/updates-for-skype-for-business-server-2019

Last Updated 1 week ago

About the Author

Ateeb is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. He aids clients in deployment, and management of Microsoft technologies - for both, on-premises and on the cloud environment. With significant experience in deploying stand-alone and enterprise solutions, Ateeb enjoys helping organizations with their digital transformation journey.

Ateeb Fayyaz

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