Microsoft Teases Improved Skype for Business With UC Commander Buy

Looking to make Skype for Business a little more administrator-friendly, Microsoft snaps up Event Zero's enterprise communications management framework.

Skype for Business

Microsoft's quest to unseat Cisco in the competitive market for collaboration solutions has taken the company Down Under.

The Redmond, Wash., software titan has acquired technology from Australian unified communications specialist Event Zero to improve Skype for Business' analytics, reporting and management capabilities, the companies announced today. The deal's financial terms were not disclosed.

Zig Serafin, corporate vice president of Engineering for Microsoft Skype for Business, revealed today that Microsoft had bought the technology powering UC Commander, the framework that powers Event Zero's line of unified communications offerings. Using a browser-based user interface, the software enables administrators to manage and monitor their Skype for Business (formerly Lync) environments.

Microsoft plans to use Event Zero's technology to provide administrators with more control over and visibility into their Skype for Business setups.

"This acquisition will allow us to expand and improve the built-in management tools for Skype for Business, and is the latest example of Microsoft’s commitment to deliver a complete, enterprise-grade communications solution at global scale with Office 365," said Serafin. Event Zero will remain an independent company and "will continue to service its customers and partners," he added.

Event Zero CEO David Tucker called Microsoft "a logical partner for the technology," in a brief statement published to his company's Website. "I see the purchase benefiting more Skype for Business customers than Event Zero could possibly reach."

Microsoft's multiyear effort to integrate Skype and Lync into a collaboration-enhancing enterprise communications platform culminated in April 2015 with the release of Skype for Business. In addition to improving compatibility between the once-separate platforms, the product combines the familiar look and feel of the consumer Skype applications with enterprise unified communications capabilities and controls.

Now, Microsoft is seeking to improve the software's management experience for IT personnel tasked with keeping an eye on their organization's Skype for Business deployments.

"Today, customers of our calling and conferencing services can use the Office 365 administration center to acquire and assign phone numbers to their users in minutes, view reports of audio and video conferencing usage, and quickly access aggregated call quality information using our Call Quality Dashboard," stated Serafin. "In the future, using the technology acquired today, we will be able to add strong diagnostics and troubleshooting capabilities with even more extensive reporting and analytics for online audio, video conferencing and media streams—all within a unified management and admin system."

And in a very "cloud-first" move, Microsoft also plans to bake UC Commander's capabilities into the cloud-based version of the enterprise application.

"We plan to extend the platform to complement partner solutions and integrate their monitoring, reporting and analytics capabilities with Skype for Business Online management tools," added Serafin. "For example, partners will be able to more easily connect on-premises deployments they manage with Office 365 services, including hybrid deployments, provisioning of phones and other endpoints."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...