Today Skype officially moved Skype Connect (formerly known as Skype for SIP), its first product targeted at enterprise customers, out of beta. Skype Connect will enable business customers to use Skype over regular PBX phones or unified communication systems from Avaya, Cisco, SIPfoundry, ShoreTel and others. The announcement follows a rumor that Cisco made a bid for the VOIP company and Google's addition of voice calling in Gmail.

Skype estimates 37% of its users use the service for business purposes. Although Network World has reported that Skype for SIP was difficult to setup in the past, it seems Skype has taken some steps to improve this.

Since the original beta launch, Skype has released Skype Manager (pictured above) to help IT manage enterprise Skype accounts and make Skype Connect adoption easier. Skype provides documentation for implementation with tested hardware, and also offers to put customers in touch with its channel partners.

According to Skype's announcement on its blog, Skype Connect will enable users to:

  • Make outbound calls from desktop phones to landlines and mobiles worldwide billed at Skype's standard per-minute calling rates;
  • Receive inbound calls from Skype connected users worldwide by placing Skype's Click & Call buttons on their Web sites;
  • Receive calls from landlines or mobile phones in the corporate PBX using Skype's online numbers that have been purchased separately; and
  • Manage Skype calls using your existing PBX or UC systems' features such as call routing, automatic call distribution, conferencing, auto-attendant, voicemail, call recording and logging.

Pricing starts at $6.95 per "channel," roughly the equivalent of a "line" in normal phone systems. Skype's regular fees for calling landlines and cell phones will still apply.

What do you think? Are the features and potential savings worth the work of implementing Skype? Or would your rather wait and see what offerings Cisco and Google release in the near future? Did you implement the Skype for SIP beta? If so, how did it go?