Should small businesses rely on Skype?

Some small-business users rely on the free IP telephony application from Skype, but the recent outage could make some folks rethink that decision.

Several readers blasted me for my blog post last week about the Skype outage. I assumed that many of the people using Skype's messaging and voice over IP service didn't rely on the service for their primary form of communication. But several people pointed out that many small businesses use Skype to communicate with clients, employees and partners.

These comments got me thinking about this segment of the market. And now I'm working on a story that will take a look at how small businesses use free communications services like Skype instead of products that they would have to pay for from Microsoft or Cisco Systems.

I'd love to get some perspective from business users who rely on Skype for day-to-day communications. Specifically, I'd like to know why these users have chosen a free service over one they'd have to pay for, and whether or not the recent outage would change their minds about this choice. On the flip side, I'd also like to hear from some small-business owners who decided to go with a unified communications solution from Microsoft, Cisco or any of the other competitors in that market. So if you fit into either one of these categories and you'd like to help me with my story, please send me an e-mail at