Category: Architecture

Modern Meetings with Microsoft Teams

In this post I provide an overview on key capabilities with modern meetings with Microsoft Teams. It enables you and your fellow co-workers for modern meetings [almost] anywhere, anytime and on [almost] any device.

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/webinar-conferencing-video-beverage-3199164/

Key capabilities

Microsoft Teams offers you the following key capabilities for meetings but are not limited to these:

  • online meetings
  • audio conferencing
  • video conferencing
  • interactiv application and desktop sharing
  • dialin phone numbers from 65+ countries around the world
  • versatile clients and devices (mobiles, rooms, browsers, Windows, Linux)
  • recording
  • recording – transcript – for many languages (speech-to-text to transcript)
  • calendar integration (Outlook, Exchange, Teams)

Do more with Microsoft Teams Meetings

Microsoft Teams enables for modern meetings so that you can easily communicate and collaborate, either in a planned or scheduled meeting. No matter if you are in transit, in a meeting room, at a desk or any other space. The things you need are the right equipment as well as a sufficient connection, i.e. Internet or in case you are in transit at least cell coverage to dialin by phone.

Microsoft and partners offer many certified devices for Microsoft Teams depending on your needs and requirements to get that modern meeting experience for your users. Therefore you can get a glimpse on the “Microsoft Teams enabled devices” page to explore and discover what kind of devices are available and what devices are suited for which meeting space or scenario.

Source: Microsoft Teams enabled devices

Basically, there you can find

  • Headsets | user devices
  • Speakerphones | lightweight and compact user/room equipment
  • Desk phones | IP phones for users, lobby or other user cases
  • Room systems | for collaboration in meeting rooms and spaces
  • Conference phones | for conference rooms
  • Cameras | for users, rooms and other spaces

Conclusion, opinion and summary

Modern meetings with Microsoft Teams are easy and offer all the above key capabilities which are important to users today. Users get enabled to do more with Teams meetings and make meetings more productive and more fun, too, because client and device capabilities are available and easy to use and access with no frills and unhandy controls or preparation tasks for a Teams meeting. You can just meet, collaborate and focus on what you need to do.

Additional resources

Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice Study

In this post I highlight a study publication by Forrester regarding Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice. Forrester is a market research and analysis company focused on the information technology sector. Microsoft mandated Forrester to carry out the study on Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice.

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/lernen-hinweis-schule-betreff-3245793/

What’s the study for?

The so called TEI (short for “Total Econonomic Impact”) study examines Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice in regards of

  • benefits
  • costs and
  • risks.

What does the study say?

To sum it up a little bit the study provides the following key aspects:

  • employees save time due to telephony integration in Microsoft Teams
  • integration enhances business outcomes
  • Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice enables companies to replace legacy telephony systems (PBX/s)
  • costs for telephony are reduced
  • better security and compliance because of its integration in the Microsoft security and compliance capability stack
  • higher availability as (legacy) PBX
  • better performance as (legacy) PBX
  • better scalability as (legacy) PBX
  • higher employee/user satisfaction especially for younger employees
  • reduced total cost of ownership (TCO)

Well, for details, I’d recommend to read the study by yourself [see links at the bottom].

Conclusion, summary and opinion

In my view the study can be seen as supporting document for you in case your are about to decide on what’s next for your company’s telephony due to ending support or just because you want to embrace modern workplace at your company. The study gives you some numbers, facts and figures for further consideration, evaluation and decision making.

Additional resources

How to connect analog devices to Microsoft Teams?

In this post I give you an architectural overview on how you can connect analog devices, e.g. fax machines, analog phones, door bells, intercoms etc. to Microsoft Teams.

Preamble

First of all, I’d recommend to please get rid of your analog devices. Let me guess you are probably reading this because you have some of these poor and legacy analogs which you cannot get rid of for some reasons?

  • If this is the case:
    Well, ok, let’s go ahead to keep your existing investments in analog devices and get it to work.
  • If not, i.e. you can get rid of them:
    Skip this post and read something more interesting. 😉

Goal

The goal is to add analog devices to a Microsoft Teams voice/telephony deployment.

Use Cases – Analog Telephony with Teams user and PSTN

The uses cases are defined as follows:

  1. call from an analog device to a Teams user
  2. call from a Teams user to an analog device
  3. call from an analog device to a PSTN (external) phone (number) [e.g. mobile phone]
  4. call from a PSTN (external) phone to an analog device

Architecture Overview

In this architectural sketch you can see a high level Microsoft Teams Direct Routing deployment including an analog device which is connected via an anlog [device] gateway.

It includes

  • [left] PSTN sip trunk [from your PSTN provider of choice],
  • [center] a (certified) session border controller (SBC),
  • [center] a analog [device] gateway
    • sip trunk between analog gateway and SBC
    • analog link (FXS, RJ11) between analog gateway and analog device
  • [center-right] analog device [connect to analog gateway]
  • [right] a Microsoft Phone System sip trunk
  • [right] a Microsoft Teams User

Requirements

What are the requirements for this? To keep it short, you need:

  1. Teams Direct Routing (TDR) [for details, please see Plan Direct Routing]
  2. Analog [Device] Gateway

Note: In case you have Microsoft Teams and utilize calling plans for telephony already but need these analog devices added you can add Teams Direct Routing to what you’ve got already.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

To sum this up, to connect analog devices to your Microsoft Teams deployment you need Teams Direct Routing (TDR). Then you can attach an analog device to an analog (device) gateway which is linked to a certified SBC for Direct Routing which handles the voice routing (from/to PSTN/Microsoft Phone System/analog gateway).

Additional resources

Audiocodes White Paper – Software-Defined Voice Networks (SDvN)

This post is about a newly released white paper by Audiocodes on software-defined voice networks to optimize network performance and reduce operational costs for communication, especially voice, solutions.

The white paper points out the challenge on managing complex (voice) networks and versatile workloads in times in which businesses have to master their digital transformation. Audiocodes emphasizes that many carriers abandon their legacy PSTN technology backbone to transition from ISDN to All-IP. This also causes a change at the enterprises. Therefore, software-defined voice networks is described as an approach to cope with the technology change by to keep voice networks manageable and cut operational costs.

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/netzwerk-erde-blockchain-globus-3537401/

The advantages of software-defined (voice) networks [SDvN] as mentioned in the white paper are:

  • decoupled voice network infrastructure and voice control layer
  • APIs
  • overlay network
  • agil and dynamic
  • vendor agnostic
  • centralized network and call routing management
  • optimized call routing

Conclusion, opinion and summary

As I wrote in the past network reliability and performance for your communication and collaboration services (incl. voice) are essentials.

SDN can provide options to reduce operational costs and make your network more reliable and perform better. Audiocodes’ white paper outlines what SD(v)N in complex voice networking environments could offer to fulfill today’s and tomorrow’s business requirements in the digital era. SD(v)N, definitely something you should consider in case you have large and multi-national/-site (voice) network.

Additional resources

Microsoft 365 and Teams Architecture Posters

In this post I point you to some valuable Microsoft 365 and Teams architecture posters which support you to learn, understand and plan Microsoft 365 and Teams.

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/netzwerk-erde-blockchain-globus-3524352/

Teams IT architecture and telephony solutions posters

At docs.microsoft.com you can get many great posters which you can download as PDF as well as VSDX (Visio). The latter enable you to modify the architecture posters as you need them, so you can edit the posters if you, for instance, need them for documentation/presentation purposes.

Microsoft 365 enterprise solution series

The Microsoft 365 enterprise solution series posters depict different Microsoft 365 capabilities and how they are tied together. Helpful to build a better understanding of Microsoft 365 capabilities and facts you must know about if you are an IT/Solution/Technical Architect and deliver concepts for implementing, adopting … Microsoft 365.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

The architecture posters are a useful asset to learn, understand and plan Microsoft 365 and Teams. These posters illustrate what and how components and capabilities are linked and related to each other with different views.

Additional resources

How to gain insights on Microsoft 365 adoption?

In this post I describe where you can start to get more details (figures!) about the Microsoft (Office) 365 adoption at your company.

There are many different ways to gain insights. But if you rolled out different Office 365 services at your company there’s already quite a lot of valuable data. Where? Well, you know all the admin dashboards in the different Office 365 admin centers, right? So, these dashboards are good start to see what’s adopted but what about a more holistic view?

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/statistics-graph-chart-data-3411473/

Of course you, could build a new dashboard in PowerBI by attaching different data sources, Graph API etc. But why not utilizing available tools? Is there any?

Microsoft 365 usage analytics

Yes, there is and it delivers you the following information:

  • Adoption overview report
  • Product usage report
  • Storage used report
  • Communication report
  • Collaboration report
  • Office activation report
  • Access from anywhere report
  • Individual service usage reports
  • Individual service user activity reports

What do have to do for this?

There is not much to do.

  1. Enable Microsoft 365 usage analytics [see link at the bottom]
  2. Navigate and utilize the reports in Microsoft 365 usage analytics [see link at the bottom]
  3. Read the reports
  4. Apply measures to drive adoption in the spaces where it is required
  5. Review monthly
  6. Go back to 3. [infinite loop / continuous [adoption] improvement process –> learning never ends ;-)]

Conclusion, opinion and summary

Before you start to build your own reports you might want to start with what’s available at your fingertips! I had the chance to test and it’s ready within minutes. So, you can view report data. What you finally need to do is to check what information you receive and conclude your next steps to drive adoption in weak areas by adequate measures, e.g. awareness campaign, training/education or other means of communications to drive adoption of Office 365 services within your company (as needed).

Additional resources

SIP Trunk Provider Evaluation 2019 by the Eastern Management Group

In this post I like to highlight a SIP Trunk Provider Evaluation by the Eastern Management Group. I came across a nice article regarding the evaluation of (some) SIP Trunk Providers which was carried out by the Eastern Management Group.

In this study 29 SIP Trunk Providers were evaluated based on a survey. More than 3.000 IT managers were asked. As far as I could read the focus resides primarily on SIP Trunk Providers in the US and such with global reach.

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/vectors/statistik-umfrage-webseite-vorlage-1606951/

Conclusion, opinion and summary

In case your are about to plan your migration from ISDN to ALL-IP/SIP Trunks or you are considering to consolidate your SIP Trunk connectivity this study might provide you some insights and metrics to get to a decision on which SIP Trunk (Provider) to choose.

However, 29 SIP Trunk Providers are just a few. Depending on where you need a SIP Trunk you might need to research which are available at a certain world region, country and local area. As always on the market there are small and large SIP Trunk providers offering a different feature set for the SIP Trunk Services.

I recommend to take a closer look to what’s offered in detail and what SIP Trunk “architectures” are serviced, e.g. dedicated (physical) link vs. logical link (via existing Internet/MPLS connectivity), encrypted traffic support, clip no screening support, SBC support/compatibility (are there recommended SBCs/IP-PBX by the respective provider?), call authentication/authorization requirements…

Additional resources

New Microsoft Cloud Data Center Region Germany available

In this post I like to quickly inform about the availability of a new Microsoft cloud data center region in Germany. I was about to deploy a new cloud-based session border controller (SBC) and saw that the region “Deutschland, Westen-Mitte” is available on Azure.

Source: Screenshot showing the Azure Portal https://portal.azure.com and creation of a template-based Azure resource group

Additional resources

How to enable external users to access PowerApps?

In this post I describe what Microsoft provides with PowerApps Portals (in Preview, August 2018) to enable external users (not within your company) to access your PowerApps-based business apps.

What’s PowerApps at all?

Microsoft PowerApps is basically an app toolbox which you can use to quickly build business apps without being a developer because you can build a business app by clicking it together. It’s part of Office 365 and allows to use what you’ve already got there (Office 365, Dynamics 365 …) or (partially) elsewhere.

What’s PowerApps Portals?

Before the introduction of PowerApps Portals all users need to be within your Office 365 tenant to access your PowerApps-based business apps. PowerApps Portal is a game changer it let’s external users access your business apps via WWW on a public accessible website. You can also control access to the portal, e.g. anonymously, LinkedIn, Microsoft ID, Azure AD account, SAML2, OpenId Connect or else.

Source: https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/introducing-powerapps-portals-powerful-low-code-websites-for-external-users/

Conclusion, opinion and summary

PowerApps Portals is very handy for you if you need to build a business app which is not only accessible for your employees or users which are member of your Office 365 tenant. To enable a wider accessibility to PowerApps can enable more interaction with external users to your company.

Additional resources

Microsoft Flow Online Conference 2019

In this post I like to inform you about the upcoming Microsoft Flow Online Conference 2019. The free (~8-hours) online conference starts at September 10th, 2019 at 9 AM (EST), 15 PM (CEST).

The focus of the online conference is to show how to automate processes and tasks easily (with no or little code) by using Microsoft Flow and related technology from the Office 365 stack and more. And if you might wonder what about Teams integration? Can I automate things in Teams by using Flow? Of course, you can integrate and use Flow in conjunction with Teams. So you can automate processes and integrate it within Teams as your hub of modern teamwork.

Source: https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/register-for-the-microsoft-flow-online-conference-2019/

Conclusion, opinion and summary

First of all, I already like the format, because it’s an online conference and I do not need to travel far, catch any plane, stuck in any traffic jam or else.

The agenda and list of content looks pretty nice! There’s something for everyone, you can find sessions if you are completely new to Flow but also if you are a bit more advanced and automated some processes and tasks.

Additional resources