Tagged: Telephony

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

Improvements on managing Microsoft Teams Phone System

Microsoft announced that there will be some enhancements to manage Microsoft Teams Phone System. So what are these enhancements?

Based on the lastest roadmap details the administration of Microsoft Teams Phone System will be improved in the following areas:

  • Calling Plans administration
    • search phone numbers
    • acquire phone numbers
    • assign phone number/s to users
    • create emergency addressess
    • assign emergency addresses to users
  • Dial plan/s
    • create custom dial plans
    • test custom dial plans
    • manage custom dial plans
  • Dynamic Emergency Calling
    • configure dynamic emergency calling
  • Auto Attendants / Call Queues
    • improved administration
Source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/roadmap?filters=&searchterms=56786

Additional resources

What you should you know about Microsoft Teams Voice

In this post I like to highlight six Microsoft Teams (Voice) sessions from Microsoft Ignite 2019 which provide you with knowledge on what you should know about calling capabilities on Microsoft Teams. These sessions are very valuable and you should watch them if you plan, deploy or operate Microsoft Teams including voice workloads (telephony, contact center, …) in your enterprise. If you don’t have much time you might want to download the sessions’ slide decks, if available.

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

Microsoft Teams Voice Sessions Highlights

At Ignite 2019 there were so many sessions regarding Microsoft Teams with all kind of aspects and focus areas, e.g. adopting, planning, implementing, servicing, troubleshooting, developing etc. Hereinafter, I point you to six excellent sessions held by Microsoft employees from Ignite 2019.

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

Location Based Routing (LBR) in Microsoft Teams

This post is about LBR – a planned feature – for calling or telephony with Microsoft Teams which might be released and available in Q4 2019.

Location Based Routing (LBR) allows basically to route and control voice calls depending on the location. In my opinion, this is very useful for deployments with roaming users especially regarding emergency calls or call restrictions.

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

Why LBR?

There are some reasons to use LBR for managing and controlling your voice call flows:

  • Egress calls: Enforce outgoing calls to egress via local PSTN gateway, prevent PSTN toll bypass
  • Ingress calls: Prevent incoming PSTN calls via a NON-local PSTN gateway
  • Undefined location: Prevent PSTN calls to and from users in undefined locations

Let me describe a small (fictive) scenario where LBR could help:
Erik works for a special machinery engineering company.
Still, the company has decentralized PSTN connectivity.
Each location and site has a dedicated PSTN link and SBC.
Erik is a Teams user including calling capabilities.
He’s located and “homed” in Stuttgart, Germany.

Erik travels to another company site.
Erik needs to place an (emergency) call while being in another office in Berlin, Germany.


By default this (emergency) call would be routed via Stuttgart to the local emergency service answering point. However, that would be a very bad routing and in case of an emergency were every second counts this is not acceptable.It would be ok if Erik was really in Stuttgart and not Berlin.

By using LBR this (emergency) call would be routed locally and breakout to PSTN via the SBC in Berlin and land at the emergency service answering point in Berlin instead of Stuttgart. If Erik would have to call for emergency in the company site in Hamburg, Germany the call would be routed locally and breakout to PSTN via the SBC in Hamburg as well.

How does LBR work?

Usually you’ll have to define and save some of your network parameters (IP address ranges per site …) to define sites in the phone system. Afterwards you’ll have to define (LBR) voice routing for each site (e.g. LBR policies, voice route/s, policies …) so that calls are routed according to the location requirements and its configuration.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

This is subject to change or might be implemented different to what’s described above. This is just my personal assumption how it might look like. I’ve just assumed that it might be like that because of the approach which can be found in Skype for Business Server.

Additional resources

Microsoft Teams Licensing Notes [Update July 2019]

There are many options for licensing Microsoft Teams depending on the capability requirements for users, devices and rooms. In this post I like to point out some “special” licensing options besides the normal ones for Teams in enterprises.

The hereinafter described license options might be subject to change. Moreover not all licenses or subscriptions are available in every country around the globe, especially calling plans and audio conferencing (shortened: Audioconf.).

Teams Licensing Basics

  • Microsoft Teams is just a single service of the massiv Microsoft 365 services stack which it tightly linked and integrated within this service stack.
  • Microsoft Teams is part of a “packaged” Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions by default.
  • Microsoft Teams replaces Skype for Business (Online). The Skype for Business Desktop Client within Office 365 ProPlus is also obsolete, meaning that new (full) Office 365 ProPlus installation will get a Teams instead of a Skype for Business Client.

The following slides and drawing are intended to provide you with an overview on licensing options. I also point out what you should take into account in case of Teams Direct Routing (TDR), in this post and following drawings I call a TDR scenario a “hybrid” scenario.

Telephony with Teams (for users)

Overview (May 2019)

Call Queues (CQ) and Auto Attendants (AA)

Resource accounts for CQ/AA need a license. Till 01.07.2019 you had to license these users with typical user licenses. Now you can buy and assign a free “Phone System Virtual User license”.

UPDATED JULY 2019 Call Queues (CQ) and Auto Attendants (AA)

At the bottom I’ll add a link to a well-written how-to post “Add a free licence to Call Queues and Auto Attendants (Microsoft Teams)” from ucgeek.com which describes how to buy and assign the license.

Teams Common Area Phone (CAP)

Teams Common Area Phone

Teams Meeting Room

Teams Meeting Room

Conclusion, opinion and summary

The above drawings quickly depict how you can license users, common area phones, meeting room devices and even call queues or auto attendants for Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft is working on an enhanced licensing model for applications like cloud CQ/AA [as you can read in “Manage resource accounts”]. Still, at present user licensing applies for cloud CQ/AA. [done]

Additional Resources

Manage Group Calling and Call Delegation in Microsoft Teams (as Admin)

In this post I like to describe how you can manage group calling and call delegation in Microsoft Teams as admin.

First of all, I’d like to explain what these two features can do for you or your users:

Group call pickup allows a Teams (phone system) user to select other Teams users to answer his/her call. E.g. Erik Doe get’s a call on his Teams phone number and his other co-workers which he added previously to his group pickup get a notification about the incoming call and can answer it instead.

Call delegation allows to configure delegation for your telephony, similar to what you might know for mail delegation. I.e. this enables you for typical and lightweight boss/admin or manager/assistant or chef/sek (de) capabilities. E.g. Erik Doe can add one ore more other Team (phone system) user as delegates so that Erik Doe does not need to deal with all calls himself.

Configure group call pickup as an user

Users can configure this on the Teams settings \ call settings page.

Configure group call pickup as an admin

In the Teams Admin Center you can configure group call pickup per user. You can add/remove users to a users group call pickup, you can set the notification mode (mute, ring, banner) and you can configure the order and when group call pickup to listed users in a users group kicks in.

Teams Admin Center \ Users \ <user> \ Voice \ Group call pickup

Configure call delegation (boss/admin, manager/assistant, chef/sek) as an user

Users can configure this on the Teams settings \ general \ delegation settings page.

Configure call delegation (boss/admin, manager/assistant, chef/sek) as an admin

Also in the Teams Admin Center you can configure call delegation per user. You can add/remove delegates, you can define what permissions a delegate gets and if a delegate can change this setting (or need to call you to change it via Teams Admin Center).

Teams Admin Center \ Users \ <user> \ Voice \ Call delegation
Teams Admin Center \ Users \ \ Voice \ Call delegation \ permissions

Conclusion, opinion and summary

Compare to Skype for Business (Server) this is a very nice administration capability because it’s easy to access and manage. In the past with Skype for Business (Server) you had to use Sefautil, related Sefautil tools or even third party software for an more comfortable way of administrate user call settings. It’s very helpful from time to time to have a ability as admin to change these two settings for an user which might be unable to do this.

Managing Teams Call delegation and group call pickup via the Teams Admin Center works like a charm in my opinion.

Additional Resources

Microsoft Teams Licensing Notes

There are many options for licensing Microsoft Teams depending on the capability requirements for users, devices and rooms. In this post I like to point out some “special” licensing options besides the normal ones for Teams in enterprises.

The hereinafter described license options might be subject to change. Moreover not all licenses or subscriptions are available in every country around the globe, especially calling plans and audio conferencing (shortened: Audioconf.).

Teams Licensing Basics

  • Microsoft Teams is just a single service of the massiv Microsoft 365 services stack which it tightly linked and integrated within this service stack.
  • Microsoft Teams is part of a “packaged” Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions by default.
  • Microsoft Teams replaces Skype for Business (Online). The Skype for Business Desktop Client within Office 365 ProPlus is also obsolete, meaning that new (full) Office 365 ProPlus installation will get a Teams instead of a Skype for Business Client.

The following slides and drawing are intended to provide you with an overview on licensing options. I also point out what you should take into account in case of Teams Direct Routing (TDR), in this post and following drawings I call a TDR scenario a “hybrid” scenario.

Telephony with Teams (for users)

Overview (May 2019)

Call Queues (CQ) and Auto Attendants (AA)

Call Queues (CQ) and Auto Attendants (AA)

Teams Common Area Phone (CAP)

Teams Common Area Phone

Teams Meeting Room

Teams Meeting Room

Conclusion, opinion and summary

The above drawings quickly depict how you can license users, common area phones, meeting room devices and even call queues or auto attendants for Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft is working on an enhanced licensing model for applications like cloud CQ/AA [as you can read in “Manage resource accounts”]. Still, at present user licensing applies for cloud CQ/AA.

Additional Resources

Microsoft Teams Call Queues and Auto Attendants for Direct Routing

Microsoft released a very important update in case you are planning or already operating Microsoft Teams Direct Routing. I’m very excited about this recent service update. The Call Queue (CQ) and Auto Attendant (AA) Services for call flows and call automation were updated for Teams Direct Routing.

What’s new with Teams Direct Routing (May 2019)?

Let me recap and point out the capabilities which were announced via the Teams blog by Microsoft:

  • Manage CQs and AAs via Teams Admin Center (instead of the legacy SFB Online Admin Center)
  • (Preview May 2019) Support for Teams Direct Routing Telephone Numbers in Call Queues (for Teams-only users)
  • (Preview May 2019) Support for Teams Direct Routing Telephone Numbers in Auto Attendants (for Teams-only users)
  • Centralized holiday tables (to cope with calls differently during holidays)
  • Multiple telephone numbers for an CQ or AA
  • Round robin call distribution for CQ
  • (planned, not yet there) Transfer a CQ/AA call to a PSTN phone number
  • (planned, not yet there) Dial extensions from AA
  • (planned, not yet there) Voicemail shared mailbox for CQ and AA

Please note, in case you utilize SFB Online CQ/AA capabilities already: There are some details for as-is CQ/AA which will be automatically migrated/transferred from the SFB Online Admin Center to the Teams Admin Center.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

I’m really thrilled and excited about these updates. Why? Well, if you were still on Skype for Business Server with Enterprise Voice there were some limitations especially regarding SFB Response Groups which now seem to be addressed with this update for Teams Direct Routing.

What does this mean for you? If you have loads of SFB response groups, e.g. Sales hotline, Support hotline, department … hotlines or else you can start to plan to migrate those to Teams with Teams Direct Routing. I.e. you can assign your onpremise phone numbers for this which you use via Teams Direct Routing (an SBC) which will route incoming PSTN phone numbers from your PSTN link via qualified /certified Session Border Controller (SBC) to Microsoft Phone System and Teams.

Isn’t it amazing? I was waiting quite some time on these capabilities. Well, online you could find some workaround to get this working via SBC SIP message manipulation (no big deal), however these workarounds were not support by Microsoft, so if there would have been any minor change on the Cloud Backend it could break things. And I’m sure you don’t want to have a workaround solution for important or even business critical hotlines which might not work all of a sudden? But now, there are the required capabilities to plan for shifting onpremise SFB Response Groups to (Teams Direct Routing) without any workaround (SIP message manipulations, call forwarding…).

Additional Resources