Tagged: Voice

Safe transfer with Microsoft Teams Calling

In this post I highlight a Microsoft Teams Calling feature to safely transfer calls. Microsoft seems to add safe transfer for calls by Teams Users soon, according to the Microsoft 365 roadmap.

What’s safe transfer with Microsoft Teams?

As the roadmap item says it enables Team Users to get a call back if the Teams User transferred it to another Teams or Skype for Business user which does not answer.

That this works it is required that the user who transfers the call is a Microsoft Teams user and the target must be a Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business user in the same or federated tenant.

Additional resources

Microsoft Teams Call Quality Dashboard (CQD)

In this post I describe the CQD for Microsoft Teams and provide an high-level overview on its capabilities.

What’s the CQD? The call quality dashboard, short CQD, is a rich dashboard and reporting platform to check and ensure call quality metrics. Furthermore, it helps to analyze and to troubleshoot call quality if you drill down in reports and to figure out where you might have issues. Or you can just see what’s going on in your Microsoft 365 Phone System with Microsoft Teams.

Source: Microsoft Teams CQD (May/June 2020)

In case you need to dig in deep in the depths of the reports you might also want to upload some network details regarding your physical location/s or endpoints. This can help you as well as Microsoft Support to troubleshoot issues, if required. For example, you can upload a CSV including:

column namecolumn formatexample
networkipString10.10.1.0
network nameStringHQ-Stuttgart
networkrangeNumber24
buildingnameStringHQ-Stuttgart-Office
ownershiptypeStringEriksLab
buildingtypeStringIT Operations
buildingofficetypeStringAdministration
cityStringStuttgart
zip codeString71178
countryStringDE
stateStringBaden-Wuerttemberg
regionStringStuttgart
insidecorpBoolean1
expressrouteBoolean0
VPN (optional)Boolean0
CQD Tenant Data Information (CSV) example for buildings
Source: Microsoft Teams CQD (June 2020)

So, depending on your uploaded data you can view the reports either without or with the enriched data input.

Source: Microsoft Teams CQD (June 2020)

Conclusion, opinion and summary

The CQD is a helpful means to support analyzing and troubleshooting call quality-related issues. They reporting data can help to find out what’s not working well and maybe even give you the why to mitigate the issue. E.g. bad connectivity, bad device or else. Additional, depending on your organization’s size and requirements you could also get the data to PowerBI for more customized views and reporting, if needed. The CQD is very powerful and supportive to resolve call quality issue. In case you are utilizing Microsoft Teams especially calling capabilities, I think, it is a very good platform which can support your call quality troubleshooting.

Additional resources

Microsoft Teams Contact Center Integration

This post is about the Contact Center Integration in Microsoft Teams. If you deploy Microsoft Teams calling capabilities to enable your workforce to use Microsoft Teams you might also be interested in the Contact Center integration. In the past I wrote an article about Microsoft Teams Call Queues and Auto Attendants for Direct Routing which describes Teams calling capabilities in regards of automatic call distribution (ACD) and/or interactive voice response (IVRs). Depending on your needs this was and is maybe not yet sufficient for your agents because you have many agents answering loads of incoming calls, transfer calls to maybe other departments/agents and respond to these incoming requests, complaints, remote advisories, incidents or what have you. Maybe 24/7…

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

So, there was a missing piece to bringt Microsoft Teams and more advanced Contact Center solutions together. Until lately. APIs were enhanced and improved which enabled Contact Center solution and service providers to build and use the available integrations based on

  • Direct Routing Connectivity,
  • Microsoft Graph Cloud Communication APIs,
  • Teams platform and extensibility and/or
  • Teams SDKs.

By this Microsoft enables for three integration “depths”:

  • Connect | based on Direct Routing
  • Connect and Extend | mixture of Direct Routing + Graph APIs + Teams apps platform
  • Extend and Power |embedding Teams SDKs into Contact Center App/Solution/Service for native Teams interactions (which works with Direct Routing as well as calling plans)

Now that you want to start to integrate your existing Contact Center solution in Microsoft Teams, note that this works only for certified Contact Center solutions and services, which are listed in the Connected Contact Center for Microsoft Teams Certification Program. Today, there are already very well-known providers offering Microsoft Teams integration (see additional resources).

Conclusion, opinion and summary

This is another step forward to bring in more voice and calling capabilities into Microsoft Teams as it can become the primary client app for Contact Center agents as well. I assume that more is about to come and enable companies to leverage more and more of Microsoft Teams especially enterprises with large contact centers which might still be on Skype for Business Server with Enterprise Voice for these workloads. In the past this was mostly due to the SFB UCMA integration which was often used in these voice deployments and in Teams this integration option was missing. Now, enterprise still running SFB Server and having dependencies in regards of third-party Contact Center solutions based on UCMA might probably soon get rid of SFB Server onprem, migrate (the until now left behind Contact Center agents) to Microsoft Teams and decommission SFB Server infrastructure.

Additional resources

Konfiguration von Microsoft Teams Direct Routing über das Teams Admin Center

In diesem Beitrag möchte ich aufzeigen, wie Microsoft Teams Direct Routing jetzt auch über das Teams Admin Center konfiguriert werden kann. Ich selbst bevorzuge weiterhin die Anlage mit der PowerShell, aber es ist gut zu wissen, dass diese Funktionen jetzt auch im Admin Center verfügbar sind.

Hinweis: Dieser Beitrag beschreibt einen aktuell verfügbaren Ansatz in Form einer beispielhaften Konfiguration. Wie einen Konfiguration vorgenommen werden muss, kann variieren (je nach Anforderungen) und sich auch jederzeit seitens Microsoft 365, Teams etc. verändern.

How to connect a certified SBC via Teams Admin Center?

Zielsetzung

Microsoft 365 Telefonsystem an einen zertifizierten Session Border Controller (SBC) für Microsoft Teams Direct Routing (TDR) anbinden.

Design und Umfang

In diesem exemplarischen Beitrag zeige ich nur wie die Verbindung vom Microsoft 365 Telefonsystem zum SBC eingerichtet werden kann (gelb). Die Konfiguration eines SBCs, mögliche Anpassungen und Feinjustierungen werden hier nicht weiter beschrieben. Am Ende wird noch ein Cloud-only User Account eine Telefonnummer und die Voice Routing Policy zugewiesen.

Auf Details, was TDR ist, Voraussetzungen und wie zu lizenzieren ist gehe ich hier nicht ein.

How to connect a certified SBC via Teams Admin Center?

Zu konfigurieren sind

  • ein Teams PSTN Gateway (SBC),
  • PSTN Usage,
  • Voice Route,
  • Voice Routing Policy
  • und zuletzt muss die Voice Routing Policy dem User zugewiesen werden.

Lösung (Beispiel)

Wir beginnen im Microsoft Teams Admin Center (https://admin.teams.microsoft.com) als globaler Admin, aber auch schon die Teams-Administrator-Rolle (Teams Service Administrator) reicht hier und berechtigt für die Konfiguration.

Nachstehend zeigen die Screenshots den “Konfigurations-Pfad” und in jedem Screenshot werden die Schritte beginnend mit “1” aufgezeigt.

Teams Admin Center
PSTN Gateway bzw. SBC hinzufügen
SBC im Teams Admin Center konfigurieren (FQDN, aktiviert, Port (SBC Listener), Sessions …)
Einstellungen sichten
PSTN Usage erstellen
PSTN Usage erstellen
Voice Route erstellen
Voice Routing erstellen

Bei “Dialed number pattern” kann ein bestimmter regulärer Ausdruck via RegEx definiert werden, um basierend von Teams ausgehende Anrufe auf einem bestimmten “Muster” zu prüfen, um hier eine Routing-Entscheidung für diese oder eine mögliche andere Route zu treffen. Ich lasse dies hier mal absichtlich leer. Wenn User komplett E.164 (also mit +49… ) wählen sollen oder einfach alles akzeptiert werden soll, kann hier z. B. .$ (any) o.ä. verwendet werden. Je nach Bedarf.

Voice Route erstellen
Voice Route und Priorität prüfen
Voice Routing Policy für die Zuweisung an User erstellen
PSTN Usage in Voice Routing Policy hinzufügen
Voice Routing Policy einem User zuweisen
Voice Routing Policy einem User zuweisen

Nach dem die Voice Routing Policy zugewiesen wurde, kann es eine Weile* dauern bis, in diesem Beispiel James, telefonieren kann. Natürlich muss hierfür der SBC bereits konfiguriert und funktionsfähig sein. Auch die richtigen Lizenzen und Policies (Calling Policies) dürfen für die User nicht fehlen. Nicht zu vergessen, dass der oder die Benutzer noch eine Telefonnummer zugewiesen benötigt.

*eine Weile kann von ein paar Minuten bis hin zu mehreren Stunden sein. Ich habe schon unterschiedlich lange Bereitstellungszeiten festgestellt.

Letzteres geht aktuell leider (noch?) nicht via Teams Admin Center. Dazu benötigt es noch die SFB Online PowerShell außer ich habe SFB Server (Hybrid) und meine Rufnummern werden noch vom onpremise Server via AAD Connect übertragen (msRTCSip-LineURI…). Doch hier gibt’s dann noch ein paar weitere Aspekte zu beachten.

Zuweisung der Telefonnummer und Voice Routing Policy via PowerShell

Die Zuweisung der Voice Routing Policy und Telefonnummer kann per PowerShell erfolgen (via SFB Online Connector), nach dem das SFBO PowerShell Modul heruntergeladen, installiert und verbunden wurde. Wenn man das nachstehende etwas umbaut, kann hieraus einfach über ein CSV-Import und eine foreach-Schleife ein Anlage und Zuweisung von Benutzern im größeren Stil erfolgen.

#Verbindung zu SFBO aufbauen (mit MFA)
Import-Module "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Skype for Business Online\Modules\SkypeOnlineConnector\SkypeOnlineConnector.psd1"
#Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
$SFBOSESSION = New-CsOnlineSession
Import-PSSession $SFBOSESSION
#Voice Routing Policy zuweisen
Grant-CsOnlineVoiceRoutingPolicy -Identity "James" -PolicyName "VoiceRoutingPolicy-Germany-Stuttgart”
#Telefonnummer zuweisen
Set-CsUser -Identity "james@...domain.de" -OnPremLineURI tel:+497119874563219 -EnterpriseVoiceEnabled $true -HostedVoiceMail $true
#Verbindung trennen
Remove-PSSession $SFBOSESSION

Zusammenfassung

Ich finde es praktisch, dass ich jetzt einen zertifizierten SBC auch über das Teams Admin Center verbinden kann. Wieso ich aber Usern noch keine (TDR) Telefonnummer auch über das Teams Admin Center zuweisen kann, ist mir ein Rätsel. Hierfür muss ich wieder in die PowerShell wechseln. Das finde ich etwas umständlich. Dann mache ich es aktuell doch lieber noch per Shell, da ich mit der PowerShell die Ansichten nicht wechseln brauche.

Ich hoffe, der Beitrag gibt eine grobe Übersicht, wie (aktuell Mai 2020) ein SBC für TDR an das Microsoft 365 Telefonsystem angebunden werden kann.

Zusätzliche Ressourcen

Microsoft Teams Telephony Licensing Notes [Update April 2020]

In this post I like to point out some updated licensing options for Microsoft Teams regarding telephony, common area phones and meeting rooms.

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 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 (SFB Online EOL date July 31, 2021). 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)

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”.

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 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.

Additional Resources

Microsoft Teams PSTN telephony licensing update for SMBs

This post highlights a new licensing option regarding (PSTN) telephony / calling / dial tone with Microsoft Teams for small and medium businesses (SMBs) or companies with up 300 seats. Now SMBs can benefit also from Microsoft Teams’ integrated telephony capabilities.

The hereinafter described licensing 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.

source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/sound-wave-voice-listen-856770/

Microsoft extended its phone system offering to be a add-on license for Office 365 business premium, too. Until now you needed the following licenses for telephony in Microsoft Teams:

previously

  • Office 365 E1/E3 + phone system (+ calling plan) (+ optional audio conferencing)
  • Office 365 E5 (incl. phone system) (+ calling plan) (+ optional audio conferencing)

now [March 2020]

  • Office 365 Business Essentials / Premium + phone system (+ calling plan) (+ optional audio conferencing)
  • Office 365 E1/E3 + phone system (+ calling plan) (+ optional audio conferencing)
  • E5 (incl. phone system) (+ calling plan) (+ optional audio conferencing)

Conclusion, opinion and summary

The new licensing option for Microsoft 365 Phone System enables small and medium business (up to 300 seats) with Office 365 Business Premium licenses to consider to use Microsoft 365 Phone System instead of using a PBX or migrate to it to reduce costs, get telephony integrated to Teams and provide a seamless and unified user experience by using Microsoft Teams for communication and collaboration as the hub for teamwork and telephony as well.

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

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

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