Launched in March 2017, Microsoft Teams not only provides a virtual meeting place where work groups can collaborate on projects and share ideas, it also lets you chat via instant messaging and make video and voice calls. As you probably know, Microsoft announced in September 2017 that Teams will be replacing Skype for Business Online as their platform for cloud voice.
One of the best things about Teams is its call functionality. You can make, receive and transfer calls to and from landlines and mobile phones on the public switched telephone network (PSTN) in two different ways:
- Using Microsoft Phone System and Calling Plans
- Through a technology called Direct Routing
Unfortunately, one drawback with going down the Phone System and Calling Plans path is that you might still be under contract with your incumbent provider, so moving to Calling Plans will incur a penalty. On top of that, your current call plans and line costs may well be significantly lower than purchasing a calling plan from Microsoft.
However, the Direct Routing option enables you to leverage the benefits of Teams while remaining with your existing provider for your lines and minutes. And we’re happy to inform you that AudioCodes has been certified by Microsoft to provide a Direct Routing for Teams solution through the Mediant family of session border controllers (SBC).
Direct Routing is a set of tools that mediate between your on-premises PSTN or SIP trunk and Microsoft Phone System. Running on a physical or virtual SBC, and located either on-premises or in a datacenter, these tools act in the same way that a gateway router connects the internet to an internal network. When an incoming call is received, the SBC mediates a session with your Microsoft Phone System. It is then passed through to the Microsoft Teams client and then to the intended user. In the same way, an outgoing call is routed through to the SBC and then to the recipient via the existing PSTN or SIP trunk. This is a very elegant solution, and is fully scalable from just a few users to tens of thousands.
There are some other very good reasons for opting for Direct Routing courtesy of an AudioCodes SBC. Here are just a few of them:
- Phased Migration – One of the biggest challenges when implementing a Microsoft intelligent communications solution like Teams is migrating from your legacy PBX. With Direct Routing, you can adopt a phased approach by migrating users individually or in groups. We at AudioCodes have developed a powerful software application, User Management Pack™ 365, to make this process as quick and easy as possible.
- Monitoring and Reporting – Although you can get a reasonable amount of information about your Microsoft Teams deployment from its online control panels, this is limited to the Microsoft UC client and the Microsoft environment. Because the SBC sits between your Microsoft environment, endpoint devices and the PSTN or SIP trunk provider, a centralized management tool like AudioCodes’ One Voice Operations Center (OVOC) can let you can monitor call quality closely and deliver a much-improved quality of experience (QoE).
- Media Bypass – This reduces the traffic flowing to and from Microsoft datacenters by allowing the call media to be directly routed to the SBC, dramatically increasing call quality at the same time.
All told, Direct Routing from AudioCodes lets you retain your existing PSTN or SIP trunk lines, no matter the size of your enterprise. It reduces the total cost of ownership by giving you lower calling charges and helps you get total control of your communications solution. And if you want to have Direct Routing capabilities up and running within about 10 minutes, why not try our Mediant Virtual Edition (VE) SBC on Azure? It’s that easy – as you can see here in this video.
If you’re just starting out on the journey to Microsoft intelligent communications, check out this white paper for some top tips to help you on the way.