Understanding your Microsoft Teams Calling choices
In 2021 Microsoft Teams will accelerate its disruption of business calling, UC, PBX and SIP Trunking. In total a $54.4 market. It is confusing to consider because Teams is, first and foremost, a team collaboration platform. Some of the business-centric features in Teams might work really nicely with another offering (i.e. group chat, file sharing) and some might compete directly (i.e. audio/video conferencing, PBX functions). However, every service provider, MSP, Reseller and Distributor selling to these markets is now formulating their Microsoft Teams Strategy.
Microsoft Teams has been rapidly advancing and improving both in what you users see and in what the APIs will allow. There are, essentially, two methods of giving a Teams user access to PSTN calling and within these two methods there are a few choices that have implications.
Going Native in this case means activating the native Calls application in Teams. The free version lets you use this application to make calls to your colleagues in Teams – audio and video. If you add the Phone System license you get a dial-pad for PSTN calling. If you use Teams a lot this Calls application is useful because it works wherever you are – mobile, laptop, browser, tablet. There is also a growing line of Teams compliant phones from which to choose.
Add the dial-pad to Teams and you have a built-in Microsoft Teams softphone. Here are your choices from there:
Choice 1: Use Microsoft Teams for Calls application, PBX features, calling, and phone numbers. This is the nuclear option – move everything to Microsoft so you get one bill from one provider. This is the option everyone reading this article fears (except Microsoft employees). So far, uptake has been very slow. Features are not mature, support is difficult and customization is almost impossible.
Choice 2: Use Microsoft Teams for Calls application and PBX features only. This is when you create a Direct Route connection from Microsoft Teams to any SIP Trunk service provider. You pay Microsoft for PBX features and a Service Provider for calling and phone numbers. Many providers sell SIP Trunking to businesses on Microsoft Teams. It is recommended to have this in your Microsoft Teams Strategy.
Choice 3: Use Microsoft Teams for the Calls application only. This is where you create a Direct Route connection and register the Microsoft Teams user on the existing PBX that the business is already using. Microsoft Teams Calls becomes another, very useful, way to place and receive business phone calls. Combining Microsoft Teams and the existing PBX is particularly relevant to companies who rely on their current phone system and are not ready to deal with the challenges of moving to Microsoft.
A Cross launch starts in Teams but ends up opening a 3rd party client or application to make the call or use the functionality. Cross launches are inherently clunky and often lead to user error or user discomfort navigating mobile phones and desktop environments that can vary. The two benefits of cross launch, in this case, are that you can avoid the license costs to Microsoft and you can keep users in your preferred clients/apps which gives you more of a chance to sell them complementary services (like conferencing, chat, etc.).
Choice 1: Teams Application with embedded 3rd party portal. Many of the largest competitors to Microsoft have taken this approach. It centers on building a Teams Application where you can serve up chatbots, web portals and connectors. When the user wants to make a call another client/app outside of Teams running on the same device takes over.
Choice 2: Teams Application with embedded 3rd party portal and WebRTC. This approach is similar to Choice 1 with the addition of WebRTC to allow call setup from the embedded web pages in Teams. WebRTC is unreliable in many ways as a front-end call control though powerful as it can bridge the web browser to SIP.
TeamMate Technology understands the unique technology challenges required to integrate your existing communications tools into Microsoft Teams. We are dedicated to building integration tools that continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in Microsoft Teams with existing PBX and Trunk systems.
Microsoft Teams is accelerating its disruption of business calling, UCaaS, Conference Calling, PBX, and SIP Trunking. In total an $54.8B (USD) market. It is confusing to consider because Teams is, first and foremost, a Team Collaboration platform but its strength is that it provides many services together – unlike Zoom, Slack or the other competitors. Service Providers who sell IT or PBX or SIP Trunks all need a strategy for how they will manage the flood of businesses asking for Microsoft Teams integration. This is your Microsoft Teams Strategy.
Microsoft Teams integration is, ultimately, a feature that improves your PBX or Microsoft Office 365 service. You need a partner that you reply on for technology and domain expertise. Here are several reasons why TeamMate Technology is the right partner:
- A full White Label solution. You set up and manage all branding components.
- A deep Knowledge Base of solutions to common and uncommon problems.
- Hundreds of Service Providers and Resellers using TeamMate today for the integration.
- Extensive functionality and branding in Microsoft Teams – unique in the market.
- REST API to access all authentication and provisioning functionality.
- TeamMate institutional expertise in SIP, Microsoft Graph API, and PowerShell.
- We support PBX integration, SIP Trunk integration and (Q1 2021) SMS integration.
- Using TeamMate it is easy to add Microsoft Teams as a softphone. You should have this arrow in your quiver!