The global shift to remote working has seen businesses changing their Unified Communication infrastructures and streamlining their working environments. Researchers and experts believe that the way we communicate will be forever changed, hence the need to refashion our communication methods to incorporate a globally distributed workforce.
In this guide, we'll explore the ways in which enterprises can utilize the power of Microsoft Teams Direct Routing to modernize their communications infrastructure.
What is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing?
Many organizations worldwide already use Microsoft Teams as part of their Unified Communications ecosystem to optimize workplace collaboration. Microsoft Teams is one of the world's most popular UC applications for video conferencing, file sharing and chat.
Microsoft Phone System Direct Routing is the service within Microsoft Teams that allows organizations to connect external phone lines and use Teams as an office phone system.
Direct provides a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) connection to Teams users, enabling them to make and receive external calls on any device using Teams.
Cost savings and increased efficiency
Instead of traditional Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone systems which are usually located on business premises, Microsoft Teams can become the business phone solution. This can mean huge cost reductions for businesses. Without the need for existing PBX systems and the associated equipment costs, businesses are able to take advantage of the flexibility of cloud-based systems. Organizations can have the option of switching all their business calls to Microsoft Teams, or migrate gradually from a legacy PBX, depending on their needs.
Microsoft Teams - streamlining workplace communication
One of the reasons for Microsoft Teams popularity is its seamless integration with other Microsoft products, like Office 365, Microsoft's Cloud Office Suite. Incorporating apps like Word, Excel, OneNote, SharePoint and PowerPoint, users can share documents within Teams without switching applications.
In keeping with the demands of an evolving global workplace, Microsoft also announced that by the end of 2021 most Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) phones will be compatible with Teams.
As Microsoft continues its dominance in the enterprise communication space, more and more organizations are using its technologies as a comprehensive solution each year. In fact, Microsoft Teams daily active users increased by 31 million to 75 million in a period of under 6 months.
Image source: Microsoft
Direct Routing vs Microsoft Calling Plans
A PSTN network is a collection of the world’s circuit-switched telephone networks. While Microsoft Teams is simple enough to use internally, there are different ways to set up external calling with the PSTN network.
Microsoft Calling Plans
This method of connecting Teams to the PSTN Network is by essentially making Microsoft the carrier for all internal and external calls, through Microsoft's own cloud-based calling plans. While a calling plan is easy to set up, there are some pitfalls when it comes to coverage, cost and support. For example, international coverage is limited, and companies with global branches would need separate plans for each country. Call charges depend on business requirements, and with larger businesses, this could be more expensive and less flexible than direct routing. Also, with limited support offered by a Microsoft Calling Plan, it may not suit larger organizations with complex communication demands.
Direct Routing offers greater flexibility, a wider geographic coverage, lower rates, and increased levels of support than calling plans.
Direct Routing is another way to connect Microsoft’s Phone System to the PSTN via an existing or new third-party telephony provider. The provider offers the necessary cloud infrastructure to route incoming and outgoing external calls to Microsoft Teams. For larger organizations, Direct Routing has many advantages over a Calling Plan. It offers more flexibility, an broader geographic coverage, lower call rates and a higher level of support.
With direct routing, businesses can choose their own third-party provider. Many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have global networks with worldwide coverage, allowing larger businesses to implement a UC system right across their entire organization.
How do you set up Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams?
Implementing Direct Routing can be relatively problem-free, particularly if an organization is already using Microsoft Teams internally. Here are some steps that will help make things easier.
1.Switch your UC platform to Microsoft Teams internally
If not already using Teams, organizations will benefit in terms of communication, productivity and collaboration when considering their existing use of other Microsoft Office products.
2.Get the correct licenses and select your provider
If you've already rolled out Teams within your organization, you'll need to ensure that your licenses include Microsoft's Audio Calls and Phone System for individual users. Enterprises will need a third-party MSP to ensure a successful deployment of Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams. Your provider should offer system architecture design, migration, training, integration, support and more.
3.Configure media bypass, SBC and SIP
Direct Routing works using a Session Border Controller (SBC), which is situated at the border between networks to ensure the secure transfer of data between public and private networks. A cloud-based Session Border Controller will need to be configured to route calls between the MSP's network and the Microsoft phone system. All outgoing calls are then transmitted through to the Microsoft phone system, which then sends calls to the SBC. Incoming calls are also routed to the Microsoft phone system and any other Teams-enabled device. In some cases, service providers implement media bypass to reduce the amount of traffic to Microsoft data centers, improving call quality.
4.Transfer existing numbers
When transitioning to any new application, it's inevitable that disruption occurs. So it's essential that users are impacted as little as possible. This means porting the individual extensions on the legacy PBX wherever possible to allow users to keep their existing phone numbers.
As with any new system, the success of a Teams transition is dependent upon organizations implementing the right training. Microsoft Teams has a range of capabilities that a traditional PBX lacks, like location-based routing, simultaneous ringing, queues, auto-attendant and of course Office 365 integrations. Organizations should see a big improvement in productivity once users learn to adopt as many new features as possible.
Third-party monitoring and performance management tools
Without appropriate tools for monitoring Microsoft Teams, enterprises face a variety of issues when operating Teams at scale. Third party monitoring tools are essential for the success of your Teams deployment, providing real-time performance insights, deep data analytics, complete UCC visibility, customizable dashboards, flexible deployment options, rapid end-to-end troubleshooting and proactive alerting.
IR's solutions for Microsoft Teams
Support for Teams strengthens the Collaborate solution suite with the ability to effectively manage multi-vendor UC environments from a single view, and uniquely positions IR to simplify complexity for customers to ensure they can deliver high quality services to all Teams users.
Find out more about how you can get better insights into the quality of Microsoft Teams experience. Get in contact with our team today.