When Microsoft Teams was announced in March 2017, it left organizations grappling with the challenge of how they might integrate Microsoft's new collaboration tool in to their environment. This was accelerated when later that year, Microsoft advised Skype for Business would eventually be replaced by Teams.
Many organizations were left with fundamental questions on how to manage their unified communications and collaboration environment. What to move from on-premises and when? How to ensure the network can manage the transition? What investment was required? What measures to put in place to ensure adoption of the new technology?
To assist organizations deploying or considering Microsoft Teams we have developed a three-part webinar series, to tell the story of one organizations real journey to adopting Teams in their environment.
Part 1, will take an in-depth look at the planning phase of the project:
- Planning for success
- Envisioning stage
- Assessment stage
- Design stage
To watch part 1 click on the play symbol on the webinar above.
The Journey to Microsoft Teams is a 3 part webinar series:
IR | BrightTALK
Richard Smith: Hello, everyone. Thank you for taking the time to join us in the first of a 3-part webinar series on The Journey to Teams. The aim of this series is to assist organizations that are deploying or considering deploying Microsoft Teams, by telling the story of our organization’s journey to Teams.
Richard: In Part One, we take an in-depth look at the planning phase of the project and this will cover planning for success in the following stages:
Richard: My co-presenter, Mr. Dave Bottomley, is someone who many of you know from previous IR webinars. Dave’s a Senior Solution Engineer and one of our Microsoft experts.
Dave Bottomley: Thank you for carving out the time to spend with us. Appreciate it.
Richard: Before we get started with the main content, just a few housekeeping items:
- We’re scheduled for about 45 minutes and have about 30-35 minutes of content;
- For Q&A, we'll try and pick off sort of my salient points as we go through the webinar;
- And anything we don't get to during the main presentation, we’ll try and cover at the end.
With that, I'm going to hand over to Dave to start taking us through the journey.
Dave: Some of you may have seen this slide from me before, but I can't overemphasize that this is very much an organizational paradigm we have to think about—in terms of what we monitor, and who we work with.
Many times, the folks we have talked to are Unified Communications (UC) Administrators and they're the entity in between all these groups here.
Dave: This slide includes our internal customers, who are also our constituents in the sense that we work on behalf of them. And what we try to do is work in concert with them across the organization to give our end users the best end-to-end experience.
Tier One has visibility to any kind of anomalies or strangeness that appears in three silos: the Server, the Endpoints and the Network. The goal is to keep a high-level view on the health of everything.
Dave: UC Admins have a great deal of interest in how things are going in terms of infrastructure. The Server admin team are the ones responsible for provisioning the hosts and making sure they've got the appropriate resources.
In the past, we used to have a point in the fiscal year where someone comes in and says: “Well, you've got this much staff and you've got this much budget, what are you planning on doing next fiscal year?”
And sometimes, when we're compelled to scale up or scale out, the budget impact affects all new projects and bear overhead on to the organization.
Dave: In the End User space, Tier One obviously is going to hear things or service desk. I refer to these two kinds of organizations as the Desktop Team and Red Carpet.
Desktop Team are folks who provide the hardware and software for you as an end user.
Red Carpet is this group of people who go out and really hand-hold the executives, because they may not be as technically savvy as some of the other folks in the organization. We want to make sure that they have the best possible experience because if they have poor experiences, we will hear about them, as the executives make organizational decisions about funding and which technical directions we go to.
Middle Management, on the other hand, is expected to report up on the experiences for the end users.
Dave: So on the far right of the slide, you have the network piece which Tier One will hear about if there's any kind of outage along the network.
Whether this is part of the segments that you are responsible for or beyond. So, sadly enough, in this story, as when there are some elements that are beyond our immediate control, what we're trying to do is illuminate that. The balance of it is fairly straightforward. If you've got network mentality, we have the land.
We typically have an agreement and a dialogue with our carrier - the telco. And I included Gateway because there's a small set of folks who manage gateways, firewalls, and that kind of thing.
Dave: When we started to pull this deck together, I went back to some Skype operations framework material which is very much Microsoft's methodology for deployment planning. Am I right, Richard?
Richard: Correct. Deploy and Planning Service.
Dave: These are the various steps in terms of planning and one of the takeaways that we hope everyone walks away with — irrespective of whether you use IR’s solutions — to basically take this journey. There is a lot of work to do before we just say, "we're going to move to teams". And this is in line with Microsoft's planning, deployment and operation type scheme.
What we've done here was to break down these phases based on the Microsoft methodology.
What you see on the left is Phase One: Planning Your Upgrade.
I already talked about the stakeholders — all these folks have to be represented. I'll have one kind of socialization with one group, and then I have to invite someone else, invite someone else, and invite someone else.
Dave: But the problem with that kind of approach is that there's a possibly that you will leave someone out. So you need to make sure you map out everyone you're going to need participation and input from. Preparing the network is a huge component of this. I'll describe some of that at a high level.
One of the things I've been challenged with over the years is trying to find someone who has the authority to make the decisions. And I understand that North America has a different culture in this space than other parts on the globe. Some places I've worked with, really require a lot of agreement and everyone's got to be on board. In that case, it's been my experience, it takes even longer than just having a product manager who can make a decision on a decision point.
Dave: What we're trying to do here is start with learning about today's habits: what we're good at what we're poor at. We talk about the network health, that's where we use Assessor to basically understand point-to-point voice health.
For example: Richard calls me — and when you make a call directly, that's going to be a peer-to-peer call. And in many times, it's just going to find the quickest point on the network between the two of us.
Path Insight is what we use to get deep metrics into each of the network hops along the way. So, this is what we're using to say: Do we have congestion? Are we seeing errors?
Dave: Jason is our recently appointed IT director will be joining us next month, but the gentleman who was with us before, really high-level assessed network health in terms of millisecond response.
But what we're trying to do is really illuminate other things. Things like cabling, misconfiguration, jumbo packets, things of that nature. So, this is how we're using Path Insight to optimize our network.
Dave: I'm going to step through just a few of these here. Phase Two: Define Your Project Scope.
Anyone who's done project management knows it's very difficult to understand how you're going to get somewhere until you define where you're going to be. So after we get through these DPS slides, I'll show you where we're at today and where we're headed.
There's some considerations, as we've enumerated here — islands mode, Skype for Business only, teams only Skype for Business team collaboration. And we're still in a Plan and Assess stage. Truth be told right now, we are starting to use call control — while I should say internal for peer-to-peer — and conferencing. But what we haven't used with the voice services in Teams yet is the ingress and egress.
Dave: So, if my wife calls me, we're not currently routing that public number into our Teams environment. So I cannot call her with Teams. However, today, we are able to basically set up meetings with Teams, and have both internal folks join as well as external folks.
That's kind of where we're at in terms of a very first baby step. We're starting to socialize teams and some of the call functions with our user community. Trying to get them slowly to start moving off of the Skype for Business sessions and onto the Team sessions.
An interesting point here is if you look closely at the code - the codec for Teams calls is lightweight codec compared to Skype for Business. Most people participating now in calls over Teams have a much better experience.
I hear that across the board, where some folks still are struggling with Skype for Business. Once again, in terms of defining the scope: our learnings from Assessor and our learnings from Path Insight start influencing what we need to work on.
Dave: DPS, Phase Three: Technical Readiness.
Once again, we need to ask: are we in a good position from the environmental perspective to start the migration of the deployment? This is us validating everything through the metrics that we see in prognosis for UC, Assessor, and Path Insight.
Until we see all green in our network, all green and meeting our SLAs and Assessor, we're not done optimizing the network piece. That's a very, very heavy piece of it, as I'll explain here in just a moment.
Dave: Of course, when it comes to endpoints, I have been advocating a proper user adoption program. If you don't feel like you have the organizational wherewithal to put this together, there are vendors out there who do provide this as a service, as their primary business model.
What we're talking about is education of the end users — socialization, training, getting the right devices to plug into their endpoints, explaining how their endpoints should be operated — to have a good experience of things of this nature.
What we're doing is using our advanced reporting today to learn who's got bad habits in user land, and who's not using the right endpoints. Who needs to have better gear, and might need education on how to work with the solutions, and also best practices in terms of operation.
Dave: The constant here is Path Insight. One of the things we try to differentiate, is when someone struggles from a network perspective - is it something within our span of control on campus that we can manage? Or is this something up in user land?
When I talked about those two teams that are user-facing being Desktop and Red Carpet — they're the ones who basically have to pull up their boots and go work with these folks. If we don't provide decent guidance and some kind of online repository — this may be internal websites or training, or things they need to revisit.
But this is where we're using our advanced reporting: to observe the behaviors today to figure out who needs to be educated and fill the educational gaps. This is a huge component to making things snap when we move folks over to Teams.
Dave: For deployment and implementation, I think there's five phases here. But this is the actual movement.
What you're going to see in the final slide is in this journey to Microsoft Teams, with full call control, Microsoft is advising that we make an interim stop the Skype for Business Online - I'll let Jason dig into the rationale behind that next month. - and then once we're all saying solid in Skype for Business Online, then we'll be migrated to Microsoft Teams.
Obviously, to go to Skype for Business Online, we're still going to have to do all that network remediation, cleanup optimization - even to take that step. Once again, assign the code existence and upgrade mode, start planning this out to mid-step. I don't know if Jason's got a cut over date yet and what the timing is.
What I want you to appreciate that IR is not an overly large organization. If it takes us months to make it through this journey, you can imagine anyone larger than us is probably going to be on a longer journey. There's a greater number of people involved who have a smaller span of control over each of these subsections, so there’s a fair amount of orchestration that goes towards even being prepared.
Dave: In the final stages — see how the little icon has progressed to the final icon — operational excellence.
What this means, is after we've made the migration, we need o ask how are we going to operate this environment in Microsoft Teams? We need solutions that reflect the metrics. Even though we've pulled out the back-end services that used to be on-premise and push them up to the cloud, we still have this obligation from an end user perspective and the network.
Once again, even though there might be anomalies off the network, we are still responsible for that dialogue and that relationship with third parties (like our carriers) to make sure that segment of the network is nice and clean.
Any questions on any of these phases? I know Richard, and I've been through those.
All right, I see no questions from the audience.
Dave: I want to give you a little intimate look on who we are, where we live, and how we're connected.
Right now, this is our Skype deployment. We have two sites: Sydney, where our corporate headquarters is, and Denver.
For locations, we have Singapore, Denver, Herndon, Virginia, Minneapolis, Dusseldorf, Germany and Oxbridge, England.
Currently, if you see little red lines connecting to the sites - you'll notice nuances. The folks in Europe are homed in Denver. The issue with this is, say there's three folks in the Dusseldorf office who are on a conference together — we have to backhaul all that traffic, back and forth, to the Denver site.
Dave: I can tell you by looking at our network metrics, anytime we traverse an ocean, this is where we start losing our ability to optimize the network.
We currently run assessments for void traffic between Denver and Sydney, and predictably, right in the middle is where we get some extremely low millisecond response. It’s the same for the Atlantic.
The other thing I've noticed in passing, is the European offices are primarily all wireless. In terms of a LAN perspective, they're all basically wireless. The only jacks I've seen in those offices that are wired or in the conference rooms - which is a whole another topic of discussion.
Dave: While I'm on that, I want to just give one small anecdotal lesson here. For instance, in the Denver office, Jason has a side project to assess what we're doing with our conference rooms.
We have a piece of legacy gear that was certified for link. But now, it’s not on the optimized hardware list for Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams.
An issue here is, currently that room system is used as an elaborate headset. In order for people to use it, they have to trot into the conference room and plug it into their PC. It's currently not eligible to be added as an object in Active Directory and have its own calendar and its own mailbox, and so on. We do not have the ability to make that any more evolved of a client.
Dave: Once you provision Room Systems in that fashion, you shouldn't need to come in with your laptop or plug something into it. You should be able to do what they call “one touch control”. You should be able to walk right into the conference room and this device will have its own calendar where people can schedule a conference that involves that object. They'll just join and you're on and lit up.
What that does for us in terms of management monitoring? Now we can see the individual performance of that device versus just a headset that’s hanging off of somebody's laptop.
Historically, we've had issues like someone will walk in, who has a newer laptop that doesn't have an ethernet jack. So unless we provide them with a dongle that allows them to basically go wired, they will be reliant on the wireless network, in addition to having this room system hanging off of it. You can imagine that can be more difficult to basically isolate issues, and basically troubleshoot.
The next is an illustration of where we're headed.
Dave: What you're seeing now is each of those offices - Sydney, Singapore, Dusseldorf, Oxbridge, Herndon, Minneapolis, and Denver - they will all basically jump on to the Microsoft Teams cloud in some local fashion, instead of having to backhaul this traffic everywhere.
We are relying on Microsoft and that big ring that circles the whole topology - to optimize the voice network for the Microsoft Teams calling network.
Whereas when we turn on the circuits - who knows what else is riding on there? And we can do things like apply QoS and optimize things. But the fact of the matter is, we're not really optimized. And what this basically does for us, is allows us to let the folks like the three folks in Dusseldorf to be on a conference and they don't have to traverse the Atlantic Ocean to make everything happen.
Dave: There is a little green SBC - our choice is ribbon right now - and so this is where the call for ingress and egress will come from from each of those sites. Obviously, when my wife calls me now, it'll come into the SPC and punch up through Teams and find its way to me.
This is going to be the scheme. We’ve isolated this to Europe, also for AsiaPAC, Singapore, for probably reasons around costing. Maybe Jason can get into that, but this all has to do with dial plan and who our carriers are. Hopefully, Jason will be able to get into that a little bit more.
So, Richard, I'm going to take a sip of coffee and let you run the next poll. How's that?
Richard: All right, yeah. There's a couple of questions that have come through, just before you take your coffee. I'll set the poll live so people can get can get going on that.
One is around your comments on the lightweight codec as being one of the value propositions from leading to Teams?
Dave: I think, Microsoft at a high level, wants to encourage you to make your way to Teams. Maybe we can get some input from Microsoft, but I don't believe it's sometime in the future, they'll be putting folks on Skype for Business Online. You certainly have the option of keeping the things on premise, but I don't know what the support is going to be like going forward beyond the current release.
Richard: Support for the latest 2015 Skype for Business server, I think, is scheduled to end 2025. And, of course, all the messaging from Microsoft is pushing towards Teams.
Ultimately, I think the focus on hybrid is going to resurface a little bit; we heard some of that at Enterprise Connect. So while Microsoft has been leaning very heavily forward towards Teams, across all audiences, industries and organizational sizes, the recognition that hybrids are going to be around for a while is certainly there as well.
I think you make the move when the time is right for you as an organization.
Dave: The second piece of this is - and once again, this is a story about IR and our experience, so I will tell you not to embarrass our IT director - he still has a fair amount of work to do in terms of optimizing the network. But I will say that Teams, because of the lighter weight codec, has offered a much better experience to our end users, even without any optimization in our network.
So, I would encourage folks to move along, even with - the term may be diminished or sub optimized network - we're still getting better experience as an end user, over audio with Teams, even if you were to do nothing. And Jason can probably explain what's driving us. Keep in mind, once again, we're a smaller organization. We have a limited amount of headcount in our IT organization and they have a lot of responsibilities.
So, when you think back to my three silos - server, network, and point - I think we've reached the point where we've had a change in personnel. And you have to ask yourself: who in this organization really has Skype expertise?
Dave: If you only have a handful of people in your IT organization, that's a whole corner of the network that we could offload to Microsoft and participate in commodity consumption, where we're struggling to basically manage and operate the Skype for Business on premise environment. Because you do have the obligation of ensuring that it's running clean, scaling up, scaling out, and also patching the servers.
I know, as an end user. I see some anomalies in my UX, and every time I research, it's because there was a missing patch that could remediate my symptom. But we have had other priorities in IT in terms of endpoints and network and so on. If Microsoft wants us to take us to Teams, this can basically fill the gap and provide that functionality.
As a result, we can offload that burden from the limited IT staff that we have, so that we [the end users] don't have to rely on them to basically manage that piece. There's numerous reasons to move in that direction. Hopefully, that answers the question.
Richard: Thanks, Dave. There was one other question just asking about percentage of our clients and which categories or industries that they reside in. In the interest of time, I recommend to check out the IR.com website. We've got a number of customer references, case studies, testimonials up that will give you an answer to that particular question.
Dave: So Richard, you know, one thing I wanted to say to the audience is: for those folks who join us at every BrightTalk session, you'll see the same questions over time. This helps us gauge from a grassroots level as to what the pulse of this interest in adoption is. For the folks who are new, we're trying to get that understanding of what the mix of the challenges are, so we can refine the content and and help you with some real world examples, rather than just running the feature list.
Dave: I want to talk about these three phases: where we're at today, where our interim space is in terms of going to Skype for Business Online, and then ultimately, to Microsoft Teams with full call control.
Some of you might have already seen this six solution deck. But as I said, what's really important is why we choose what we use.
Dave: So for the initial phase, it's a little bit of a build slide. As I mentioned, we're using UC assessor and what this does is evaluate VOIP performance between two points. And that today, is either site-to-site or site-to-cloud.
We can do site class for Skype for Business Online, for Teams, for Google Hangouts. And even if you operate out of a third-party cloud, we can add that as well. So that's why it's important.
We're still learning about where we have gaps, where we need to optimize, and what our behaviors are.
Dave: We use prognosis for UC to take a look at what's going on end-to-end, so we start revealing the weak links in the chain. As I mentioned, Path Insight gives us deep insight into how well our network is doing. We're looking for congestion and errors.
Then we use advanced reporting to understand what the behavior of our end users are. Some of the popular reports are things like: who's using Macintosh, who is using Android, who's operating primarily on wireless and having poor MAS scores.
And we also include a scorecard that says, between these sites, what is the MAS performance between internal calls and external calls or between sites? What is the volume?
One thing we want to be cognizant of is, maybe 90% of the call activity within a given location is intra-site. Whereas, there might be very few calls that go between locations, which means you might want to deprioritize the investment in that network and invest in the technology and the workflows that support the vast majority of your users to make it the most impactful spend.
Dave: So the second phase, we're going to lean on UCSF. We care about what the network looks like between these points. Path Insight, once again gives us the deep insight as to how that underpinnings of the network are behaving. And then we do have prognosis for cloud UC.
I probably mentioned [this] on a previous webinar. Currently, Microsoft only allows us to query this on an ad hoc basis. We don't have the feature parity that we do as our on-premise.
We can't say: “give me a list of everything that rode wifi”, “give me a list of everything that traverses this one subnet.”
Our only inputs today for this are: start, end date, and you arrive. But it does pull back all the details about that stream and all the related streams.
Dave: So it will tell you things like the overall MAS experience and the worst MAS experience, and what device you were using, and the endpoint - whether you are wired and so on. It also gives us a hop diagram, which we can drill back to the details of Path Insight.
What this means is: these are the three solutions, and then the elements that we’ll be using to further study and analyze what's going on while we're in this intermediate phase.
Dave: Then, once Microsoft provides us with the final cut of the API that allows us to get data out of Skype for Business Online and Microsoft Teams, then we’ll enhance that previous picture and be able to do more of the advanced reporting.
We'll be able to consume and ingest that data from the Team's environment and allow us to do a lot more collaborative analysis on what our end users are doing and what their granular and aggregate experience is. We have a fair amount of investment in predictive analysis, so this is one area where we're targeting to differentiate between some of the out-of-the-box data.
Dave: Down to the recap slide, I just want to leave you with my subway transition slide. There's our on-premise, and this is what we're looking for. This is what we care about in studying and analyzing where we're at and what our gaps are.
We care about user behavior. We want to understand a great deal, LAN and WAN performance. We need to determine what our architecture requirements are and what we're going to do about user adoption.
I gave you a little side story about our room system, which is a whole work stream in and of itself. We have to find room solutions for Dusseldorf, for Oxbridge, for Herndon, her Minneapolis, for Denver, for Singapore, for Sydney. And imagine we've got to work with folks in each of those locations.
Dave: We're going to have this interim step where we're going to be in Skype for Business Online and we're still concerned with LAN and WAN performance, and what the user adoption is. Has everyone made that interim step smoothly? Are we going to get a rash of tickets service at our service desk?
Unless we have some kind of solution that captures and logs this and bring this awareness about, we really don't have a true sense of how satisfied or dissatisfied our user experience is.
Richard: I'll take this opportunity to thank you all very much for taking time out of your day to join us. As Dave mentioned, there's going to be a Part 2 to this series on the 25th of April. In the download section on the screen in front of you, you should be able to pull up the registration link.
For further information, please visit https://ir.com. It has a wealth and resources that you can read through and select. There's also the IR blog, and we encourage you to follow us on LinkedIn, where we actively share various articles and updates.
Thanks again and we hope very much to see you all next month. Have a good rest of the day, everybody.