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Microsoft Teams Calling: Cloud Phone System for Hybrid Workspaces

When it comes to connecting with others and promoting clarity, voice matters. Yet, remote work challenges teams to maintain their personal connections and serendipitously solve problems as if they were in the office.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, researchers conducted several experiments and concluded that “people undervalue the positive relational consequences of using voice…leading them to favor typing rather than talking.” Adding video to a phone call yielded similar conclusions.

Their studies ultimately found that—while text, email, and videoconferencing may work well in many situations—a phone call promotes understanding and personal connection when it matters most.

In fact, there are times, says business and residential voice provider Ooma, when a phone call is the ideal way to communicate. Pick up the phone when you want to:

  • Convey a specific tone
  • Resolve matters quickly
  • Provide/Receive additional clarity
  • Build camaraderie
  • Answer questions
  • Discuss a personal or sensitive matter

And because calls average one-fourth as long as a typical meeting, it’s a quick and efficient way to reconnect, collaborate and stay updated.

Make the move to Microsoft Teams Calling

Today’s organizations require cost-effective, easy-to-manage calling solutions that enable hybrid teams to place and receive calls from any device and workspace. That’s why it’s important to consider how the cost of cloud calling stacks up against an on-premises calling solution, which can quickly add up.

For example, on-premises solutions not only require desk phones and network infrastructure, they require application servers and data center space. In addition, maintenance of on-premises deployments typically costs 18-20 percent of solution cost, while solution support lands directly on your IT team.

With cloud calling, however, support and maintenance—along with integration, upgrades, and upgrade management—are all included in a monthly subscription cost.

By moving to a cloud calling solution, your IT team can spend more time focused on strategic business needs and innovation and leave time-consuming workloads, such as these, behind:

  • Application hardware procurement, installation and management
  • Application software upgrades and patch management
  • Application integration management, including upgrades
  • Solution security management
  • 24/7 global monitoring and proactive risk remediation

Microsoft Teams Calling for hybrid and remote teams

Microsoft has been positioned as a Leader in the 2020 Gartner Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) Magic Quadrant for the second consecutive year.

Out of the box, Microsoft Teams enables users to make voice over IP (VoIP) calls from Teams client to Teams client. With the addition of Direct Routing or Microsoft Calling Plans, users can make, receive and transfer calls to/from any landline or mobile phone on the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

If you don’t want Microsoft as your calling provider (Microsoft Calling Plans) or to manage on-premises SBC appliances for Direct Routing, Logicalis offers Hosted Direct Routing, a cost-effective PSTN calling plan through the native Teams interface. Simply connect via cloud SBC through our third-party partner for your phone numbers and PSTN connections.

Teams integration with third-party/Cisco UC phone systems

Direct Routing also allows you to use third-party systems—such as PBXs and Call Centers, enabling you to leverage existing investments.

More importantly, if you’re already using Cisco Unified Communications (UC) as your phone system, we can integrate it with Teams so that users can dial directly—along with using other meeting and collaboration functionality—through their Teams interface. This can happen in one of two ways:

  • Application plugin for Cisco Jabber or Webex – Users can access the Cisco calling functionality while in the Microsoft Teams application. This option does not require Microsoft phone system licenses.
  • Direct routing to Cisco UC – Or you can integrate Teams with Cisco so that all calling is completely done natively within the Teams application.

Logicalis: Expert in Cisco and Microsoft integrations

As both a Cisco Global Gold and Microsoft Gold Partner, Logicalis can help you design, implement and manage your Teams environment. We can also integrate Teams with existing Cisco or other phone systems to ensure you’re getting the greatest value from your current collaboration investments. 

We’ll start with a Teams Calling Workshop led by our Teams-certified professional services consultants. They’ll assess your current environment, demonstrate Teams modern calling capabilities, and build a plan for how to deploy Teams Calling in your environment. Microsoft workshop funding may be available for qualifying customers.

We can also provide a Teams immersion experience within a live cloud environment so you can take it for a test drive. Plus, you can see how Teams and Teams Calling works, when integrated with Cisco UCM via Direct Routing, in our new engineering lab.

In addition to helping you deploy Teams, Logicalis can assist with developing a training plan to drive Teams user adoption and ensure you make the most of your investment.

Case in point: Large healthcare organization

A hospital with 10,000+ users was using Teams for chat and internal calling and a hard phone or another softphone for PSTN calling. They had just embarked on a large Cisco Voice deployment but wanted to leverage their existing investment in Microsoft 365.

Using Direct Routing through the Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE), Logicalis integrated their existing Teams investment with their new Cisco phone system for voice and PSTN connectivity. With CUBE set up as a SBC, they now use Teams as full PSTN calling softphone, giving them a single interface for calling and collaboration.  

By integrating both platforms through Direct Routing, Logicalis made full use of the client’s existing technology investments. The new solution now enables effective voice and collaboration for users throughout the organization, as well as with patients and other external users.

A final note: Skype for Business Online is retiring on July 31, 2021

If you’re currently using Skype for Business Online through Microsoft Calling Plans, you can easily migrate to Teams Calling. You can also connect Teams with your on-premises phone lines using Direct Routing—without changing your carrier or porting numbers. Or mix and match Direct Routing and Calling Plans!

Download the datasheet to learn more or contact us to see how we can help you build a comprehensive calling and collaboration solution for your organization.

Troy Sempsrott is Director of Architecture at Logicalis, responsible for go-to-market strategies and solution development for collaboration.