Microsoft Teams + Voice

Phone System, Calling Plan, E1, E3, E5, International Calling, Audio Conferencing, Direct Routing, SIP, SBC... (oh, my)

If you're considering the E5 License for Microsoft 365 (M365) or Office 365 (O365), or adding Microsoft Phone System to your E3 or E1 users, and then considering either a Microsoft Calling Plan or Direct Routing option, contact Cloud 9 Advisers before you go any further. There is a lot more to consider and if not thought out properly it could cost you. We'll help you navigate the deep, challenging, and often confusing waters when considering Microsoft Teams to replace your current voice communications platform. If you're upgrading from Skype for Business, on one hand it's a no-brainer, on the other there are some intricacies (and credits) to strongly consider first.

Keep in mind Microsoft may, and often does, change its options, various bundles, and packages frequently. 

Reach out to Cloud 9 and we'll get you the latest. 

Microsoft Teams license add-ons that you'll need to consider:

  • Phone System license add-on ($8.00/user/month)
  • Plus, Calling Plan ($12.00/user/month for 3,000 minutes/user/month)
  • Or, Direct Routing (no additional MS costs, but costs from the carrier apply, often cheaper)

If Calling Plan then the following may also be needed

  • International ($24.00/user/month) 
  • Audio Conferencing (if and as needed)
  • Toll-free (if and as needed)
  • Teams Rooms (if and as needed)
  • Advanced Communications

One important challenge is redundant and diverse trunking if you're considering using Teams as your new phone system. Microsoft's Calling Plan may be a good fit for your company, however we've found that Direct Routing is most often the better option (for many reasons). Cloud 9 helps clients navigate the myriad providers available that can provide such diversity and redundancy using Direct Routing options for E5 licenses or adding Phone System to E1 / E3 users (rather than just defaulting to Microsoft's Calling Plan option). Besides the limited options with Microsoft's Calling Plan, Microsoft Cloud is not infallible. It can, does, and has failed, often leaving customers completely down, with zero communications capabilities for hours or even days on end. Have you ever heard the old saying, "don't put all your eggs in one basket"?

Another challenge is migration. Microsoft plans likely won't meet the needs of your migration timeline. Their Calling Plan is typically all or nothing and once you sign up, you start paying. If you've got several offices and need to manage agreements and terminations of existing carriers, you won't want double pay for a months on end. The solution is to go with a certified Microsoft Direct Routing provider, but they are not all the same. This is where Cloud 9 can help. 

Contact Cloud 9 Today and learn everything you need to know about Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams + Voice Deployment options

There are several ways to delpy voice for Microsoft Teams, giving it a fair degree of flexibility, but it all boils down to three basic options:

100% Microsoft

Simply purchase an E5 license for every user and you're all set. All "dial-tone" and other voice-related features are already included and all come from Microsoft. Super simple, but some may be concerned about no resiliency options for voice communications and other Phone System limitations. Also, while the E5 license is jam-packed with services and software, it is the most expensive option; cost adds up fast. For users that desire a physical phone on the desk, only Teams-based phones will work; no SIP. Previous Skype phones (3PIP) may work, but with limited functionality. 

Hybrid: Teams + 3rd party

Users still get a single Teams interface experience, but the hybrid approach gives additional assurance  that all voice communication will still operate, even during a Microsoft outage. Getting the right license for each user and using a certified and trusted third-party for the voice solution "dial-tone" will save you a ton of money, provide resilient architecture, and deliver many more phone system programming options and features that Microsoft alone just can't provide. Also, businesses can use any standard SIP desk phone for users that still wish to have one.

UCaaS + Teams 

Use a non-Microsoft, cloud-based communication solutions that integrates with Microsoft Teams. This scenario is most common when Teams has only recently  been adopted, there is generally less use of Teams, if used at all, or when companies have already adopted different platforms for  other communications: online meeting (like Zoom, perhaps),  business chat, SMS texting, and other platforms. Other cases include companies with critical and/or sophisticated voice communication needs and especially contact centers. There are literally hundreds of Hosted VoIP options out in the world today and nearly every one of them has some sort of integration with Microsoft Teams. The trick is finding how "deep" those integrations go and what is most important to you and your users. 

Here are just a few Microsoft Teams voice solution partners we carry.

Contact Cloud 9 first. We'll help you navigate and evaluate all the options and vendors for your Microsoft Teams (+Voice) implementation!

If you're on Skype for Business (a.k.a. SFB, or S4B, or SfB), get ready. The writing is on the wall and Microsoft Teams is taking over whether you like it or not. Teams is already widely available in Microsoft's hugely popular Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites of cloud-based software (Office 365 is changing too. Soon Microsoft 365 will be the only option). If fact, you likely already have Teams today. To be clear Teams is not simply a name change from Skype to Teams. At its core, Teams is business collaboration and messaging platform, but also incorporates voice, video, file sharing and much more. In some respects, there are many similarities to Skype, but Teams is technically an entirely new platform, software, protocols, and for the most part, a new code-base. Regarding the similarities with Skype, Teams does not yet have "full parity" with Skype for Business, but Microsoft is fully committed to Teams as its new platform for those organizations considering using Microsoft for such communications purposes. 

Microsoft Teams + Phone System + Direct Routing allows for far greater flexibility, and often far lower monthly costs, compared to simply adding Calling Plan to Microsoft Team's Phone System. Additionally, for enterprises with heavy investments in legacy PBX systems or currently in contract with traditional carriers, Direct Routing will allow enterprises to slowly roll-out the migration.

For pure-cloud, and greenfield roll-outs, there are very few SIP Trunk providers available today that are truly and directly approved/certified by Microsoft for Direct Routing, although that list is growing everyday. While there are dozens, even hundreds of carriers that provide "Microsoft Teams SIP Trunking", that does not necessarily mean they are certified Direct Routing partners. In other words, their SIP is not native TLS. How they get around that is to simply use their own managed Session Border Controller (SBC) then deliver the trunks to you. This also means you should be even more diligent in your search. Many of the "original" directly certified carriers are international telecommunications providers that don't necessarily "reach" the US. We have also found, for the very few that are US-based, their services are particularly expensive, compared to "traditional" SIP and similar to what one would find with Microsoft Calling Plan pricing options and packages. The good news with Direct Routing is, technically, it doesn't matter. You can use almost any carrier and even any trunking you'd like, which can help keep migration costs down dramatically and avoid any unnecessary overlaps with contracts of current carriers vs. Microsoft Calling Plan. In most cases, the only "trick" is to get the proper, and Microsoft approved, customer-provided SBC-Session Border Controller. With the proper SBC in place clients can use old fashioned POTS lines, traditional PRIs, or nearly any SIP Trunk provider they wish. So, if you're still under contract for some of those legacy telco trunks, you can still use them until the contract runs out. 

As mentioned previously, for the cloud-purists, many carriers and even Hosted VoIP/UCaaS providers offer SIP Trunking and MS Teams Direct Routing integration. While they may not be "certified" for Direct Routing (thereby keeping their costs down by not having to pay the exorbitant "participation" and certification fees to the mothership), many will manage and maintain their own cloud-based, Microsoft approved SBC so you don't have to!  They then pass on the "Teams-ready" dial-tone on to you. 

Now, we need to figure out the phones! Contact Cloud 9 to learn more about Teams-Ready desk phones, conference phones and other devices (note: many Skype-ready devices are not necessarily Teams-ready. Crazy, right?).

Contact Cloud 9 Today

Learn more and get the full list of requirements and recommendations for Microsoft Teams + Phone System and all your options. All the biggest and best Microsoft CSPs are a part of our portfolio. We'll help you evaluate all of them to get the best one for you. Plus a complete listing of approved SBCs, Direct Routing Providers, SIP Trunk carriers, and Teams-Ready devices. 

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