April 22

Call Forking with Microsoft Teams


Gracefully Migrating to Microsoft Teams

Your organization is taking a serious look at Microsoft Teams but either has a big investment in the existing PBX or would like to implement a more gradual and graceful migration to Microsoft Teams. Perhaps you are a large organization and would be hard to manage a flash-cut or are concerned that some users may take time to train but still need access to existing voice services. If these scenarios are a concern, you are not alone.

Microsoft Teams brings huge benefits in improving how work gets done. But it does require everyone getting on board. Some groups need to collaborate and communicate more frequently than others. Groups like product development, sales and marketing all need to regularly work around projects of one kind or another.

It could be that you have some people who work outside the office more frequently, either working from home or working on the road. They too are likely to adopt Microsoft Teams more quickly as they will see the advantage of using a single application to wrap around all their communications, tasks, notes, documents and more.

So, is there a way to allow both groups, the early and late adopters, migrate at their own pace? Yes, there is and goes by the wonderful name – Call Forking.

What is Call Forking?

Call Forking leverages something else we have talked about in these Blogs before called Direct Routing. Microsoft opened the door to third-party SIP Trunking service providers to offer lower-cost voice enablement of Microsoft Teams it also laid the groundwork to allow Microsoft Teams and PBXs to co-exist.

In this case, the Microsoft Certified Session Border Controller (SBC) must be customized to allow calls coming into the SBC to be sent to either or both user clients; the PBX phone and/or the Microsoft Teams client. That is the ‘fork’ part – the call goes down two different ‘forks’ in the road, so to speak. If the user fails to answer the call on either client, the call will be redirected to a single voicemail box.

Call Forking with Unity SIP365

Call Forking with Unity SIP365

The Many Advantages of Call Forking

This has so many advantages. One single source of SIP Trunking, so the organization doesn’t have to be concerned about two monthly trunking bills. It likely would be the first time moving to lower cost SIP Trunking for many organizations that had fixed, traditional trunks.

A single voicemail box. This starts all users partially migrating to Microsoft Teams and solves the challenge if someone wanted to forward a voicemail message to another user when one is on Microsoft Teams and the other still primarily using their PBX handset. In some situations, the organization may still be running on an older voicemail system that is no longer supported and would have required a complete PBX migration to resolve.

All phone numbers, main number, DIDs, toll-free numbers would be ported over – once.

Now, the organization can gradually migrate users over with the minimum of effort as all the pieces are already in play. It may be rolling out a handset supported by Microsoft Teams, a headset for their laptop client, etc. But the heavy lifting has already taken place.

There are Always Caveats

There are some caveats to this approach. It assumes the PBX can at least support SIP Trunking or be upgraded to support SIP Trunking. There would be some costs incurred if the system needs to be upgraded. There would still be the need to pay for the manufacturer required maintenance or support agreement. Most have mandatory support agreements that are license or user-based.

With training, tips and setting up help forums, IT and the organization as a whole can work on getting those users who have not migrated initially to become more comfortable with Microsoft Teams and migrate at their own pace.

Finally there needs to be some sort of deadline put in place when all users have migrated. While the core goal is to have everyone take advantage of the deep set of tools available in Microsoft O365 and Teams it would also be to have a single communications platform and running two systems in parallel will burden support staff.

If you need help in migrating to Microsoft Teams, Voice-Enabling Teams or putting a graceful migration strategy in place, give us a call.

About the author

With experience leading engineering, product management, services, sales and marketing teams, Paul has a wealth of business knowledge that he applies in showing customer how to get the most out of their unified communications and contact centre solutions.

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