April 22

Our Microsoft Teams Journey


Our Microsoft Teams Journey

Unity Connected Solutions have been involved in delivering voice-based solutions to customers since inception 16 years ago, and as our predecessor company, Accord, from the ’90s. We started with digital systems, then moved on to IP or VoIP systems and now cloud-delivered solutions. A few years ago we migrated to Microsoft O365 for our business. Just as many businesses do, it started as a way to ensure we were running the latest core Microsoft Office products across the organization; Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. There was no simple way to manage the Microsoft Office products without a lot of resources, other than with something like Microsoft O365.

As our Microsoft journey continued, we then looked at the other ‘tools’ or applications in the Microsoft O365 suite. We deployed OneDrive to all our employees to simplify document storage and backup and then SharePoint to distribute common files. On their own, these are useful tools, but still require a fair bit of management – specifically for an ‘owner’ to keep organized and load new documents. And of course, we would still get emails asking where the files were stored because no matter how clever the file structure, it isn’t always evident to others.  

The Aha Moment!

But the biggest ‘aha!’ moment was when we started to use Microsoft Teams. We immediately saw the benefit of using Microsoft Teams to coordinate our work. Centralize document sharing and even co-editing. A persistent repository of conversations meant we didn’t have to ask what someone had said before. Video calls for one-to-one or group meetings where anything could be shared and tracked.

There was one thing missing though. We couldn’t make or receive calls outside of Microsoft Teams without adding expensive Microsoft Phone licenses, Calling Plans or Conference plans. So these were limited to a few key people.

As voice experts, we realized there had to be a better way. So rather than simply being happy to be a user of Microsoft products we decided to jump in and be more proactive. We were already selling SIP Trunking services. SIP Trunking, if you are not aware, is the modern PSTN. It is replacing the older analogue and digital trunks PBXs used to make and receive telephone calls outside the organization. So surely Microsoft would support SIP Trunking.

The PSTN network is quite complex when you think about it – being able to deliver a call to anywhere in the world. Traditional connectivity through analogue or digital trunks is relatively expensive. This is partly because these connections are inflexible and it takes weeks to add or decrease capacity. Most organizations over-subscribe the number of trunks they pay for all month to ensure they don’t get a busy signal for that one short period one day a week. SIP Trunking can be much more flexible by dynamically increasing the number of channels to handle peaks called bursting and using lower-cost data networks – your Internet connection – to connect to the outside world.

Microsoft Direct Routing

Microsoft supports something called Direct Routing to allow SIP Trunking into a Microsoft Teams environment. To ensure this is done correctly, and ensure high-quality voice calls, Microsoft has a program to certify SIP Trunking connections in a Direct Routing environment. This was the answer.

Microsoft Calling Plan Options with Unity SIP 365 small

We now use a Microsoft Certified Session Border Controller (SBC) to bring SIP Trunking into our Microsoft Teams environment. Our Microsoft Teams set up is now complete. It is truly is the hub for ALL our communications.

What did we use? Well, it’s a product we resell now as Microsoft Services Partner (MSP) as Unity SIP365.

So our journey started with a better way to manage our Microsoft Office products and ended with us becoming an MSP. Well, I shouldn’t say ended as we are continuing to expand our Microsoft offers with an array of Managed Services for things like better Backup, Document management, Antivirus and more.

If you have started on your Microsoft O365 journey and haven’t yet looked at Microsoft Teams or have looked at Teams but not added voice, give us call, we can provide a lot of guidance.

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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