Key Questions Answered about Microsoft Team’s Phone System Companion
Although the fanfare was small, a major Microsoft Teams meetings and Cloud PBX milestone for Microsoft Teams and its enterprise customers was achieved on Tuesday, March 3rd. Microsoft has now formally released the beta version of the Microsoft Call Records API (sometimes also referred to as the Call Data API or the Session Details API). What is the significance of this API? What does it do and enable? Why are we even bothering to write a blog post about a “boring” API? Read on to find out the answers to all your questions about the Microsoft Teams phone system.
Microsoft UC Data History
Most propeller-headed folks already, of course, know about the Microsoft Graph API. This swiss-army tool has been around since late 2016, but existed in different forms even before that, previously known as the Office 365 Unified API. The Microsoft Graph API is used by more than 90% of all Fortune 500 organizations. No wonder that Microsoft refers to it as the gateway to data and intelligence in Microsoft 365. Microsoft Graph, for short, functions as a tidy single endpoint to help ISV’s and enterprise developers alike grab data from Office365, Windows 10, and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility & Security apps. Almost without exception, anything you want or need to query on inside the Microsoft Kingdom can be found with Graph. Almost!
In the glory days of Microsoft Skype for Business (SfB), before the golden heir called Microsoft Teams came along, gathering data had a different approach. At the time (and still working today for on-premises data collection) there was a set of data referred to as CDR (Call Data Reports), QoE (Quality of Experience) and also SDN. ISV’s and customers leveraged these data sets to query for all sorts of conferencing and telephony related data about the Microsoft UC King (SfB). With the birth of SfB Online and then Microsoft Teams, Microsoft promised a new API to supplant CDR/QoE. Of course, as fantastic as the Microsoft Graph API is, it is missing the rich call and conference related info required. For years Microsoft promised this new API and then continuously “slipped.” But no more. It’s here. Now.
Scenarios enabled & Key customer benefits
Why should customers care? Although Microsoft Teams ships with a native Admin console, as well as something called the Call Quality Dashboard most larger customers require extra levels of actionable detail, reporting or troubleshooting which is simply not available in the native product. The new Call Records API enables 3rd party tools like PowerSuite to provide detailed reporting, analytics, and troubleshooting for call-quality performance and related problems.
The API delivers rich data covering all aspects of the call or meeting. This allows PowerSuite to uniquely identify users, call/meeting scenarios, device or meeting room hardware. It also enables PowerSuite to proactively report on Direct Routing configurations, networks and different connectivity related to Cloud PBX/Microsoft Teams meeting instance. Additionally, it delivers near real-time information in a scalable manner to work for any size of customer and data set. Are you starting to get a feel for the importance and power now?
Differences from Skype Data Access
So why did it take so long for this new Cloud PBX API to appear? And what’s so different about it versus CDR/QoE? We can only speculate as to the delay. The scope and scale of Microsoft Teams was and is massive. Also, many of the customers who will benefit from this new Call Records API are still happily entrenched on Skype for Business, requiring multiple years to migrate to Microsoft Teams phone system for call. As to the reason for the new API — well there are many:
- Microsoft Teams required a new, modern API tailored to the needs of a cloud-based platform.
- The old CDR/QoE data approach is slow and requires lots of cross-referencing of data to validate calls with call quality, etc.
- Microsoft wanted to solicit feedback from customers and ISVs to allow for flexibility and easy extensions. Essentially ensure that it would stand the test of time and satisfy all future needs.
- ..and, of course, Microsoft wanted to make sure that the Call Records API integrated correctly into the Graph API family.
Going Beyond the Native Admin Console Features
The final question then becomes: Now that the Call Records API is out, what does that REALLY mean for customers? Here’s where it gets fun. The open debate over the last year and more has been, “Is Microsoft Teams truly enterprise-ready for Cloud PBX calling?” Now that the new API is out, the answer is a big YES! Enterprises can feel comfortable moving ALL parts of their UC and Collab workloads to Microsoft Teams. This is because 3rd party tools and managed service providers like Unify Square can now fully support them. In fact, according to Nemertes Research, when organizations use specialty UC management and monitoring tools, their operational costs are substantially lower than those who do not use such tools. Moreover, the use of performance management tools to lower costs have shown to increase user adoption as well.
In a Microsoft Teams Phone System environment there are more things to consider than simply Microsoft the platform vendor: the UC solution itself, the network, the security equipment such as an SBC, video components, the application, the underlying hardware, etc. It’s a complex environment that third party monitoring tools (now thanks to the Call Records API) can shine a bright light into.
Cross Platform Analysis Beyond Just the Teams Phone System
Even more importantly, we know that most enterprises these days are not JUST running Microsoft Teams — in fact most organizations are actively using 3 or more different UC or Collab platforms. As such, 3rd party tools like PowerSuite provide visibility and allow for organizations to leverage the rich analytics regarding calls and conferences across the entire UC estate without silos. Organizations can compare benchmarking, data sets, user information, and room information in an apples-to-apples manner in a single tool rather than a monitoring tool for each technology platform. It’s easier to join the dots when you can see all the dots on the same page.