**Blog post written in partnership with Jason Wyatt, Technical Marketing Manager at AudioCodes
Why Using the Microsoft Phone System and Calling Plan is not Your Only Option
In March 2017, Microsoft Teams premiered, not only as a platform provider for virtual meetings where workgroups can collaborate on projects and share ideas but also as a one-stop Office 365 hub for chat, video calls, voice calls and more. Only six months after the debut of Teams, Microsoft announced that Teams will be replacing Skype for Business as their platform for cloud voice.
Ever since, Microsoft has been hard at work making “voice” one of the best things about Teams. Users can make, receive, and transfer calls to and from landlines and mobile phones on the public switched telephone network (PSTN) in two different ways:
- Using Microsoft Phone System and Calling Plans
- Using Microsoft Phone System and a technology called direct routing
One drawback with going down the Microsoft Phone System and Calling Plans path is that you might still be under contract with your incumbent telephony provider, so moving to a Microsoft Calling Plan may incur a penalty. On top of that, your current call plans and line costs may be significantly lower than purchasing a calling plan from Microsoft.
Fortunately, there’s a second option. Direct routing enables you to leverage the benefits of Teams while remaining with your existing provider for your lines and minutes. Microsoft certified providers like our partner, AudioCodes, provide Direct routing for Teams solutions through the Mediant family of Session Border Controllers (SBC).
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What is Direct Routing?
Direct routing is a set of tools that mediate between your on-premises PSTN or SIP trunk and Microsoft Phone System utilizing an SBC. Either physical or virtual, an SBC can be located on-premises or in a cloud data center. An SBC functions in the same way that a gateway router connects the internet to an internal network. When an incoming call is received, the SBC mediates a session with your Microsoft Phone System. The session is then passed through to the Microsoft Teams client and then to the intended user. In the same way, an outgoing call is routed through to the SBC, and then to the recipient via the existing PSTN or SIP trunk.
This is a very elegant solution and is fully scalable from just a few users to tens of thousands.
Benefits of Opting for Direct Routing
There are some other good reasons to opt for direct routing courtesy of an AudioCodes SBC. Here are just a few of them:
- Phased Migration – One of the biggest challenges when implementing a Microsoft workstream collaboration solution like Teams is migrating from your legacy PBX. With direct routing, you can adopt a phased approach by migrating users individually or in groups. AudioCodes uses a powerful software application, User Management Pack™ 365, to make this process as quick and easy as possible.
- Monitoring and Reporting – Although you can get a reasonable amount of information about your Microsoft Teams deployment from the Microsoft online control panels, the data is limited to the Microsoft UC client and the Microsoft environment. Because the SBC sits between your Microsoft environment, endpoint devices and the PSTN or SIP trunk provider, a centralized management tool like AudioCodes’ One Voice Operations Center (OVOC) or Unify Square’s PowerSuite™ can let you can monitor call quality closely and deliver a much-improved quality of experience (QoE).
- Media Bypass – This reduces the traffic flowing to and from the Microsoft data centers and allows the call media to be directly routed to the SBC. This dramatically increases the call quality while also decreasing the amount of network traffic.
Direct routing lets you retain your existing PSTN or SIP trunk lines, no matter the size of your enterprise. It reduces the total cost of ownership by giving you lower calling charges and helps you get total control of your communications solution.
Talk to one of our experts today to learn more about implementing a direct routing solution.