SBC Direct Routing For Teams – How are you affected?

What exactly is Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

If you’ve been following along at home, you’ll have heard about the recent announcement with Microsoft Teams now allowing you to directly connect your existing on premise Sonus (Ribbon) or Audiocodes SBC to Microsoft Teams across the internet, to allow your Teams users to make and receive calls from the cloud.

Here’s a handy diagram direct from Microsoft that shows how it works

Hold on a minute Craig, Isn’t PSTN calling already available in Teams?

Er, yes. Sort of. You see, If you were one of the lucky countries to have Microsoft Phone System (CloudPBX for you old skoolers), you can already make and receive calls directly from the Cloud from both Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. All you need is:

  • E5 licensing (or E3 licensing with the Microsoft Phone System Add On) Per user
  • A calling plan per user

If you’ve got both of those things, you can select and assign numbers to your cloud users, and as if by magic, they can make and receive calls from the cloud! Your calls simply route via Microsoft’s PSTN calling service.


I’m not in one of those lucky PSTN cloud calling countries though.

Well that’s ok too. Previously, if you weren’t in one of the lucky countries where Microsoft has enabled PSTN calling directly from the cloud, you could do one of two things to allow you to make calls from Skype for Business:

  1. Move countries
  2. Use Cloud Connector Edition

Cloud Connector Edition (or CCE for short) is a cut down version of Skype for Business that runs on either a server or a special edition of an AudioCodes or Sonus SBC. This box lives on premise with you – although most of the time it’ll sit in your data centre. You connect your existing ISDN, SIP or PSTN services from your carrier to the SBC, and then connect the SBC across the internet to Office 365.

Doing this then enables your Skype for Business Cloud homed users to make and receive PSTN calls via your existing carrier services.

What’s also really great about this setup is that you can connect your existing PABX to the SBC too, effectively allowing you to perform a staged migration of users from your current legacy PABX to Skype for Business in the cloud, all while allowing calls between the PSTN, legacy PABX and Skype for Business.

Lastly, if you’re running CCE right now on premise, you’re 3/4 of the way towards having PSTN calling from Microsoft Teams via this infrastructure. More on this below!


What if I’m running Skype for Business on premise in Hybrid mode with Skype for Business Online?

That’s cool, and it certainly means you’re able to make calls right now from the cloud via your on premise equipment (servers, SBC and SIP trunks).

The great thing about this setup is that you’re also 3/4 the way there towards having PSTN calling from Microsoft Teams!


What if I’m building a greenfield site?

Starting from scratch is an added bonus, and means that you get to decide the direction that you want telephony (and UC as a whole!) to go in.

If you want to explore Teams:
If you’re in one of the lucky countries that has direct PSTN calling from the cloud for Skype for Business and Teams, purchase your E5 licensing and PSTN calling plans and assign the numbers to your users.

If you’re not in one of the lucky direct PSTN calling countries, go down the direct routing path. Purchase a certified SBC from Sonus or AudioCodes, get yourself a SIP trunk, Office 365 E5 licensing and away you go!

If you want to explore Skype for Business AND Teams
Lucky country – Buy those E5 licenses and PSTN calling plans!

Other countries – Consider setting up CCE with a certified Sonus or AudioCodes SBC, then create two SIP trunks – One to Skype for Business online, and the other to Microsoft Teams. You’d then route your inbound calls to either service.


I’m running Cloud Connector Edition, or Hybrid Mode right now. How do I start making calls from Teams?

As mentioned above, if you’re already up and running with CCE or Hybrid mode and your SBC is certified you can create a SIP trunk from the SBC to Microsoft Teams!

Doing so will allow you to route calls between Teams, Skype for Business Online and On Premise, Legacy PABX’s and the PSTN via your existing ISDN, SIP or PSTN carrier trunks.


This all sounds great, but I have questions. Lots of questions!

Completely understandable. This is a moving topic at present and so information is always subject to change!

Microsoft have a great blog post about the topic here: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Teams-Blog/Direct-Routing-enables-new-enterprise-voice-options-in-Microsoft/ba-p/170450

You can always post your question in the comments section below, and i’ll give you a hand!

Surface Hub: Notes from the field

I’ve been working with Surface Hub for around a year, and have ran into a few quirky things that are worth pointing out.


The display

Let’s get this one out of the way straight away. The display is beautiful. Especially when you connect up an Xbox one to It via HDMI! Perfect for kicking back during a deployment.


You broke it

Alright. I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I was the first person globally to break a surface hub (so I’m told, anyways). You see, when you first turn the hub on it’s going to want to do Windows Updates. This is highly recommended and i’d definitely advise letting the device do its thing.

This is particularly important, because if you interrupt the update process, you’ll break it. I learned this one the hard way.

Long story short, we were in the middle of deploying a surface hub and had left the device to update, but at some point all we got was a black screen. We left the device to work itself out whilst we went for an extended dinner break and came back to .. a black screen. I made the (stupid) decision to power cycle the device and when it attempted to boot back up it wouldn’t boot into Windows.

No problem, i’ll just F8 into safe mode. There’s no safe mode.

Ok, then I’ll download an image from Microsoft and reimage the Surface Hub. There’s no image available to download.

To recover the device, We had to ask Microsoft to go and grab a spare pre-imaged hard drive from the warehouse floor, and bring it to us so we could swap it out for the “broken” one. Once that was swapped over, we were back up and running!

The long story short – Don’t interrupt the Surface Hub whilst its doing updates – including if you get a black screen for many hours.

 

Skype Meetings

The surface hub is a fantastic device for hosting and joining Skype for Business meetings. The two cameras work perfectly together to show everyone in the room and around the device, and the ability to draw on and present the whiteboard is awesome.

There are a couple of things to note though:

Only todays meetings appear
The home screen on the surface hub will only display todays scheduled meetings, and on top of that will only show 8 scheduled meetings from today. Meetings scheduled for tomorrow will not appear at all.

Only the next 3 scheduled meetings appear in Skype
Within Skype itself, only the next 3 scheduled meetings will appear in the list. The list is not scrollable either.

Inviting two or more surface hubs to draw on the whiteboard has its limitations
Whilst it is true that you can invite more than one surface hub to draw on the same whiteboard during a Skype for Business call, there are some prerequisites:

  • Office 365 with cloud-based Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) for all users
  • OneDrive for Business deployed for all users who intend to collaborate
  • Currently not utilizing Office 365 Germany or Office 365 operated by 21Vianet
  • Surface Hub needs to be updated to Windows 10, version 1607 or newer
  • Port 443 needs to be open since Whiteboard makes standard https requests
  • Whiteboard.ms, wbd.ms, *.onenote.com, and your company’s SharePoint tenant domain URLs need to be whitelisted for proxies

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/surface-hub/whiteboard-collaboration has all the information you need to get this set up and working.


Microsoft Teams

If your organisation is currently trialling Microsoft Teams along side Skype for Business, you’ll be glad to know that at least some of the features of Teams will work on Surface Hub right now via the built in Edge browser.

Microsoft are working on a app for the Surface Hub as you read this. If you’d like to know more about what you can do right now on Surface Hub, check out my blog post on the topic.


Surface Hub 2
Lastly, there has some really exciting news on the new Surface Hub 2 from Microsoft. If you haven’t already seen the video, go and check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DbslbKsQSk

I for one cannot wait to see one in person!

Surface Hub and Microsoft Teams: What can you do right now?

If you’re lucky to have access to a Microsoft Surface Hub in your organisation, you may be wondering if Microsoft Teams will work on the device.

Microsoft are working on a Teams app for the surface hub, but whilst we wait for that to become available, what features are available to us right now?

 

Signing In to Teams

First things first; If we don’t have a Teams app on the device how do we sign in and use Teams? The answer is to simply browse to http://teams.microsoft.com from the built in Edge browser on the surface hub.

Sign in with your organisation credentials, and you’re in!

 

The interface

If you’ve used the web version of Teams before, you’ll feel right at home. Everything looks and feels exactly the same on the big screen as it would on the small screen. You get easy access to the Teams activity feed via the left hand navigation, as well as chats, teams, meetings and files.

Using the chat screen, you can easily invite team mates into a chat, just as you would on your desktop. Gifs work too!

 

What does work

Surprisingly, quite a lot!

  • The activity feed, and chat work great
  • Voice and Video calls with the built in camera and mic/speakers works
  • Adding Gifs to chat works
  • Scheduling and joining Microsoft Teams meetings works

 

 

What doesn’t work

Right now, the following things don’t work in the web client on the Surface Hub:

  • Adding additional attendees to a meeting once the meeting has started
  • Presenting your desktop, or other content
  • Adding content to a chat

I imagine that a whole bunch of other things don’t work as expected too, but am yet to test every feature.

 

What about the Microsoft Teams surface hub app

It’s coming! We don’t know when, but when it does become available it’ll most certainly be available for download from the App store.

Keep those eyes peeled to Twitter to stay up to date with the latest Surface Hub and Teams announcements!

 

 

Starting Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business IM sessions from a link

An interesting question was raised by a colleague recently:

Craig, How do you start an IM session from a link on a web page?

We all know that you can create a mailto: link that users can click to open their Outlook (or other mail) client and automagically pre-populate the to: field with your email address, but did you know you can do the same thing with Skype for Business?

Skype for Business

To create a clickable link that automatically opens a Skype for Business chat window to you, or anyone else for that matter, use the following format:

<a href=”sip:craig.chiffers@contoso.com“>Click here to IM me via Skype for Business</a>

Here’s how it looks: Click here to IM me via Skype for Business

The text in purple is the SIP address where you want to send the IM. The orange text is what will appear on the web page or within your email signature as the clickable link. You can even get fancy and use a picture or Skype logo if you wish! To do that, simply use the following:

<a href=”sip:craig.chiffers@contoso.com“><img src=”skype-logo.png“> Click here to IM me via Skype for Business</a>

This time, the green text points to the location of your Skype logo, or any other icon that you wish to use.

Here’s how that looks:


Microsoft Teams

Right now, Microsoft Teams doesn’t support the ability to directly start a chat session with a user from a link. I imagine that if/when this is introduced, it will look something like the following:

<a href=”msteams:craig.chiffers@contoso.com”>Click here to IM me via Microsoft Teams</a>

If you’d like to see this feature within Teams, vote for it over on UserVoice!


A Few Things To Note

For the above to work, the user will need to ensure they have Skype for Business installed. If they don’t the links won’t work. Federation will also need to be enabled if the user is outside your organisation.

Microsoft Teams Q&A

This page is a collection of Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business related questions and answers. It’s regularly updated as more information becomes available.

Microsoft Teams Q&A – Last Updated: 15th March 2018

Q: What is Microsoft Teams?

A: Microsoft Teams is a complete communications platform, that takes the best bits of Skype for Business, Yammer, SharePoint, Email and other web sources and presents them in one easy to use application. You can send IM’s, make voice and video calls, phone calls, Share documents, and collaborate all from within the one application.

Q: How do I get Microsoft Teams?

A: Simple! Sign up for an Office 365 plan over at http://www.office.comIf you’re already an Office 365 subscriber, check to see if Teams is available – it more than likely is!

Q: We currently use Skype for Business and Yammer. Should we make the switch to Teams?

A: Yes, but gradually. At some point in the future, Microsoft Teams will likely completely replace Skype for Business online from Office 365 (on premise versions of Skype are safe for now). It’s wise to start evaluating Teams now so that you can familiarize and prepare yourself once your organisation moves across.

You can also check out this short video on the subject of Yammer and Teams.

Q: We currently use Slack, and our devs aren’t going to want to give up slack easily.

A: Sure, change is scary. However, the ability to collaborate so simply in multiple ways within Teams makes it the ideal platform for dev teams to effectively work on. Give it a go!

Q: What about the investments we have made in Skype for Business hardware (phones, meeting room devices) and licensing?

A: Vendors are working hard to ensure their devices are compatible with Microsoft Teams. Right now, if the device is a year or two old and works with Skype for Business, there’s a good chance that with a firmware update from the manufacturer, it’ll work with Teams too.

Q: Are we able to develop custom applications for Teams?

A: Absolutely! There’s an entire section dedicated to creating custom applications for Microsoft Teams over at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/platform/#pivot=home&panel=home-all

Q: I want to be able to send an SMS from Teams

A: Sure. You could write a custom application!

Q: Teams to Standard SIP video InterOP, will there be a open API available to develop one?
or should we depend on the Teams Partnered service providers only?

A: My understanding is that right now there’s only Teams/Skype integration. Whether that will change is a great question. Keep your eyes peeled on the Office 365 Roadmap.

Q: Will Teams support open Federation with other (on-premise or 3rd-party hosted) Skype for Business deployments?

A: Federated communication between other teams and Skype for business environments is on the Office 365 road map (https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-roadmap?filters=#abc) and is currently in development.

Q: Should I be able to copy and paste Screenshots into the Wiki Feature? They keep disappearing.

A: From my testing, I am able to copy and paste screenshots that I took with the snipping tool in Windows into Wiki pages, and they remain in place.

Q: Am I able to invite people from other organisations into Teams chats, file sharing and other things?

A: Yes! Microsoft recently announced that guest access in Microsoft Teams is now fully rolled out, meaning you can now invite anyone into a Microsoft Teams team to chat, share files and more!

 

Do you have a question about Skype or Teams? Leave a comment below or tweet @cchiffers