This is the fourth in a series of articles on using Microsoft Teams for voice calling in your environment.
Today, let’s talk about how to enable Microsoft Teams as your primary voice calling provider using Cisco hardware.
Microsoft Teams has the ability to provide telephony features, but first, you need to determine the best method to enable these features for your business. The all-Microsoft approach is generally the most expensive and the least feature-rich. We’ve talked about the direct routing approach or integrating your existing phone system into the Microsoft cloud to extend your existing calling features to the Teams client.
Now let’s explore what it takes to enable Microsoft Teams in a greenfield environment where no phone system exists. We don’t often have this luxury. But when we do, it’s good to know that we have some options. If your company uses Microsoft Teams, then it makes sense to want to extend this platform at a greenfield site and enable it for telephony. The problem is, Microsoft doesn’t really sell any telephony hardware. So what are the options?
Microsoft has long embraced the use of third-party hardware. One of the supported hardware vendors is Cisco. This means that Cisco telephones and SIP gateways are compatible components in the Microsoft ecosystem. This is great news, as Cisco has over 20 years of experience in the enterprise telephony market and offers excellent products.
If you’re building a new Microsoft phone system and want to enable telephony features, all you need to do is determine three things:
- How many physical phones do you need?
- How many soft phones will need headphones?
- Will you need a voice gateway?
Some people still want desk phones, and Cisco has a variety of phones available to meet many needs. These phones can be registered to the Microsoft cloud and associated to a user.
Some people don’t need a desk phone and are fine using their laptop or mobile device with the Teams app. They may already have earbuds or some other form of headset. If not, Cisco has a wide selection of headsets to choose from that provide enterprise-level features (such as noise reduction) and can be collectively managed through a web portal.
Finally, you will need to determine how your phone numbers will be serviced. If you have a local carrier, then you’ll need a SIP gateway (AKA session border controller). Cisco’s SIP gateways are Microsoft-certified and will enable the connection from your carrier of choice to the Microsoft cloud.
Alternatively, you can get service through the Microsoft cloud, or, through a new feature called Operator Connect, where third-party carriers have direct connections to the Microsoft Cloud and you can select and configure those vendors directly through the Teams admin portal. We’ll discuss this more in a future article.
Whatever you decide, if you’re building a standalone Microsoft Teams-based phone system, you will need to have some third-party hardware in order to complete the phone system package.
Cisco is an excellent option with many choices that will fit your company.