Microsoft Teams, one of the world’s most popular collaboration tools, is taking the marketplace by storm. At the latest count, there were around 145 million daily active users on the platform, and the number keeps growing. Spurred by the rapid acceleration to remote working and dispersed workforces, Teams has become the heart of the business landscape.
However, there’s more to Teams than instant messaging and file sharing. Through Direct Routing, businesses can add calling to Microsoft Teams, combining enterprise voice communications with powerful collaboration tools. One of the things that makes Microsoft Teams such a valuable part of the communication stack is the fact that it can deliver a truly unified experience for users that is consistent across devices, including on mobile.
What is Direct Routing?
Direct Routing allows organizations to add PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) calling to Microsoft Teams with their preferred SIP trunk provider, so that users can make and receive external phone calls using Teams. This is achieved through the deployment of an approved Session Border Controller (SBC); which is used to connect the SIP trunk and the carrier’s network, to Microsoft’s Phone System and Teams tenant.
Direct Routing vs Microsoft Call Plans
An alternative to Direct Routing are Microsoft's Calling Plans, which are a convenient and compliant service for those organizations requiring basic business calling. However, Calling Plans do not offer much flexibility when it comes to integrations with legacy systems, or other call applications such as contact centers. Direct Routing on the other hand provides more versatility, allowing businesses to capitalize on the features and integrations offered by voice providers for supporting more complex and/or hybrid requirements.
Aside from technical reasons, other scenarios where Direct Routing might be more well suited, include:
- Where Calling Plans do not meet the organization's geographic coverage requirements
- Achieving better cost efficiency, particularly where the user count is high
- To make the most of existing contracts with other vendors
Market statistics suggest that over 85% of Teams voice deployments opt for Direct Routing as their preferred method of connectivity.
The Benefits of Microsoft Teams Direct Routing
Direct Routing is just one of the many features available for Microsoft Teams users today. As the business landscape grows more complicated, with employees accessing various crucial apps every day, a single-pane-of-glass environment is extremely valuable. Business leaders want their team members to have a space where they can interact with each other easily.
While Microsoft Teams has a lot of features to offer for collaboration, like video conferencing and screen sharing, it’s not always an organization’s first choice for enterprise telephony. However, with Direct Routing, you can connect your communication and collaboration strategies, without having to leave your existing phone provider.
The advantages of Direct Routing include:
- The freedom to continue accessing all the benefits of your existing phone provider
- Minimal investment in training and new equipment to upgrade your services
- Access to better deals thanks to long-term contracts with phone companies
- Cost benefits compared to alternatives
- Consolidation of voice services to fewer providers
- Greater regional access
- Greater visibility, and ability to monitor call quality
Direct Routing ensures that all businesses can retain their existing PSTN and SIP trunk lines, regardless of size. This flexibility ensures that companies can reduce their total cost of ownership for communication and collaboration technology.
Choosing the right Direct Routing Partner
Selecting the right Direct Routing partner for your needs will depend on your specific requirements and priorities. Here are a few factors you should consider including in your selection criteria:
- Pricing models: There are an increasing number of different pricing models available with many vendors opting to offer ‘convenient’ bundled pricing. Although this will be appealing to many organizations, they can be up to 60% more expensive than ‘pay for what you use’ models.
- On-premises hardware: Many businesses are looking to minimize the on-premises hardware they need to support due to the costs and management involved. Consider looking at partners that offer a cloud-based solution, particularly cloud-based SBCs.
- Legacy systems: Most businesses have legacy systems, analogue devices and other technology investments that are either not ready to migrate to the cloud, or don’t have cloud alternatives. Look for a partner that can assist you with consolidating these into a single environment to ease the management.
- Geographic coverage: An important element for large multi-nationals is finding a partner who can provide compliant and managed services that cover all the countries they have a footprint in.
- Integrations: Contact centers, call recording and other call based applications are common place, so find a partner who can integrate and consolidate these into your communications environment.
Alessandra joined Pure IP as the Content and Communications Manager in early 2020, after 5 years within the cinema technology sector.