Navigating the Cloud Communication Frontier: Your Guide to Teams and Telephony Options


With over 300M users and counting, Microsoft Teams has had a transformational impact on how many businesses connect, collaborate, and meet, putting IT leaders under pressure to capitalize on their already significant investment in Microsoft O365 licensing and bringing as many communications as possible into Teams.  

But, as you probably know, the calling feature that comes with Teams works only within the Teams environment (your Teams-to-Teams users). Which begs the question, how do you integrate Teams and telephony for users that require outside calling capabilities and still build a cohesive cloud solution? 

Recently, CTPros VP of Solution Architects Chris Frey and industry expert Zeus Kerravala had a vendor-agnostic discussion about just that. Here is a recap of their answers to the most pressing Teams telephony questions: 

What Are My Options, and What Is Everyone Else Doing? 

Okay, so that's two big questions in one! The most important thing to remember is that because your business strategy is yours alone, what works for the company next door may not be the best solution for you.  

Your staff may have varying needs. Many cloud vendors and partners tend to blanket an entire workforce in the same solution, but the truth is some of your users may be okay with Teams only, and some staff (we call them power users) may need more than Teams. It'll take a deep discovery process—more on that below—to uncover what your organization requires. 

Now let's tackle options. Microsoft offers an E3 license that is best for small to midsize businesses. They also offer E5 licensing, a better choice for larger organizations because it is typically more cost-effective, secure, and feature-rich; it includes the phone accessing privilege in the licensing bundle. There are 4 types of direct routing options for businesses with E5 licensing: 

The fourth option, E5 + Classic Direct Routing, is the most popular. It provides a customizable solution that can meet the different needs of specific users, is reliable due to its long track record, works well for hybrid situations, is cost-effective, and ultimately gives businesses the most control over their telephony. 

Is There a One Size Fits All Solution? 

No, there isn't, and that's a good thing! To ensure you're getting the most appropriate solution for your organization, you'll need an unbiased evaluation of your current system and objectives and recommended options that most closely align with your goals. 

For example, when our Enterprise Consultants and Solution Architect teams conduct discovery, it typically includes:  

  • Auditing your existing architecture to decide which systems and applications will be utilized and which ought to be replaced (as well as which ones you don't need)   

  • Identifying your business' specific needs for communications (such as messaging, contact center functionality, integrations, features, and so on)   

  • Understanding what resources your team will need to migrate your communications efficiently   

Only through thorough discovery can you figure out the most affordable, practical path to take—including ensuring all your platforms work together. 

What Do Implementation and Support Look Like? 

Your migration and support experience depends on who you partner with for those services. As one of a very short list of cloud consulting firms certified to perform migration on your behalf, we've successfully migrated hundreds of satisfied customers. We also offer post-implementation support.  

Vendors try hard to provide a high level of service, but the truth is, they can't typically offer as personalized an experience because they don't have the resources to do so.   

For more detailed information on how Teams and telephony can work in your organization, or if you have questions, contact one of our Teams experts here.  

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