Solutions Architect / Intelligent Office
Jens is definitely not the new kid on the block. With over 25 years in the industry, he’s a veteran on Microsoft technologies and has focused the last half part of his career on Microsoft unified and intelligent communications.
Jens has worked on both sides of the isle being in corporate IT in the beginning of his career managing IT departments in aerospace and manufacturing and has been responsible for both software development around ERP and systems integration. The last 15 years he’s been working for Microsoft partners providing consulting on everything Microsoft and related technologies.
Cloud Revolution has joined the exclusive 8×8 Elevate Microsoft Partner (MP) Program, allowing us to help enterprises adopting Microsoft Teams to reduce communication costs and improve employee productivity with 8×8’s highly resilient global telephony and Direct Routing as a Service (DRaaS) solution.
So, what is Direct Routing as a Service?
Microsoft Teams Direct Routing as a Service (DRaaS) brings dial tone from the carrier to your Microsoft Teams infrastructure without the need for Session Border Controllers (SBCs). It is basically a carrier SIP trunk connecting directly to the Microsoft Teams tenant without the need for any customer premises equipment (CPE) or local circuits into a customer’s datacenter. Traditional carrier SIP trunks would typically be provided on a private data circuit terminating at the customers premises, supplying dial tone to a traditional on-premises PBX. With the PBX being moved to the cloud, it makes sense to also remove the reliance on on-premises circuits and equipment to provide dial tone to the cloud-based PBX, in this case Microsoft Teams.
So, how do I choose a provider?
When selecting a Direct Routing as a Service provider, it now becomes very important to look at all the technical and business requirements that was typically satisfied by the on-premises Session Border Controller. The SBCs role was to interconnect various voice platforms and also provide connectivity to some of those legacy endpoints in the organization. It also functioned a demarcation point providing detailed logging and call tracing functionality. Since the SBC is now no longer in the picture these requirements need to be met by the DRaaS provider.
One of the premium DRaaS providers on the market is 8×8 whose motto is “No Phone Left Behind” which I think is a clever saying that addresses all the fringe use cases that an SBC would satisfy. In addition, 8×8 has additional services that you may not even have dreamed of that you needed. 8×8 provides a comprehensive and flexible portfolio of voice services tailored to your Microsoft Teams Phone System deployment.
So, what are the things I need to look for?
Contact center is the big one. Tight integration between the contact center and the phone system is critical and given that Microsoft Teams doesn’t have a native contact center, but relies on certified partners, 8×8 fills this gap very nicely. By providing the dial tone to Microsoft Teams and also providing the call routing to their native Teams certified contact center, the result is a less complex and more resilient solution than if you had to deal with different vendors and partners. The 8×8 contact center is a next generation omni channel platform with many intelligent features for both agent responses and customer self-service options integrating into various Line of Business (LoB) applications. It also has comprehensive reporting engine with plenty of default reports that can be customized endlessly.
Dynamic E911 is another very important feature. 8×8 provides dynamic E911 services for Microsoft Teams to satisfy the recent FCC regulations for both on-premises nomadic users and also those remote and work from home (WFH) users. 8×8 provides the self-service portal to manage Emergency Response Locations (ERLs) and also the self-service tools to validate those ERL civic addresses against the Master Street Address Guide (MSAG) to ensure that calls are routed to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), and first responders are provided a correctly formatted and accurate street address to respond to.
Faxing is still a “thing”. No matter how much we wish that faxing would go away, we are still seeing a lot of on-premises fax servers, Multi-Function Printers (MFPs) with faxing capabilities and also individual fax machines across various types of organizations. 8×8 provides cloud-based fax services that integrates with email and MFPs and can also provide services for analog fax machines through the use of Analog Telephone Adapters (ATAs).
Analog phones and generic SIP devices are another area that becomes problematic when removing the on-premises SBC. Elevator phones, door phones, paging systems, etc. are traditionally terminated on the on-premises SBC or PBX. Again, 8×8 has a solution for such devices, whether it be the use of an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) to allow an analog phone to register or a direct SIP registration against the 8×8 cloud services cloud services.
The cloud-based SIP services 8×8 are offering is part of their own Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) offering which is a full featured multi-modality voice, meetings and chat platform that can be deployed side by side with Microsoft Teams. Such services play well into manufacturing environments, distribution centers, retail, and hospitality where Microsoft Teams may not be the preferred solution.
So, what about the on-premises voice platforms I still have? 8×8 also provides traditional SIP trunk services to your on-premises SBCs to provide integration with Microsoft Teams and the other 8×8 services. This is very important when migrating large organizations to Microsoft Teams as those migrations could take a considerable amount of time allowing migrated Microsoft Teams users to operate side by side and sharing dial plans with the incumbent PBX users that have still not been migrated. It also provides an efficient method for migrating cohorts of users without the need for advanced SBC configuration or number porting events.
So, what are some of the things I didn’t think I need? Even though Microsoft Teams provide for an excellent messaging experience between organizations, there could still be a need for traditional SMS text messaging for your users. Again, 8×8 provides services to allow your Teams users to communicate and message with external non-Teams users thru industry standard SMS messaging.
All of the above solutions and services are tightly integrated and managed thru a powerful web-based portal giving your IT staff full control and excellent reporting. I have yet to see a Microsoft Teams Direct Routing as a Service offering that is as comprehensive and flexible as that by 8×8. Please reach to us to receive additional information about the Cloud Revolution and 8×8 Elevate MP partnership and how we can help you achieve “No Phone Left Behind”.