Helping clients choose the right Microsoft Teams Voice Calling solution isn’t always easy. Modern businesses have a diverse range of operational requirements and practical considerations – often, the ‘best’ option might not be feasible because of budgetary restrictions, pre-existing hardware, or time constraints.
In this article, we’ll walk you through four different Teams Calling solutions and examine the pros and cons of each, making it easier for you to guide your clients to the right solution.
Phone System with Calling Plan
Phone System with Calling Plan is the ‘default’ Teams Calling solution, in that it’s the simplest and most easily set up.
Calling Plan includes complete private branch exchange (PBX) functionality, as well as public switched telephone network (PTSN) access, with Microsoft acting as the PTSN carrier. End users can use the PBX for internal calls, and Microsoft-carried access to the PTSN for all external landline and mobile calls.
Although the simplicity and ease of use are big selling points for clients, Calling Plan has a few drawbacks that make it unsuitable as a solution for every end user. The most obvious is that it’s not available in every region – if your clients are located in an unsupported region, they won’t be able to use Calling Plan.
Calling Plan also isn’t suitable if clients want to retain their current PTSN carriers, or if they need interoperability with third-party PBX systems.
Direct Routing: Dedicated SBC
Direct routing with a dedicated session border controller (SBC) is a great way to combine flexibility with low management. It’s a good solution for clients who want a degree of control and customisation, but don’t want the headache of doing it all themselves.
Using direct routing means they can retain their own PTSN carrier, interoperate with third-party PBX systems, or use other systems like analogue phones, paging, intercoms or DECT radios.
Direct routing with a dedicated SBC requires the provider to give the end customer the SBC’s fully qualified domain name (FQDN). The end customer will then need to use the FQDN to pair their Microsoft tenant with your SBC as an online PSTN gateway. This can slow down the set-up process, and may not be easy to walk end customers through remotely.
Direct Routing: Derived Trunk
To avoid the potential set-up issues associated with dedicated SBCs, you can also offer you clients derived trunk direct routing.
When Teams direct routing was first launched, Microsoft only offered the former option, but issues with SBC management and routing data processing speed initiated the introduction of carrier and derived trunks.
Unlike dedicated SBCs, which require separate logical trunks for different client tenants, a single carrier trunk can be registered in the carrier tenant; multiple derived trunks can then be created and linked to the carrier trunk by associating their FQDNs to the carrier SBC IP address.
As a result, end customers just need to add the derived trunk FQDNs to their voice routing policies. There’s no messy pairing process, and a fully functional Teams solution can be set up in literally minutes.
Derived trunking is also easier for carriers. Derived trunks inherit their configuration parameters from the carrier trunk, so changing configurations becomes much simpler – instead of manually amending configurations for every trunk, you can just modify the carrier trunk’s configurations, which will then be adopted by all associated derived trunks.
Private Direct Routing
Private direct routing is the most hands-off Teams solution to offer your clients. Instead of selling a direct routing service, you’ll instead be selling an SBC – private direct routing means the client owns and manages their SBC, and handles all setup and connectivity considerations.
The big advantage of private direct routing is that it’s extremely flexible. The end user’s inhouse teams can construct a completely custom Teams solution, choosing to connect their SBC with either SIP trunks for voice-over-IP (VoIP) systems, or to traditional primary rate interface (PRI) phone systems. Depending on organisational needs, some users may even want a hybrid SIP/PRI set-up.
Of course, great flexibility is accompanied by higher costs and more complex management requirements for the end user. Set-up and management will typically require the end user to either have an in-house IT team or retain reliable contractors, and both initial and ongoing costs will be much higher.
Which Teams Calling solution is best?
So which Teams Calling solution is best?
The frustrating answer: it depends. Different clients have different needs, and you’ll have to balance their need for flexibility and customisation against their budget, the proficiency of their inhouse teams, and their need to accommodate existing systems.
Providing the appropriate solution is part of what will differentiate you from other retailers – by taking the time to analyse a client’s unique needs and develop a custom Teams deployment strategy, you’ll help minimise changeover friction and enhance the impact a modern telephony solution like Teams can bring to their operations.