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Why Microsoft Teams might be the right phone system for your modern business

Microsoft Teams as a phone system

The continued drive to work from home has increased the pressure on all areas of IT within business. This is clearly evident when we look at the situation in many businesses when it come to their existing telephony. Many are simply being reconfigured from the classic “on premise” approach to try and make them work for employees working from home. It may be as simple as diverting calls back out to a mobile phone resulting in tying up two trunks or trying to deploy a soft phone solution the business has never tested. 

We are seeing this across nearly every business who has had a phone system in place for a few years. Modern systems have some flexibility, but their older cousins struggle. They are inflexible and are so office centric that they are unable to function effectively.  In contrast, Microsoft Teams is the platform that many businesses have already adopted for video conferencing, instant messaging and group communication. In comparison the legacy on premise phone system struggles and appears outdated.

How does it work?

We have seen a mass shift in the market with many organisations transitioning their voice calls into Microsoft Teams. Now there are two clear approaches to this, the first is to use Microsoft Cloud PBX system. Microsoft Cloud PBX is technology that was built on the success of Skype For Business. It leverages local break out for calls across Microsoft global Azure network only transitioning to SIP and then traditional calling technology once it leaves the global infrastructure that Microsoft own.

Sounds good right?

work from homeIt does, but it is not without side effects. The key problem mainly being cost. Microsoft don’t do free calls and they don’t do unlimited business packages. Therefore, the second option is to use a 3rd party SIP provider approved by Microsoft to enable Direct Routing for Teams. Planet IT facilitate this through our partnership with Gamma, one of the U.K’s leading SIP providers. By integrating Gamma SIP into Microsoft Teams, it offers all the benefits of Gamma to Microsoft Teams customers, including the ability to access free calls on certain bundles. 

We already use it for messaging and internal calls, but why would I use Teams as my main phone system? 

Well, it’s simple! With staff adoption and understanding of Microsoft Teams up by 80% and into millions of end points, you gain the ability to not only reduce the number of systems you need to support as an IT administrator but, also reduce the number of systems your staff need to learn. Microsoft Teams with Voice enabled is simple and does not change the core function of the software, it simply enhances and extends what the users already have. To add to this, if another business is using Microsoft Teams Direct Routing and you call them, Teams will detect this and leverages point to point digital only calling, (providing public federation is enabled) this can further reduce your costs but, also offer a much greater user experience!

Microsoft Teams Dial Screen

 

But we use Zoom, not Teams?

There is only really one case where Teams is not the right solution for a business and that is where you don’t already use Microsoft Teams and utilise Zoom or Google as your main unified communications platform. When approaching this problem, having made a commitment to another vendor, Planet IT would recommend  looking at a cloud-based phone system which can either be integrated with what you have in place, or simply work alongside. Our dedicated Voice and Connectivity Team can help you find a solution that is right for you in this instance.

How do I find out more?

Microsoft Teams is already feature rich. Add Direct Routing for Teams and it only expands this to a position where not only do you get the best of the platform but empowers you to decommission and move away from systems which don’t support your business currently. The best way to understand Teams as a phone system is to see it in action. Planet IT we are holding a number of live events around Microsoft Teams and its use as a phone system. Sign up for our live event on the 25th February 2021 please click here.  

If you want to find out more about our Direct Routing for Teams Offering you can call 01235 433900 or you can email enquiries@planet-it.net

To see Microsoft Teams in action, with voice enabled, you can register for our Live Demo on the 25th February here

Alternatively, you can contact our architecture team directly via architecture@planet-it.net and one of our team to help you understand how we can fit technology into your business stack.

 

2020 – The Technology Winners & Losers

Technology Winners

We all know that 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and it is no surprise to anyone at this point late in the year that the digital landscape is very different to what it was 12 months ago.

So today, rather than a simple review of the year, I am going to look at some of the technology winners and losers of 2020.

Winners

 

Microsoft Teams and Zoom

Well obviously, right?

These two companies have enjoyed a dramatic rise to relevance as businesses moved (were forced) to an all-digital approach this year.

The reason these two thrived where others struggled is what makes them winners: both platforms offered the services for free for most of this year as part of their COVID support packages. Because of this they now have thousands, or even millions of new customers who won’t leave them in 2021. Teams and Zoom are now critical to many organisations and are part of their business models moving forward.

Not only was this smart marketing by the companies it has allowed both parties to learn at speed about what features we all want from these tools, I think this is clear when you see the number of changes that Microsoft have made to Teams this year, it’s certainly not the clunky product we were trying in 2017 anymore!

Microsoft Teams

AMD

AMD came out the gates swinging this year and they certainly had no intention of holding back. With the Ryzen 3000 series they have cemented their return to relevance making their CPU’s affordable and, in nearly all cases, faster than those coming from Team Blue (Intel).

However, this year they would go on to show why the 7nM process is so important and why Intel still pushing an 10nM process was going to cause them issues, this came in the form of Ryzen 5000 series, which wiped Intel off the top spot in nearly every scenario, and it did so a month after Intel announced their “best processor yet”.

This position was made even stronger when AMD managed to get both Dell and HPE to add their AMD EYPC processor to their server ranges giving customers the choice when looking to buy new servers. This is not only a win for AMD but also for consumers and businesses. We now have a better variety to choose from and can finally start to move away from Intel’s dominance, where the price point or performance does not make sense.

 

Apple Silicon

Continuing on the theme of CPU’s, Apple closed the year off by showing us all what can happen when you own an end-to-end process with the release of the M1 processor and the new range or M1 Apple devices.

This product, born from the legacy of the A Series mobile chip found in iPhone and iPad, is Apple’s first desktop processor since the days of PowerPC (Let’s not talk about it!). The important thing about M1 is not only is it built on the 5nM process but is also mind-blowingly powerful for a CPU which seems to simply sip on power rather than drain your battery in minutes. This, of course, is in part due to the fact that Apple own the eco system and can simply optimise every single instruction set to be smarter by working the CPU with the OS in the exact way they want, but they still have to be considered winners for this…

Also, who doesn’t want to run iPad apps on their Mac?

Apple Silicone

Public Cloud

Another rise to relevancy this year came in the public cloud drive, as customers seeking a solution to closing their offices and working across the country and the globe looked to the once distrusted Public Cloud as a saviour.

I have long believed the future was public cloud and 2020 was maybe the wrong way to prove a point, but we have seen a dramatic uptake in public cloud services. A huge number of large business are moving across and an even larger number of companies are planning through 2021 to close their datacenters and server rooms and put their workloads with Microsoft, Amazon or Google instead.

This move has co-existed with the drive by the big three to make the platforms more affordable and reduce the work to onboard to the platforms. This is only going to continue now as we slowly move away from onsite systems.

 

Losers

 

Intel

Now I already mentioned the bad year Intel is having in passing when coming up against AMD, but this year has been an all-round kicking for team blue.

This year also marks the beginning of the end of the Intel based Mac, which while only a small part of their revenue is sure to shake the foundations of what they are doing with other system integrators and device creators – not least Microsoft, who this year pushed AMD surface devices ard ARM based Surface Pro X devices.

Intel is not having a good year, but they need to learn from that their dominance in the CPU sector was on legacy born from innovation. Since the launch of the Broadwell generation of the i3-7 line up they have slowed down sticking until this year with 14nM for nearly all of its processors and simply looking for ways to push the clock speed on the devices. Now this year we reach the point where pushing clock speed is of less and less benefit and in 2021 we know Intel are going back to the drawing board to try and refine the 10nM and move to a smaller die process.

Good luck in 2021 Intel, otherwise it’s going to be another Team Red year!

Intel

Apple iPhone

Now the iPhone isn’t a looser in 2020 just because I left and moved over to the Android side!

This device is a looser because it lost to a phone half its price in a photo shoot-out between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the OnePlus 8T in a blind test run by MKBHD . Now, the importance of this test is massive as it shows that you don’t get perceivably better images by using an iPhone as Apple would have you believe,. It also shows consumers in a very tight financial year that you can get a great camera for less than half the price.

Will this change people’s minds about buying a new iPhone? Maybe not. But it hopefully will make Apple sit up and think as both the iPhone SE and 12 didn’t make it through the first stage of the process, showing that the issue may be with the way Apple handles the images and less about the quality of the camera. Either way the iPhone (13) or whatever it’s called needs to make improvements on this and be a big step forward for Apple in 2021 as their dominance is slipping and the Android market is out for their crown.

 

Onsite Infrastructure

The office has taken a bit of a beating in 2020. It’s becoming, for many businesses, a way to spend money for space you are not using,. This has caused a number of businesses to decide now is the time to change the way they interact with office space we have seen a massive increase in businesses looking to either move to co-location or into public cloud.

This has meant that the days of the larger projects for onsite deployments have slowed, so I think it’s fair to say 2020 has been a bad year for on-premises solutions but a great year for anything cloud!

 

There have been many more winners and a lot more losers than I could cover in this article, however I think the major take away for 2021 is that the IT landscape has changed far more in 2020 than in any year prior to it, as an IT professional I don’t expect business to slide back into old habits and things to switch back as we slowly return to more normal times.

Whatever 2021 brings I am excited to be at the forefront of matching our customers to the latest and greatest technical solutions.

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