Microsoft Teams and SIP Calling
Organizations are always looking for ways to reduce costs and streamline their networks. Over the past year or so, Microsoft has been talking about adding new Teams capabilities to give customers more without adding additional complexities. One of its latest offerings is enabling Microsoft Teams SIP calling by making Teams compatible with most standard SIP-based phones to support core SIP calling features.
No longer will users have to ditch what they already have and invest in Microsoft-certified SIP phones. Microsoft Teams SIP calling is excellent news for companies that want to keep their existing SIP phones for their telephony needs.
The timing for Teams SIP calling could not have been better. COVID-19 revealed vulnerabilities few considered, such as what happens when your workforce goes from working on-premises to working remotely – overnight? Pew Research found that 20 percent of employed adults worked from home before the pandemic, and 71 percent worked from home by the end of 2020.
If you don’t have a Microsoft phone system but use another type of SIP phone, you could save thousands of dollars while still getting to take advantage of the Microsoft Teams integration. The average cost for a Microsoft-certified SIP phone is around $700. Replacing a few legacy phones may not break the bank, but the costs can quickly add up for those needing to replace hundreds or thousands of phones.
Unsure whether or not you have a SIP phone? If you purchased your phones in the past ten years, they are likely SIP-compatible. UC Today says SIP phones “look like regular telephones, but the internal workings align with IP-aware components.” Softphones can also use SIP technology, enabling you to download your business phone technology onto most mobile devices and desktop computers.
Related: The Differences Between SIP and VoIP
Microsoft’s SIP Gateway solution enables core Teams calling functionality on legacy SIP phones. Your SIP phone transfers data in the form of voice, video, chat, messaging and documents back-and-forth between end-users via the Internet Protocol (IP). In contrast, traditional landline wires for your telephony needs provide only voice communications. Now that Microsoft offers Teams SIP calling, you can use Teams as your collaboration platform and still get all of the SIP calling features you need in one integrated system.
Why The Need for Both Microsoft Teams and SIP Calling?
If you’ve always used SIP phones in the past for voice calls and a separate instance of Microsoft Teams to add in robust video conferencing capabilities, you may notice they don’t work well together. Unless you use a Microsoft-certified SIP phone, you’re out of luck. That’s a problem for many organizations.
Companies need more than basic voice capabilities. Today’s workforce looks different from what it did before COVID-19. Even while a large number of companies supported a diversified workforce before the pandemic, significantly more have embraced remote working since so many employees had no other option. All indications point to a post-COVID world with a hybrid environment for the vast majority of organizations.
Bloomberg reports that a flexible, hybrid home-office configuration is here to stay, both as a cost-cutting corporate strategy and a way to keep employees happy with more work options. Companies need ways to support the changing world of work, forcing them to embrace and connect different communications and collaboration platforms.
Video conferencing is now a mainstay, replacing the need for in-person meetings or, at least, making them optional. Whether you use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or another online conferencing platform, chances are, you need more than just video conferencing. You need full voice capabilities and all of the collaboration features of these platforms.
Connecting voice with collaboration capabilities in a unified communications platform streamlines all types of communication across your organization. Whether your employees work at a company office or home office, whether they work on the road or across the globe, they can connect with others using a corporate-supported network.
The Benefits of Unified Communications
Microsoft Teams integration is just one step towards a unified communications environment. The more streamlined and connected your network, the greater cost savings, the less equipment you have to maintain, and the fewer third parties you have to handle.
Instead of paying for and managing multiple technologies, partners and carriers, and separate invoices, you can work with one provider. Even better, you can invest in Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to let your provider do everything for you so your IT team can focus on other initiatives.
Related: Video: How Are Unified Communications Platforms Different?
Another major benefit of UCaaS is the mobility aspect. UCaaS gives you access to the most modern mobility options on the market. You can support your office, remote and hybrid workers with all of the tools they need to stay productive and connected no matter where they choose to work.
Because UCaaS is cloud-based, it doesn’t require physical cables and wires. You can scale your business on-demand and pay only for what you need at any given time. Adding or removing users and locations is as simple as a few clicks.
Your UCaaS provider, not your IT team, is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the technology that supports cloud communications. Introductions of new features and capabilities don’t require investing in new hardware or worrying about disruptions to your network. You can simply add on features as easily as you add on a new user.
Disaster Recovery: More Than a Benefit, but a Requirement
Finally, UCaaS has built-in, cloud-based disaster recovery to maintain business continuity. The pandemic showed us how critical this is. While we often think of a disaster being a flood or fire, disasters are anything that disrupts normal business operations. From power outages to pandemics, companies need to be resilient. UCaaS is the ideal solution.
Imagine your office with only an on-premises, traditional, circuit-switched telephony network. When the power goes down, the weather prevents people from traveling to work, or a pandemic hits and offices close, how do you and your employees send and receive phone calls? From their personal devices? How do you control security and maintain professionalism? How do your customers reach your business?
UCaaS provides multiple ways to communicate internally and externally. With sophisticated calling features based in the cloud, such as call center functionality, advanced call routing, and integrations with critical business applications, operations continue as normal. If the power goes down in one location, the system can automatically route incoming calls to alternate locations or mobile phones. Employees can use messaging, chat or Microsoft Teams to communicate and collaborate with each other.
The Microsoft Teams integration with SIP phones means you can call a SIP phone from the Teams app and call into a Teams meeting using a SIP phone. You can move seamlessly between voice calls, chat and Teams meetings. Microsoft says, “Capabilities may include inbound & outbound calls, call transfer, dial-in/out to meetings, device-based do not disturb and voicemail indicators on devices.”
Having the ability to work from anywhere while staying to connected to the network gives companies the ability to sustain business operations, even when change happens. Workers may stay home – or not – the weather may turn, a pandemic shuts down offices, your company expands or contracts.
These are just some reasons why Teams SIP calling as part of a unified communications platform is critical. We don’t know what’s coming around the corner, but with the right tools in place, we have a better chance of surviving it, even thriving despite it.
Want to learn more about how to enable Teams SIP calling or build a unified communications network? Contact us today.