On-Premises Cisco Calling with Microsoft Teams
Even before COVID became a worldwide pandemic (forcing people to work from the comfort of their office to the comfort of their home), there was an uptick in interactive collaboration using “team” spaces. As businesses maneuver what’s next regarding the digital workspace, the prevalence of virtual workspaces—or a hybrid of in-person and virtual—has become the norm. And it’s no wonder. With the convenience to easily share messages, files and participate in meetings from anywhere, using a variety of devices, workers and business leaders alike appreciate the new versatility of collaboration.
This paper outlines a hybrid approach to integrating and using an on-premises Cisco voice/video solution with Microsoft Teams collaboration spaces without the added licensing expenses. Cisco and Microsoft’s partnership bridges the customer requirements for “team integration with voice/video.”
Facing the Problem
By now, most of us are very comfortable with using team spaces, and if you are lucky enough to be a Cisco Webex Teams user, then you already know how important the additional functionality of calling/video is, especially to interact with the world outside of your organization. However, what if you are a user that does not have team collaboration spaces in place but used calling and softphone in and out of the office? Or what if you have a team collaboration space but do not have the ability to interact with voice/video outside the organization?
Once COVID hit hard, many organizations found themselves in a scenario with the need for meeting spaces and standard calling in/outside the organization and needed the ability to quickly deploy and adapt at a minimal expense. The first basic step was to ensure all mobile knowledge workers were outfitted with VPN. This gave the users access to office data and applications. Next step was full featured interactive phones. Problems arose in doing this cost effectively without a disjointed solution.
Does it Fit?
The path to determine if this solution is right for your organization is by understanding your current environment and if these new capabilities align with your business needs.
Workshop Check List
If your organization can check off the first point in each of the 3 subjects below, then Cisco Jabber Calling within Microsoft Teams should be considered as prime for a quick and cost-effective solution that is already aligned with your business
The UC platform was designed for the office at the office, and Microsoft Teams is used in or outside of the office but calling (dialing) was not a part of the included Microsoft features. Both Cisco Jabber and Microsoft Teams have overlapping functions—both use collaborative IM & P along with file sharing and have calling capabilities—however, Microsoft Teams calling is typically higher.
The world of Cisco UC (on-prem or cloud) plays well with outside applications for integration. One of those features which accelerates an organizations productivity is Cisco Jabber. Jabber is a full-featured client application designed for voice/video and collaboration (meetings/sharing/IM&P/etc) for both in and outside of your organization. It can be deployed as a phone-only application, making it perfectly suitable as a standalone mobile client or integrated into Microsoft Teams application. The phone portion of Cisco Jabber requires a device license on Cisco UCM.
Jabber is both a desktop and mobile application, that works on many platforms, including Microsoft Windows, MAC, Apple iOS, and Android. Jabber can be a hidden application in the back, sitting in the system tray and pops up only when
called or used in Microsoft Teams, as seen in the figure below (Cisco Jabber Call Control), or it can reside in the foregrand for additional functions.
There are 2 zero-cost options to Cisco Jabber:
1. Using the existing (most commonly deployed) Cisco UWL license, which allows 10 for 10 devices/user.
2. Removes the user’s desk phone and replaces it with Cisco Jabber phone.
In either case, only the client VPN is needed, and no other licensing is required for deployment.
Alternately, Cisco Expressway can be deployed in the future to support seamless VPNless Jabber integration outside the organization. This will become useful for mobile Jabber Client.
Microsoft Teams is a cloud-driven collaboration application providing team spaces and the ability to integrate third-party APIs. Using Microsoft Teams as a client does not prevent the use of Cisco for multiple workloads.
If your organization uses Microsoft Office 365, chances are Microsoft Teams is already included in the standard licensing. However, Microsoft Teams does not give you the ability to make or receive standard calls to and from the outside world. For this you need Microsoft Calling which comes with substantial licensing fees.
If your organization has already invested in Office 365 and has Cisco UC as your voice/video platform, Cisco Jabber can easily be integrated into the Microsoft Teams application, without incurring expensive licensing (Direct Routing or Calling Plan) on the Microsoft side. Jabber will introduce calling for both interoffice and PSTN voice/video calls. The integration is clean so as not to confuse or add complexity for your end users. Streamlining collaboration makes it easy for users to continue to use Microsoft Teams for IM, Sharing, Presence, Conferencing. This complementary approach uses your existing Cisco UC calling infrastructure to create an environment where expensive Microsoft Calling licenses are not needed (as seen in the figure below.)
Cisco Jabber dialing embedding in Microsoft Teams
When a call is placed using the Cisco Jabber integrated dialer within Microsoft Teams, the Jabber phone is presented upfront for full call control functionality. It is important to remember that the Cisco Jabber application has call control anchored to the on-premises Cisco UCM.
Cisco Jabber Call Control
Because the user is connected to the office over the VPN, Cisco Jabber is directly registered to Cisco UCM and behaves no differently than if the user was inside the office.
Cisco Jabber Application in the foreground
Users will have direct access to Cisco Jabber and its features by clicking the Jabber icon and bringing it to the foreground. Call logs and voicemail messages can be accessed this way.
It’s important to remember the relationship between Microsoft, Cisco and Eclipse Technology Solutions grows stronger with the openness of Microsoft and Cisco APIs. As a Gold Certified Cisco Partner and Microsoft Silver Partner, Eclipse’s team of experts make converting this design from concept to rapid deployment easier than ever, so you can realize ROI sooner, rather than later. To learn more about how Cisco UCM and Microsoft Teams can work better for your business, contact one of our experts who will be happy to talk with you.