First Look – Telstra Calling for O365 on Microsoft Teams…

As per my previous blog, this service now announced in Australia and expect to be generally available in few months time.

The service description does not include Microsoft Teams yet but technically it does not prevent using PSTN services for Teams since the new number is automatically assigned to the same user enabled on SFBO (unless Teams is explicitly disabled).

Here is a screenshot of my first user enabled on Teams with a Western Australian phone number;

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There is nothing new about the technology but I’m excited since it worked in the first place 🙂

The Australian Version of “Calling Plans” just revealed…

I was privileged to work with Telstra and Microsoft Australia during last 3 months (under NDA) on formulating a strategy for Australian customers to be able to own a phone number for Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business Online as a part of Office 365.

The official launch event held in Sydney on 19/03/2018 at the Telstra customer experience centre https://www.telstra.com.au/business-enterprise/solutions/collaboration-conferencing/cloud-collaboration/telstra-calling-365

Current service enabled countries;

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The new service is named as “Telstra Calling for O365 (TCO)” and now in preview with first 35 customers chosen by 7 Australian partners.  Australia is the 11th country being added to the service but quite different from the other 10 countries’ model.

Microsoft solely acts as the PSTN provider in all other cases except the very first partnership model developed for Australia. Telstra, Australia’s premier communications provider will provide the PSTN capabilities directly via Microsoft datacentres in Sydney and Melbourne leaving Microsoft to provide the Office 365 front-end for customers.

The purchasing experience will be slightly different from the global model but the service enabling process is quite similar via same O365 control panel.

There will be 3 calling plans instead of 2 plans elsewhere, below is a glimpse of the new calling plans;

t1

t2

and here are the special conditions to be considered;

t3

I’m helping few preview customers as I write this article and hope to provide further updates during the preview period. Stay tuned…

What is Direct Routing in Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft recently unveiled the latest options for enabling voice in Microsoft Teams using a new method “Direct Routing”, previously tagged as “bring your own trunk (BYOT).

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Why this is more attractive is there will be no requirement of maintaining any kind of on-premises service components that SfB used such as an on-prem SfB pool or a Cloud Connector Edition as the minimum.

This capability will allow customers to choose a certified Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams (subject to availability in countries) which could be preferred Sip provider of a customer or use a certified Session Border Controller (SBC) from a vendor such as Audiocodes or Ribbon Communications.

The first method simply provides the flexibility of choosing a preferred Sip provider opposed to the default Microsoft PSTN offering.

But, in reality, it will be difficult and challenging to transform on-prem telephony to a direct route over night due to the technical limitations and specific customer telephony requirements being built-up over the time.

So, using a certified SBC would be the best options for established businesses to transform their telephony with peace of mind.

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The SBCs may be the ideal option if you have;

  1. a significant investment on a contact center solution which needs to be intact but not to be excluded (inter-op)
  2. specific anloag services such as Fax, boom gates, fire alarms, doors etc.
  3. an existing SfB/Lync enterprise voice environment with multiple number ranges
  4. established Auto Attendant and Response Group based services to be available during the transformation
  5. specific number presentation/manipulation requirements

The bottom line is SBCs are relatively cheap appliances and has been in the market ever since Sip services’ existence, so it is proved tech we can leverage in many ways.

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Teams-Blog/Direct-Routing-enables-new-enterprise-voice-options-in-Microsoft/ba-p/170450

Note: Microsoft Teams is rapidly evolving as I write this post and we expect to see the feature parity gap is closing by the time of General Availability of the service.

New Microsoft Teams and Skype admin centre…

As per the last Microsoft Ignite announcement, we will see a new single pane of glass Admin centre for both Skype for Business online and Microsoft Teams.

The current O365 Admin Centre has no Microsoft Teams dedicated admin space other than the settings section.

ad  ad4

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The new admin centre is one more step closer to the overall Teams “look & feel” re-confirming the future of SFBO.

Manage Microsoft Teams and Skype in a single admin experience

Image captured from official blog https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Office-365-Blog/What-s-new-in-Office-365-Administration-Ignite-Edition/ba-p/110337

OCS R2 Cumulative Update 6 issue…

Microsoft Released OCS R2 CU 6 (kb 983472) in end of July , 2010 on the same day I applied the updates running a test ending up with an issue. A well operated OCS R2 server was stopped with failed Front end services just after the CU6 application.

The CU6 applied 13 major updates bundled in a single installer listing below

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The update KB983472 causing this problem and front end services started up once uninstalled this update selectively.

Microsoft immediately released a workaround as to install OCS2009-DBUpgrade.msi (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2032834) and reinstall KB983472 to rectify the problem.

Immediately next day Microsoft removed kb 983472 and re-released http://support.microsoft.com/kb/968802/en-us article which includes the solution in the order of installation.

This release is tested and works fine…ready to go…Smile

OCS R2 Standard to Enterprise upgrade

If anyone suppose to upgrade an OCS R2 Standard server to OCS R2 Enterprise on Windows Server 2008 R2 platform using same hardware by following uninstall and reinstall option, these points might useful in before hand.

OCS R2 does not provide in place upgrade to Enterprise from Standard resulting some additional steps as below,

  1. Create new OCS R2 enterprise pool and add a new OCR R2 enterprise server to Pool (preferably in VM environment if additional physical server is not present)
  2. Move all SIP users accounts to new Enterprise Pool
  3. The new Enterprise server is used for uninterrupted services while the transition
  4. Uninstall OCS R2 standard server on physical server
  5. Install OCS R2 Ent on the same server so that we’ll get 2 enterprise servers running in same Pool
  6. Uninstall temp (VM) Enterprise server from the pool and the Swap operation is done.

Issue

  • If you try to install OCS R2 Enterprise on the same server which was prepared by decommissioning previous OCS R2 Standard server (unformatted), there will be an unexpected problem of starting up below 04 services in first place.

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  • the reason behind that is these services are not getting removed by uninstallation operation.

Workaround

  • These services must be wiped off from services by deleting the 04 registry values given below

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  • Restart the server and install OCS R2 Enterprise would go as a charm…

MCT Summit 2009 in Hyderabad, India

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It was a great chance to be a part of MCT Summit held in India (06.02.2009 – 08.02.2009) for very first time which can be considered as a door open for APAC Trainer community to be parallel with summits held in Redmond & Prague. The venue it held was very important as its being the largest Microsoft development centre outside US located in Hyderabad, India (IDC).

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The program was aligned with early adapted technologies such as Windows 7 Beta, Server 2008 R2 Beta, IE 8 Beta and Exchange 14 and more. The Microsoft Learning team came down from US and Development Groups of India conducted the sessions with live demonstrations. From the trainers perspective new Courseware and whole new Lab Launcher for Next generation MOCs were really important to feel in advance.

There were 200+ MCTs representing countries of APAC getting together in the summit to share knowledge, experiences and building new contacts causing new opportunities in their career.

MCT SUMMIT 2009 (HYDERABAD)

The event was a total success for Microsoft as well as Trainers enabling business and skills of community towards better technologies in future.