Jan 8, 2021 | News

Introduction:

Even before COVID became a worldwide pandemic (forcing people to work from the comfort of their office to the comfort of their home), we have been seeing an uptake in how we all collaborate interactively with *team* spaces because it allows us to share messages, files and participate in meetings as a relevant group.  This paper outlines a hybrid approach to integrating and using an on-premise Cisco voice/video solution with MSFT Teams collaboration spaces without the added licensing expenses.

The customer requirements for ‘team integration with voice/video’ comes at a time when both Cisco and Microsoft have been advertising the partnerships between them, by bridging the interactions between these two tech giants to answer customer demands.

This paper outlines just one simple approach of many, to help meet the business goals through the power of Cisco (voice/video) and Microsoft (Teams Spaces)

 

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.  But how to do this cost effectively without a disjointed solution?

3 Reasons to Embrace

Cisco Jabber within MS Teams

 

  1. Time to deployment is minimal.
  2. Utilizes existing UC and Microsoft infrastructure.
  3. Minimal cost, generally only Pro Services are needed.

 

Does it Fit?

The path to determine if this solution is right for your organization is by understanding the current environment and if the new capabilities align with the business needs.

  

Workshop Check List

 

If the 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 business needs.

INFRASTUCTURE

·      VPN

·      Jabber Client deployment method

Cisco UCM

·      Existing UWL Licensing

·      User assigned CSF (Jabber phone) devices

Microsoft

·      Microsoft/Office 365

·      MS Teams installed on PC

·      Jabber Applet installed in MS Teams

 

 

Deployment Design:

UC platform was designed for the office at the office, and MSFT teams is cloud driven and used in or outside of the office but calling (dialing) was not a part of the included MSFT features.  Both Cisco’s Jabber and Microsoft’s Teams have overlapping functions;  use collaborative IM & P along with file sharing and  have calling capabilities; however, MSFT Teams calling is typically higher.

 

Cisco Voice:

The world of Cisco UC (on-prem or cloud) is full featured and plays well with outside applications for integration. One of those features which accelerates an organizations productivity is Cisco Jabber application.  Cisco Jabber is a full featured client application designed for voice/video and collaboration (meetings/sharing/IM&P/etc) for both in and outside of the organization.  Cisco Jabber can be deployed as a ‘phone only’ application making it perfectly suitable as a standalone mobile client or integrated into MSFT 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 (Microsoft Windows, MAC, Apple iOS, Android).   Jabber can be a hidden application in the back sitting in the system tray and pops up only when called or used in MS 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) CUWL license (allows 10 devices/user)

2. Removing the user’s desk phone and substituting it with Cisco Jabber phone.

 

In either case, only the client VPN is needed and no other licensing is needed 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.

   

Adding some context to the first three points

Infrustructure – VPN:

            In most cases, the organization has or will be deploying VPN to most or all of its knowledge workers to work remotely from a home office.  With a VPN back to the office, the user can take full advantage of Cisco Jabber and its Calling features

 

Cisco UCM – UWL Licensing:

            In most cases, the organization has already deployed Cisco UWL licenses to most or all of its knowledge workers to support a phone device and voicemail.  The advantage with UWL, is that it can support up to 10 devices per user.

 

Microsoft – Office 365:

            In most cases, the organization has at least started deploying Microsoft Cloud Office 365.  With smaller businesses (<300 users), Microsoft Teams is already included in Licenses starting at “Business Basic”

 

Microsoft Teams:

Microsoft Teams is a cloud driven collaboration application providing team spaces and the ability to integrate 3rd party APIs.

Using Microsoft Teams as a client does not prevent the use of Cisco for multiple workloads:

Workload integrations based on Microsoft supported APIs

If the organization uses Microsoft Office 365, chances are Microsoft Teams is already included in the standard licensing.  Because MSFT Teams is already included, organizations have leveraged it for collaboration.   What Microsoft teams does not include however, is the ability to make or receive standard calls to and from the outside world.  Substantial licensing fees would be incurred to activate Microsoft Calling.

 

 

Design Outcome

 

Problem Solved:

With organizations that have already invested in Microsoft O365 and Cisco UC as their voice/video platform, Cisco Jabber (voice/video outside the organization) can easily be integrated into the MSFT Teams application without incurring expensive licensing (Direct Routing or Calling Plan) on the MSFT side.  Jabber will introduce calling for both interoffice and PSTN voice/video calls.  The integration is very clean as to not add confusion or complexity to the end user while they continue to use MSFT Teams as their single collaboration (IM, Sharing, Presence, Conferencing) client.  Essentially creating an environment where expensive MSFT calling licenses are not needed by utilizing existing Cisco UC calling infrastructure.  This is a complementary approach (rather than competing) to adding external calling as seen in the figure below.

Recapping the Benefits:

 

1.      Maintaining familiar local Call Control on the existing Local Voice Gateways.

2.      Rapid Deployment.

3.      No additional licensing fees on MSFT.

4.      Good chance Knowledge Workers are already licensed on Cisco CUCM.

5.      Clean look and feel in MSFT Teams (no complexity).

6.      No GW/SBC’s/Servers installation needed for deployment.

7.      Remote Administration.

Cisco Jabber dialing embedding in Microsoft Teams

 

 

When a call is placed using the Cisco Jabber integrated dialer within Microsoft teams, the Cisco 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 onpremise 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 it’s features by clicking the Jabber icon and bringing it to the foreground.  Call logs and Voicemail messages can be accessed this way.

 

 

Relationships:

It’s important to remember the relationship between MS/Cisco and its partners is growing stronger with the openness of MS and Cisco APi’s and the idea of client vs workload, the simplicity of this solution, and the MS/Cisco Partners that can convert this design from concept to rapid deployment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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