What is Direct Routing and How to Use MS Teams as a Phone Central

What is Direct Routing and How to Use MS Teams as a Phone Central Featured Image

Nowadays businesses want modernized and efficient communication tools where teams can collaborate efficiently especially when businesses are not operating on-site and rely on remote working. There are two key reasons behind this,  global pandemic COVID 19 and the benefits associated with virtual offices. Considering this trend as an opportunity, business product providers are coming up with the newest tools and software accordingly. As a leader in cloud services, Microsoft succeeded in improving business productivity through direct routing. 

Direct routing is one of such services that Microsoft has just introduced to give your businesses a real boost. Before we discuss it, we should first look at what Microsoft Teams is all about. Microsoft Teams is one of those popular products that help the business community through better internal communication, document management, workspace chat, including app integration. This works just like other communication tools like Slack or Asana. 

Now, Microsoft is also providing a calling facility using this platform called Microsoft Teams. Direct routing is nothing else but a name given to one of the MS Teams phone facilities. Known for its extended list of benefits including cost and flexibility, the idea is gaining popularity within the business world.

Now, let’s have a look at this topic in detail.

What Is Direct Routing?

Those who know even a little bit about networking are well aware of the term “routing” or “ router”. Routing refers to the mechanism of properly directing traffic on the internet. 

When we talk about direct routing, it refers to “MS Teams business phone”. MS Teams not only serves as an internal communication tool but offers a complete cost-effective business phone system to make and receive calls. This facility is providing a (PSTN) Public Switched Telephone Network to MS Team users. Once linked, Microsoft team users can make and receive calls on any internet-enabled device having MS team application installed in it.

How Does Direct Routing Work?

Let us now understand the mechanism behind direct routing. Two elements play a role in combining the Teams with PSTN. These two elements are Session Border Controller and SIP trunks. 

Session Border Controller (SBC)

 Session Border Controller is the special device made to regulate almost all types of IP-based communication including VoIP, video, text chats, and another collaboration session. 

These devices are used at the border of various networks to make sure that data is transferred smoothly and properly between them. Originally these devices were made to protect and control VoIP in terms of security but now almost all kinds of real-time communication are using Session Border Controllers. Traditionally these were in-premises devices and now they are cloud-based that makes them cost-effective as well as much more reliable. 

SIP Trunks

SIP trunks are virtual phone lines. As it connects business phone systems, through the internet, and the traditional phone network, it is an important component for linking up any Private Branch Exchange (PBX) to PSTN. 

Direct routing primarily interferes between your on-premises PBX or SIP trunk and Microsoft Phone System while utilizing a Session Border Controller. In the same way, an outgoing call is routed using SBC, and then it goes to the recipient via the existing PSTN or SIP trunk.

Direct Routing Benefits

There are several benefits of direct routing that make these tools imperative for businesses. They include the following:

1. An Opportunity For Unified Communication

When you opt for MS Teams, this means you can easily combine all your internal and external communication into a single system including your calls through direct routing. Now using this platform, you can manage your business calls, chats, videos, and file-sharing by deploying a single technology. You will no longer be wasting time switching here and there. 

2. Cost-Effectiveness

When you are using Microsoft direct routing for your calls, you can save a lot on your calls. Unlike traditional telephony, it has no requirement as far as hardware is concerned and has no expensive outlay in the beginning as well. Using Direct Routing with a certified SBC, will allow you as a business to use the same cost saving you are enjoying when using VOIP for your phone system

3. Make Calls to Anyone and from Anywhere

The obvious benefit of direct routing is that it supports calls to and from various numbers including VoIP, corporate, mobile, international, emergency as well as non-emergency calls. You have one solution in hand for all the calls that you have to make or receive. 

4. Boosts Remote Working Productivity

One of the key advantages of using the Microsoft Teams calls routing function is its convenience for remote workers. Remote workers can now operate from their homes in the same productive manner as if they were sitting in a traditional office. Their clients can call them from their landlines or mobile phones directly into MS teams and the team user can also call back in the same manner. 

Nowadays people prefer to work from home and those productivity tools have helped them come out of this compulsion. If you want to maximize the efficiency and productivity of remote workers, then direct routing is an absolute solution provided by Microsoft Teams. 

5. Access to Advanced Call Statistics

Using your call facility through MS Teams will help you to have online access to all the call statistics. You will now be able to make informed decisions and can see how efficiently the calls were handled and what were the patterns of calls. You will also be easily able to see if your staff remains productive in terms of taking time to answer calls, call waiting, and outcomes. 

6. Ease of Number Porting

Direct routing enables you to use your own service provider or switch to any new provider and leverage your right of porting your number. Keep your existing number with the provider of your choice.

7. Constant Access

Just like Slack, Asana, or other team collaboration tools, Microsoft Teams works on all devices. Whether you have a desktop, a cell phone, a laptop, or your computer, you can communicate using this platform. This means that you have access to your office phone all the time. 

In case you are at home and late from the office, you can make and receive important calls while traveling too while your client is thinking that you are sitting in a traditional office. Also, you can maintain a high level of privacy when it comes to direct routing. Your professional number will always be with you.

Direct Routing Benefits Infographic

When Should You Consider Using Direct Routing?

Now COVID-19 has given almost every business a reason to use team collaboration tools that offer more and more features to keep official communication alive as well as better integrated. Internet-enabled telephony becomes a necessity when businesses are now hiring people from around the world or have their sales agent somewhere on the road to meet a business person. 

But specifically, let us have a look at some of the situations in which businesses should consider direct routing as a necessity. 

If You Are Already Using Teams

Microsoft Teams suits the needs of many businesses in terms of their flexibility, collaboration, file sharing, feedback, and much more.  For example, a school system that during this global pandemic is relying on Microsoft Teams for internal communication can also go for using this platform for external communication. If you are already using a team, it would be easier for you to deploy direct routing.

If You Don’t Have a Dedicated Networking Team 

As mentioned earlier with cost-cutting and a struggle for establishing virtual offices, the concept of having an exclusive IT department is diminishing. It is not needed when easy solutions are available or offered by the providers themselves. Direct routing is an easy task and you don’t need people who are setting wires and networks in your offices for making calls and keeping a record of national and international calls.

When You Have Too Many Outbound calls

Direct routing is also very important for businesses that have to make a lot of outbound calls. In particular, when they are International ones. Because you will be able to handle many clients or team members who are internationally distributed on a cost-effective basis. Also, there will be a rare chance of missing the calls. Which is an unprofessional thing. 

Direct Routing Cost

As far as the cost is concerned, direct routing is much cheaper than Microsoft’s Calling Plans. The cost depends on several factors such as the price set by service providers on various packages, circumstances of the business, and its needs.

How to Set Up MS Teams Direct Routing and Use It as a Phone Central

Implementing direct routing is not a stressful task in both cases, you are already using the MS team as a collaboration tool or you are now migrating from another communication system. Let’s have a look at some of the essential steps required for setting up a direct routing.

1. Start Microsoft Teams for Internal Communication

The first thing to remember and to do is to ensure that you shift your internal communication to MS Teams first. This is because once you are done with a smooth transition to MS teams, you will be able to go for the direct routing feature easily. 

There must be no confusion amongst the businesses going for MS Teams in terms of the collaboration, productivity, and communication benefits that Microsoft Teams can provide.

2. You need to Obtain Licenses

This is one of the most important steps. You will have to obtain a license using the MS Teams and direct routing. For example, you are already using MS Teams, make sure that it includes supporting the call features for all the uses. E5 License comes with the phone module already. If you have E1 or E3 license, you will need the phone module add-on.

3. Select a Provider

You will now need to make a plan with a third party managed provider. Enterprises will also need a sufficient plan with a third-party managed provider. You should go to a service provider that has previously also done something flawlessly.  Microsoft certified partners can handle this task efficiently and can offer a lot of support in terms of system integration, design, training, etc. 

4. Configure SBC, SIP, and Media Bypass

Now as discussed in the first section of this article, Session Border Controller (SBC), known as PSTN Gateway is now needed to be deployed at the border within the networks. This will help smoothly and securely transmit data across private networks and the internet. Cloud-based session border controllers will help routing calls within the MS phone system and service provider network. 

Outgoing calls from MS Teams are sent via the Internet to Microsoft Phone System. The MS phone system will move these calls to SBC. Now, SBC will be routing the calls. This routing is usually done through the SIP trunk to the provider’s PSTN network. The SBC also performs the function of routing incoming calls to the Microsoft Phone System and then ultimately routes it to any device where the MS team is in place.

Managed providers also take the benefit from the Media bypass mechanism for reducing traffic to MS data centers and that call quality does not suffer.

5. Port Existing Numbers

Now employees’ numbers should be ported which are their extensions in PBX as in some countries it is possible to do. However, if the organization wants new numbers, a provider can do that. It is also easy to add new users from the centralized interface. 

6. Train Employees on How to Use It

Just like every change that happens within the organization and employees need briefing or training on that, the organization should tell their employees how to take maximum benefit out of this technology. The good news is, users who are currently using Teams will have no problem adapting to using the voice part once direct routing is enabled. They will start to see the dialer in the calls tab and they will have the same user experience on any device or teams version.  

How to Set Up MS Teams Direct Routing and Use It as a Phone Central Infographic

Summary

Direct routing is a beneficial communication facility for businesses looking for cost-effective, reliable, and flexible business solutions. Especially fully or partly virtual businesses cannot afford to lack this technology because you want all the facilities that you have in a traditional office. We are sure that this article will help you understand direct routing and how you can take advantage of it.

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