Nov 2016

More options for voice services with Skype for Business – Cloud PBX

Continuing its strong push into cloud delivered services, Microsoft recently announced availability in Australia of PSTN Conferencing services to Skype for Business Online.

This is a positive first step in Microsoft’s long term SaaS objective to deliver a complete PSTN Calling service directly out of Office 365.

But there’s more.  With Sonus, there’s now something tangible on offer for customers wishing to move to O365 Cloud PBX today, and looking for greater flexibility and more options for voice services.

The Microsoft vision

Microsoft has embarked on an ambitious plan to provide what the market is demanding of all its technology – a complete cloud hosted Unified Communications solution.  This completely hosted solution is referred to as Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling, where PSTN services are directly provided by Microsoft.

We’ve already witnessed this solution successfully delivered to US and UK markets.  Now we’re eagerly awaiting the eventual global release.  In Australia right now, Cloud PBX is available with On-Premises PSTN Calling.  It grants customers the ability to leverage current communications infrastructure and carrier contracts through a hybrid configuration with Office 365.

What options are available?

Cloud PBX with On-Premises PSTN Calling is available in Australia today.  It is achieved utilising Hybrid architecture, which can be broken into three variations:

  1. A complete on-premises hybrid solution, to retain specific functionality and integrations. Allowing all or a subset of users to seamlessly migrate to Office 365.
  2. Microsoft Cloud Connector Edition (CCE), a packaged set of virtual machines on dedicated server hardware, integrated with a Session Border Controller (SBC) for PSTN connectivity.
  3. Appliance-based CCE, a complete solution that combines Microsoft’s CCE and hardware SBC into a single device providing PSTN connectivity and Office 365 hybrid integrations. This is a familiar platform systems integrators have been supporting for many years.

What does it mean?

Microsoft has positioned the appliance-based CCE as a future offering for some time.  It provides the Cloud PBX experience in markets, including Australia, where native PSTN Calling remains unavailable.  With Sonus’ recent announcement of the general availability of Cloud Link appliance, customers are able to deploy today.

Sonus’ Cloud Link appliance completely simplifies the Cloud PBX with On-Premises solution.  It removes the worry of maintaining your own server hardware and the expense of Windows licencing.  It reduces deployment complexity of the CCE into a simple GUI, complete with automated installation wizard installer. There’s no customised configuration file editing or powershell scripts. All this is covered under a single maintenance agreement.

In conclusion

Availability of the Appliance-based CCE, enablement of PSTN Conferencing in Office 365 and continued feature development of Skype for Business Online, will be well received by many organisations.

With these developments, Ensyst is already witnessing active adoption of Microsoft’s UC Cloud vision amongst customers.  With continued investment and commitment to build new features in the Cloud, adoption of Microsoft Cloud PBX will grow rapidly.  Organisations will continue to reap the rewards for many years of greater flexibility and more options for voice services.

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