Microsoft Teams: Not all Direct Routing integrations are equal


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  • Microsoft Teams offers several options for Direct Routing telephony solutions
  • The right Direct Routing approach will depend on your business needs
  • RingCentral Cloud PBX offers enterprise-grade telephony capabilities and integrates natively into Teams, providing a complete all-in-one collaboration solution


Many businesses rely on Microsoft Teams to communicate and collaborate remotely today—but many are still grappling with one critical shortfall: the apps’ telephony capabilities.  

In the last year, the number of Microsoft Teams users surged from 20 million daily users in November 2019 to 115 million today. The software, which comes bundled for free with Microsoft 365, is proving to be a key enabler of remote work.

But telephony requires extra licenses and technical solutions, using either a Microsoft Calling Plan or a third-party provider for PSTN known as Direct Routing integration. 

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On the radar: Direct Routing

For 85% of global Microsoft Teams users, Direct Routing is the preferable solution, allowing organizations to use a Microsoft-certified Session Border Controller (SBC) and then tap into existing third-party carrier relationships. 

Direct Routing is helpful for maintaining a variety of efficiencies because, among other benefits, it allows employees to connect their existing phone numbers and allows enterprises to take advantage of cheaper call rates from phone carriers. Direct Routing users also tout better support than when working directly with Microsoft, along with greater flexibility and access to enhanced features.

But for organizations looking to realize these advantages, there are several Direct Routing options—and the actual benefits received from pairing Microsoft Teams and Direct Routing can largely depend on how Direct Routing is deployed.


Evaluating Direct Routing options

While enterprises can deploy their own SBCs in-house, this falls outside of the technical and support capabilities of many organizations. As such, most choose to rely on third-party providers who offer various levels of service (with pros and cons to each). For individual organizations, the right solution will depend on internal requirements, capabilities, and infrastructure.

Basic access 

As it sounds, basic access Direct Routing enables telephony capabilities, but excludes necessities such as phone numbers, calling minutes, and support. With basic access, the provider delivers SIP Trunks that allows an organization to connect their own, or a third-party-managed, SBC device to the PSTN to provide connectivity into Microsoft Teams. 

Usually, this basic access is provided through a simple SIP connection and provides minimal telephony features beyond making and taking calls and simple caller ID. SIP Trunks are generally priced on a cost per-channel, per-month basis, and do not include phone numbers, calling minutes, and other unavoidable costs. 

This type of service is often the most complex Direct Routing integration for the customer because it requires them to purchase and maintain their own SBCs, a daunting task for most administrators. 

Direct Routing-as-a-Service 

Just as other “as a Service” models (cloud, software, etc.) allow organizations to offload some of the heavy IT lifting of deploying vital work tools, Direct Routing-as-a-Service enables Microsoft Teams telephony while removing the need for in-house technical expertise and on-premises infrastructure. 

Generally, Direct Routing-as-a-service products include the SIP connectivity, managed SBC resources, and services such as phone numbers and minutes, though they lack advanced PBX overlay features. 

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Enhanced Microsoft Teams telephony service 

This option builds on the Direct Routing-as-a-Service offering, providing organizations with additional benefits and capabilities, including advanced PBX functionality, improved integrations, analytics and reporting, and next-level support. 

Some examples of enhanced features to look for may include Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which can improve the efficiency, velocity, and costs of managing inbound calls, and enhanced capabilities for gaining insights about individual, team, and organizational usage, which can then drive better business decisions.


The benefits of RingCentral Cloud PBX for Microsoft Teams

RingCentral Cloud PBX for Teams is an example of an enhanced Microsoft Teams telephony service. Streamlining communications for all end-users is an important way to maintain both workflow and cost efficiencies.

And by enabling all communication and collaboration functions natively within the Teams platform, RingCentral Cloud PBX offers businesses looking to integrate telephony some key advantages. These include:

  • RingCentral’s Cloud PBX to complement Teams’ collaboration
  • Native UX in Teams for simple adoption
  • No additional apps to download or install
  • Advanced call controls: IVR, native call recording, etc.
  • Contact center: call routing, queueing, live reports
  • Real-time analytics and insight into telephony usage
  • Global footprint with PSTN in 40+ countries
  • 200+ integrations into other business apps (Salesforce, ServiceNow, Oracle, and more)
  • Security and 99.999% uptime reliability

Originally published Nov 17, 2020, updated Jun 03, 2022

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