Business Agility Through Modernization

Posted by David Lover on Nov 9, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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My past several blog posts have been talking about the characteristics of a modern communications platform. We’ve talked about the technical things we need to pay attention to in order to deliver a better end-user experience. We’ve talked about the embracing of a mobile-first philosophy, the need for an 11-digit E.164 dial plan to enable better directory integration and click-to-call, the advantages of SIP signaling for endpoints, and so on. We’ve still got a few topics to talk about, but I wanted to share a personal experience I had recently that reminded me why it is so critically important to have these modernization conversations proactively as opposed to waiting until it’s too late.

I had conversations with two different customers that started out exactly the same. The managers of these two accounts briefed me with the same thing I hear all the time: “My customer is rolling out Microsoft Teams.” Of course they are. Anyone who uses Microsoft Office will absolutely want to have Microsoft Teams for the document sharing and collaboration alone. Add in the way Teams ties Instant Messaging to SharePoint and it is a no-brainer. Customers also like using Teams for internal, “intercom” calling—but as soon you want to “call” outside of Teams, now you have to make some decisions, as this is not a standard “free” component built into Teams. However, I find that customers really don’t know all their options.

The good news and the bad news is that there are only three options. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Option #1: You can add the “Phone System” to your licensing either via an add-on to E3 or to obtain E5, which has it included, and then subscribe to a Microsoft Calling Plan.

  • Option #2: You can add the “Phone System” to your licensing either via an add-on to E3 or to obtain E5, which has it included, and then use Direct Routing to connect to a carrier that supports Direct Routing or to an existing PBX that has access to standard carrier services.

  • Option #3: You skip the “Phone System” license and add an “App” to Teams, provided by your existing PBX vendor to enable, among other things, Click to Call from the Teams interface.

Option #1 is great for small customers or very niche scenarios. It’s not common at all for medium to large enterprise customers. Option #2 is great for customers that have a group of users on Teams and a COMPLETELY separate set of users on an existing PBX. It’s NOT great for customers where users are expected to be on both Teams and the PBX at the same time. You have to do some kind of Off-Premises Station Mapping or Call Forking that both get ugly really fast. Option #3, while not perfect, is usually the best solution for customer that want to use both Teams (for document collaboration/sharing, instant messaging, and presence) and the PBX (for traditional voice, UC, conferencing, and contact center).

Back to my conversations with these two customers… I should point out that both customers were running the latest and greatest versions of their communications solution—which, in this case, was Avaya Aura 8.1.3 with Subscription licensing. They were both “entitled” to everything they needed for these scenarios. We talked through these three Microsoft Teams integration options. We talked about the pros and cons of each. They came to the conclusion that I find most customers come to: Based on their Avaya Subscription licensing, based on the need to keep their Avaya in place, and based on them wanting to enable a more integrated experience between Avaya Aura and Teams, they both wanted to deploy option #3. Specific to Avaya, the app that gets loaded into Teams is called Avaya Call for Microsoft Teams. Cisco has the exact same three options. Their Teams app is called Jabber (for Teams) and Webex Call (for Teams).

It was the next question they asked that turned this into two WILDLY different conversations. Their question was, “What is it going to take to deploy Avaya Call for Microsoft Teams?” The first customer was easy. They were already SIP-enabled, with most of their endpoints migrated to SIP. They had already had adopted a full, mobile-first philosophy with remote workers and SBCs. They had the Avaya Workplace client deployed to those who needed/wanted it, and could easily roll it out to everyone very quickly if needed. They were using Avaya Aura Device Services for advanced soft client services and the Avaya Aura Web Gateway for WebRTC clients. Not only were they “current,” but they had also modernized. My response to the customer was, “We just need to add a few lines to one of your config files in your Avaya Cloud company profile and have your O365 administrator set some permissions for contact access, and you’ll be done.” 30 minutes later, they were rocking Avaya Call for Teams.

The same question from the second customer had a very different response. “Well, the good news is that you have all the license entitlements to deploy the required services… but there’s a lot of work to be done. You’re going to need to upgrade to SHA-2 certs that you should have done years ago, you need to modify your SIP entity links to support SIP users. Add some new subscriber flows to your Avaya SBC. Deploy Avaya Aura Device Services and the Avaya Aura Web Gateway, migrate everyone to SIP, upgrade hardphone firmware to SIP and/or deploy modern endpoints. You’ll need to deploy the Workplace clients. Get your company DNS records configured for the Avaya Cloud and its Apple Push Notification, API. And so on, and on, and on. This is a full-blown project. And only after that’s all done, adding Avaya Call for Teams will be a 30-minute process.” They were not happy with that answer, asking, “Didn’t we just upgrade?” I responded, “Yes, you are running a current release of software. But you have not modernized.”

The whole point of this topic is that adding new innovation quickly and easily is a much more likely scenario if you have a modernized infrastructure. Sometimes that means current. But it doesn’t always require it. It means being willing to review and appropriately adopt new best practices as they become available. Your ability to be agile to new innovation is critical these days. Customer #1’s IT team looked like heroes to the business unit that needed the integration. Customer 2’s IT team? Not so much.

Through modernization, many pain points can be eliminated and positive outcomes can be achieved for ALL the relevant audiences. This includes simplification and agility for IT, cost savings for finance, and a better overall experience and increased productivity for end users. If you just can’t find a way to be successful at modernization, you must identify the actual hurdles and make consistent efforts to knock them down.

ConvergeOne’s vast portfolio of products and services can help. Maybe it’s professional services to help deploy and configure to current best practices. Maybe it’s managed services to help with ongoing, augmented support and guidance. Maybe it’s ConvergeOne Cloud Experience (C1CX) to take away the responsibility of managing and maintaining the entire solution, letting you focus on using the innovation as opposed to having to support it. The bottom line is that there’s a lot we can do. The time is now to address modernization proactively!


Understanding your unique business goals is the first step in outlining the right path to modernization. With ConvergeOne's team of experts, we'll use our best practices to ensure you have a vision and strategy to execute your modernization journey.

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Topics: Unified Communications, Collaboration, Innovation, Infrastructure, Modernization


David Lover
David Lover  -- David is a leader in our Office of the CTO and works with every part of the business. From Sales to Professional Services, from senior leadership to end-users, from overall business strategy to nuts and bolts technical understanding, his skills at identifying, articulating, and managing our strategic technology direction to customers, partners, and employees sets ConvergeOne apart as a leader in our industry. David is a former Senior Engineer at Lucent Technologies and Avaya and has applied communications technologies in a business environment for large Fortune 500 and Enterprise multi-site corporations. David is a nationally recognized keynote speaker and presenter at numerous industry conferences, forums, and seminars across the United States. He has built tremendous, strategic relationships with analysts and manufacturers alike, insuring relevancy and the best possible “future state” outcome for ConvergeOne and its customers.