Ribbon Adds New Features As Microsoft Teams Adoption Skyrockets During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Arti Loftus, Special Correspondent  |  April 16, 2020

Microsoft (News - Alert) Teams reached a new daily record of 2.7 billion total meeting minutes in a single day, on Tuesday, March 31, up 200% from 900 million meeting minutes on Monday, March 16, according to a new report from the company.

Teams is one of many cloud-based collaborations platforms struggling to keep up with dramatic increases in usage as a result of the COVID-19 work-from-home guidance and regulations around the world. Competing with popular platforms including slack and Zoom, Teams is responding to a sudden awareness that has been growing for over a decade: for remote working, audio-only calls won’t suffice.

The percentage of weekly Teams calls and meetings with video more than doubled, from 21% to 43%, from March 2 to March 31, as more states in the U.S. and countries around the world imposed shelter-in-place policies to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The company released two new Teams features in March: a one-click feature for ending meetings, and a participant report for meeting organizers that includes data about when participants join and leave.

The U.S. Defense of Department (DOD) is using Microsoft Teams as the basis for a new remote work platform for more than 4 million of its employees to support their ability to work from home. Ribbon Communications (News - Alert), which has announced large contracts with the U.S. DOD and Microsoft last year recently announced their enhanced Session Border Controller Software Edition “Lite” includes new features for Teams Voice calling from the Azure Cloud.

New enhancements include a Quick Launch Wizard from the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, support for SILK high-quality voice services, Azure-based media bypass, and enhanced emergency calling for Microsoft Phone (News - Alert) System Direct Routing clients, making it easier for enterprises to configure Phone System Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams clients from the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and improve the voice calling experience.

Ribbon’s new offering in the Azure Marketplace, the Ribbon SBC SWe Lite with Azure Quick Launch Wizard, reduces the time to instantiate and deploy Direct Routing-related voice services for Microsoft Teams clients to a matter of minutes, according to Ribbon’s announcement.

The SBC SWe Lite version 8.1 also provides SILK media services to support high-quality Teams voice calling over low bandwidth/low quality network connections. SBC SWe Lite offers the availability of high-quality SILK media services at one-third the Azure Virtual Machines costs of competitive solutions, and Ribbon’s price points are uniquely suited to the needs of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). To further improve voice quality, the latest version of SBC SWe Lite offering in Azure now includes media bypass to create a faster, better Teams client experience by keeping the media portion of a call local, versus inefficient media “hairpinning” to the cloud.

“As enterprises increasingly migrate to the very popular Microsoft Teams platform, many are shifting from premises-based PBXs managed by telephony professionals to cloud-based PBXs managed by IT staff,” said Tony Scarfo (News - Alert), Executive Vice President and General Manager, Cloud and Edge Business Unit at Ribbon. “As they make this transition, Ribbon’s Microsoft-certified SBC SWe Lite provides enterprises with a cost-effective, easy to install, easy to use solution for secure IP-based voice services for Microsoft Teams.”

“The ability to make high-quality voice calls anywhere in the world is a critical part of the collaboration experience for Microsoft Teams,” Nikolay Muravlyannikov, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft Corp.  “Ribbon’s newly enhanced SBC SWe Lite delivers several new features and functionality that will help our customers access Teams voice calling features faster, connect quicker and have a great overall communications experience.”

Microsoft Teams is a unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) platform that combines workplace collaboration capabilities, such as chat, video meetings and application integration. Ribbon is among only a select number of vendors whose SBCs are officially certified for Microsoft Phone System Direct Routing, a service that connects Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or legacy networks and endpoints to voice calling in Microsoft Teams to integrate voice services and enhance security.

Scarfo added, “We are delighted to continue to grow our longstanding relationship with Microsoft and are proud that we have the unique ability to deliver one of the most extensive portfolios of Microsoft-certified solutions for Direct Routing on the market to our enterprise customers.”

Other key SBC SWe 8.1 enhancements for Microsoft Teams include:

  • Local Media Optimization that allows signaling to be passed from a centralized SBC to a local SBC so that media stays local and can be processed faster, creating enhanced voice quality.
  • Validated Enhanced 911 (E911, North America only) and ELIN (Emergency Location Identification Number) capability, which prioritizes emergency calls and passes location information to the correct public safety answering point (PSAP).
  • Multiple digital certificate support to ease migration to and deployment of Direct Routing.

Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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