Microsoft Teams Gets Partner Love

Team collaboration, as the name implies, is not meant to be a solo endeavor -- neither from the perspective of the user nor provider. And so along with the rise of Microsoft Teams within Office 365 comes a blossoming partner ecosystem.

Not that Microsoft partners need much nudging, given the company's clear articulation this week at Ignite that over time the cloud-based Office 365 will support a single communications experience, provided via Teams. But Microsoft has promised to make sure the huge investment companies have made in Skype for Business-certified devices isn't disrupted.

Microsoft Commitment

For example, Microsoft will ensure that Skype for Business-certified phones will continue to work as users transition to Teams and that makers of Skype Room Systems will upgrade those devices, new and old, to support Teams, Ben Canning, Microsoft partner director of program management for Skype for Business and Teams, told a substantial crowd -- eyeballed at well more than 1,000 attendees -- gathered for an Ignite session on how to transform from Skype for Business Online to Teams. (And, by the way, with this week's introduction of the ThinkSmart Hub 500, Lenovo has joined Crestron, Logitech, and Polycom in offering a Skype Room System.)

In addition, Microsoft is fleshing out the cloud video interoperability partnership it has with Polycom to include BlueJeans and Pexip, all of which will work with Teams, Canning said. "So whether you've got existing gear or Skype Room System gear, any of your rooms will be able to participate in Skype for Business and Teams meetings, and all of your phone endpoints will continue to work with Skype for Business and Teams," he reiterated.

Around the Ecosystem

With Ignite as the backdrop, a variety of other Skype for Business ecosystem partners took the opportunity to reinforce Microsoft's messaging. Polycom, for example, announced its commitment to integrate its core audio and video conferencing products with the Teams platform. The integration effort will begin with the RealPresence Group Series for video, with support in its MSR Series Skype Room System and RealConnect video interoperability solution on tap. Integration with voice devices will follow as Microsoft matures its telephony support in Teams, said Amy Barzdukas, Polycom CMO, in a expo floor briefing.

To date, the interest Polycom has seen in Teams tends to be from companies that have homogeneous deployments, Barzdukas said. "But everybody is excited about the potential to bring together email, persistent chat, voice, and video," she added.

And, for companies interested in Teams but wanting an external safety net, Actiance has brought the tool into its compliance fold. Using Vantage for Microsoft Teams, businesses will be able to capture and send messaging and files to Actiance Alcatraz or other archive of choice for long-term retention, the company said. Indexed Teams content, be that one-to-one and multiparty chat or full persistent channels, is searchable, and can be exported in multiple formats for that long-term archival. Vantage for Microsoft Teams is available on-premises or in the Microsoft Azure Cloud.

Elsewhere in the partner ecosystem, UC management solutions provider IR announced Teams support in its next-generation Prognosis UC Assessor tool, which is newly available as a cloud-delivered service, said Skip Chilcott, global head of product marketing at IR. Leveraging synthetic traffic, companies can use the tool to run pre-deployment network assessments and determine how to improve performance for the Skype for Business and, separately, Teams user experience.

Interest in Teams has been high on the show floor, Chilcott noted. "The first question everybody asks is 'What's your Teams story?'"

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