Microsoft modern communications webinar series

Microsoft initiated a webinar series by Microsoft communication leaders and HR to share insights and challenges regarding modern communication and cultural transformation. There are several webinars from May, 16 to June, 26, 2019. The contents are, for instance, communicating better, storytelling, empower employees, effective internal communication, employee feedback and optimized communication on employee feedback.

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Microsoft Build 2019 live stream

For market observers, in this post I want to notify about Microsoft Build 2019. The event takes place in Seattle, WA from May 6th – 8th, 2019. It’s all about development around Microsoft products and services, e.g. containers, artificial intelligence, machine learning, DevOps, IoT and mixed reality.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

At the time I wrote this post there were no details regarding live streams available. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure there will be a live stream at least for certain sessions available. I guess on the Build 2019 page and Channel 9 you might be able to watch the keynotes and later, after the event you could find recordings of certain sessions there. So, stay tuned for more details on the below pages as the event comes closer.

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Google Cloud Next ’19 recordings

In this post I’d like to point out some Google Cloud Next ’19 recordings which you can watch on YouTube. Their focus are on modern communication and collaboration based on Google services. The links are at the bottom of this post.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

I watched some bits of the event to get some insights on what’s Google offering regarding modern collaboration and communication services. I saw some common, innovative as well as different (implemented/looking) features and services. From my point of view, although otherwise mentioned by the speakers of the sessions, to me the services deliver just some certain service building block for an enterprise grade IT service infrastructure. You need to take a close look at several aspects to find out if the provided services are right for your company. But that’s what you need to do for all services and things before you start rolling out anything.

To me, it was interesting to watch what and how certain modern collaboration capabilities are offered by Google. Also remarkable that Google partners with Cisco to enrich their, both, communication and collaboration portfolio and feature set. Finally, I’m looking forward to read news from Gartner regarding cloud-based unified communication (for 2019) and which player is categorized as a leader (for 2019).

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Design options for PSTN SIP Trunk links

In this post I show and explain two SIP trunk (topology) designs. This will give you a first glimpse on what you could do if you plan to migrate from ISDN to SIP (ALL-IP) or if you think about consolidating or distributing your PSTN access links, either to reduce costs or increase availability.

This post is just a high level and simplified overview and under no circumstances a complete design or something you can directly apply for your company without knowing your requirements, needs and related dependencies. I don’t go into detail regarding Microsoft Phone System/PBX/SBC deployments and connectivity.

Option 1: Central PSTN SIP Trunk links

Central PSTN SIP Trunk links with two options (example)

Central PSTN SIP Trunk links are one or more sip trunks terminating centrally on a session border controller (SBC, redundant or not redundant). The above figure displays two options:

Option 1: Connect to PSTN via Internet

  • no QoS
  • “no SLA”
  • call and media quality might vary depending on your internet link (bandwidth, latency, roundtrip latency (RTT), jitter, packet loss …)
  • commonly low priced

Option 2: Connect to PSTN via “MPLS” or “MPLS Light”

  • QoS
  • SLA
  • PSTN service provider delivers a dedicated connection link, either via existing MPLS (if PSTN and MPLS/WAN provider are the same) or new IP-link “MPLS Light” (dedicated IP-link and connection only for voice SIP Trunking).
  • commonly costly

Option 2: Decentral / distributed PSTN SIP Trunk links


Decentral / distributed PSTN SIP Trunk links (example)

Decentral PSTN SIP Trunk links are one or more sip trunks terminating on a session border controller (SBC, redundant or not redundant) at each location/site. As the above drawing shows each site has its own PSTN link. In my experience many companies have this architecture if …

  • they are still on ISDN,
  • or have several and different PBXs per site
  • or have local PSTN service provider and did not develop a PSTN provider concept for a central approach
  • or don’t have a highly available WAN in place for a central approach (e.g. no redundant MPLS links, no SD-WAN, …)

Conclusion, opinion and summary

Now, as you can see, there are two major options for designing PSTN access with IP-based SIP Trunks. However, a combination of both is possible, too.

In large and multinational deployments (>10.000 users) you might find a mix of above options within world regions, for instance, central PSTN sip trunks per world region (NOAM, LATAM, North Europe, South Europe, MEA, APAC West, APAC East, APAC South, APAC North). One in a while you might come across certain constraints at a site which make you temporarily stick with ISDN. B

Finally, it all comes down to your requirements, needs and goals. Due to the shift of how we work, how we can communicate and collaborate today, I would prefer and go for a “slim” PSTN access concept.

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What to keep in mind before migrating to ALL-IP?

In Germany, PSTN carriers announced long time ago (!) to decommission their legacy PSTN access links (analog/ISDN …). Today, mid 2018, we are still not yet on ALL-IP everywhere. Migrations towards ALL-IP (SIP) are still in progress.

The unified communication projects I carried out the last years almost always included advisory services to design and deliver a future proof ALL-IP concept for different voice (PBX) infrastructures (Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise OmniPCX, Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Skype for Business (onprem/online), Teams …). It’s daily business to think and plan for ALL-IP. Designing and planning solution and services for communication always includes at least the discussion of PSTN trunk design options to a certain level depending on the consulting engagement and scope of work. Usually in large and international enterprises (>10.000 users) ALL-IP migration can be a complex and long-term project endeavour. In this blog post, I’d like to (quickly) point out on what to pay attention, too, besides the default information worker office telephony service enabling users to make/receive PSTN calls, forward calls to a PSTN phone number or enable simring between a soft client (e.g. SFB/Teams) and mobile phone…

Let’s dig in a bit deeper into large-scale ALL-IP (and VoIP) projects: Typically, international companies have almost everything you can (and might cannot yet) imagine in their PBX infrastructure. Therefore it’s essential to define targets and work packages as below first …

  • Source Architecture Analysis (as-is analysis)
    • … to discover
      • all assets …
      • all capability …
      • all configurations …
      • … linked to any of your PBXs, e.g. analog phones, digital phones, IP phones, DECT phones, …
    • … analyze
      • PBX configurations …
      • … to check for any special devices connecting to PSTN, e.g. modems, alarm server, intrusion detection system, card terminals …
  • Target Architecture Development
    • Digital workplace vision and strategy
      • ALL-IP
    • Digital workplace architecture
      • Telephony Services (ALL-IP as a part of the digital workplace)
        • PBX (global PBX infrastructure)
        • PSTN (global PSTN access)
  • (Telephony Services) Migration Architecture Development
    • migration strategy and plan development
      • Global ALL-IP strategy and plan
      • migration strategy and plan for non-ALL-IP-compliant devices
  • Service Operations Architecture
    • utilize a document or configuration management system to store all gathered contracts/details/configurations/… (operative process because it might change over time …)

For large infrastructure it helps to split up the project at least into two (parallel) work streams or sub-projects (if possible), for instance:

  • Global PSTN access
    • ~”external voice connectivity”
    • This sub-project has to focus on PSTN connecivity on a global scale.
    • Global PSTN carrier / provider management
    • Global PSTN provider / PSTN SIP Trunk Architecture Concept
    • Comply with national telecommunication regulations and laws
    • Simplify global PSTN access infrastructure
      • Define a clear PSTN access / feature list
      • Consolidation of PSTN access
      • Centralization of PSTN SIP trunks (if possible)
      • High Availability
    • Simplify global PBX infrastructure connectivity
    • Consider different PSTN sourcing options
  • Global PBX infrastructure
    • ~”internal voice connectivity”
    • This sub-project has to focus on PBX infrastructure on a global scale, too.
    • Assess site / work space requirements
    • Assess user (group) requirements
    • Define and establish standards per site and user profile/s
      • Example user groups: office worker, production worker, indoor mobile worker, outdoor mobile worker …
      • Example site / work space (profiles): production plant, logistics, warehouse, sales office, R&D, administration, …
    • Migrate all non-IP endpoints to IP (based on the previous discovery)
    • Simplify global PBX infrastructure
      • Single PBX vendor or service
      • Reduce legacy endpoints if applicable
      • Consolidate PBX
      • Centralize PBX
      • High Availability
    • Simplify global PSTN access connectivity
    • Consider different PBX sourcing options

The above description is a high-level summary on typical things to keep in mind for telephony services as part of a digital workplace architecture. I hope it might guide you a little towards some telephony and ALL-IP hot spots to be aware of. Furthermore you can find more to read regarding to ALL-IP and special voice services below…

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Take a look at Microsoft Teams from an user perspective to be more productive

Are you already familiar with Microsoft Teams? I hope so. Teams is an impressiv communication and collaboration platform enabling your workforce to cope with different kind of workloads within a single pane of glass. P2P chat, team chat, presence, audio calling, video calling, app sharing, meetings, (third-party) app integration, (soon) PSTN telephony, bot integration … just to name a few features. Pretty amazing, isn’t it!?! Let’s have a quick look including the latest updates on Teams features:

Microsoft Teams full tutorial with recent updates

I have been using Microsoft Teams since released. To me, it helps reduce mails, structure projects and its belonging communication and collaboration workloads. It really eases the work I have to deal with as a virtual project team member.  It allows me to stay more easily in touch with project members and keep track of all the relevant information I need to complete projects successfully.

To start with Microsoft Teams: analyse your business requirements, create personas, create site profiles, assess features to cover these requirements with teams, calculate costs (business case), check feasibility, check gaps, check migration paths, always keep your users in mind (change management for user adoption & training) …

Teams can be seen as one enabling platform for a modern and digital workplace. One part within the complete enterprise and IT architecture landscape. One part to evolve the company towards a digital enterprise.

For more information on Microsoft Teams you can visit www.SuccessWithTeams.com.