Wayne Hollomby, Vuzion Solutions Architect, writes …
Earlier in the week, Vuzion MD, Michael Frisby, announced the launch of Microsoft 365 Business Voice.
As a follow-up to that blog, I thought it might be useful to have a look in a bit more detail at the new Microsoft 365 Business Voice offering - but first of all, to go back a bit and run through a brief history of calling in Office 365.
In late 2015 Microsoft introduced Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling SKUs that gave the ability to make and receive traditional phone calls through the Skype for Business client in Office 365.
This was renamed in 2017 to be called Phone System and Calling Plans, and along the way new features were added - such as Auto Attendants and Call Queues - to give more capability.
However, Phone System was only ever available for Enterprise SKUs in Office 365. It was part of E5 or could be added to E1 or E3 as an add-on, plus customers also needed to add a Calling Plan to make and receive calls.
For most SMB customers with Office 365 Business SKUs only, it was cost prohibitive, as they would generally have had to think about upgrading the users that required Phone System to have an E3 SKU, as E1 doesn’t include desktop versions of Office.
It could also be complex to explain to a customer about the set of SKUs they needed to purchase.
Microsoft Teams was introduced in 2017 to be the centralised hub for Teamwork bringing collaboration, files, app integration, chat, calling and meetings into a single client, replacing Skype for Business Online, and now incorporating Microsoft 365 Business Voice.
What is Microsoft 365 Business Voice?
Microsoft 365 Business Voice is a cloud-based phone system. It integrates into Office 365 for an all-in-one communication solution that brings together calling, meetings, and messaging into Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft 365 Business Voice comprises a bundle that includes the services listed below:
- Phone System
- Audio Conferencing
- Domestic Calling Plan (1200 minutes/user/month)
- International calling plan can be added as an optional add-on.
Microsoft 365 Business Voice can be added to Microsoft 365 Business, Business Essentials and Business Premium SKUs, and with Microsoft making it a bundled SKU, it has become simpler for the SMB customer to understand what they need to purchase.
Additionally, there is a Microsoft 365 Business Voice without calling plan option that gives customers the ability to utilise Direct Routing with Teams. This is useful for those customers with requirements for numbers in countries that Microsoft doesn’t support, as bring your own SIP trunk into Teams offers flexibility these customers need, while still keeping Microsoft Teams as that centralised hub for Office 365 users.
The Microsoft 365 Business Voice without calling plan also gives businesses the option to continue using an existing PBX system, handsets and phone system features, with Qunifi’s Call2Teams able to connect any PBX phone system to Microsoft Teams' telephony functionality.
This is a great opportunity for partners to increase their value to SMB customers - and build a calling and meetings practice for Microsoft Teams. Microsoft 365 Business Voice has been built specifically for the small and medium sized business, making it now possible to move to a modern phone system that is integrated with Microsoft Teams, without the need to move to an Enterprise SKU.