Operator Connect is one of three options now available for enabling external calling via Microsoft Teams, alongside Direct Routing and Microsoft Calling Plans. It allows organizations to provision their voice services from third parties like Pure IP, from directly within the Teams Admin Center.
Although it has only been in general release since September 2021, it has already proven a robust, practical solution for Teams Voice, on par with Direct Routing and Calling Plans. Not only has there been a huge amount of market interest in it, but, from our experience here at Pure IP, adoption has been extremely high. We already have over 80 customers actively using the platform, including both multinationals that aren’t usually early-adopters with thousands of users, and agile SMBs with 100-500 users embracing it in order to speed up and simplify their Teams Voice deployments. They, and many others have realized that there are a whole host of reasons why they don’t have to take a wait-and-see approach before using Operator Connect – here are a few of those reasons.
Reliability and security
The 20+ carriers that are now available using Operator Connect have all been vetted by Microsoft, and must use the Microsoft Azure Peering Service (MAPS) to enable direct links between their own network and Microsoft’s data centers through trusted cross-connects. This helps to ensure a high quality of service and reliability as your voice traffic travels between Microsoft’s network and the provider’s network. It is essentially using the same infrastructure on the carrier and Microsoft side as Direct Routing, but with the guarantee that your voice traffic will travel directly between the carrier and Microsoft without making any unnecessary hops through the public internet. The only other real difference is that with Operator Connect, the carrier has pre-configured some settings to Microsoft’s specifications – further reducing the risk of any issues.
When Operator Connect added support for auto-attendant and call queues, it basically achieved feature parity with Direct Routing. In fact, some might argue it surpasses Direct Routing, because instead of having to write scripts in PowerShell, you can configure policies and assign numbers from directly within the Teams Admin Center, a much more intuitive interface. Even those organizations that might still need to use Direct Routing to deal with very complex communications environments, and/or integration requirements can mix and match the two according to their needs. It is also clear that, with Operator Connect, Microsoft is making a significant investment in continuing to simplify the onboarding process to Teams Voice and will have laid the groundwork to automate even more of the process in the future.
Generally speaking, you can approach migrating to Operator Connect in the same way you would any other migration project - careful preparation and timing are key to success. In terms of the physical provisioning, Operator Connect is arguably a more simple and intuitive process due to everything being managed through the Teams Admin Centre. If you are moving numbers away from Call Plans or Direct Routing, just be aware that these are already in the Microsoft ecosystem, you should take care to follow the correct process to ensure they are not duplicated.
A note of caution on pricing
There is no standard price for Operator Connect, because you will be contracting your voice services directly with the provider. Some might choose to offer a per-user-per-month model, others might sell bundles of minutes. As Operator Connect is a new, in-demand service that also presents a threat to lucrative professional services contracts, some providers might choose to charge extra on top of what they usually ask for Direct Routing. These should all be considerations you take into account when choosing the voice partner(s) you would like to work with on Operator Connect.
At Pure IP, we offer the same transparent pricing on Operator Connect that we offer all of our customers, using a pay-for-what-you-use model that can be up to 60% more cost effective than call plan bundles. What’s more, we charge exactly the same price whether you are using Operator Connect or Direct Routing to add calling to Teams.
Operator Connect is most certainly a robust and reliable solution to enable enterprise-wide telephony using Teams now. It is on a par with Direct Routing in terms of features and has the advantage in terms of provisioning which is why so many businesses are considering it as a solution.
Alessandra joined Pure IP as the Content and Communications Manager in early 2020, after 5 years within the cinema technology sector.