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Why Pair Centile’s ISTRA Platform with Microsoft Teams?

27 Oct 2020

Centile’s ISTRA platform is a unified communications solution equipped with business telephony, enterprise-grade messaging, and video collaboration functionalities embedded into a single offering. The Europe-based firm produces the underlying technology for a network of partners, service providers, as well as system integrators, who, in turn, deploy ISTRA into their cloud-based data centers. From there, these groups provide innovative UC services to SMBs based on ISTRA’s infrastructure.

I recently sat down with Jean-François Catz, Head of Product, Centile, who caught me up on what the company is doing to integrate its ISTRA platform with Microsoft Teams to extend advanced PBX capabilities. Catz told me: “It makes a lot of sense for us to interoperate with the ‘big guys’ like Microsoft Teams.” The intent here is to ensure Microsoft Teams users can take full advantage of an enterprise PBX with little-to-no constraints.

Enter Centile’s turnkey solution for fixed-line, mobile operators, MVNOs, and system integrators – ISTRA, which enables Microsoft Teams end-users to benefit from all the enterprise collab and telephony capabilities Centile extends. “If you reside in a purely-Microsoft Teams-based environment with a phone system, you need to interconnect your minutes to make and receive calls.” In this instance, SMBs have two choices, according to Catz.

The first go with Microsoft, purchase voice minutes, and port your numbers over to Microsoft. Only some SMBs will choose this option, Catz shared. He then said cost is the ‘number one’ reason most would not select this option, with the availability of minutes coming in at a close second. The second choice, as noted by Catz, since Microsoft is not as competitive as some service providers, SMBs would likely opt for local providers based on elements such as better support and trust.

Although there is a lot of demand for interplay with Microsoft Teams, Catz said he spends a great deal of time educating service providers, system integrators, and end-users on the Microsoft licensing model. “Without the business voice add-on, you cannot use Teams with PBX features. This means you cannot use Teams as a softphone.” He noted, there is a lot of interest in Microsoft Teams integrations, but that has to come with training.

Catz contends that customers must understand the full set of benefits of such integrations, be it CLI presentation which allows you to select which number you want to appear when you make a call via Microsoft Teams, or call forking. This functionality lets you determine where you want to answer a call, a mobile device, a desk phone, a softphone, or from via the Microsoft Teams client. All this is only possible with an advanced PBX integration, according to Catz.

Call forking is a possibility on an unlimited number of terminals on a per-user basis via the ISTRA-Teams integration, along with voice call continuity. This hallmark gives users the ability to start a call on their mobile device and continue the same call using the Microsoft Teams client. Likely the most significant advantage of the integration is ‘true presence.’ This means, even if someone does not use Microsoft Teams, they can see your presence status.

This article was published on UC Today.