It has been a while since I last did an article comparing Cloud Video Interop for Microsoft Teams. The previous article can be found here. This is an updated table now that the industry has moved on. There are others that claim to have interop to Microsoft Teams, but it is not native and nor is it certified by Microsoft, so good luck troubleshooting the call of the CEO when it goes wrong.
There are still three certified providers of BlueJeans, Pexip, and Poly. The full details can be found on the Microsoft Docs site here. The overview from BlueJeans can be found here and for Pexip, here. For the Poly solution, this can be found here. There are claims from other vendors that they have interop, but it is not certified by Microsoft. They are using either bots or published APIs for Microsoft Teams. No one can stop them, but just remember, supported and certified.
The great team over at O365 Eh! did a mini-series on Cloud Video Interop from the three vendors and the episode with Tedd Fox from BlueJeans is here, Pexip is here (featuring myself) and Adam Jacobs from Poly is here.
Cloud Video Interop Comparison
BlueJeans Pexip Infinity Pexip SaaS Poly RealConnect Service Poly RealConnect Clariti On-Premises No Yes No No Yes Hybrid Deployment No Yes No No No Private Cloud No Yes No No Yes Cloud Service Yes No Yes Yes No VTC Call Control No Yes Yes No Yes Trusted/Untrusted Users Yes Yes Yes No No Skype for Business Interop - Same platform No Yes No Yes Yes Custom Domain for Dialling Coming Soon Yes Yes Yes Yes Join via Skype for Business for 3rd Parties No Yes Yes No No Join via WebRTC for 3rd Parties No Yes Yes (if registered) No No Number of Video Streams 9 9 9 4 1 Video Resolution 1080p 1080p 720p 1080p 1080p Content Resolution 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p Video Layouts on VTC Active Speaker, Active Speaker + last 5 speakers, 3x3 Grid 1+7, Quad, Voice Switched 1+7 Quad Voice Switched Protocols SIP, H.323 SIP, H.323, WebRTC, Skype for Business SIP, H.323 SIP, H.323 SIP, H.323 Test Call Service No Yes No Yes No Recording Indicator Visual Audio & Visual Audio & Visial Visual Visual Custom Branding of splash screens Coming Soon Yes Coming Soon No No Vendor Branding on VTC call leg Yes No No No No Hosting Teams Gateways in Azure MCU can be on-premises, in Azure, AWS or GCP. Teams Gateways in Azure Call Control in 14 regions, Teams Gateways in Azure Teams Gateways in Azure Clariti installed on-premises, connect to Teams Gateways in Azure Locations West US, EMEA, Australia Up to 16 Azure Regions East US, EMEA, Singapore, Australia South US, West US, EMEA, Australia On-premises anywhere and connects to West US, EMEA or Australia Cascaded Link No No No No Yes One Touch Join for Cisco BlueJeans Relay Included Coming Soon (or use 3rd party today) Coming Soon (or use 3rd party today) One Touch Dial included One Touch Dial included One Touch Join for Poly BlueJeans Relay included Use 3rd party today Use 3rd party today One Touch Dial included One Touch Dial included
Supported VTC Devices
There is a good article here from BlueJeans on their support for each VTC device. The Pexip Infinity supported devices is listed here and the Pexip Cloud Service supported devices is listed here. The supported devices for Poly is listed here.
BlueJeans have their own software to make joining meetings with a press of a Join button the VTC system. This is called BlueJeans Relay. It consists of a small virtual machine on-premises and this is the server that pushes the calendar to the VTCs in your network. Full details here. They support a load of VTCs too. The brochure is available here. If you do not use the BlueJeans Relay, then you have to use your tenant key followed by the 9 digit Teams conference ID. Full list of dial-in methods is listed here.
Pexip uses a slightly different approach to joining Microsoft Teams meetings. They utilise a SIP URI such as [email protected] as the tenant key. Due to using the domain name mapped to the Teams tenant, it means users can just dial into meetings with [email protected] An example of all the dial-in methods for a Pexip Infinity interop meeting is here. For having that One Button to Push/One Touch Dial/Click to Join, a little birdie has told me that Pexip is working on their own version of this. It will be compatible with Cisco devices in the first release. It will work across the Infinity software and the SaaS platform. If you want to use this functionality today, then you can use a third party server to have this functionality for Cisco and Poly devices and can be used for any meeting type, not just Teams.
Poly has their One Touch Dial (OTD) server that is included with a RealConnect for Microsoft Teams license. I also understand it is available for a device that is under maintenance. The OTD is cloud-based in Azure and works with Poly VTCs. If you have Cisco VTCs, then you must deploy a Cloud Relay Virtual Machine on-premises as the Cisco VTCs require a push to the device to get the Join button the screen. The OTD requirement and supported VTCs is listed here. The nice thing about OTD server is that it supports other conferencing services too, see the list below. However, I think I noticed, for the Microsoft Teams interop, it will only parse the Poly CVI details. If you receive an invite from another CVI partner, e.g. Pexip, it will not parse the meeting invite, it will not provide a join button. Not sure if this is as designed or it is limited to just Poly CVI meetings.
Another issue that I’ve experienced is that BlueJeans and Poly uses a CNAME alias for teams.bjn.vc and t.plcm.vc which is mapped to Azure Traffic Manager. The SIP RFC 2782 standard clearly states that SRV records must have a valid A Record reference and not an alias. Some VTC Call Controls will ignore this and place the call, whilst some others will adhere to the standard and calls will not reach t.plcm.vc.
The domain name of the target host. There MUST be one or more address records for this name, the name MUST NOT be an alias (in the sense of RFC 1034 or RFC 2181). Implementors are urged, but not required, to return the address record(s) in the Additional Data section. Unless and until permitted by future standards action, name compression is not to be used for this field.
A Target of “.” means that the service is decidedly not available at this domain.
Video Layouts on the VTC
As part of my research, I carried out various tests between Pexip and Poly CVI. Below are the differences between the two services. Poly CVI is on the left and Pexip is on the right. As you can see, the Poly CVI has a similar layout to Microsoft Teams clients, a quad split and the Pexip has its usual layout of 1+7 people. In Pexip Infinity, it is possible to have the quad layout too. On the service, it is the 1+7 layout. As there are 10 streams in the Teams meetings (9 video plus 1 content), Pexip shows all of these.
When someone is connected with audio only and no video, the Poly shows that person in the main screen, just like you would see in a Teams client. However, Pexip shows them as an audio-only participant, leaving the people on video in the main display. As you can see below, the Poly CVI service highlights the active speaker, and in this case, the lower right person.
In the Pexip world, it shows the user as a phone icon and picks up the display name and slides out from the left-hand side when that person is speaking. I was connected with my Teams Android client with voice only.
For BlueJeans meetings, they support an Active Speaker view, a 1+5 view and a 3×3 view of 9 participants. An example of these layouts for the VTC systems are below.
Recording Teams Meetings
So the final comparison is when a meeting is recorded. The Poly and BlueJeans service show an indicator on the screen when the recording is initiated from the Teams Client. The image below is the Poly CVI recording icon.
Below is the view from the Pexip CVI. It has the recording icon on the right-hand side. It slides out when recording starts and there are also audio notifications of when the recording starts and ends. With Pexip Infinity, these audio prompts and even the text shown can be customised.
There are some offers running at present for Cloud Video Interop. Poly is offering their CVI for free until the end of June 2020 if you purchase a new Group Series, Trio or G7500 system or if you already own a SIP/H.323 Poly device. You just need to submit a claim to [email protected] with your serial numbers. You will then get access to set up their CVI.
Pexip has also announced an offer too. This is linked to the new Surface Hub 2 and the Microsoft Teams Room (MTR) that are available from Crestron, HP, Lenovo, Logitech, and Yealink. Users can claim two free interop sessions in the Pexip cloud service for CVI. There is a landing page here with registration info. A short video explaining it is below.
BlueJeans announced a free offer too. They are offering 2 free gateway sessions for organisations under 1,000 users and 5 free gateway sessions for organisations over 1,000 users, free for 1 year. You will also get access to their Command Center for analytics. Full details on their landing page here.
So there you have a real-life overview and comparison on the Cloud Video Interop for Microsoft Teams. It is very little difference between the services, it will be your choice on either how you want to deploy CVI, existing relationships, support from the vendor/partner, etc.