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Microsoft Ignite 2019 Summary – Microsoft Teams Room features and Devices

GrahamWalsh

Here is my summary from Microsoft Ignite 2019 and the Microsoft Teams Room features and Devices. There is a full list of all the Teams Meetings and Devices session here.

What I am going to cover here is all the Microsoft Teams Room (MTR) features. Let’s start with a slide that was presented to the audience during a session. This highlights all the features that are available today. Now let’s look at the features that are coming soon.

Microsoft Teams Room System Features

360 degree Camera Support

So today this is currently supported in the Skype for Business side of this on the desktop client and in the SRSv2/MTR system. It is the original RoundTable device which is now produced by Poly. It is known as the CX5100 which is the USB version and there is also a CX5500 version too. So the layout and stitching will come to the Teams client and most like the MTR System at some point.

Attendee Auto Framing

So this feature is available today in several camera vendors. Namely the Crestron Huddly IQ, Jabra Panacast 3, Logitech Meetup and Rally, Poly Studio and finally the Yealink UVC30. This means the camera will frame either the group of people in the room or the individual speaker in the room. It will then send that image into the Teams meeting. This is also noticeable on some cameras today, for example, the built-in Surface Pro Camera tracks the face today and tries to keep it in the middle of the frame.

Active Speaker Tracking

So the only vendor I know that does this today is the Poly Eagle Eye Director. It has two cameras and one is focused on the room view and the other is focused on the active speaker. Then either camera feed can be sent into the Teams meeting.

Control Meeting Recording

So this feature is available today on the desktop clients. It means users can start, pause and end recordings. This announcement means that the MTR console will have this feature at some point soon as well. All meetings are then stored in Microsoft Stream.

Modern Authentication Support

Many organisations are using or starting to use Modern Authentication. This means a more secure was of logging into the MTR, so organisations can be happy that the MTR is not just using Basic Authentication. Devices could use a secure random App password instead.

Present in Teams Live Events

So this feature, there was no mention of it. However, it works today, if you invite an MTR to a Live Event and add it as a presenter, then it all works. Maybe the MTR will be able to accept the invite and join?

Other features announced

Branding

Whilst not on the list above, a new theming feature was announced. Initially, when SRSv2 was launched, you could brand and customise the Front of Room wallpaper and the Centre of Room (CoR) console. However, this led to some people going over the top and made icons not very visible. So when the MTR update was released, the CoR branding was removed. What is coming back is the ability to add your company logo to the CoR console. This could also be an image containing a Helpdesk/support details too.

Custom branding on CoR Console

Management of Video Devices

Today within the Teams Admin Center, you are able to manage the Teams Phones, update them, etc, online/offline status, etc. Microsoft is adding the capability of monitoring and managing the MTRs and Collaboration Bars right within the Teams Admin Center. It will provide a nice overview of the status of each piece of equipment connected to the MTR.

Teams Admin Center - Manage MTR systems

Surface Hub Companion

Also announced was the capability to pair the Surface Hub to the MTR system. Each device would have its own resource account and if there was a Surface Hub in the same room, it could potentially use Proximity Join feature and be added to the meeting. This means you can use the Surface Hub as an existing to the meeting and use the Microsoft Whiteboard for all your digital inking needs. This feature I’ve seen already with the Google Jamboard and their Meeting Room solution, so a welcome addition to Teams Meetings.

Surface Hub Companion
Surface Hub Compansion

Content Capture

So this feature will allow you to capture an image of the digital ink from the Magic Whiteboard and send it to meeting participants. I’m guessing it will go in the meeting chat, just like a recording does and there will be a new button on the MTR rail at the bottom where all your meeting controls are.

Main Teams Meeting News

So the biggest news from Microsoft Ignite is the collaboration with Cisco and Zoom. Let’s break them down into each vendor.

Zoom

When Zoom started out back in the early days, it was a walled garden. If you want to play in the Zoom garden, you download their app. They then opened it up with a SIP/H.323 gateway and then with a Lync/Skype for Business Gateway. Brilliant you may think, however it came at a price. $49 per connection, per month. Obviously guests had the choice of joining with their app instead, but that doesn’t go down well in a meeting room. Zoom also introduced WebRTC, but that was disabled by default in their Admin portal, so guess what, download the app.

Fast forward to Zoomtopia 2019 and they had a raft of new announcements and some Office 365 integration improvements. Jump forward two weeks and it was announced that Microsoft Teams Room Systems would have Guest Join access to the Zoom meeting. Here is the Zoom blog post from Simon Booth.

MTR Guest Join

What does this mean? Well, when an MTR receives a meeting invite, it will look like any other Teams Meeting invite, except it will have a small Zoom logo in the top right. All users need to do it press the Join button. What will happen in the background is that the MTR will open up a Microsoft Edge Chromium client, using WebRTC technologies and join the Zoom meeting as a guest. Details on content sharing and which way it will work were not demonstrated, but I am sure that is work in progress. Below is a video I recorded at Microsoft Ignite of the call. Greg pressed the Join button on the MTR and it joined the Zoom meeting with the browser. Simon at Zoom was using his background replacement, no content was shared during the meeting.

An MTR joining a Zoom Meeting

So basically, you are ready to roll out MTRs and not have to worry about how you join the Zoom meeting. It can even be done today without any Interop. See below – no Interop gateways needed, but you need the Zoom licenses!!!

A Crestron Flex MTR in a Zoom Meeting with a Skype for Business Client and a Cisco DX80 via SIP

In this blog post, I demonstrate how you can use the Skype for Business side of things to make external SfB calls. You can do this into Pexip, Zoom and other platforms that have an SfB Edge server and where federation is allowed.

In the reverse order, Zoom Rooms will be able to join Microsoft Teams Meetings. This will also leverage WebRTC technologies as the guest experience. This will complement the existing Interop solutions I mentioned above. Also, there is no mention if there will be a cost for this Zoom to Teams interop. In addition, will this just be Windows-based Zoom Rooms such as Crestron, HP, Lenovo, Logitech, and Yealink or will it be available on the new all in one device such as Neat and Poly Studio X devices that are Android/Linux based systems? Questions that need to be answered. According to Brent Kelly, it is mentioned that the Neat appliances will be able to use the Guest Join Access. Let’s wait and see until something is confirmed.

Cisco Announcements

So there were a few big announcements with Cisco and Microsoft. Never thought I’d actually write that. The official post is here with all the details. The official Cisco blog post is here. So let’s break down the juicy bits.

Cloud Video Interop (CVI)

So I might have done a few things in the past on this topic. So, what does Cisco CVI mean? Well, today we have BlueJeans, Pexip, and Poly offering CVI. I have previously blogged on comparing the three certified solutions here.

Poly is giving theirs away with any device that is under maintenance or a new system. I believe the reason for this is because there are no native Teams devices (see below for Poly). The Trio is for Voice only in Microsoft Teams and the Group Series is only SfB. This means if you have a Trio, you need to use CVI and I’ve blogged on how to set that up here. Same with Group Series and the new G7500 that was launched. BlueJeans also have an offer on for free CVI or test out a meeting (they will send you a meeting invite with CVI details) and Pexip has too when purchasing MTR or Surface Hub 2 systems.

What does the Cisco CVI architecture look like? Well, no one really knows. I have an image that was floating around but I won’t share that until the real deal is announced. It is not clear what is required and where, so I won’t make things up to muddy the water. However, what I do know, well from reading the announcements, Cisco CVI will support Webex Room Kits and Standards-based SIP devices. That covers off the majority of use cases, but what about H.323? Many organisations are still using this. All the other three CVI vendors offer H.323 interop and even Pexip goes as far as WebRTC interop too.

What also is not clear, is whether it will all be cloud-based or will require some on-premises VMs. Will it only be devices registered to the Webex cloud services or will users who have large video infrastructure deployments on-premise? According to Brent Kelly, it will be Cloud Services first and then on-premises users later who have Cisco Meeting Server (CMS, previously Acano tin). In addition, it is suggested that there will be no costs involved in this upgrade. However, if you don’t have any cloud services, all CMS, TMS, VCS on-premises, how do you leverage the Cisco CVI Service? Lots of questions to be answered here.

The final question in this CVI piece from Cisco, how will it leverage One Button to Push or OBTP. Will that be all cloud-based or will it need services on-premises to run so that it can push the notifications to Cisco Touch Panels. This is because Cisco devices do not connect directly to Exchange, it needs the OBTP service to relay the information to the devices in the Room.

Guest Join Access

This is the next announcement that was in the news. This is the reverse of an MTR joining a Webex Meeting, a Cisco Webex Room Kits, Webex Board and the new Webex Desk Pro will be able to join a Microsoft Teams meeting. It is leveraging the same technologies, WebRTC. The newer devices have a browser embedded, so we will utilise this feature. Below is a demo of this on the Webex Board that Damian from Exactive took at Microsoft Ignite. This means that older systems will not be able to do this, they will need the CVI above to provide the interop.

Cisco Webex Board with Microsoft Guest Join Access

Here is a video demonstration that I recoded from Microsoft Ignite of the Cisco Webex Guest Join Access. Greg clicked on the Join button on his MTR and it connected to the Webex Meeting via the browser. You can see the experience jumping around, figuring out what screen should be where etc. Michael from Cisco then shared content from his device and used inking. All super simple.

MTR joining a Cisco Webex Meeting

Direct Routing Session Border Controllers (SBC)

In this announcement, Cisco is joining the likes of Ribbon, Sonos, AcmePacket, etc. It will allow enterprises to keep their existing PBXs and bring them to Teams. Again, what is not clear on this announcement is which SBCs from Cisco will be certified for Direct Routing.

New Hardware Devices

Poly

Poly announced again their new line up of CCX phones at Ignite, there are a CCX400, 500 and 600 devices. The first out the block will be the CCX400 in December with the other devices in early 2020. Tom Arbuthnot did a quick tour of the Poly booth showcasing all the devices, so I won’t bore you, just watch the video.

Comparison of Poly CCX Devices

Poly also announced that their new Poly Studio X30 and X50 will be Teams certified. This is a new category called Focus Rooms with Collaboration Bars in Microsoft language. Studio X can utilise a touch screen device or it can be used with their new TC8 touch panel. In addition, the device will be able to be managed within the Teams Admin Center.

However, the release date won’t be until mid-2020. Studio X was first announced a few weeks ago at Zoomtopia and will be available at the end of 2019 in the Zoom mode. What did make me laugh was the Poly blurb at the booth at Ignite – they thought the Teams Focus Room was a Zoom Room!!

Poly Studio X For Teams, no Zoom, no Teams

Yealink

Yealink announced a few new devices, namely new DECT Headsets, mono, and stereo versions, topping out at $199. Also announced was a new speaker puck, CP900 certified for Teams along with an updated version of their VC200, the new VC210 which sits in the Collaboration Bar/Focus Room Category. The VC210 is supplied with a remote control, similar size to an Amazon Fire TV remote. The only problem I see with this is that it will go missing easily. Ideally, you will want to mouth the device on a touchscreen to avoid this. Also, the device will be able to be managed in the Teams Admin Center, just like the phones can be today.

Sennheisier

Sennheiser launched their new speaker puck with a dedicated Teams button. It is Bluetooth with a dongle and USB-C with cord storage and is officially known as the EXPAND SP 30T and will cost $259. It should be shipping in December 2019. I use the SP20 as my daily device at my home office and it’s superb. I’m guessing this device will just be as god.

EXPAND SP 30T
EXPAND SP 30T

Managed Meeting Rooms (MMR)

So this is a new service that Microsoft announced. It will allow users to have a very light touch with their Microsoft Teams Room systems. The service will allow Microsoft to monitor and manage your devices and make decisions on who should fix what when there is an issue. The service cost was announced at $50 per device, per month. I had a demo of the platform with Sam on the Microsoft booth and it looks good and has potential.

You are able to sign up to the preview of the MMR, just head to this link https://aka.ms/joinMMR. There was also a break out session at Ignite – BRK2373. Link to the session here.

Managed Meeting Room
Managed Meeting Room

Availability

So when are all these new features available? Let me get my 🔮 out. All the press releases say 1HCY202, early 2020, etc. My guess is that they will be demonstrated again at Enterprise Connect 2020 with a planned launch of around Cisco Live/Microsoft Inspire in July 2020.

The Poly Studio X is slated for release in June/July 2020, this is aligned with the end of the free CVI offer they have at present.

I am sure there will be early field trials, beta programs to join from each vendor. More on this once I know.

The genius idea of the week

So this goes to me. Two days before I left for Ignite, I had the idea of a new t-shirt. It was to have the MTR icons on the t-shirt. So instead of ordering one, I ordered four. When Christian and Greg from the Microsoft Teams product and marketing group saw it, they were asking where theirs were? So I gladly gave them a t-shirt each and they wore them proudly.

My design idea for MTR T-shirt
My design idea for MTR T-shirt

Feel free to let me know if you have any comments on all these topics.

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