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Microsoft Operator Connect vs. Direct Routing: The Inside Story

Microsoft Operator Connect vs. Direct Routing: The Inside Story


What is Microsoft Teams Calling?

Microsoft Teams has grown to over 320 million users. It is one of the top technology tools used for business and the surge in remote and hybrid working has fueled user adoption. However, Microsoft Teams is much more than a tool for collaboration. It has exceptional Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) functionality and can add voice, conferencing and messaging to the collaboration features which also interoperate with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the other Microsoft 365 Business Productivity apps. We believe in Teams so much that it's what we use here at Atlantech Online. Microsoft has made available two notable options for integrating telephony infrastructure with Microsoft Teams: Operator Connect and Direct Routing. Both offer unique advantages and cater to different organizational needs, making the choice between them pivotal for seamless communication and operational efficiency. 

Understanding Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams

Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams is a voice service solution within the Teams Operator Console that allows Microsoft 365 customers to directly configure their phone services from qualified, authorized carriers such as Atlantech Online. Operator Connect represents a significant leap forward in simplifying telephony integration with Microsoft Teams. It's designed with ease of use in mind, primarily targeting businesses seeking straightforward solutions without the intricacies of managing complex telephony infrastructures. Operator Connect is used mostly by companies with 500 employees or more that are seeking telephony integration in Teams and to be integrated with other systems using APIs.  Further, these types of customers could have complete control on their own to manage phone numbers and the build out of their phone system in Teams. 

Key Features:
- Managed Service: Operator Connect is essentially an operator-managed service. This means that businesses can bring their own Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) carrier (such as Atlantech Online) into the Teams environment without diving into esoteric technical details that sometimes accompany phone services on a PBX.
- Simplified Connectivity: The service significantly eases the process of connecting with a telecom carrier. It's an ideal solution for companies that prefer a hands-off approach while maintaining quality communication channels.
- Ease of Setup: With its web-based interface, Operator Connect is undeniably user-friendly, making the setup process less intimidating compared to its counterpart, Direct Routing.

However, while Operator Connect scores high on simplicity and ease of use, it might not satisfy organizations with more intricate telephony requirements.


Operator Directory 240109


Decoding Direct Routing

Direct Routing stands out as a robust and versatile solution, especially for larger businesses that demand more control and customization in their telephony systems. Direct Routing is a way to provide a PSTN (public switched telephone network) connection to Microsoft Teams users so that they can make and receive external phone calls on any device using Teams. Sounds like Operator Connect, right? A major difference is that you can't connect to the carrier in the Microsoft Teams global admin portal. You'll need to coordinate connecting Teams with the carrier of your choice, such as Atlantech Online. Users in your M365 environment need to be synched with the carrier and the phone features, such as voicemail, automated attendant and Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) groups, are actually performed on the carrier switch.

 Key Features:
- Flexibility and Power: It offers unmatched flexibility, making it a go-to choice for businesses with complex telephony landscapes. This includes integrating existing phone systems and accommodating specific business functions like call centers.
- Legacy System Integration: Direct Routing shines in its ability to harmonize with legacy systems, including older phone devices and specialized communication equipment.
- Global Deployment Capabilities: For multinational corporations, Direct Routing presents a compelling advantage with its global deployment scope, catering to a diverse range of telecom needs across various regions.

Despite its strengths, Direct Routing is different than Operator Connect in that there is a more time-consuming setup. Atlantech Online enables our customers to utilize our SBCs for those electing to do Direct Routing, which differentiates us from other carriers.

Atlantech Microsoft Teams

Comparing Operator Connect and Direct Routing

When choosing between Operator Connect and Direct Routing, several factors come into play:

  1. Flexibility vs. Simplicity: Direct Routing offers greater flexibility and integration capabilities, while Operator Connect scores on simplicity and ease of deployment.
  2. Global Reach vs. Managed Service: Direct Routing is ideal for global deployment, whereas Operator Connect offers the comfort of a managed service.
  3. Cost and Management: Direct Routing may involve higher initial costs and demands more in-depth management, contrasting with Operator Connect's more budget-friendly and less demanding nature.

Learn more about Operator Connect and Direct Routing

Using Atlantech Online and Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams is easy. Customers can select Atlantech Online from within the Microsoft Teams admin interface. Because of the simplified provisioning and management, the Teams admin can establish the connection, provision users, and assign phone numbers directly from the Teams Admin Center. For Direct Routing, we'll need to meet with Atlantech Online to discuss some details so we can synch the required users in your Microsoft 365 environment with our voice switch. You still save on infrastructure purchase and management doing Direct Routing with Atlantech Online. Just like our Hosted PBX service, you can feel confident with enterprise-grade reliability as Atlantech Online has established direct peering through Microsoft Azure Peering Service (MAPS) creates a 1:1 trusted network connection that enhances resilience.

Contact Atlantech Online today to talk about how you can fully leverage your Microsoft 365 subscription. 

Tom Collins
Post by Tom Collins
January 10, 2024
Tom is the Director of Enterprise Sales & Marketing for Atlantech Online. He has over 20 years of professional experience in the Internet Service Provider industry and is known for translating technology into positive results for business. A native of Washington, DC, a graduate from University of Maryland (degrees in Government & Politics and Secondary Education), Tom is also a five-time Ironman finisher.