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Microsoft Teams: Operator Connect vs. Direct Routing

July 21, 2021

Microsoft_Operator_Connect_vs_Direct_Routing_What_is_the_Difference

Read Time: 4.03mins

Microsoft Teams has been increasingly referred to as the go-to platform for unified communications, including video calls, voice calling, chat, and collaboration. One of the main reasons Teams has been gaining in popularity is for the evolution of its solutions.

Microsoft solutions like Microsoft’s Operator Connect and Direct Routing were launched with the capability of a full-fledged business phone system. However, not every company understands these solutions and how they can help their communication efforts.

As a managed services provider, LDI has helped numerous clients migrate to a cloud-based phone system that fits the needs of their business and end clients. LDI’s partnerships with NuWave and Call2Teams, have provided the ability to implement Microsoft's Operator Connect and Direct Routing in a customer's environment once we have assessed their current capabilities and environment.

This article will define Microsoft's Operator Connect and Direct Routing while providing great insight into both phone solutions. By the end of this article, you will better understand which solution to choose for your company.

What Are Microsoft’s Operator Connect and Direct Routing?

More and more companies are adopting Microsoft Teams as their unified communications platform. With Microsoft Teams’ features continuously expanding, companies can maintain flexible Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) with Microsoft through Operator Connect and Direct Routing.

Let’s dig a little deeper and define each solution.

Operator Connect

Operator Connect is the most recent addition to Microsoft’s solutions for calling functionality. This platform is part of Microsoft Teams’ commitment to delivering high-quality calling experiences to suit every type of company.

With Operator Connect, you can quickly bring your operator into Teams. What does that mean?

This operator-managed system provides seamless access to existing operator contractors and fast and straightforward deployment that takes only minutes to connect and assign numbers to users. Operator Connect enables IT, groups, to connect to their provider and assign numbers to their users through the Teams admin dashboard.

Essentially, there is no need for any telephony expertise or carrier negotiations. So let’s say your company already has a relationship with one of Microsoft’s Operator Connect partners; you can keep that relationship moving forward. 

Operator Connect facilitates an operator-managed infrastructure. Your Session Border Controllers (SBC) and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) calling service technologies can be managed by operators. Operator Connect’s primary focus is to use a PSTN service through a managed service model instead of requiring the customer to handle things independently via Direct Routing.

Operators provide an enhanced sense of reliability and support that can provide customers with excellent guidance, recommendations, and knowledge regarding shared service level agreements and more. Microsoft’s commitment to working closely with these operators allows for a more seamless integrated experience, with more partners added going forward.

Direct Routing

Direct Routing provides an easy way for companies to connect to the Microsoft Phone System seamlessly. 

Direct Routing enables companies to configure Session Border Controllers (SBCs) to route calls from the Microsoft Phone System to the network for public telephony. This means that customers can bring their own telecom services into the Microsoft Cloud for Microsoft Phone System.

Direct Routing is a flexible solution with global coverage. Depending on the  Direct Routing service you get, it’s possible to access additional specialist support to help optimize your telephony offering. 

In addition, Direct Routing lets you port existing numbers from your incumbent carrier so that no numbers need to be changed during migration. 

Within Direct Routing, your company can work with a managed service provider to access certain advanced features not available within calling plans and even connect your Microsoft Teams offering to your contact center.  

While Direct Routing may be slightly more complex than buying a full system from Microsoft Teams, this should not be an issue if you choose to work with a knowledgeable managed services provider.

What's The Difference Between Microsoft’s Operator Connect and Direct Routing?

Both Operator Connect and Direct Routing are flexible solutions for a smooth transition into Microsoft phone functionality. 

Direct Routing and Operator Connect provide the option of choosing your own PSTN provider and continuing long-lasting relationships with your selected operators. 

Operator Connect is the enhanced version of Direct Routing and embodies all that Direct Routing provides and more. Operator Connect builds on the existing functionality of Direct Routing by enabling administrators in the enterprise to quickly go into their admin account, select an MSP, and administer phone numbers.  

Now let’s get to the differences.

The Key Differences

Operator Connect is different from Direct Routing in that it acts as more of a peering relationship between a service provider and Microsoft. 

Additionally, Operator Connect includes valuable APIs that integrate the deployment and purchase process, allowing for more simple provisioning.  

Operator Connect can be a powerful new solution for companies that want to simplify their transition into Teams. With its user-friendly web-based interface, Operator Connect is an accessible option instead of the standard command-line-oriented approach that Direct Routing offers.  

Ready To Implement Microsoft’s Operator Connect Or Direct Routing?

Choosing to use either Microsoft's Operator Connect or Direct Routing will likely continue your growth into the world of Microsoft Teams. Ensure that your company would like to continue using Microsoft Teams before implementing either solution. 

Either solution works if your company requires a phone solution for Microsoft UCaaS that does not have the same restrictions as Microsoft’s calling plans.

Suppose your company plans on accessing Microsoft Teams for UCaaS and CCaaS solutions. In that case, the choice between Microsoft Teams’ Operator Connect or Direct Routing can be tricky.

If your company prefers confidently accessing SBC on their own or moving to Teams with a partner that is not a part of the Operator Connect list yet, then  Direct Routing is a better option.

However, If your company is in search of simplicity and easy provisioning when it comes to their UCaaS offering, then Operator Connect may be a better fit.

LDI has helped numerous clients implement cloud solutions. Contact an LDI representative today to learn more about implementing either Microsoft's Operator Connect or Direct Routing for your company.


Angela Cook
Angela Cook

As a Content Manager at LDI, Angela Cook works closely with Subject Matter Experts to craft content that widely focuses on how technology can provide key advantages to various businesses.

Topics: Microsoft Teams, Cloud Communications, Operator Connect, Direct Routing

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