SOLVED

Advice needed on how to jury rig Teams

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New Contributor

Hi Everyone

This is going to be a bit of an...odd request for advice but hear me out there are good (or at least dumb political) reasons I'm asking questions.

 

TLDR version: what's the absolute minimum infrastructure needed to get Teams running and be able to schedule meetings?

 

Longer version: My employer is looking for a video conferencing and distance learning solution for meetings and international teaching. At the moment we're using a very old version of Adobe Connect and Google Hangouts (as we are a "Google House"). One of the options I am looking at is Microsoft Teams as its pretty feature-rich, "works in China" and you can do stuff like hanging IP Telephony off it if you want to.

 

As well as using GSuite we do have an Office 365 EDU site licence so that students can download Office 365 on their own PCs while studying with us. Our systems team fudged the back end functions required for this as they were only interested in getting Office 365 access for students running. After signing up myself and playing around, I found that we do have access to Teams as part of the package.

 

Right now it works...after a fashion. I don't have admin rights myself, but it looks like we don't have exchange services up and running meaning that there is not working calendar that Teams can communicate with. This means that you can use core functions like creating teams, chat, audio/video conferences and recording of said conferences. This is fine for evaluating it as a tool but its crippling if you want to actually use it as a meetings tool as you cant pre-plan meetings.

 

So my question is: can we fudge enough exchange functions to get the scheduling functions in Teams working without having to unpack and implement a full Exchange instance?

 

I appreciate that this question sounds absurd, but we are already paying for Teams, and it does most of what we want. I fully understand if the answer is no, but any advice would be really appreciated.

3 Replies
Short answer is no. Meeting functionality is largely based upon Exchange and trying anything else - even exchange on premise - causes complexity from both an administrative and end user experience.

However, what I would advise is this - I have been in this situation many times as I used to do a lot of migrations to Office/Microsoft 365.

1.) Do a total all up cost (Total Cost of Ownership) for the current services vs moving to 365, this includes licencing, maintainance, integration (+ API's), the impact on productivity from having to switch between non-native apps

2.) Ask for a proof of concept where you would be involved moving to Exchange. What I mean here is put the mail systems into coexistence. You and a few others move to exchange online and get the full Teams experience and report back to the business. The experience is so much better. Large organisations like yours very rarely move over in one go - in fact there is many reasons not to do so, so typically it's phased. The argument here is to show the benefits of meetings in Teams that neccessitates exchange online. The business is not in a position to move, or wants to, so to evaluate how easy it is with exchange online and teams, the proof of concept is a good way to demonstrate how easy it will be to how it currently is. Get a few users on with you - get their feedback and build momentum

Hope that helps and answers your question! Feel free to PM me with any more on this subject I have a lot of experience with it, and doing moves from Google

Best, Chris

Thanks @Christopher Hoard 

 

This was more wishful thinking on my behalf considering that someone had bashed Office 365 until it worked without actually implementing exchange (if you try and open outlook online it just crashes out). At the moment we're not tenanted (I think that's the right term) so users have to sign up one at a time. I'm hoping this means we can put together a proof of concept exchange instance without ruffling too many feathers so we can do an evaluation. 

 

Considering how entrenched managers who have control over comms are with regards to staying with G Suite I may have to shelve this idea but not without a fight. 

best response confirmed by adam deltinger (MVP)
Solution
For sure. If you ask many Microsoft pro's exchange is the bedrock service of Office/Microsoft 365 and is typically implemented first. Teams - being a native cloud app based in Azure, is architected on Office 365 Groups, Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive. In order to get the best Teams experience these others should be lit up.

It's great to hear the potential of a POC and an evaluation: having users sign up one at a time into different tenants sounds horrendous and I imagine a great deal of time is spent dealing with this and maintaining this alongside Google, Adobe and probably quite a bit of shadow IT which has crept up. Much of this can be avoided. It's not even to do with products to be honest, its about functionality and productivity. Google doesn't provide it. If you wanted to go with something like Teams in that context it would be Slack which is more cost, then you have to transition to a new voice and calling solution to replace Adobe - probably Cisco, or Bluejeans - trying to integrate and manage that is a massive strain when the alternative already exists and most organisation are moving to 365 exactly for these reasons. Google may work from a limited narrow perspective, but the needs of the organisation are what typically push it to 365 as it has Teams, Stream, Forms, PowerApps, Power BI, and much more: all of this can be controlled from an enterprise perspective with Intune or SCCM. If your users are using Windows for the main, obviously 365 is designed to work natively with the OS.

I could evangelise all day - however, I think you already know hence reaching out here. The community can and will support you on this so keep in touch and I hope it goes well.

Best, Chris