by Irwin Lazar 
VP & Service Director, Research Leader: Digital Workplace  Nemertes

Channel partners selling Microsoft Teams solutions are facing an increasingly competitive landscape. Not only must they contend with others also selling Microsoft Teams services, but they must win against competing solutions from other UCaaS providers offering both stand-alone, and Teams-integrated services.

Succeeding in this environment requires delivering an offering that is not only best of breed in terms of features and capabilities, but that is also cost competitive. An increasing opportunity to achieve these goals is by offering bundled Direct Routing services.

Direct Routing enables Microsoft Teams Phone System customers to use their own session border controller (SBC) and SIP trunking service(s) to connect their Microsoft Teams Phone System instance to the PSTN. Alternatively, Phone System customers can purchase Calling Plan from Microsoft for a set per-month, per-user rate with a bundled set of minutes.

Nemertes’ research shows that 89% of those adopting, or planning to adopt, Microsoft Teams Phone System are doing so using Direct Routing for PSTN connectivity. Direct Routing provides several benefits including:

  • Lower cost than Calling Plan
  • Flexibility to route calls to other cloud services such as contact center platforms
  • Easier migration to Teams
  • Retaining of control of phone numbers
  • PSTN connectivity in regions not supported by Calling Plan

Channel partners have a tremendous opportunity to differentiate their offerings by bundling Direct Routing capabilities including managed SBCs and SIP trunking.  However, achieving success requires aligning with the right provider.  Key considerations when evaluating alternatives include:

  • Support for SBC-as-a-Service (SBCaaS), enabling SBCs to be offered as a bundled option along with SIP trunking
  • Reliability and reach of PSTN access coverage
  • Ability to support PSTN connectivity for existing platforms and/or cloud services during migration to Microsoft Teams
  • Support for additional value-added services such as SMS messaging and E911 call routing and user location management (integrated with Teams dynamic emergency calling)
  • Security and compliance capabilities and certifications
  • Integration with Microsoft PowerShell for configuration and management

A key consideration when evaluating potential direct routing partners is the architecture of the SBCaaS offering. For example, providers running their SBCaaS platform within Microsoft Azure are able to directly connect to the Microsoft Teams instance without having to cross cloud boundaries.

Azure-native solutions also enable management of the SBC instance as another virtual workload in the existing Azure cloud instance.

Microsoft Teams channel providers should consider adding Direct Routing services to their offering to not only differentiate themselves in the marketplace, but also to provide a more robust offering that enables customers to take full advantage of the entire Microsoft Teams feature set.

Evaluate potential Direct Routing partners based on their reach, reliability, security, value-added services, and their ability to deliver cloud-native solutions that optimally integrate with Microsoft Teams.


About Nemertes: Nemertes is a global research-based advisory and consulting firm that analyzes the business value of emerging technologies. Since 2002, we have provided strategic recommendations based on data-driven operational and business metrics to help organizations deliver successful technology transformation to employees and customers. Simply put: Nemertes’ better data helps clients make better decisions.


Irwin Lazar – Vice President & Service Director

Research Leader: Digital Workplace
Primary Focus Areas: Unified Communications, VOIP/IP Telephony, Video/Audio/Web Conferencing, Team Collaboration, SIP trunking, Session Border Control, UC-as-a-Service, UC Operations, Management, and Business Value Measurement

Other Areas of Expertise: Network Communication and Services, Mobility and Mobile Security, Contact Center and Customer Engagement, SDN/SD-WAN.

Irwin Lazar develops and manages research projects, conducts and analyzes primary research, and advises enterprise and vendor clients on technology strategy, adoption and business metrics, Mr. Lazar is responsible for benchmarking the adoption and use of emerging technologies in the digital workplace, covering enterprise communications and collaboration as an industry analyst for over 20 years.

A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and sought-after speaker and author, Mr. Lazar is a blogger for and contributor for writing on topics including team collaboration, UC, cloud, adoption, SD-WAN, CPaaS, WebRTC, and more. He is a frequent resource for the business and trade press and is a regular speaker at events such as Enterprise Connect, InfoComm, and FutureIT. In 2017 he was recognized as an Emerging Technologies Fellow by the IMCCA and InfoComm.

Mr. Lazar’s earlier background was in IP network and security architecture, design, and operations where he advised global organizations and held direct operational responsibility for worldwide voice and data networks.