How to avoid the pitfalls of Microsoft Teams Rooms rollout? Make the most of your MS Teams Rooms.

Moving from legacy video conferencing to MTRs

Article 10/2022, 5 min read

The journey with Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR) has been both eventful and fast-paced, with many teething issues experienced during the past two years. This has led many companies to face challenges in transitioning from legacy video conferencing devices to MTRs. This development is still ongoing, and companies have only started to realise that they need support with the transition to ensure that the MTR rollout is successful. 

What created the push toward Microsoft Teams Rooms?

Before Covid hit us in early 2020, the development in the world of video conferencing had been largely focused on the same legacy principles: standards-based video conferencing units (codecs) and multipoint bridges (a.k.a. MCUs) that created the meeting room experience and allowed multiple rooms and persons to join the same meeting. Many companies had already started the migration to cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) solutions from their on-prem UC platforms. For enterprises, this meant, in most cases, transitioning to Microsoft Teams. To ensure employees could join Teams meetings using legacy video conferencing solutions, many companies started rolling out Teams gateways.

This, however, changed rapidly when everyone was forced to work from home (due to the pandemic) and all meetings were held by employees using their personal devices. In an instance, room-based video conferencing technology had become obsolete. This was a giant leap for the video conferencing industry as in just a few months the use of video in meetings became the standard worldwide.

Although the Covid-19 crisis is ebbing out the newly adopted ways of working remotely are still being impacted employees are increasingly asked to return to the office. The most notable difference between pre-covid meeting patterns and today’s pattern is that nearly all meetings that take place in an office environment have at least some remote participants. This means that every in-person meeting is also a Teams meeting and each meeting space must easily be able to connect to a Teams meeting. In addition to the fact that most spaces are not equipped with a MTR or are meeting remote meeting requirements in general, the users are also expecting a user experience that is more aligned with their personal Teams experience. 

These factors have pushed CIOs to do overnight mass deployments of MTRs to meet the requirements of employees returning to the offices on an increasing scale. 

“Although Microsoft Teams has really impacted the way we work on daily basis, the development of room collaboration solutions is still ongoing. Customers have only started to realise that MTRs need a different approach than workstations to get them working, to begin with let alone supporting them in the long run” says Pekka Haataja, VP Global Sales, Elisa Videra, and continues: “Most customers need support with this transition to ensure that the MTR rollout is successful and to avoid the pitfalls the fast-paced development of the complex ecosystem has created. Elisa Videra has benefited greatly by being an early player in delivering large MTR rollouts for global enterprises. As part of these roll outs, we have been able to finetune our capabilities ranging from supporting legacy video conferencing systems to becoming a specialist on delivering, onboarding, and managing MTRs.”

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Challenges customers are facing with the MTR transition

Choosing the right MTR technology vendor

Looking back, choosing a technology provider for legacy endpoints wasn’t difficult. For all intents and purposes, you could choose between Cisco and Poly. Today, the market is much more fragmented and new providers of Microsoft-certified MTR products are popping up on a regular basis. One could argue that there are more OEM vendors than can be absorbed by the market and that the situation is untenable. It’s inevitable that many will disappear over time and only the most successful vendors can prevail. Poly, Logitech and Yealink have quite a wide offering covering a wide range of MTR use cases but some upcoming players, such as Jabra Lenovo and Neat, are fighting to grow their market share. In addition, there are multiple other players that are trying to enter the market and steal mindshare from the customers. 

But selecting the right technology provider isn’t the only thing to worry about. More complex considerations need to be weighed in, for example, warranty and RMA (Return Merchandise Authorisation) terms need to be reviewed and evaluated, and tested in practice.  As an example, if a product breaks, do you get a new one as a next-business-day delivery or will it take 30 days or more to get a new product from the vendor? Additional questions like product readiness and import certificates for relevant countries need to be asked. Choosing the right MTR technology vendor can indeed be truly challenging.

Choosing between MTR for Android or MTR for Windows

“This has been one of the main issues for our customers who have been struggling during the last two years” tells Haataja. Many customers love the value proposition of the MTR for Android (MTRfA) devices. Having a cost-effective and fully integrated video bar is simply a very attractive approach. However, the MRTfA devices have been significantly trailing behind the MTR for Windows (MTRfW) devices on available features despite promises of feature parity from Microsoft. In the long run, it is difficult to imagine that Windows, Microsoft’s own platform, would not take precedence over google based Android. Even more so as many of the MTRfA devices have had tons of different kinds of teething issues. These problems have caused many customers to even return their MTRfA devices and they have decided to only roll out Windows-based MTRs moving forward. “We will see how the situation changes over time, but even though the MTRfW package is more complex, it seems to be the safer bet for MTR rollouts,” says Haataja.

Understanding how MTRs differ from legacy video conferencing devices

The way MTRs are set up and how they work from a networking perspective is totally different compared to legacy video conferencing devices. This is important to acknowledge. 

“We have seen a lot of customers buying large numbers of MTRs and then finding themselves in a situation where they are forced to search for help as they cannot get the MTRs working,” tells Haataja.  At the core of the problem is a firmly held belief by IT professionals that MTRs are similar to Windows devices and an MTR rollout is similar to a rollout of PCs and workstations. Network Proxy is one of the specific items Elisa Videra’s customers have struggled with. “Many customers have set up a network proxy to control their traffic between the internal network and the internet. It works well for personal browsing and other usage but when it comes to MTRs they tend to block the traffic and cause issues” explains Haataja. 

Another major issue has been software updates that have been pushed from the cloud to the endpoints. If not managed correctly, sending huge software packages separately to all MTRs have proven to be problematic and even causing situations where the endpoints are still upgrading after a full night of updates or have lost their settings after completing the download. 

How to manage and support MTRs

Once MTRs are set up correctly and successfully, the next question is how they should be managed and supported. The first problem for IT teams planning the management of MTRs is that they do not know the many different tools offered to manage the MTRs. To make it a difficult situation even more complex, although sharing some similarities, the tools used to manage MTR for Android and Windows all have their own distinctive differences. 

Managing MTRs simply cannot be compared to managing PCs. The fact that these devices run Windows as their Operating System does not make them workstations.

Secondly, many IT professionals tend to overlook the fact that with MTRs you are actually managing and supporting not only the MTR but the whole room setup, including products like external screens, mounting brackets and cabling.

Most customers end up in a reality where IT cannot really manage the system remotely and lack the monitoring tools needed to be able to identify potential issues before they become problems. On top of that, when end users are contacting their helpdesk with specific MTR issues their standard IT service helpdesk is not able to solve the problems, often leaving users dissatisfied and with weakened confidence in their IT support.

“Elisa Videra has worked on many cases where our support has been needed to ensure that customers can get their MTRs working and can make the most out the investment” shares Pekka Haataja and adds. “It is never too late to take action and most of these issues can be solved by having support from an appropriate solution and service provider”.

Elisa Videra Services ensure you will make the most of your Microsoft Teams

  • Ensuring you choose the right solutions

    Your business needs and requirements come first with our vendor and platform agnostic solutions. We make the most of your existing investment and compliment them with new solutions where it makes sense. Elisa Videra’s Advisory and Design Services ensure integration to your existing business tools and processes for swift implementation and successful user adoption. 

  • Global turnkey solution for delivery and deployment

    Enjoy a stress-free solution delivery and deployment experience on a global scale. To make use of any existing investment, these assets can be onboarded and even upgraded. By following global delivery standards, we ensure the solutions are delivered and are appropriately installed for use at your locations – free of risks and first-time-right. 

  • Peace of mind with Managed Services

    Enjoy the benefits of stress-free communication solutions. We remove the complexity of communication tools maintenance; preventive services and continuous monitoring to fix issues before notable impact. When support is needed our team of solution specialists are available 24/7 to help you get back on track.

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