Today Microsoft is a leader in the communications and collaboration arena. Their Teams and Skype for Business products have played a pivotal role in this achievement.
Two versions of Skype for Business are available – server and online. The former is a standalone, on-premise product, the latter is part of the Office 365 cloud suite and has been functionally replaced by Teams, but Microsoft is retaining it in Office 365 (for the present) to support current users.
These are sophisticated and complex unified communications applications that in many instances require expert skills to manage.
What are your options for managing these products?
Microsoft’s command line interface and scripting language can fulfil your Teams and Skype for Business management requirements, but this is a time-consuming, technical and challenging route to take. Writing cmdlets is a programming task.
Once written, they may require spreadsheet or XML inputs; producing them is tedious and error-prone.
PowerShell is the original and most complete management tool for many Microsoft products, including Teams and Skype for Business.
Although powerful, PowerShell is not always the preferred option, and Microsoft recognises this by providing graphical tools to manage Teams and Skype for Business.
These tools are a work in progress and more features and abilities are being added to them daily.
2. Office365 Admin Center
Within the Office 365 Admin Center, there is an option you can select for managing Teams and Skype for Business online.
Microsoft has released the third version of this tool:
Initially called – Skype for Business Admin Center,
and then – Teams and Skype for Business Admin Center,
and now named – Teams Admin Center.
The name changes reflect Microsoft’s transition from Skype for Business to Teams as their primary cloud-based communications and collaboration product.
The Teams Admin Center is a web portal providing administrators with the ability to perform many of the Teams and Skype for Business (the former admin centre is still available if you need it) management tasks without using PowerShell.
Nevertheless, there are still areas where PowerShell is superior and necessary. For instance:
extracting and manipulating detailed information,
creating additional features and configurations,
for bulk operations and sorting,
providing additional ways to filter information,
to save and print data,
and for cross-product management.
Microsoft will no doubt continue to improve their Teams Admin Center, but in the meantime, much of Teams and Skype for Business management remains reliant on PowerShell.
3. Managing Teams and Skype for Business Without PowerShell
Kurmi Software offers Unified Provisioning: a single management platform – simplifying and automating operations – to provision Active Directory users, associated Teams and Skype for Business accounts, devices, and specific objects like pick-up groups, private lines and meeting rooms.
It strengthens multiple tools through a single and powerful web portal providing cross-product management with no PowerShell scripts required.
Role-based access control enables the delegation of day-to-day management to non-expert staff such as local administrators, helpdesk agents and human resources assistants. This, along with rollback and scheduling features simplify the setup and monitoring your teams without compromising security.
Workflow templates ensure organisational governance and compliance –
simplifying and easing the management of Teams and Skype for Business.
Kurmi’s hybrid architecture provides seamless management of your end-users and their services on Skype for Business server (on-premise) and Teams or Skype for Business online (cloud).
With multi-tenant functionality, administrators can easily switch between different instances of Office 365 to manage Teams and Skype for Business.
Dial plan management can be complicated, time-consuming, and error-prone. Administrators have traditionally used a combination of spreadsheets and PowerShell scripts – Kurmi Unified Provisioning gives you a real-time overview of your dial plan; you can assign numbers easily and quickly without fear of number allocation errors.
Polycom endpoints are Microsoft’s preferred choice when it comes to desk phones for Teams and Skype for Business. Kurmi Unified Provisioning automates the generation of the XML files and FTP transfers required to provision these endpoints.
If you still need to use a PowerShell script to do something at the end of the day, Kurmi Unified Provisioning can integrate and execute it.
There are multiple ways to manage Teams and Skype for Business. The various configurations in which these products are used can lead to a complex and confusing management setup incorporating numerous tools, methods and staffs.
Kurmi Unified Provisioning is modular and flexible enabling it to meet the specific needs, processes, and internal IT policies of each customer.
Using a product like Kurmi Unified Provisioning simplifies, reduces errors, saves time and money and promotes excellence in the management of products like Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams.