You may be accustomed to jumping back and forth between your Zoom and Teams apps on your personal device. Depending on the video conferencing invitation, you can easily join a meeting on either platform from their respective apps.
However, conference room systems don’t operate this way. Organizations are eager to find a solution that offers the ability to dial into both Zoom and Teams meetings from their conference room, without an overly complex user interface. Zoom and Teams are compatible in the conference room, you just need a knowledgeable AV partner to help design a solution that makes sense for your use case.
Conferencing platforms typically play nice with each other, letting users dial into a meeting from an entirely different platform. These systems all transmit audio and video signals across IP networks using the same protocol. Since each platform is communicating with the same “language” the audio and video encoded by Cisco in Company A’s conference room can be decoded by Zoom in Company B’s office.
THE COMPLEXITY COMES WITH TEAMS.
Teams runs off a proprietary video platform that creates issues with interoperability that has only recently been addressed. Historically you could not call into a Teams meeting from Zoom, Cisco or another standards-based H.323 or SIP system.
Microsoft recently announced that Teams Rooms can support a one-touch experience for joining third-party online meetings hosted on Cisco WebEx and Zoom. Neurilink is currently testing this capability with a variety of hardware to better assess its functionality.
SELECTING YOUR PREFERRED PLATFORM
That doesn’t mean you’re forced to choose between Zoom and Teams. Your company may have mostly adopted Teams, but during board meetings uses Zoom. Conversely, you may be a Zoom-heavy organization that occasionally gets invitations from customers to join Teams meetings. Perhaps the business hasn’t standardized and is still considering both. Whatever the case may be, it may not be a reasonable expectation for your employees to fully commit to a single platform. By utilizing additional technologies, we create flexible meeting spaces that support both Teams and Zoom calls.
We know many organizations don’t want to sacrifice ease of use. Employees across departments utilize conference rooms, and technology isn’t always their primary focus. Anyone should be able to walk in and use a system without becoming overwhelmed by an exceedingly complex, difficult to understand interface. Whichever platform they favor, easily dialing into calls is critical.
CAN ZOOM AND TEAMS CO-EXIST IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM?
The answer is a resounding YES. But a quick note first:
This information is accurate as to the time it was written. Because we don’t know anything about your meeting space, this is just for informational purposes. If you’re considering new conference room technology, connect with us for a complimentary proposal tailored to your exact needs.
The recommended conference room technology will depend on which platform you more heavily use. If 70% of your office uses Teams, then you’ll want a solution catering to them with a consistent Teams user interface. The ability to connect with Zoom exists but is a secondary platform or vice-versa.
Your end users most commonly leverage Teams for video conferencing, but also need the ability to dial into Zoom. If this is your situation you may prefer a user interface that mimics the Teams desktop look and feel – a purple interface with a familiar click to join button.
With the exception of the Crestron MX150, Teams Rooms currently do not have a ‘device mode’ or ‘bring your own platform’. If you have a Teams meeting you can’t push a single button to connect into the camera, mic and display in a Zoom call.
Neurilink is currently assessing the recently released updates that enable Microsoft-certified Teams Rooms to support Zoom Meeting Invitation. These features are rapidly changing and may be updated in the near future.
When joining a non-Teams call end users plug the HDMI into their device to take over the room’s display and mirror their screen. The USB cables connect the user’s device with the room’s microphones, camera, and speakers. This provides a professional experience by leveraging in-room technology.
A third option is the Logitech Swytch. Rather than the HDMI/USB options, this cable links a laptop to the room’s conference camera and display.
Zoom Rooms can utilize Dell Optiplex with USB cameras and mics or a Poly, Crestron or Logitech technology set in Zoom Room mode.
Crestron MX features the Crestron Mercury, which supports both native, one-touch to join for Zoom along with BYOD for other platforms. Poly’s Studio X and G7500 Series are also good options with their android-based system which doesn’t require a dedicated in-room Mac or PC. The Poly suite of video conferencing products is a scalable solution that supports huddle rooms all the way to training rooms. You will need an AV integrator, especially when it comes to design, configuration and deployment of the G7500 which is designed for larger meeting spaces.
You can easily invite other types of systems, like Polycom and Cisco, into the Zoom call or click to join if others have invited the room to a call. Teams is the anomaly since it doesn’t use the standard protocol.
There’s no off the shelf hardware that supports the native Zoom Room as well as Teams calls. You can overcome this issue with the help of a professional AV integrator. Their design engineers can develop systems that utilize hardware to efficiently navigate between a Zoom Room and BYOD. The Zoom Room connects to the camera, microphone and display for Zoom and H.323 or SIP calls. By leveraging a video switcher and USB switch, an employee plugs in their device and the room shifts priority to the user’s laptop for control of the peripherals.
If you don’t yet have a preferred platform and or aren’t sure which your employees most often use, the Poly X Series and G7500 is a good option. The systems can be set to Poly mode, which runs a traditional video conferencing standards H. 323 and/or SIP and uses a Cloud Video Interop (CVI) to dial out to Teams calls. The device itself can be invited from other calendar invites like Zoom. Zoom, Blue Jeans, or Pexip calls all have click to join. It doesn’t feature a native Zoom or Teams experience but does give users the flexibility to dial into or receive invitations from any video conferencing platform.
It’s impossible for us to say what the best solution is without understanding your goals, existing workflow, user expectations, budget and room nuances. While it’s easy to find an online bargain on hardware, you may not be happy with the end result. Screen size, ambient noise, building material and IT strategy all play a role in designing quality solutions. Investing in a well-designed, professional system with commercial hardware can reduce help desk tickets and overall frustration from your end users.
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