Microsoft Teams: My Intro, the Ground Floor

microsoft teams introAs I posted a few days ago, I am going to start a series of posts highlighting my experiences designing, deploying, using, integrating with with Microsoft Teams.  Today, I would like to set some background, data and info relating to this high energy, fully supported, ever expanding platform for Microsoft.

On 4 March 2016, Microsoft considered bidding $8 billion for Slack, but Bill Gates was against the purchase, thought Microsoft should focus on improving Skype for Business.  Later that year, Microsoft announced Teams to the public as a direct competitor to Slack.

In the beginning, it did not seem these two were in competition with each other.  Microsoft did not let members outside the subscription join the platform, because of this so many believed that small businesses and freelancers would be unlikely to switch.  Recently that thought has changed as Microsoft is opening up from only supporting  Azure Active Directory member subscriptions to a external members of the ‘Team’ (still requires a Microsoft identity) in response Slack has deepened its integration with Google products and services.  So it seems the battle lines are being drawn.

Microsoft wants Teams to be a centralized, organizing entity for the different cloud objects, people, and things that may figure in a collaboration. The Microsoft Graph API platform will be key to these integrations moving forward.

Microsoft Teams joins with Office 365 to become what seems to be the broadest and deepest portfolio of collaboration applications and services to help solve the diverse needs of people and organizations globally. Office 365 is designed for the unique workstyle of every group and includes purpose-built applications, all deeply integrated together.

Teams is designed to facilitate chat-based communication and collaboration for businesses—and its integration with Office 365 apps and services could give it a leg up on the competition. – Microsoft Teams: The right collaboration platform for your organization?, TechRepublic

Some of these key components are:

  • SharePoint provides intranets and content management solutions to more than 200,000 organizations and 190 million people.
  • Yammer is the social network for work, enabling cross-company discussions for 85 percent of the Fortune 500.
  • Skype for Business provides real-time voice, video and conferencing and hosts more than 100 million meetings a month.
  • Office 365 Groups is our cross-application membership service that makes it easy for people to move naturally from one collaboration tool to another.
  • Team channels can also communicate with outside services via Connectors. Connectors already exist to push updates from GitHub, Zendesk, MailChimp, SAP SuccessFactors, Salesforce and many others these ‘channels’ and an API framework is available to allow more to be built.
  • From within Chat, every Team channel will have access to T-Bot, a bot that can answer simple questions users have about Teams.

OneDrive in the back-end provides access to files, internal sites and dashboards that are secured using Office 365 Groups and SharePoint.  Users are able to create their own Group or attach the Team to an existing Group when creating a Team. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations are shared within a Team and are synced with a copy stored in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage and a local SharePoint environment, so every Team member always has access to the latest version. Collaborative editing of this shared content is also possible, with each user’s changes reflected in the Office software in real time.  I will definitely try to break OneDrive further.  I am curious how we (and our customers) can use this as a shared storage area with a high level of business level control.

Teams is, of course, integrated with Microsoft’s own productivity software and services (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Skype, etc.), its ‘Stream’ business-focused video service, Visual Studio, and more.  Another area I hope to dive into is the use of Office 365 Video, its migration to Stream, the options this provides (and the roadblocks I see already).

Microsoft is using Office 365’s security and compliance functionality such as eDiscovery and Legal Hold and will be managed through Microsoft Intune. Teams is designed to meet the same security and data protection standards as Office 365 and is Office 365 Tier C compliant. The service enforces two-factor authentication, single sign on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Data used in Teams is encrypted in transit and at rest, the post said, and teams will support standards such as EU Model Clauses, ISO 27001, SOC 2, and HIPAA, among others.

Teams is currently available to Office 365 commercial customers with any of the following plans: Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Enterprise E1, E3, and E5. If someone doesn’t like using Teams, the service’s integration with Office 365 means that important updates or content generated within the collaboration platform can be flagged up outside of Teams. For instance, Microsoft Delve might highlight an update to an important shared file.

The Microsoft Bot Framework provides the tools necessary to create the intelligent technology that has become a big part of the company’s overall business strategy. In Microsoft’s vision, the mobile modern workforce operates within the confines of its messaging applications, and if the company’s products are going to reach this mobile workforce, they have meet them in their natural habitat.

Other posts to read…..

Stay tuned for a series of posts breaking down the bundled product.  There are so many other areas to cover, so I won’t even put a scheduled end date on this series, hopefully there will be enough to post on for quite a long time.  I am hoping others will add their experiences to the conversation.


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