Microsoft recently announced a new add-on for Microsoft Teams called the “Advanced Communications” SKU, which can be added to any Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscription. In this blog, we’ll cover what exactly the add-on includes so you can determine if it’s a good fit for your organization!
What is the Advanced Communications Add-on?
If your organization is looking for a way to enhance their communications experience, the Advanced Communications add-on could be just the thing for you! So what does this license include? The Advanced Communications add-on will give you additional benefits around calling and meeting capabilities (which provides for large meetings, meeting customization, communications integrations, and workflows) as well as the necessary tools to manage your organization’s communications policies. Now that you know what’s included, let’s break down each of these added capabilities.
Scale your Teams Meetings
Broaden your reach and host a Live Event with up to 20,000 participants! Also, host an interactive meeting with up to 1,000 participants, and have the meeting seamlessly shift to a “view-only” mode and scale to the 20,000 participant limit once that 1,000 participant count is reached. This over-flow meeting capability is not available today with this add-on but will be available soon.
Note: Microsoft currently offers Live Events with up to 20,000 participants as a temporary offer during these times of uncertainty (COVID-19). Microsoft has indicated that the 20,000 Live Event participant limit will only be available until October 1st, 2020. After that time, the threshold will decrease back to its original 10,000 Live Event limit.
With this add-on, you’ll be able to insert your company’s branding to meetings so you can give the conference experience a more “professional” look and feel.
Workflow Integration for Meetings and Calling
Integrate your workflows by having things like your compliance recording automated without the need for manual intervention.
Have peace of mind knowing that these capabilities can be monitored, tracked, and analyzed for both users and devices so you can ensure the optimal experience for your end-users.
What’s is currently available?
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At the time of this writing, the following features are available with this add-on:
- Live events support for up to 20,000 participants, 50 concurrent events, event duration of 16 hours per broadcast.
- Compliance recording integration (ISV)
- Contact Center solution integration (ISV)
These features are not currently available and instead are on the roadmap for release later this year:
- Interactive Teams meetings for up to 1,000 participants
- Interactive Teams meetings for 1,000 participants with the capability to enable up to 20,000 in a view-only meeting experience
- Custom branded meeting lobby
Also, you can expect more customization, tools, and communication enhancements in the coming months.
Important Note: The Advanced Communications Add-on does not include Communications Compliance nor Communications DLP (data loss prevention). Personally, I think both of these features should be included, as the add-on name suggests, these types of “Advanced” features should be part of the “Advanced” Communications feature set, but I digress…
How much will this cost?
This Advanced Communications add-on will cost $12 user/month. This may seem pretty steep for just an add-on, but keep in mind, only meeting organizers will need this add-on license (not attendees).
Can I try this for free?
You sure can! Microsoft is offering a 60-day free trial now! You can access this trial through your Microsoft 365 Admin Center.
Is this available to the Government Cloud?
Unfortunately, the Advanced Communications add-on is not being offered to Microsoft 365 GCC, GCC High, or DoD environments at this time. However, this will be available at a later date, just no ETA at this time.
My Opinions on the add-on
In my humble opinion, with the lack of “advanced” features available to customers at this time, I really find this additional cost hard to justify. Until Microsoft can offer the full feature set they are promoting (and even some extra features on top of that) I just don’t see the three current features: Live Events with 20,000 participants, Compliance Recording integration (ISV), and Contact Center integration (ISV) being worth the $12 user/month. However, I do think that you should take advantage of the free 60-day trial offer (but maybe wait until all features are available) so you can determine if this add-on is actually something you need within your organization!
I hope you have found this article helpful, and if you’re interested in learning more about this latest add-on, you can check out the official announcement here. Check back soon, as I’ll be outlining some of the latest updates for Teams management, which many of you IT administrators out there will be happy to hear about!