Zoom or Teams. What's right for you?

17 Apr 2020 10:46 AM | Anonymous


First off, a big thank you to Environment Canterbury for sharing this document with us to provide to the rest of local government. 

Having the need to suddenly roll out collaboration tools thrust upon us, it's handy to have a comparison on the two from a local government perspective. That's exactly what this document does. 

Have a document you think could be handy for everyone else? You can reach us on marketing@algim.org.nz

Environment Canterbury collaboration tools

Purpose

  • This document is to give a brief overview of the reasoning behind the implementation and use of Microsoft Teams for Environment Canterbury. This implementation has been pushed through under urgency with the event of Covid-19 and the stage 4 lock down.

    Current state

    Microsoft Teams is a unified collaboration platform and forms part of the Microsoft 365 suite of products. It is demonstrated as a single pane of glass, like a window to all the other applications and tools available. Skype for Business (cloud based) is being incorporated into teams, and it is likely we will see this with other Microsoft offerings.

    Environment Canterbury runs a Microsoft environment (stack) and has opted to use many of Microsoft’s cloud offerings. These cloud offerings provide greater resilience than on premise solutions, with portal.office.com being accessible from any internet enabled computer. Environment Canterbury has been “implementing” Office 365 for approximately five years. From the use of OneDrive instead of USB keys, to Power BI being our primary reporting tool, this path is not new, and is familiar for our users. SfB online is due for retirement in July 2021, while SfB on premise is due for retirement in 2024.

    As Teams sits in this M365 suite, the administration and management are not new. It is changing as Microsoft increases and improves the offerings regularly, but the platform administration is consistent with all other 365 products.

    Environment Canterbury requirements

  • Environment Canterbury has previously used Skype for Business (on premise) for the provision of online communications. These include (but are not limited to) online meetings, chats, calls, screensharing, and file sharing. In addition, SfB is used for the live broadcasting of Council meetings and sits alongside the Enghouse solution to provide the inhouse call centre solution.
  • A requirements document was completed to ensure that requirements of all stakeholders were assessed against any product for implementation.
  • Other collaboration options

    There have been many other web bases SaaS products that have become available over the last few years that focus on communications offerings. Some of these that the BIS Operations team have looked at are: Cisco Webx, UniFlow (Cannon), Fuze (Fusion Networks), RICOH Unified Communications System (UCS) Advanced Service and Zoom. All options were looked at for their functionality in individual direct communication, group communications, meeting room functionality and large-scale broadcasting. Each was also assessed against what it provided over and above Microsoft Teams, as Teams already existed in the environment and was free with our AOG enterprise licencing.

    All options were more expensive than Teams (because Teams is licenced within existing agreement) and none provided significantly better experiences or functionality. Fuze would have been the preference of BIS Operations, but the increased functionality over Teams was limited and would have run on top of Teams.

    Zoom was considered in depth, as it is used at other regional councils. The following table gives a brief overview of Zoom vs Teams for Environment Canterbury.

     

    Zoom

    Microsoft Teams

    Cost

    $180k per annum

    $0 (included in current licencing)

    Core Purpose

    Web conferencing tool

    Collaboration tool

    Functionality

    • ·       online meetings,
    • ·       chats,
    • ·       calls,
    • ·       screensharing
    • ·       file sharing
    • ·       online meetings,
    • ·       chats,
    • ·       calls,
    • ·       screensharing
    • ·       file sharing
    • ·       integration to Office 365

    System administration knowledge

    Very little, we have been to one sales day

    Well understood and developing, across BIS Ops and Knowledge Management

    Integrations required

    Bolt-ons to connect to other products

    None – all included

    Call centre

    Can’t run with Zoom

    Will run on Skype and Teams, compatible with Enghouse

    User interface

    Is better on Zoom

    Being developed on Teams

    Included is a System Administration knowledge row as any enterprise implementation would require an inhouse skill set, which is currently lacking.

    Also noted the although Waikato Regional Council had implemented Zoom, they are now dis-continuing the use and opting for Microsoft Teams.

    Teams Implementation

    BIS Operations, aware of the retirement of the SfB, has been assessing different options for replacement for approximately a year. Due to the above and knowing the business requirements it was decided to investigate what would be required to fully implement MS Teams.

    Funding was secured from Microsoft to bring Lexel to Christchurch to run a workshop with key parties to work out where we were, and what was needed, to undertake a full MS Teams implementation. The workshop was completed in late January and was hugely successful. The Lexel facilitators had excellent knowledge and had implemented Teams in similar environments to our own.

    Coinciding with the start of the COVID-19 event, we were working with Lexel to develop three statements of work as a result of their workshop. They were; Teams calling / chat, Team meetings and meeting rooms, Decommissioning of SfB on premise. This was then going to be presented to ELT for endorsement and funding (Microsoft had indicated they would also help fund implementation). As MS Teams is developing, including the “live events” option for council meeting, further SOWS and implementations would be completed and imbedded in Teams.

    Conclusion

    Covid-19 has caused the rapid adoption of MS Teams in Environment Canterbury. Use of M365 and other SaaS products take burden off the internal network. Moving most to this has decreased pressure on the SfB server, allowing it more capacity to cope with call centre traffic.

    These products are available from any internet enabled devices and have provided much needed capacity to the organisation. Limitations of any SaaS/M365 product will occur due to the user's internet speed and connection. There is some degradation of service across ISPs due to high use with everyone being at home, but this can be mitigated by not using video – and is irrespective of communication products used.

    Due to the Covid-19 level 4 implementation, Environment Canterbury was forced down a path quickly, but all the work completed previously has confirmed this is the right path for our organisation.

    Notes

    This report is for Environment Canterbury (Canterbury Regional Council) and is reflective of current state for this organisation. Other Councils who do not have teams implemented may choose to do this under their AOG licencing provided they have at least an Office 365 F1 licence. If they don’t have this, it can be easily acquired through the volume licencing centre and working with their licencing partner.


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