Microsoft Teams app adds controls for IT admins

Microsoft has released a set of APIs for automating the creation and archiving of teams within the Microsoft Teams app.

Microsoft has released a series of APIs that will help businesses automatically create and archive teams in the Microsoft Teams app. The vendor also created new administrator roles to let IT departments monitor and manage how employees are using the collaboration app.

The APIs make it possible to automate the process of creating new teams. For example, an airline could generate a new set of groups every day based on that day's flights.

IT administrators will be able to preconfigure team membership, settings, channels, tabs and third-party apps. For example, an airline could create a channel within each flight team for the flight attendants and add a tab for airport maps.

Administrators will be able to create Office 365 group expiration policies that automatically archive or delete teams. The APIs are available through Microsoft Graph, a back-end tool that facilitates access to data stored across all the apps within an organization's Office 365 account.

Microsoft also introduced three new IT administrator roles to help larger organizations manage Teams. The positions let IT departments delegate certain controls to specific people, without giving those users full control over the entire platform.

One administrator role gives a user access to Teams meeting and calling functions, including the ability to assign phone numbers and manage conference call bridges. Another position includes access to call analytics data, while a third provides access to a more limited set of call data.

The release of the new administrator roles and APIs comes as Microsoft steps up efforts to migrate customers from Skype for Business to the Microsoft Teams app, a cloud-based team collaboration platform similar to Slack and Cisco Webex Teams.

At the Microsoft Ignite conference in September, some early adopters of Teams said they needed better tools for the IT department.

"Microsoft needs to work on its control over what teams are created and how we as admins see them," said Matt Carlone, systems administrator of Concord School District in Concord, N.H.

Earlier this year, Microsoft created a new dashboard within Office 365 for managing both Skype for Business and Teams. Now, IT administrators will be able to view and edit groups within Teams from that same portal, performing functions such as adding team members and changing privacy settings.

Microsoft unveils Teams Adoption Hub

Microsoft has created a webpage to help organizations that are attempting to begin using Teams. The Teams Adoption Hub site includes documentation and step-by-step guides on topics related to features, training, security, compliance, interoperability with other Office 365 apps and moving from Skype to Teams.

Last month, Microsoft stopped letting small-business customers create new cloud-based Skype for Business Online accounts and began automatically migrating organizations with fewer than 500 employees from Skype online to Teams.

Microsoft also released a new Skype for Business server that will let businesses migrate users directly from on-premises Skype to Teams, eliminating the need to first move users to cloud-based Skype. However, most enterprise customers today are still using older Skype or Lync servers.

Many businesses have complained that Microsoft hasn't provided a clear migration path for moving to Teams. Enterprise customers, meanwhile, are generally still concerned that the app doesn't support all of the advanced telephony features they need.

Dig Deeper on Team collaboration software