How to approach a Webex-Teams integration and make it work

Cisco and Microsoft are finally breaking down the interoperability barriers between Webex and Teams apps. Companies will be able to soon reap the benefits.

One aspect of choosing a team collaboration platform is determining whether it potentially alienates business teams and partners who use hardware and software from a different vendor. Cisco and Microsoft are trying to eliminate that concern by working together to make their Webex and Teams products easier to interconnect.

In this tip, learn the importance of collaboration interoperability and the ways your organization should benefit from a Webex-Teams integration.

Why integrate Webex and Teams?

The proliferation of remote and hybrid workforces ushered in a new reliance on enterprise unified communications and collaboration tools for distributed users. While communication among users, teams and partners is straightforward when everyone signs into the same platform, the same can't be said when participants try to work with hardware and platforms from different vendors.

Users must continually switch between platforms and constantly coordinate with others to find hardware and software that works together. It's frustrating and complicates workflows. Employees lose time, and businesses wind up with multiple collaboration platforms, as well as shoulder the increased hardware and licensing fees required to support them.

While communication among users, teams and partners is straightforward when everyone uses the same platform, the same can't be said when trying to work with hardware and platforms from different vendors.

A Webex-Teams integration helps companies lower costs and make IT management more efficient. It also makes it easier for team members to communicate in a cross-platform setting.

How to configure services for users

Microsoft and Cisco are integrating their services in two phases. The first is software, enabling Teams and Webex users to call, video conference and send chat messages to each other, regardless of the platform they use. The second is hardware, where Cisco plans to release a wide variety of room devices capable of supporting both Teams and Webex, depending on what platform is required for a specific meeting.

Cisco's Webex help site details how a Webex and Microsoft 365 administrator can build a communications bridge between the two platforms to support cross-service functionality through Cisco's Webex Meetings app for Microsoft Teams. The process requires the following administrative steps.

Webex Control Hub steps

  • Log in to the Webex Control administration hub, and configure the existing Webex site for third-party integration.
    • This enables users to log in to Webex Meetings using Microsoft 365 accounts, as opposed to their Webex accounts.
    • If the Webex Meetings email accounts match Microsoft 365 email accounts, this permits users to log in using their Teams credentials.
  • Click the checkboxes on the Webex hub common site settings portion of the administration page. This authorizes Microsoft 365 and Teams integration to enable users to permit the information flow between the companies' Webex and Teams tenant directory and to synchronize Outlook calendar events so that scheduled meetings are visible on both Teams and Webex platforms. Once complete, an email is sent to Microsoft Teams administrators to approve the authorization request with Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 steps

  • Enable and grant permission for users to use Cisco's Webex Meetings app for Microsoft Teams, in coordination with the prerequisite Webex Control Hub steps detailed above. Click Allow external apps in Microsoft Teams. Once this step is complete, select Cisco Webex Meetings to turn on this cross-collaboration feature.
  • An authorization request message from Cisco Webex Teams meetings is sent to the Microsoft 365 administrator. This permissions request must be approved by the Teams administrator.
  • Specify what Webex Meetings site should be granted for the cross-synchronization of meeting information between the two platforms. This is usually in the form of business-name.webex.com.
  • Once the two platforms are synced, enable and authorize a new Teams tab that grants permission for participants to use the Webex Meetings for Microsoft Teams application within Teams.

How to configure integration for devices

Cisco is in the process of getting its meeting room hardware certified for use with Teams software; a few products can be used today, with many more slated to be released in the months to come. Companies will be able to use the Teams Admin Center portal to manage and configure these devices, with users joining Teams meetings through either the one-touch join function or by dialing into meetings manually.

The role of third-party interoperability services

Before Cisco and Microsoft said they would underwrite a Webex-Teams integration, the only way to gain any level of interoperability was to use a third-party service to link the systems together. These services provided cross-platform messaging, team collaboration space synchronization and file sharing. While it's likely these services will lose some customers as a result of the partnership between Microsoft and Cisco, they may still play a role in bridging the gap between other collaboration products, such as Slack and Zoom. To that end, businesses may want to consider using third-party interoperability services in situations where fully unified messaging and space synchronization is needed across multiple collaboration platforms.

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