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Configuring Skype Room Systems for Microsoft Teams

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The answer really starts with the question ‘Are you trying to allow a roomsystem to have video with Microsoft Teams?’  and if there is any variation of ‘yes’ in your answer, then right now there is only one supported option and that’s to use a Skype Room System.  At the time of writing this article, there are no systems other than the Skype Room System that allows for native and supported usage of Microsoft Teams in this way. Skype Room Systems come in several flavours and a really good place to start is the Microsoft Teams devices shop here. This will help you understand what options there are and what has been successfully passed as a supported endpoint. The shop is not limited to Skype Room Systems but also includes items such as conference phones, desk phones, speaker phones and headsets. In this blog post, we are going to help walk through the provisioning of a Skype Room System, which is the same process that we would follow if we wanted to enable a speaker phone that is a Teams-enabled endpoint.

Currently the available meeting room systems are available from:

  • Crestron
  • HP
  • Lenovo
  • Logitech

I would expect to see Yealink also enter this area very soon. Each brand has their own certified and tested solution and it is possible to mix and match aspects of the Skype Room System such as allowing a Logitech Camera work with a Crestron SR or having a HP Elite Slice SRS work with a Polycom USB PTZ camera and a Polycom Trio conference phone.  HP and Lenovo have the added ability to work as an audio device for a smaller or ‘huddle’ meeting room, which will save on the desk real estate being taken up by the addition of the Skype Room System.

Configuration Outline:

The following outline describes the required steps to provision a Skype Room System account in Office 365.

Workflow for provisioning a Skype Room System account

Require a new Skype Room System account:

One of the first steps, could be creating all the required accounts needed, you may already have some or all of the accounts you need. For example, there may be an existing star phone device such as a Polycom Trio 8800 or Yealink CP860 that is configured as a voice only endpoint.  If this device has been provisioned properly there may be a requirement to utilise this existing account.  This guide will ultimately assume that no existing equipment or accounts are in place and will walk through this process as if we need to create everything from fresh, as if it’s a greenfield meeting room and Skype for Business Room System account. Then, we’ll take a look at how to provision the account to work with Microsoft Teams. Let’s get started.

Configuring Exchange Online:

One of the initial steps that needs to occur is the creation of the Meeting Room email account.  This can be completed using the following commands using the Microsoft Exchange Online PowerShell Module.

Create new resource mailbox:

Once you are authenticated you will need to create the Skype Room System mailbox:

What do these variables mean?

$rm is the name of the account that is being created for the meeting room

$newpass is the password that is going to be assigned to the account

The next process is to give the mailbox a name – this can be any useful name that users will identify the device or the room as.  This is the same name that we will use when we want to select the room within Outlook as an available resource.

You may be warned that the replication hasn’t yet occurred, this is standard and seems to happen every other creation. The importance here is to be patient and allow for the replication to occur, it can take a few minutes for the account to be created and configured within Azure AD and Exchange Online.

Set the mailbox properties:

I also like to create a MailTip when I’m creating the mailbox, this will ensure that when booking the room, people will get a response back from their booking and utilise Skype for Business Room System when it’s relevant to do so.

Connect to Office 365 PowerShell Session:

From within the same Microsoft Exchange Online PowerShell Module you can enter:

You will be prompted to authenticate as you have before when we created the Mailbox.

Set account password to never expire:

Assign correct licenses through the Admin Centre

For the Account to work properly as a video endpoint, a Skype for Business plan 2 or plan 3 must be assigned to the account.  Assigning a full E3 plan is overkill for what is required for the account.  In addition, assigning a Common Area Phone license is not supported for Skype for Business Room Systems.  Each individual license must be applied.  If the Skype for Business Room System requires the ability to make inbound and outbound calls from a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), two additional licenses will need to be applied, these are Microsoft Phone System and a Calling Plan.  For most cases a domestic calling plan will be sufficient, however, it is important to note that this should be reviewed on a regular basis to assign the correct calling plan to the meeting rooms that make calls regularly. More information about these plans can be found here.

Once the correct Skype for Business licenses have been applied, the device will start to work and function as a Teams Meeting device as well.  This process will work at the time of writing, but it may need to be reviewed at a future time, when Skype for Business Online becomes more engrained into Microsoft Teams. At this point, the licensing steps may need to include Microsoft Teams, however at the moment the advice within Microsoft best practice is to assign the Skype for Business Online (Plan 2) Licenses as outlined above.

Abdulsalam Garba

The author Abdulsalam Garba

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