Hello Readers,

Hope you’re well.

This post is going to change a lot in the coming days/weeks so you will probably want to keep checking back.

One of the features that everyone is waiting for for Teams is Federation.  That is the ability to communicate with people outside your organisation.  When I say communicate, I mean presence first and foremost, chat (instant messaging), audio/video calling and sharing.  I know you can already do this if you set up a meeting with someone outside, but this isn’t federation.  This works because you invited external people with an email address (MPN) to your meeting.

Federation has been in Microsoft UC since Messenger in Exchange 2000.  In Skype for Business you can turn federation on and off and create policies, allowed domain lists and even federate with non Lync/Skype for Business contacts using Consumer Skype or Cisco Jabber for instance.  

With federation enabled, you can add external contacts using Lync, Skype, Skype for Business, Jabber and more to your contact list and see their presence and easily start an IM with them or escalate to add audio or video over the internet.  To say that federation is ubiquitous is an understatement.

Federation in Teams

The title of the post suggests federation is available in Teams.  And it is, sort of.  Once again, this post will change as more becomes available.  But some things work.

What’s works now – 11th July 2018

Presence in Skype for Business of a Teams user.  If you tag a user for status change you’ll see immediately when the user signs into Teams or becomes available.  

Sadly, presence information isn’t exchanged between two Teams users.

Calling, both audio and video, works between Teams users in different organisations.

I tried this in a few scenarios.  

  • Teams desktop client to desktop client works
  • Teams desktop client to mobile client works
  • Teams desktop client to browser client (Edge) works to start with, but the session crashes in Edge shortly after the call starts.  Desktop client thinks it is still in the call until the Edge client is back in.  Then it says the call failed and gives you a rejoin link which clearly doesn’t work.

Teams to Teams doesn’t work.  You actually get an error message

Skype for Business to Teams does work.  
In Skype for Business (Server), double click on a Teams contact who is only signed in to Teams to start a chat.  Send a message.  There is a delay of up to 30 seconds, but it eventually pops up in the chat window in Teams.  It actually pops up as a new chat, separate from the one between Teams accounts and the contact has a little Skype for Business logo on it.

The failed message was because I closed the Skype for Business chat window too early.  As I said, there is a delay between sending and receiving of upwards of 30 seconds.  Once I did see that the message had been received I started a new chat from Skype for Business to Teams and was able to chat in both directions.

Another word of warning.  The chat session can time out it seems.  If you leave the chat open between Skype for Business and Teams and do nothing while you write more of a blog post, then go to Teams and send a new message, it will fail with the same error.  If you send a new message from Skype for Business it first appears in Teams as a peek and then pops into the same chat window.

Teams to Skype for Business doesn’t work.  This is probably because I’m testing between an account with Teams and Skype Online to an account with Teams and Skype for Business Server.  More likely it is because Teams to Teams doesn’t work.  

I also tested a new chat to someone I know that has Skype for Business Online but not Teams and that failed.

And lastly, I tried a chat between Teams and a Skype for Business server account only (no Teams).  And that failed.

How do you chat to an external contact?
Type their SIP address into the address bar of a new chat.  You’ll get a message saying that “We couldn’t find any matches” and it offers to let you search externally.

Once you click on the Search externally message it opens up a chat window.  It said that the contact is external and that some Teams features won’t be available.

What do you need to do to enable?
The answer is External access.  If you browse to the Skype and Teams Admin Centre (STAC) aka Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Admin Centre (MTSBAC) and expand Org-wide settings and click on External access, and make sure External access is switched on.  I also switched on external Skype users.

Sadly the Learn More link goes to a 404 not found.  

But it does include links to a couple of useful posts.

This one says to enable External Access and wait 24 hours.

This one says enable external access and add a domain (which isn’t in the admin centre).

More to considerWhen two Teams users in separate tenants/domains are communicating with each other they can only use Teams features that are turned on in both organisations.  
I’ll update this post when I know more.  
Go and test.  I’d love to hear how you get on.


Thanks for reading.

If this or any other post has been useful to you please take a moment to share.  Comments are welcome.