Hello Readers, I hope you’re well.

This is a post on how to set up and use Pexip’s relatively new Cloud Video Interop (CVI) service for Microsoft Teams.  I’m going to launch right in with some background.

Background

If you’ve ever had a meeting in Teams, you’ll know that it is a fantastic experience.  I hear it all the time from people I speak to.  Even those using other meetings solutions, including Skype for Business.  They love the quality of the audio and video and that it “just works”.

Now this is all well and good when your meeting attendees are all joining using the Teams client on desktop, mobile or browser.  What about attendees using a video room system?  If they have a Microsoft Teams Room, it won’t be a problem.  But what about non-Microsoft systems.  Such as Poly Group Series or HDX, Cisco Telepresence or Tandberg, or anything else for that matter?

These are collectively known as Standards Based Video TeleConference (VTC) systems.  Standards based means they use a common set of standards (Protocols and Codecs) for joining video meetings.  And while these standards are common, they aren’t used by Microsoft.  Most legacy VTCs can join a meeting using H.323 and SIP as the protocol for joining meetings.  Microsoft doesn’t use H.323 or SIP.  Then there the codec’s.  Microsoft uses their own variant of the standard codecs used by everyone else.

It isn’t just Microsoft though.  Everyone does something a little different on their own systems.  Bridging solutions have been around for a long time and they can come in handy.  These solutions work to translate everything for dissimilar systems so they can meet.  A really common thing to do is host a virtual meeting room (VMR) for everyone to join with their own kit.  The meeting organizer usually has a VMR solution that is integrated with their in-house meeting solution .  This VMR gets cascaded into the organizer’s meeting using this integration.

The two main use cases for bridging solutions

  • Provide the facility for anyone with a standards based VTC to join your Microsoft meeting
  • Provide the ability for you to carry on using your existing, legacy room kit that doesn’t support Skype or Teams, after you’ve migrated to Teams

Some solutions add additional features to your solution, but I’m not covering that here.

Bridging solutions can be offered as on-prem kit or servers or as cloud based solutions.

What is Cloud Video Interop?

Cloud Video Interop or CVI is relatively new in the Microsoft UC space.  Microsoft created a set of rules and asked vendors to go away and build and deliver something.  CVI is delivered “as a service” and has to run in Azure so it can integrate directly with Skype for Business (and Teams).  This means that the customer doesn’t need to host or deploy anything themselves.  They simply consume it as a service from one of the vendors that offer solutions.

For version 1 of CVI, Poly.com launched RealConnect for Office 365 which, at the time, only worked with Skype for Business Online.  Pexip had their Infinity product which could be installed on-prem or in the public cloud as a private instance for one customer.  Pexip Infinity worked with Skype for Business Server or with Skype for Business Online using federation.  Similarly, Poly also had their Clarity product which could also be installed on-prem.

CVI was first developed for Skype for Business and later made to work with Teams.  Microsoft has qualified just three vendors for Cloud Video Interop for Teams.  Pexip, Poly and Bluejeans.

I’m not here to compare platforms or technology by the way.  If you want a comparison, here is an excellent one from Graham Walsh.  He works for Pexip, but that doesn’t make him biased in the slightest.  His post is based purely on fact.

How to configure Pexip CVI

Because the Pexip CVI Service solution runs in Azure, there was very little for me to do to make it work.

First step

Give the partner the domain you intend to use it with.  This is because Pexip CVI uses your own domain for the join link – e.g. teams@yourdomain.com.  Poly, by comparison, uses a default domain for everyone (t.plcm.vc) along with a unique identifier.  e.g. 625964125@t.plcm.vc.

The best thing about using your own domain is that its easy to remember.  But couple that with them using teams in the join link and it gets even better.  Simply give the person that wants to join using their VTC the SIP/H.323 address teams@yourdomain.com and they only need to dial the conference id to get in.

It is also possible to use the Pexip CVI solution when you’re using both Skype for Business and Teams on the same domain.  For this type of deployment, Pexip recommend using a sub-domain.  If you can’t configure a sub-domain for some reason, Pexip will provide one for you using onpexip.com.  So it will look like teams@yourdomain.onpexip.com.

Second step

DNS SRV records.  Pexip sent me a list of SRV records to add to my public DNS.

Pexip CVI-16

Third Step

Consent.  The Pexip CVI application needs to be granted permissions to enable access to Microsoft Teams in your Office 365 tenant.  Just click on the link in the email.

Pexip CVI-17

You’ll be taken to an Office 365 permissions page.  Click the link to initiate consent

Pexip CVI-18

Enter your credentials

Pexip CVI-19

Then click accept on these in turn to grant consent

Fourth Step

Configuration. Once you’ve granted consent you’ll be redirected to the config page.

Pexip CVI-23

Can’t read that?  Don’t worry.  Here’s the detail.

First you need to make sure you have the Skype Online PowerShell module and start a new session.

Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
$sfbSession = New-CsOnlineSession -OverrideAdminDomain “yourcompany.onmicrosoft.com”
Import-PSSession $sfbSession

Next: Create new video interop service provider with your Trusted App ID set as trusted.

New-CsVideoInteropServiceProvider -Name Pexip -TenantKey “teams@yourdomain.com” -InstructionUri “https://pexip.me/teams/yourdomain.com/{ConfId}” -AllowAppGuestJoinsAsAuthenticated $true -AadApplicationIds “923c9f0a-b883-4efe-af73-54810da59f83”

And finally: Grant interop for all users or specific individuals.

Grant interop for all users in the tenant (recommended):

Grant-CsTeamsVideoInteropServicePolicy -PolicyName PexipServiceProviderEnabled -Global

or just for individuals:

Grant-CsTeamsVideoInteropServicePolicy -PolicyName PexipServiceProviderEnabled -Identity “first.last@yourdomain.com”

Then wait a Teams Minute for replication.  If you don’t know what a Teams Minute is, it is the elapsed time between configuring anything in Teams admin and for the setting to be live.  It could be a few minutes or a couple of days depending on what your changing.

Using the Pexip CVI

Using it is pretty straightforward.  Send out a normal Teams meeting invite to your participants.

Pexip CVI-13

and you’ll see some extra details below the traditional join link

Pexip CVI-15

As I said above, the person joining the meeting can simply enter teams@yourdomain.com and then enter the conference ID when prompted.

Or hit the alternate dialing instructions and it takes you to a landing page with your custom link.  You guessed it.  It’s the conference ID followed by your domain.

Pexip CVI-10

I tested it out using the Polycom RealPresence Desktop to simulate joining from a VTC.  It can join using SIP or H.323 just like a VTC can.

Pexip CVI-06

You can enter teams@yourdomain.com

Pexip CVI-05

and then enter the conf ID when prompted

Pexip CVI-04

Or dial the conf ID and domain directly

Pexip CVI-24

From the Teams meeting, admit the VTC from the lobby.

Pexip CVI-09

And you’re in.  The VTC will receive audio and video as well as content.

Pexip CVI-25

Update

In the first version of this post I said that when I shared content into the meeting, video stopped.  That got the attention of a few people at Pexip and two contacted be to that this should not happen.  One even replicated my test and showed it working.

In my first test I was using Edge (Chromium) as the meeting organizer.  Chromium browsers do stop video when you share.  This is expected, it turns out.

It is worth noting that content sharing differs by Teams client.

Given that my first test yielded apparently unexpected results, I decided to do some more extensive testing with more Teams client types.  I had some interesting results.

In my testing, I joined a Teams meeting using the Desktop client for Windows, browser clients including; Edge, Edge (Chromium) & Google Chrome, a Microsoft Teams Room and Teams for iPhone.  I was able to share content from all of them.  But even when I could share content, the VTC didn’t always receive it.

Teams Client Can Share
Content
Content Types in
Share Tray
Can Share Video Can Share Video
& Content
Notes
Windows Desktop Yes Screen, App, PowerPoint, Whiteboard Yes Yes The VTC doesn’t receive PowerPoint
Edge Yes PowerPoint, Whiteboard Yes Yes VTC doesn’t receive any content from Edge
Edge (Chromium) Yes Screen, PowerPoint, Whiteboard Yes No VTC doesn’t receive PowerPoint, does receive screen
Google Chrome Yes Screen (with extension), PowerPoint, Whiteboard Yes No VTC doesn’t receive PowerPoint, does receive screen
Microsoft Teams Room Yes Wired or wireless content Yes Yes VTC receives content from MTR
Teams for iPhone Yes Screen, Photo, PowerPoint Yes Yes VTC doesn’t receive content from iPhone

 

For the Chromium based browsers, as soon as I started sharing content, video stopped.  And I got a message stating that I could share video once I stopped sharing my screen.

Pexip CVI-08

Although video didn’t automatically start back up after I stopped sharing.  I had to click to start it again.

This is a screenshot of the VTC receiving content.  As you can see, the video changes to a graphic with a message…

Pexip CVI-02

…the other participants are audio only

Pexip CVI-26

If your VTC supports content sharing, that also gets pushed into the Teams meeting.  Here, I’m sharing my screen into the meeting from my VTC.

Pexip CVI-07

 

Wrap Up

The Pexip CVI solution offers you or your customers a great solution for allowing your meeting participants to join your Teams meetings using whatever they have.  Or helps you sweat your existing assets before replacing with Microsoft Teams Rooms or whatever else is coming down the line.

Here is a link to a page that shows all of the supported endpoints.  It’s a massive list including;

  • Cisco Webex, Jabber and a ton of room kit
  • Microsoft – LRS and SRS, the Skype for Business client
  • Google Hangouts
  • Polycom everything
  • A huge list of other manufacturers

There’s more

Pexip has an offer on at the moment.  Free Cloud Video Interop Capabilities for Microsoft Teams Rooms and Surface Hub 2 Customers.  Buy a Surface Hub 2 or 5 Microsoft Teams Rooms from any vendor and Pexip will give you 2 concurrent licenses for their CVI solution for a year.  It’s a great deal and lets you try out the solution before you commit to more, which you’ll surely need anyway.

To learn more and claim free CVI licenses for Microsoft Teams, visit pexip.com/free-cvi.

If you’d like to learn more about Pexip CVI or any of their other solutions visit their webpage or speak to your UC partner.

I also wanted to send a special thank you to Graham and Marius at Pexip for reaching out.  Great support guys.

And that’s all folks!