Microsoft Teams Room (MTR) or Cisco Webex Video Integration for Microsoft Teams (VIMT)?
Beginning in the first half of 2023, Cisco announced native video support with Microsoft Teams, called Microsoft Teams Room (MTR). We touched on this briefly in our recent blog, “Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams Unite to Improve Collaboration.” The half dozen or so certified video units (with more coming) can now dually boot into either native Microsoft code or traditional Cisco Webex code, maintaining the high-quality video experience expected from Cisco in either mode.
Why does this matter? Microsoft only manufactures a single video unit (the Surface Hub), and they rely on 3rd-parties to produce others. Most of these 3rd-party vendors offer what essentially equates to a PC with a camera, resulting in a poorer quality experience, and yet another device on the network that needs security and patching. Cisco, on the other hand, has the greatest selection of high-quality video devices, ranging from desktop to complete room systems. Cisco devices have video and audio enhancements with AI to complete the best experience. Finally, Cisco devices can be automatically upgraded, managed and maintained through a central dashboard, Webex Control Hub.
Prior to the MTR announcement there were two options for joining a Microsoft Teams Meeting from a Cisco video device.
First is Direct Guest Join. This option, however, does NOT offer content sharing, layout control, participant list, etc.
The second option is using a separately licensed translation Cloud Video Interop (CVI) service.
Cisco’s version is Webex Video Integration for Microsoft Teams or VIMT. If you are a Microsoft Teams shop and are looking for an alternative to Direct Guest Join due to its limitations, you can use VIMT or now MTR mode. But which of these options is the right one for your organization?
Here are some of the pros and cons of each.
MTR Mode Pros
- It offers a Native Microsoft experience, which means you can run Microsoft code in an Android container on Cisco’s Room OS
- It works with the Microsoft Teams app
- It offers a Native Webex experience, but you need to invite the room system (or forward the invite)
- It provides an acceptable Zoom experience (not fully featured), but you also need to invite the room system (or forward the invite)
Side Note: The join experience for Zoom is inconsistent, some URL’s work, others don’t
MTR Mode Cons
- It does not support any other meeting platforms including Google Meet, Blue Jeans, etc.
- You must invite the room because Microsoft does not permit ad-hoc joins to 3rd-parties; this can be frustrating if you are planning to just borrow an open conference room
- It requires you to provide a Microsoft license for each video unit
Side Note: If you want the centralized management of Control Hub, that will be a 2nd license (on the Cisco side). Many larger companies have Enterprise Agreements (EA) in which case this may not be an issue, but it’s worth noting.
- It doesn’t work with the Webex App for proximity or sharing
- You must manually disconnect the room if you end or leave the meeting because screen casting from the Microsoft Teams App (sharing without a meeting) is just joining a 1:1 meeting
- It has no guest casting capability (without starting a MS Teams meeting)
VIMT Mode Pros
- It offers broad support for most meeting platforms including Webex, Zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet, Blue Jeans, and any other standard SIP URL system
- It has ad-hoc join which is supported for any meeting type, and you can have icons on the screen to make it very simple for users
- It provides easy screen sharing using proximity from the Webex App. Or, if you do not have the Webex App, you can visit https://share.webex.com/ for screen sharing
- It’s screen sharing capabilities only requires Internet access (it does not require a guest to join the same internal network as the device) - this is another often-overlooked benefit of Cisco video systems
VIMT Mode Cons
- Accessing these features requires a separate VIMT license
- VIMT is only effective on the host-side of the meeting. If you purchase VIMT licenses but join another company’s MS Teams meeting (and they don’t have VIMT), you only get the Direct Guest Join experience. This is because Microsoft does not use globally unique meeting IDs. While this has been on the “roadmap” for many years, Microsoft has not released updates as to when they will fix it
- It does not work with the Microsoft Teams app for sharing or proximity
So, MTR or VIMT Mode?
Choosing to use Cisco video devices is a no-brainer; they are the best on the market with a huge selection to choose from (see projectworkplace.cisco.com). Choosing the correct software mode depends not only on what your company uses for internal meetings, but also what external meeting platforms you may need to join (this is often overlooked). The market leaders for video conferencing are Webex, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, but there are still others like Google Meet, Blue Jeans (now owned by Verizon), and more. You may be invited to one, or all of these types of meetings.
If you only join MS Teams meetings, MTR is the best choice since it is a native experience.
However, if you primarily join MS Teams alongside Webex and/or Zoom meetings, MTR may still be fine. This is because, unlike other MTR devices on the market, Cisco has built-in support for Webex and Zoom, ensuring a versatile and comprehensive collaboration experience.
For those who predominantly rely on Webex, even if you occasionally join MS Teams, Webex mode is best. Use VIMT for seamless Microsoft Teams meetings.
Even if you find yourself needing to occasionally join one of the other types of meetings, Webex mode is your only option; use VIMT for Microsoft Teams meetings.
Need Assistance setting up your collaboration solutions?
Whether you're in the market for a better collaboration solution to meet the needs of your organization, or simply looking to maximize the potential of your current solution, IE is here to assist you. We can help you navigate the ins and outs of the latest features including the MTR and VIMT modes, in addition to implementing the solutions that will provide the greatest benefit to you and your team.