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Microsoft Ignite 2021 Announcements – Microsoft Teams: Teams Connect


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As with all Microsoft Ignite announcements, there is always a buzz of excitement and wonderment in the community. One of the latest announcements is Microsoft Teams Connect which provides greater ease to collaborate with team members within your organization, but not necessarily in the standard or private Teams channel, and members who are with external organizations. The emphasis is on external organizations.

Microsoft Teams Connect, or Shared Channels, provides collaborative spaces around a collective purpose, project, or topic. A shared team channel helps to organize communication and conversations between members through chatting, co-authoring files, calling, meeting, sharing, and collaborating on apps. This is where work gets done.

Currently, there are two types of channels:

  1. Standard Channel provides open collaboration with the Team, and it inherits its full membership list from the Team; and
  2. Private Channel is a focused private collaboration within the team and is a managed subset of members from the Team.

These two types of channels do not lend themselves to being accessible for external contributors. As we know, collaborative teams include individuals and teams outside of the organization. Shared Channels addresses the need in providing flexible collaboration within and across organizations, internally and externally. Members of a Shared Channel consist of a managed set of individuals who can be within or outside the Team or tenant. Shared Channels offers seamless collaboration in a boundaryless digital scape:

  1. No tenant switching: all shared channels you are a member of will appear in the list along with your standard and private channels;
  2. Easy scalability;
  3. Avoid oversharing: add individuals or Teams to a Shared Channel rather than to an entire Team;
  4. Addresses team proliferation: reduces the number of teams that need to be managed as you do not have to create a new team if you want to restrict access for external organizations;
  5. Automatic member management: members of the channel are automatically updated from the Teams membership. There is no need to update individual members.

The membership with Shared Channels is highly automated, rendering minimal maintenance. The owner of the Shared Channel can promote a direct member from their organization within the channel as a new owner. If an owner leaves the shared channel without promoting a new owner, the system will automatically promote and assign a new owner.

As members leave or join, they will gain or lose access to the channel without manual administration. The membership of the Shared Channels leverages the collective member management across these teams. With Shared Channels, individual members or an entire team can be onboarded, and they can come from within the organization or from external organizations. Shared Channels allows Teams to collaborate with people inside or outside of a Team or tenant:

  1. Share with People as:
    a. In-Tenant members
    b. External Azure AD Tenant members
  2. Share with Teams:
    a. In-tenant teams
    b. External Azure AD Tenant teams

Invite Individuals to a Shared Channel

  1. Create New Shared Channel
  2. Share Channel with Individuals – add people to the channel by name and email. They do not need to be added to the Team as the channel is shared with people from other teams and organizations:
    a. Invitees are notified that they are now part of a Shared Channel
    b. Invitees can see the Shared Channel in the Channel List displayed on the left panel of their screen
    c. The Shared Channel has an icon next to its name to distinguish it from the regular channels
    d. Members of this Shared Channel are distinguished as external with an (External) label next to their name

Invite Teams to a Shared Channel

  1. On the Shared Channel that you want to share, click on the three ellipses
  2. Select Share Channel from the drop-down, and then from the extended menu, choose With a Team
  3. Enter in the name of the Team Leader of the Teams that you want to share your channel with
  4. An email is generated to the Team Leader, who can then accept the invite. The Team Leader then chooses the Team he/she owns that he/she wants to add to the Shared Channel
  5. The owner of the Shared Channel will be notified of the invite. The owner can review the Team that the Team Lead added. The owner of the Shared Channel can accept or decline the submission
  6. If the Team Leader’s Team is approved, the Team Leader will receive a notification that this Team has been approved to be part of the Shared Channel
  7. The invited team is now able to see the Shared Channel in their list and have immediate access to it
  8. As Team Members join and leave, the owner of the Shared Channel will not need to add or delete the individuals as this list is generated from the originating Teams members list

Meeting in a Shared Channel

  1. In the Shared Channel, choose an ad hoc meeting or schedule a meeting with an invite. Note: external members can only Join a meeting and cannot initiate the meeting
  2. Members of the Shared Channel can join the meeting with a single click
  3. A list can be created of actionable items in the channel for all members to access. This can be created with the Lists app which can then be added as a tab in the Shared Channel
  4. All members can see and access the list
  5. Information and documents can be shared between members of the Shared Channel. Note: external members cannot share data outside of the Shared Channel, thereby containing sensitive data within the organization
  6. A Shared Channel cannot be shared by external members
  7. Approved invitees to the Shared Channel will have access and capabilities for apps including connectors, tabs, messages, boards, extensions, and business apps associated with the channel

Finer Details, What Invitees Have and Do not Have Access To

Security and containment of sensitive data are always a top priority. Shared Channels was designed with this in mind and is secure. As Share Channels was designed for collaboration for Teams within an organization and individuals or teams that are external, there will be cross-tenant shared channels. Administrators will need to configure the cross-tenant access policy tenant posting on both sides (inbound and outbound). Administrators will also need to specify who is allowed to participate through the inbound access in the Shared Channel. Mirroring this will be the setup for the outbound access which will specify who from the administrator’s tenant can participate in the external shared channel.

Microsoft has given organizations granular control over Shared Channels. The host’s policies will apply when a shared channel is shared with another tenant and the sensitivity labels of the host Team will apply when the Shared Channel is shared with another Team. Shared channels will adopt existing settings rather than inheriting a Team’s membership.

An invited user to the Shared Channel will have access to only that Shared Channel. This holds for any invited user whether they are internal or external invitees. Shared channels cannot be converted to a public or private channel.

Microsoft Teams Connect provides the ability for team members to connect across internal teams and external organizations, creating a digital collaborative data scape that has no boundaries while maintaining data security and integrity. In addition to the 30 private channels and 200 standard channels, Microsoft Teams Connects provides an additional 200 shared channels. Each shared channel can be shared with 50 Teams and each Shared Channel can have 5,000 direct members. There is, however, one limitation and that is only the first 25,000 members can add the Shared Channel to their channel list.

For external organizations, the Azure AD cross-tenant policy will determine the number of times a Shared Channel can be shared with them. The number of external organizations is limitless and is only bound by this policy.

Microsoft Teams Connect seamlessly provides creative, expansive, and collaborative digital space that is inclusive for internal team members and external team members through one app, Microsoft Teams.

  • Tuesday, November 30, 2021 By : Mike Maadarani    0 comment