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In times of crisis, such as the onset of COVID-19, unified collaboration solutions like Microsoft Teams and Zoom are the best way you can keep your business operating like normal. When entire work forces must go remote, high-end collaboration technology is a necessity. The question then is this: between Microsoft Teams and Zoom, which is the better choice for your Enterprise organization?
With the widespread adoption of collaboration platforms, Zoom has become increasingly popular. Though many love this solution for its aesthetic appeal and ease of use, Teams has plenty of its own useful features, including the ability to integrate with existing voice systems.
A Unified Collaboration (UC) platform is nothing without its features. Both Teams and Zoom boast similar, basic collaboration functions such as video and audio conferencing, but when it comes to more specific features, the two differ widely.
Teams is connected to the Microsoft 365 suite, allowing it to take advantage of the many applications contained within. This includes Outlook’s calendar, SharePoint’s file-sharing, and OneDrive’s file storage. Though certain features of the Microsoft Enterprise suite require purchasing licenses, a basic business license allows access to the most important ones for only $5 a month per user.
The image above is a snapshot of the features in June 2020.
Zoom provides little else beyond audio and video conferencing, but it does both of those things very well. With that in mind, it’s priced accordingly. For $150 a year, the cheapest Zoom subscription costs less per user per month than Microsoft. Though it only includes 9 licenses, it’s perfect for small businesses with smaller teams.
Teams is nothing if not secure. Not only is data encrypted end-to-end with Teams, it’s encrypted both in-transit and at rest. This means any data from any conversations made on Teams is never vulnerable to outside threats. In fact, Microsoft is known to fend off 5 billion cyber threats per month, thanks to an investment of $1 billion annually in cyber security.
That’s not all Teams has going for it in terms of security. The platform also features multi-factor authentication (MFA) and Rights Management Services (RMS) support. Better still, all the security features that apply to conversations in Teams apply to file sharing as well, meaning sensitive documents will be able to make their journey through the cloud safely.
For enterprise level businesses, schools, and government organizations, security is nothing to be taken lightly. Luckily, Microsoft understands this, and has thus built Teams with the features it needs to stay secure. Not only does Teams keep its meetings heavily guarded, it also encrypts its data both in-transit and at rest.
Microsoft is determined to ensure that it never fails to be perfectly transparent for its customers. With regular transparency reports, there won’t be any misleading information about how its data is encrypted, or what happens to that data when all is said and done. In fact, Microsoft has stated that it never sees any of the data that gets encrypted and sent through its platform.
Microsoft also boasts a plethora of security certifications, including HIPAA, HITECH, ITAR FedRAMP, FISMA, EU Model Clauses / Privacy Shield, ISO, SSAE, and SOC 1-3. A complete list of certifications as well as more information regarding Microsoft’s trust and security can be found at the Microsoft Trust Center.
Zoom has a different approach to security. With its infrastructure stored in third party data centers, Zoom has a lot more digital ground to cover in terms of security. Fortunately, with two-factor authentication, passcode protection, and a full suite of host controls, it has all the necessary features to keep out uninvited guests.
For the most part, Zoom’s platform has enough security features for the average user to rely on. However, its fatal flaws come from a lack of transparency and several disasters unique to the platform.
“Zoombombing” is an infamous practice that in the early stages of COVID got no small amount of media coverage. The concept is simple. Someone takes advantage of Zoom’s lack of encryption, as well as the “feature” that allows a user to join a meeting from a single link multiple times, to jump into a Zoom meeting uninvited. What comes next is limited only by the bomber’s imagination, but history has shown these individuals are not above bombarding the meeting with racism, pornography, gore, other forms of potentially traumatic imagery, and threats of violence.
Zoom has taken and continues to take steps to improve its security. The company has changed for the better since the controversies broke out in spring of 2020, adding in new security features and largely making “zoombombing” a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, the damage has been done. It’s because of this that Google, NASA, most government entities in the United States and countries like Taiwan, and even certain education organizations like the New York Public School System have forbidden their users from continuing to use Zoom.
Both Zoom and Teams have intuitive interfaces that don’t lack visual appeal. Some say Zoom is the better looking of the two, but that’s largely subjective. Many users enjoy the gallery view of Zoom, which makes more participants visible during a meeting. However, Microsoft Teams now supports not just a gallery view, but a virtual auditorium with Together Mode as well. At the end of the day, interface is more a matter of taste than anything, and shouldn’t be the most important factor in making the final decision.
With Teams, users have two options for voice compatibility, a Microsoft Calling Plan or Direct Routing. A Microsoft Calling Plan allows users to make and manage phone calls with Microsoft’s built-in phone system. This makes Microsoft your carrier, though there are limitations. Also, many enterprise-level companies find that the costs just don’t make sense. This is where Direct Routing comes into play. Direct Routing allows organizations to connect Teams to their existing voice carrier as well as integrate necessary analog endpoints (like elevator phones and fax machines) into the Teams-based system.
Zoom is also voice compatible, but it doesn’t offer nearly as many options, especially when it comes to connecting to existing voice technology. Since Zoom is chiefly concerned with video conferencing, it’s not ideal for users looking to protect voice investments.
This might be the most important feature of them all. Both Teams and Zoom offer free versions of their app. Customers unlock more features by paying for premium plans. For Zoom, this chiefly includes allowing higher number of participants in meetings and allowing a greater number of hosts on a single server. Teams’ premium tiers unlock more features not just within Teams, but within the entirety of the Microsoft Suite. This is even better for current Microsoft customers, who can leverage existing licenses in Teams.
As for which one’s cheaper, that’s not such a simple answer. Teams might seem more expensive with its Microsoft licenses, but these licenses provide access to all the features of applications such as SharePoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Outlook. Zoom does not. In fact, to get all the features Teams offers with a Zoom solution, it would require using third party apps such as Slack and Dropbox. For small businesses, this isn’t a bad thing. These different platforms can provide a higher level of flexibility. Furthermore, it gives businesses the option to pay for what they want, or rather need.
For enterprise-level users, especially those in government, education, or healthcare organizations, both options are perfectly serviceable. Still, between the two, the better would probably be Teams. It’s an effective collaboration platform offering an incredible value and poses much less of a threat to your security. In fact, organizations with Office 365 licenses are already paying for it.
Zoom still stands as the simpler and easier to use of the two platforms, but Teams isn’t too far behind. Even so, Zoom is a viable system for smaller organizations who don’t need to leverage all the features present in the Office 365 suite, though having them could never hurt. As Zoom continues to iron out its security issues, this will become more and more true.
Your communication technology needs to keep your teams connected. Microsoft Teams offers a true unified collaboration experience that replaces the features that platforms like Zoom, Dropbox and Slack offer individually.
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