Today, we’re excited to announce that the Azure Communication Services is generally available. Developers can now add chat, voice calling, video calling, traditional telephone calling, SMS messaging, and other forms of real-time communication to their applications using the same technology that powers Microsoft Teams. Interoperability with Microsoft Teams is also supported (public preview).
Microsoft Teams’ growth has exploded as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more and more companies to shift to home working and virtual meetings. With more than 5 billion daily meeting minutes, Teams relies heavily on Azure’s global network of fiber-connected hyperscale data centers and its growing number of metroscale edge sites. It’s a powerful set of technologies, with support for text, voice, and video communications, all wrapped up in apps that run on the Web, on PCs, and on mobile devices.
What if you could take advantage of those same services in your own code, using them to add global, stress-tested, reliable communications features without spending time learning how to construct calls in WebRTC? With the launch of a public preview of Azure Communication Services (ACS), now you can. Microsoft is unbundling many of Teams’ foundational services, turning them into APIs that can be quickly integrated into new and existing apps.
As Scott Van Vliet, CVP, Intelligent Communications at Azure noted, “The service that my team runs that powers Teams has been built on Azure since day one, so we were kind of born in the cloud with Teams. And thinking about the value we get from being on the Azure platform, we started thinking about what are ways in which we think people can leverage this platform?” The pandemic may have accelerated Microsoft’s plans to release ACS to help companies improve their remote working, but it’s an expansion that’s clearly been in the works for some time. The mature APIs used by Teams are ready to launch a fully fledged service that’s able to support as wide a set of scenarios as possible.
Building on the internal APIs used in Teams, ACS is designed to support many different communication scenarios: one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many, browser, apps, bots, and even the public switched telephony network. You can also mix different options in the same app, much like Teams where you can change your communications mode as your interactions deepen or become more focused. It’s easy to image an ACS-based customer service application starting as text chat in a bot and then moving to a human agent when more complex answers are required, or even to a video call if problem diagnosis calls for images.
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The new Microsoft offering on Azure leverages the same network that powers Microsoft Teams. Developers can add voice and video calling, chat, and SMS text message capabilities to mobile apps, desktop applications, and websites through developer-friendly APIs and SDKs. Furthermore, it also allows developers to tap into other Azure services, such as Azure Cognitive Services for translation, sentiment analysis and more. Note that all communications between ACS, apps and websites are being encrypted to meet privacy and compliance needs, such as HIPAA and GDPR.
Other cloud vendors Google and AWS offer similar features as ACS. AWS, for example, offers several services like Amazon Connect, Contact Lens, Notification Services and PinPoint, while Google continues to expand Contact Center AI. Furthermore, SaaS companies like Twilio and MessageBird offer a similar set of core features.
Scott Van Vliet, corporate vice president, Intelligent Communications, stated in an Azure blog post announcing ACS:
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In the last article, we had a look at how to start with Azure DevOps: Getting Started With Audit Streaming With Event Grid
In the article, we will go to the next step to create a subscription and use webhook event handlers to view those logs in our Azure web application.
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Develop, Build, Deploy applications using .NET 5, CI/CD, Azure App Service, Azure SQL Database, Azure Storage Account.
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