First steps towards landing a career in IT (part 1)

During these uncertain times, some of us are lucky enough and have the option to work from home, others, unfortunately had to temporary discontinue their work activities. Regardless of the situation, we should not stop learning. Even more, if you are in the situation where you had to stop your activity due to the COVID pandemic, maybe this is a good time to start a learning path in IT.

I cannot forget one of my old friends who some years ago, reached out to me and asked for guidance to start a career in IT. I recommended some courses and was glad to see that sometime after, he landed a job in this field.

Some years past by and our friend accumulated some experience in this field so we connected again to see how he can grow further. I can still remember the Skype for Business topologies we drew on pieces of paper and long story short, today he is handling as a senior engineer, one of the most complex Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams technical cases.

The Conclusion is: Yes, it can be done. Nope, it’s never too late to start learning and change your career.

COVID or not, always make time to learn new skills and invest in yourself.

For anyone willing to follow this path but not being sure where to start, I recommend:

  1. Start with Networking. This is the foundation of IT and it gives you a good understanding on how devices communicate across networks. Below is a short selection of trainings worth having a look: -> Great overview on networking -> You will need to setup an account which is quite easy to do and I love that it has stored one of the Microsoft Virtual Academy courses. Here, after you sign-up, you can enroll for free upcoming courses, or enjoy the ones already delivered. For example:

Another great resource is YouTube. Here you can find free videos as well, explaining specific technologies, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to deploy those (in the eventuality where you build your own lab, which I highly recommend)

  • User management. Next to networking, understanding Active Directory is one of the IT classics that each newcomer should master.

User and Service numbers

In Office365, you can get two types of numbers: User numbers and Service number. Well, if the naming isn’t explanatory enough for you, I’ll elaborate this subject below. 

While User numbers can only be assigned to user accounts (you@yourdomain.tld), Service number cannot be assigned to users, but to services like: Auto Attendant, Call Queues or Conferencing Bridges. 

Aside the purpose, there are also capacity differences between these numbers. While User numbers can only handle a few simultaneous calls, Service numbers can handle hundreds of calls simultaneously. 

To get a better picture on Service number, imagine you call your mobile phone Carrier and you hit the Interactive Voice Response. Next to you, most likely other users are dialing that very same number and wonder around the IVR, so that Service number better be ready to handle a lot of Simultaneous calls. 

A little more info on: 

User numbers: 

Available for: 

  • Belgium 
  • Canada 
  • France 
  • Germany 
  • Ireland 
  • Netherlands 
  • Spain 
  • United kingdom 
  • US & Puerto Rico 


SfBOnline/Microsoft Teams license + Phone System + Domestic/International Calling + Communication Credits (optional). 

 Please note that if you go with “E-packs”, E5 already includes SfBOnline, Microsoft Teams and Phone System licenses, so you’ll only have to get Domestic or International Calling license and optionally Communication Credits (get it if you plan to dial destinations where included minutes don’t permit calling). 

 Regarding how many numbers you can acquire, you should know that it depends on the number of licenses you have. The formula is: 

Domestic and/or International Calling license * 1.1 + 10 

 So, if you have 5 Domestic Calling licenses and 5 international Calling ones, you can get: 


 Getting the numbers: 

At the time of writing this one, numbers are still to be acquired from the “old” Skype for Business Admin Center -> Voice -> Phone numbers. 

!note that you will only be able to get phone numbers for the countries where Domestic/International Calling is available: 



!note 2: For some countries like Belgium and Germany, you cannot purchase the numbers directly from the portal, so you’ll have to submit a number request to ptneu[at] 

For this, access first this link and select the Country or region to find the appropriate number request. 

!note 3: Phone number in this scenario can only be granted to users via the GUI. 

In powershell, the online-acquired phone number is visible under the LineUri attribute if doing a get-csonlineuser. However, setting value to the LineUri attribute via set-csuser -identity “your user” -LineUri tel:+44xxx, will throw the following error message:
Unable to set “LineURI”. This parameter is restricted within Remote Tenant PowerShell. 

+ CategoryInfo          : InvalidArgument: (:) [Set-CsUser], ManagementException 

+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : LineURI,Microsoft.Rtc.Management.AD.Cmdlets.SetOcsUserCmdlet 

Be advised that a similar attribute holding phone value (OnPremLineUri) can be granted value via the set-csuser cmdlet, however, you should not do that for online-acquired numbers. 

The OnPremLineUri attribute will be setup with a phone number only in Hybrid-Voice scenarios, but that is a different discussion. 

!note 4: Getting Phone numbers also requires setting up an Emergency Location. Stay around for an article regarding this topic

The conclusion is: Online-acquired numbers should and will be granted to users only via the Skype for Business Online Admin Center. 


Service numbers: 

As I was writing at the beginning, Service numbers can handle a high number of incoming calls simultaneously and are assigned to services like: Auto Attendants, Call Queues or Conferencing Bridge.

We should note that Service numbers can also be:

  • Regular numbers
  • Toll-free numbers

Toll-free numbers are numbers which can be dialed locally at zero cost for the caller. However, since someone actually has to pay for the call, you will need Communication Credits setup and you will be charged for each incoming call.

To get an idea on the costs, visit Microsoft’s voice calling page, scroll down to “See rates for where you want to call” and select your country and currency. You will download a nice Excel which displays rates for both incoming (to toll-free service numbers) and outgoing calls. Don’t worry, incoming calls to user numbers or regular service numbers are not charged.

Available for:

Service numbers are available to acquire for quite alot of countries as you can see in the screenshot below:

However, to make sure Service numbers (regular or toll-free) are available for the country where you want to get them, visit Microsoft’s “Country and region availability for Audio Conferencing and Calling Plans” page and select from the drop-down menu the country:

As you can see, in Romania I cannot get Calling Plans (Domestic/International Calling), so no User numbers for me, but I can get instead Service numbers, both regular and Toll-free. Moreover, I can also get Communication Credits to cover the expenses if I go for a toll-free number:


In order to be able to acquire Service numbers, you have to have Phone System and/or Audio Conferencing licenses added to your tenant, and of course, if you wish to get toll-free numbers, then Communication Credits need to be added as well.

Regarding the number of Service numbers you can get, the math is simpler here:

Tenants with:

  • 1 – 25 licenses can get 5 Service numbers
  • 26 – 49 licenses can get 10 Service numbers
  • 50 – 99 licenses can get 20 Service numbers

The list goes up to 1500 service numbers, so if you wanna see exactly where your organization is positioning, have a look here.