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AWS – Giving your users a place to chat and conduct video calls with Chime

Amazon Chime offers chat, instant messaging, and voice and video calling for employees on teams or across an entire organization. It has a web client, native applications for macOS and Windows, and mobile clients so that your team members can stay connected wherever they are. During video calls, users can share their screen to display presentations or any other applications running on their desktops.

How to do it…

In this recipe, you will learn how to create a new Chime account, configure a team, and add users to it:

  1. Log in to your AWS account and go to the Chime dashboard.
  2. Select Accounts from the left-hand menu:

Chime Accounts
  1. Click New account. Give the account a name—keep in mind that this name will be visible to your users.
  2. Once the account is created, click the account name link:

Chime Team Users
  1. At this point, you have created a team account. If you were to click on the Domains link on the left and configure a unique domain for your account, it would be automatically upgraded to an enterprise account with extra features. For the purposes of this recipe, we will continue with a team account.
  2. Click Invite users, and add the email addresses for any users you want to invite to the team. Separate email addresses with semicolons:

Invite users
  1. The invited users will receive an email that redirects them to the web version of Chime, as shown in the following screenshot. Send an invite to yourself so that you can experiment with the interface:

Chime invite
Note that the login for Chime uses a login with Amazon, so you will need to have, or create, an Amazon account, using the invited email address.
  1. You can create chat rooms and meetings, invite new contacts, start instant messages, and join meetings using this interface:

Chime interface
  1. Once you are done exploring Chime features and if you don’t plan to use the account in the future, go back to the Chime console and delete the account to avoid any future charges.

At this point, you should have a good understanding of what Chime has to offer. It is a stable cost-effective option for your company’s communication needs.

How it works…

Chime integrates with email clients such as Outlook to allow you to add a Chime conference to your meetings. By adding meet@chime.aws to the invite, Chime will auto-call attendees when the meeting starts. Users can call in with their mobile phones or landlines, or they can use the audio and microphone on their computer.

When attending a Chime meeting, you can see a virtual roster of all attendees. The attendee list shows you who is present, who is running late, and who has declined the meeting. The meeting organizer can record the entire meeting, including video content, for later playback. Chime supports up to 16 desktop users on a single video call, and integrates with many popular conferencing systems.

Chime is well equipped to handle your security and compliance concerns. Chime encrypts all incoming and outgoing traffic using AES-256. This includes instant messages, voice calls, and video content. As Chime is built on top of AWS, it makes use of the security inherent with services such as Identity and Access Management (IAM). CloudTrail and S3 can be used to audit all activities associated with Chime. One handy security-related feature is the ability to force logout for a user across all devices. 

Chime can be a very cost-effective option as all of its basic features are free. See the Chime documentation for up-to-date details on costs for pro features, which, at the time of writing, range from $3 to $15 per month. Business Calling and Voice Connector also have pay-as-you-go pricing.

Use the calculator at https://aws.amazon.com/chime/pricing/ to get an idea of what your monthly bill will be.

There’s more…

Chime also allows you to make business calls using voice over IP (VoIP) with Voice Connector. Voice Connector allows you to terminate calls to regular phone lines, and allows regular phone calls to be directed into Chime. This service is often used in combination with AWS Direct Connect, which is a physical connection from your network into the AWS network, providing a very reliable connection from your private branch exchange (PBX).

Chime also has integration with Alexa, so starting a conference call can be as simple as saying “Alexa, start my meeting.

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