Communications as a Service (CaaS)

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Choosing a communications solution for your business is a tough call these days. Not only is the process of selecting the right solution tricky and time consuming (there are so many vendors and systems on the market), there’s also the high cost of investing in new in hardware and software, and in some cases, network infrastructure. Then there’s the risk that after you complete the installation (and employee training), the system you purchased doesn’t exactly meet your needs after all.

Fortunately, there is an alternative: It’s called Communications-as-a-Service, or simply, CaaS. If you’ve been thinking about migrating your communications to the cloud -- perhaps as part of an overall strategy of shifting CAPEX to OPEX, or for the purpose of always having the latest and greatest technology available, without the headache of "upgrading" -- CaaS may be right for you.

Communication as a Service (CaaS), sometimes called hosted communications, allows you to implement communications services like VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) without the expense of buying, hosting and managing communication equipment. This emerging cloud service is gaining ground with enterprise users who want the benefits of UC without making the significant hardware and management investments to run them.

Nemertes Research, in their recent report “Managed and Hosted Unified Communications" by Katherine Trost, says, “Almost 60% of organizations are implementing UC services, up from 47% just last year … It’s this increased deployment of UC applications that has triggered evaluation and adoption of hosted and managed UC offering."

Companies including AT&T, IntelePeer, Alteva and Cypress Communications offer services that fall into this category. Recently, there have been announcements by BT and Verizon that they are entering the U.S. market with hosted VoIP services. Hosted, Internet-based communications is not new. There have been Centrex services for a long time. We also send video, voice, and data across the public Internet today. However, this type of communications has not been the model for most business voice communication. Businesses generally have purchased and run their own communications infrastructure.

With a CaaS solution, you can leverage enterprise-class communication services without the complexity, cost and time required to build a premises-based solution. The CaaS services normally provide reliable basic phone systems and additional advanced Unified Communications functionality such as video calling, Web collaboration, chat, real-time presence and unified messaging. The vendor offers this functionality from one or more remote, secure and reliable colocation data centers. These data centers are good locations for this kind of service infrastructure both because they provide a good secure place to host equipment but also because they provide access to a myriad of network providers.

So when you are thinking of upgrading your communications infrastructure, consider CaaS as an option. These services might be useful especially for small-to-medium size business and for applications like distributed call centers.