Top Cloud Communications Platforms for Service Providers 2019
Which is the best cloud offering for your service provider offering?
The cloud communications market is stronger than ever. With the continued success of major brands, niche players and vertical specialists, it’s not just customers that have a wealth of options to choose from. Service providers have the continuous challenge of having the best cloud communications platform in their portfolio at all times. However, sourcing and providing a market-leading cloud communications platform is not something you can flick between too often.
Whilst we do now operate in an as-a-Service world, service providers must make a strategic decision of which platform to opt for when investing in technical resources, marketing materials and decommissioning their previous platform. There is also the question of retaining customers on a legacy platform. Migrating to a cloud platform is desirable if the existing customer base operates from on-premises deployments. However, shifting an entire customer base is a major challenge in itself. And that’s before you’ve gone hunting for new business. So, to say choosing a cloud communications platform is a key decision for a service provider is a huge understatement.
This post looks at key cloud communications platforms offered to service providers. Whilst it does not cover all options, and not in their entirety, it should be used as a steer when selecting a new cloud communications platform for resale. If, during reading, there are any questions or concerns around any of the platforms mentioned, please reach out in the comments section or on social media and I will gladly follow up.
Powered by Avaya IP Office
Avaya has been a staple in the telecoms industry for what seems like forever. As giants in the on-premises world, it was initially a doubt as to whether Avaya would or could provide a cloud communications platform. Their Powered by Avaya IP Office offering provides a hybrid cloud solution. Avaya’s Unified Communication solutions are available on an as-a-Service subscription basis and delivered in a public, private or hybrid model.
Choosing Avaya means you are safe in the hands of a nine-time Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for Unified Communications Worldwide. However, with Gartner announcing they are ditching the UC Magic Quadrant, this raises a few eyebrows as to whether this is still a worthy recognition. Avaya’s recognition in the UCaaS Magic Quadrant has been rather limited thus far.
Gartner recognises that 28% of telephony users worldwide will be cloud based by 2021. This is a stat that Avaya themselves reference as a lever for users and service providers to adopt their cloud communications platform. So, it seems Avaya is firmly on the side of the cloud despite their on-premises route.
The Powered by Avaya IP Office platform features voice, messaging and conferencing as standard. Avaya has also bolstered their offering to include team collaboration. This means that choosing Powered by Avaya IP Office is no longer a simple cloud telephony play but a potential best of breed solution across multiple communication channels. With the enterprise focus increasingly on productivity gains and communicating as a team rather than in silos, having a team collaboration solution in your offering is a real draw – especially when combined with the Avaya brand and endless portfolio of endpoints and professional services.
Founded in 2002, IPCortex stems from a software development background. With age not really a concern in the cloud market, Avaya’s telecom history versus IPCortex’s cloud roots probably put them on an even keel.
IPCortex currently boasts 80,000+ business users on their cloud communications platform, all acquired via the channel. As a solely channel-focused business, IPCortex has tailored its packages to include the higher level, feature rich IPCortex Hosted Suite as well as the lower end, stripped back IPCortex Hosted Essentials. Identifying businesses have different and unique requirements on a case by case basis – and supplying a package to remedy that issue – puts IPCortex at the forefront of the channel.
Often forward-thinking and innovative companies side with mega brands like Microsoft and Cisco. However, small business and medium business customers often feel overwhelmed by the features and functionality forced upon them. IPCortex provides the ideal solution for service providers looking to attack the SMB space. IPCortex has recently launched a new partner programme ranging from certified, associate, premier to enterprise, to aid service providers new to cloud communications.
2600hz offers a white labelled, multi-tenanted cloud-based telephony platform that simplifies how business sell, deliver and manage communication services. Developed as an open-source platform, 2600hz were included as rivals to Twilio in my CPaaS preview for 2019. 2600hz position themselves as different to a typical UCaaS platform in that everything is up for offer. By blending UCaaS and CPaaS options and offering out to service providers and end users, 2600hz uniquely offers an eat-as-much-as-you-like style platform.
With no single point of failure and a simple interface for both admins and users, 2600hz should be considered for service providers looking to offer a service that is both extremely scalable and flexible. 2600hz offer their platform via a hosted platform where everything is managed by them, a private cloud option where they manage everything bar the PSTN connectivity or their global infrastructure option where the service provider has control over the majority of the platform.
Cisco /BroadSoft BroadWorks
Recognised as the number one cloud communications platform for service providers by almost every market research report for the last few years, Cisco disrupted the UCaaS market when acquiring BroadSoft in 2018. BroadWorks is the service provider model that is currently deployed by over 600 service providers across the globe and serves 25 out of the top 30 service providers worldwide. As of 2015, Elka Popova, Vice President, and Senior Fellow, Digital Transformation at Frost & Sullivan, confirmed:
“BroadSoft’s share of the global hosted IP telephony and UCC services market is 41% which confirms BroadSoft’s global market leadership in the hosted IP telephony and UCC services platform space”.
Since then, BroadSoft has gone from strength to strength and was eventually acquired for $1.9bn.
On top of providing a market-leading, carrier-grade core telephony solution, BroadWorks plays host to no end of peripheral services that can be added on with ease. Applications like Akixi, Go Integrator and Tollring are often bolted on to provide a real differentiator for service providers looking to go after the entire solution.
Readers will likely recognise MiCloud as a competitor in the UCaaS landscape. Similar to Avaya, Mitel has a steep history in the on-premises telecoms market. MiCloud is now offered to service providers to empower partners to utilise the Mitel brand an evolving feature set.
Designed as a mobile-first solution, MiCloud should be viewed as one of the superior solutions in the UC market when service providers have a focus on highly mobile industries. Sales staff constantly needing to attend face to face meetings and technical support staff making regular site visits will benefit from a single app providing them more functionality than they can shake a stick at. On the flip side of this, MiCloud also enables businesses to reduce the need for on-site attendance by introducing remote working options to businesses otherwise stuck on legacy on-premises equipment and tied to their office.
Service providers currently utilising the MiCloud offering include:
- T Mobile
- Orange Business Services
- & many more
Within Reach Group (WRG), the parent company of Voiceworks, announced a merger with Swyx Group last year and quickly scooped up telephony platform, Centile. Centile lives on under its own name as the cloud communications offering. Swyx Group and Voiceworks previously focused on the on-premises and hybrid worlds.
Centile offers a complete UC&C experience and currently serves service providers like elisa, Voz Telecom, Pace Telecom and Celeste. Recently awarded the TMC Labs Innovation Award, Communications Solutions Product of the Year and multiple Pulver 100 Awards, Centile has started to make waves in an otherwise quiet part of the market. As managed service providers and resellers look for a low-cost alternative to the major brands in the UCaaS market, Centile offers a platform to ensure revenue now and in the future. The “Istra” platform is built on open standards and incorporate comprehensive and flexible APIs, allowing service providers and end users to do more with their cloud communications platform than ever achievable on-premises.
Recently boosted by announcing a strategic partnership with Snom, Xelion is based in the Netherlands, with offices in the UK, Germany and Spain. Xelion provides a cloud communications platform – complete with Snom endpoints – and specialises in healthcare and call centre verticals.
The Xelion platform provides services via any device and comes with a simple configuration tool for administration of hunt groups and call management settings. Xelion comes pre-built with call recording, directory services, click to dial and reporting services as standard.
Existing customers of Xelion include Hopespare, West Atlantic and LTP.
Cisco gets a second mention in the cloud communications list. Their original telephony platform, Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), provides industry-leading cloud collaboration services via a hybrid cloud deployment. Offering telephony, conferencing, Unified Comms and Contact Centre functionality, Cisco HCS has long been the go-to cloud model for businesses and service providers already utilising a Cisco estate.
Readers familiar with the Cisco environment will recognise the components that make up Cisco HCS. These include:
- Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM)
- Cisco Jabber
- Cisco Webex Teams
- Cisco Unity Connection (CUC)
- Cisco HCS for Contact Center
- Cisco Webex Meetings
Recognised as leaders across the board in Unified Comms, collaboration and meeting markets on-premises, the HCS platform opens the door to a cloud play for service providers with an existing Cisco estate. However, for a pure cloud offering for new customers migrating from an environment outside Cisco, the focus should remain with the BroadWorks platform for telephony – with the expectation that BroadWorks UC-One will soon be integrated into Cisco Webex Teams.
For more information on any of the cloud communications platforms mentioned in this article, please leave a comment or connect with me on social media.