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What is CPaaS? It’s a communications platform that can give customers the best experience.

The cloud has been an undisputed blessing to modern IT. From seamless scalability to simplified deployment, it’s never been easier to do more with your infrastructure. However, one vastly underrated aspect of the cloud is its near-limitless supply of additional acronyms.

Really, pick any combination of uppercase letters, stick “aaS” on the end, and you’ve got the newest cloud technology. Seriously, though, the sheer number of acronyms floating around these days is nearly impossible to keep pace with. Fret not! The following are answers to some of your most burning questions surrounding one such acronym, including, “What is CPaaS?” and, “What makes it different from UCaaS?”

Knowing Your CPaaS from Your UCaaS

First and foremost, it’s important to decipher these conveniently ambiguous acronyms. CPaaS stands for communications platform-as-a-service. Unsurprisingly, it’s simply a cloud-based platform. But wait — don’t we already have one of those in unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS)? Well, yes and no.

CPaaS and UCaaS share the same cloud foundation while being delivered over both public and private IP networks. They also make great platforms for businesses of just about any size. But those similarities — and the fact that they both find themselves in the communications field — pretty much mark the end as far as common ground goes.

CPaaS is primarily focused on enriching customer communication channels. It acts as a platform for businesses to combine the reliability and back end of proven communication services with their own customer applications through the use of APIs. For example, you could use a chat app API to integrate messaging platforms that your customers likely already use, like Facebook Messenger or Viber, into your own mobile offering. Simply put, CPaaS lets developers program the entire breadth of real-time, cloud-based communications platforms into their own applications to give customers the best experience available.

So, in a nutshell, CPaaS is a back-end communications platform with APIs that allow you to present it to front-end offerings. Think chat, voice, and video capabilities embedded in your customer-facing applications. In contrast, UCaaS is a platform for internal channels that unifies communications into a consistent experience regardless of device or location.

Why You Need to Know About CPaaS

Now that you can confidently answer the question, “What is CPaaS?” there’s yet another question you may be asking: “Why should I care?” It’s a great question indeed. A recent article by Customer Experience Insight described some communication expectations your customers likely have. To summarize, its research shows customers want communication that is personalized, consistent, always-on, and that preferably comes in as many channels as possible.

This is exactly why you need to know about CPaaS. When it comes to communication, especially mobile communication, customers simply expect more — more options, more reliability, and more accessibility. You get the picture. CPaaS provides all of the above with a back-end communication infrastructure, presented “as-a-service” from a vendor, that is then tightly integrated with your own app offerings through extensive APIs. CPaaS is a great tool for companies looking to go global without breaking the bank.

CPaaS is a useful technology for businesses of all sizes. If you have an audience that has any expectations when it comes to communication, CPaaS is worth exploring.

Contact Vonage Business to learn more about how cloud-based communications can aid your company.

About Joe Hewitson

With a degree in applied computing technology and over a decade of experience in the IT and software development industries, Joe Hewitson has his finger on the pulse of cloud technology. From developing communication applications for the cloud to deploying VoIP solutions in enterprise environments, he’s seen it all. The one thing Joe loves more than staying on the cutting edge of cloud and VoIP technology? Writing about it.

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A man sitting at a computer, speaking on an office telephone.

Business communications advantage: applying SD-WAN technology to UCaaS.

In some cases, business technology is a game of increments — gradual improvements made by providers and adopted by organizations over months or years. Other times, innovation strikes hard and takes the business world along for the ride.

Then, there are the in-between cases, or situations where various components of business-critical technologies advance at different rates. The continued growth of technologies such as cloud, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN), and unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) certainly fits this bill.

Businesses have been moving their communication workloads to the cloud for as long as the cloud has been around. But the demands that these real-time communications place on a network — as opposed to the simpler needs of one-way communications, such as email — can be significant. And while the end result is workable, it’s not always optimal. Large companies taking communications to the cloud can be faced with brownouts and jitter, unless they’re willing to make major investments in private networks to overcome the problem.

With one of the most exciting developments in years — the application of SD-WAN technology to UCaaS — the business communication world’s movers and shakers are pushing real-time, cloud-based communications toward their true potential and providing a better, smarter, and more efficient service in the process. Take a closer look at what this advancement means for business communications:

A Brief History of SD-WAN

Indeed, many advancements are made possible thanks to the simultaneous growth technologies. In this case, just as SD-WAN was emerging, the cloud was also evolving rapidly. This may not seem huge on its face, but it’s a phenomenal combination in practice. The cloud made many things businesses traditionally did over WAN possible via the internet. This allowed companies to break free from maintaining numerous complex data centers and IT structures, a major change in and of itself.

This is where cloud communication and collaboration come into play. Though the cloud did represent a cheaper and more accessible way for businesses to employ critical network-backed communication tools, there were some definite challenges. Pushing multiple streams of real-time data over the cloud, for example, could compromise quality of service (QoS).

What Is SD-WAN’s Role with UCaaS?

While there’s effectively no end to the benefits cloud-based communication and collaboration offer, any business would want to minimize issues leading to poor quality of experience. This is especially true considering the smartphone revolution and modern employees, who expect a solid, collaborative experience across multiple devices no matter where they work or what they do.

Moving unified communications to the cloud created an interesting scenario, with voice treated similar to any other data coming through. However, this often isn’t enough for real-time communications. Now you have to contend with bandwidth and QoS concerns.

Here’s where the advancement applies: By bringing SD-WAN capabilities to UCaaS, communication providers are able to elevate quality of service. They’re applying technical architecture parameters that allow connections to be provided in a priority bandwidth from Point A to Point B, thus enhancing the overall experience for business communication users.

Two key ways the technology makes this happen:

  1. Active, Smart Monitoring: With technology that constantly searches for the best possible path for real-time communication data to take, communications are properly prioritized. An employee engaging in a video chat, for instance, will get better quality of service than the staffer watching Netflix® during lunch.
  2. Abundant Failover: The best solutions applying SD-WAN to UCaaS allow users to pick from multiple networks. For instance, an organization experiencing problems with its standard WAN connection at a branch location could temporarily switch to a commercial broadband line generally used to manage internal data activity, then switch back when things are on the up-and-up again. This hybrid approach could also include other networking solutions, such as an LTE connection.

With these advancements, a company’s IT staff gets all the flexibility of a hybrid communication solution, the intelligence of a managed solution, and the control it needs to make it all come together. That’s a big change in the communications arena, where tech staff must sometimes sacrifice the ability to make granular change in the name of cost or flexibility.

A Bright Future

Naturally, this prioritizing and shaping also leads to more efficient bandwidth usage. Think of it this way: By bringing in SD-WAN for UCaaS, it’s like taking the $300 you spent on connectivity and squeezing out bandwidth equivalent to (or even greater than) a 3 MB Ethernet circuit, which can cost upward of $600 to $700. Companies can “squeeze” that bandwidth out of multiple locations, getting more for what they currently use or saving money by dropping to a more appropriate package.

More, this prioritizing and shaping further ensures the customer receives higher-quality bandwidth, providing an even better bang for their buck. On one hand, they get more efficiency. On the other, they get better, smarter performance for their real-time communication needs, deriving even more benefit from the bandwidth they use. In other words, they simultaneously get better performance from their cloud-based unified communications solutions and save space.

Perhaps best of all, this is still an emerging technology in terms of adoption and overall capability. As provider companies take managed products and essentially stitch them together into one structure, end-user organizations will see an even greater level of customizability, flexibility, and control.

In short, the future is bright for UCaaS thanks to the deft application of SD-WAN technology. Communications companies building these performance enhancements into their existing platforms can provide even better service — and experience — to an existing slate of solutions, all while making the technology less complex and more accessible. In this sense, the capability represents both a natural next step for communications and a milestone improvement for a critical business function.

Whether your organization is looking to modernize an aging communications structure, enhance collaborative ability across a broad number of geographical locations, or simply make better use of the bandwidth it currently pays too much for, there’s a lot to love about these advancements.

To learn more about SD-WAN and UCaaS, connect with a Vonage Business consultant.

About Evan Wade

Evan Wade is an author and editor from Carmel, Indiana. As a veteran tech writer and lifelong tech enthusiast, he focuses his writing and research on communication, mobility and security. Alongside work with leading cloud technology providers and industry news sources, Evan has extensive sales and end-user marketing experience, giving him a unique view of the individual’s relationship with technology — and how organizations can realize huge benefits from it.


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