Top 10 Unified Communication as-a-Service (UCaaS) Companies and Providers in 2020


Unified Communications as-a-service (UCaaS) is defined as a cloud solution which integrates telephonic and internet communication methods into a single unified platform.

In this article, we explore what UCaaS is, and the advantages of utilizing this cloud communications service, the must-have features of UCaaS for companies and the top providers in the market today.

What is UCaaS?

Unified Communications as-a-service (UCaaS) is a cloud solution which integrates telephonic and internet communication methods into one unified platform.

With the rise of accessible mobile communication platforms, business communications have evolved beyond email and corporate telephony. Text and other instant messaging platforms have emerged as the go-to method of communication between corporates, their employees, partners, and customers.

United Communications as-a-service (UCaaS) platforms aim to bring together these methods of communications into one powerful platform, increasing accessibility, transparency, productivity and accountability.

The two main legacy methods of communication were email and phones, both usually contained within on-premises solutions. Instant messaging joined the corporate communications market soon after, mainly due to their ease of access and instant nature. Companies also developed internal IM solutions for maximum security and reliability. The global pandemic thrust the UCaaS market on top with adoption of video conferencing and collaboration tools surging exponentially. With growth in this segment going strong, GrandView research estimates UC to become a $143 billion by 2024.

Unifying fragmented communication stacks

As internet-based communication became more prevalent, working professionals began to use many different modes of communications, such as carrier-based voice calls, SMS messaging, IM platforms, and multiple email service providers. In the modern age, this translates to a fragmented communications stack, with a lot of information lost while switching between these varied modes of communication, a higher cost of management, and difficulty in measuring the ROI.

In the early stages of communications solutions moving to the cloud, many vendors started by marketing typical services as discrete offerings. This meant that companies were paying multiple service providers for many small parts of their communications portfolio.

The SaaS model of cloud computing was already popular by the time the idea of unified communications emerged. The idea of paying only for the service and not having an IT team to build out the backend of a computing solution was well-established, and communications emerged as a good fit for the ‘as-a-service’ model.

UCaaS melds communication platforms with a cloud infrastructure, integrating with other cloud solutions to offer a seamless corporate communication experience. This model streamlines communications by having one cloud service provider manage all of an enterprises’ requirements.

The UCaaS approach streamlines communications operations by bringing everything under one platform. This eliminates the problems created by discrete communication platforms and ensures that there is no lost communication between employees.

Learn More: What is Unified Communications? Definition, System, Cloud Service, Best Practices and Examples

Types of UCaaS deployment models

Primarily, there are two primary types of UCaaS deployment models; multi-tenancy and single-tenancy. Hybrid approach is deployed when companies want to keep data on-prem, and move some applications to the cloud.

1. In the single-tenancy approach, the solution is created in the form of a customized software platform with on-premises backend infrastructure. This mode sacrifices the flexibility and low cost of cloud infrastructure for data privacy and ownership, along with a higher degree of security and promised uptime. It works well for companies where data privacy and security are mission-critical, especially healthcare, financial services, etc.

2. The multi-tenancy approach hosts the UCaaS software in a cloud service offered by the service provider. This approach allows for easier upgrades and flexibility due to cloud hosting, but cannot be customized as easily as an on-premises solution. Multi-tenancy also offers better customer support due to it being hosted in the service provider’s cloud.

3. The hybrid approach is a third model, often used by companies that are transitioning from legacy communications platforms. This approach is also taken when the company has sensitive data it needs to keep on-premises while still taking advantage of a multi-tenancy infrastructure.

UCaaS vs. CPaaS: Differences and Similarities

Another similar cloud offering is CPaaS, which stands for communications platform as a service. As both these cloud offerings occupy a similar vertical, it is important to know the differences and similarities between the offerings to determine which is the best solution for a company. Both services utilize the cloud to offload key communications from the company. They prioritize high-bandwidth, low-latency communications between parties, but each has a distinct use-case and feature set.

UCaaS brings together many different methods of communication into one platform for accessibility, usually under a software platform. This platform is then hosted on the cloud to necessitate accessibility to companies, along with providing options for upgrades to the backend infrastructure over time.

CPaaS offers companies a platform on which to build out their communications. CPaaS platforms are built up using APIs that allow enterprises to customize them according to their communication needs. These APIs can be embedded into existing applications to offer additional features.

In terms of traditional cloud architecture falling into the categories of Infrastructure as-a-Service, Platform as-a-Service, and Software as-a-Service, UCaaS would be categorized as a SaaS offering while CPaaS is a PaaS service.

Learn More: What is Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC)? Definition, Design, Importance and Examples

7 Advantages of UCaaS

Besides significant cost-savings, UCaaS solutions provide a streamlined end-user experience via a single interface. Check out the advantages below:

1. Reduced cost: UCaaS solutions provide overall cost savings over traditional telephony solutions as they commonly use cloud and internet services to stand in for these services. Companies can break away from using carrier services for communications, removing redundancies, and consolidating expenditure into one service provider.

2. Updated communication methods: UCaaS platforms offer companies the option to upgrade their communication for the modern age, allowing them to harness newer methods of interfacing with their workforce and customer base. Technologies such as webcasting, high-definition voice over IP (VoIP), and high-volume conferencing are accessible to companies through new UCaaS services.

3. Flexibility: The flexibility offered by unified communications platforms is two-fold, mainly due to being hosted in the cloud. As with any cloud-based service, companies can easily upgrade their backend infrastructure to cope with additional loads. Both scale up and scale down are easy. UCaaS users can also implement communication solutions customized to their needs with the modular nature of the offerings on the market.

4. Reliability: Due to being hosted on the cloud, UCaaS solutions are more reliable than their traditional counterparts. Most service providers guarantee close to 100% uptime, a must-have when communications are a mission-critical operation for most enterprises. Moreover, reliability is important when implementing UCaaS solutions for customer-facing roles, as any downtime would negatively affect the image of the brand.

5. Streamlining collaboration: One of the main advantages of having one unified platform for all corporate communications is that collaboration with teams and communication across verticals is highly streamlined. UCaaS offerings aim to get rid of common corporate communication pitfalls like long email threads and communication mismatches across corporate and personal IM applications. By having one platform for all communications, these pitfalls can be easily averted, streamlining collaboration.

6. Decreasing data siloing: Data is one of the most useful tools for companies in the age of AI, and communication data is some of the most valuable. With unified communications, companies can harvest data from inter-employee interactions as well as customer interactions, which can then be used to derive actionable insights on communication patterns within the company.

7. Better data visibility: Many modern UCaaS platforms have integrated analytics features to identify trends in communication data. This can be used by companies to accurately determine future upgrade paths, areas for improvement, and pitfalls in communications. Companies can also track usage more easily, cutting down on undue costs where possible.

7 Must-Have Features of UCaaS Platforms

End users and stakeholders like to work with feature-rich software that allows them to perform multiple tasks via a single interface. When considering UCaaS solutions, here are the top features you should look for in a UCaaS platform.

1. Robust VoIP: one of the main features of any UCaaS platform should be a dependable and robust VoIP offering. VoIP is a core feature in unified communications, supplanting or replacing an organization’s traditional telephony setup. Once implemented, VoIP can be accessed through a software portal, mobile devices, or softphones, greatly increasing accessibility to company numbers for customer-facing employees and internal communications alike.

2. Cloud PBX: cloud private bank exchanges are extensions of the VoIP service and allow companies to flesh out their telephony operations at a much lower cost when compared to traditional PBX systems. While legacy solutions often required a dedicated employee to learn about the solution in detail, cloud PBX systems can be easily implemented by a non-technical employee while offering more benefits. This stand-in for traditional telephony services is a must for any customer-facing company.

3. Video conferencing and web conferencing: web meetings and video conferencing are a must-have feature of any communications suite to ensure seamless communication between employees, partners, or even customers and prospects. A UCaaS solution must also include webcasting features to allow the company to hold online events such as webinars with ease, both for internal and external use.

4. Instant messaging with presence: instant messaging is quickly becoming the go-to method of communication for working professionals due to its accessible nature. Internal IM holds the capability to vastly optimize communications. Another feature that is a must-have is IM presence, which displays whether a given user is available for communication or not.

5. Mobility: with the rise of the bring your own device movement, as well as an increase in distributed and mobile workforces among corporates, mobility is a must-have for any UCaaS solution. Availability on mobile devices not only enables employees to undertake corporate communications on personal devices but also increases accessibility and availability for communication in the age of mobile computing.

6. Redundancy: is an absolute must-have when it comes to any cloud service mainly due to the risk potential of having a non-redundant cloud deployment. Communication is an integral part of any company, leaving the onus on UCaaS service providers to provide a certain degree of reliability through redundant servers on the cloud.

7. Adoption support: communication is not a one-time setup for enterprises as it will need to grow and evolve according to their needs. As such, potential UCaaS customers will need to look at the post-deployment support offered for the adoption of the technology by the service provider. This increases the product fit for the company while ensuring seamless operation and deployment.

Learn More: Top 7 Collaborative Online Whiteboard Tools in 2020

Top 10 UCaaS Service Providers in 2020

Disclaimer: The listings are based on publicly available information and includes vendor websites that sell to mid-to-large enterprises. Readers are advised to conduct their own final research so as to ensure the best fit for their unique organizational needs.

This is an alphabetical listing of the top 10 UCaaS Service Providers in 2020:

1. 8×8, Inc

  • Services offered: 8×8 offers cloud phones with contact center features and unlimited calling to up to 47 countries. The UCaaS platform also includes video collaboration, team chat, contact center, and HD conferencing.
  • Usability: 8×8 has the capability for simple administration through the accessible configuration manager. Mobile applications are available for ease-of-use across platforms.
  • Security and compliance: Along with SSO, 8×8 offers encrypted calls and redundant servers. The platform is also compliant with HIPAA, FISMA, CPNI, Privacy Shield Framework, Cyber Essentials and has a SSAE 16 certification.
  • Value-adds: The platform offers deep analytics until the personal call level, granular search analytics, and speech analytics. It also has a worldwide reach with 15 data centers over the world, with features like auto-attendant and call handling for the optimal worldwide customer experience.
  • Pricing: Pricing starts from $25/month/user for the X2 plan, goes up to $175/month/user for the top-end X8 plan.

2. Avaya

  • Services offered: Avaya offers integrated VoIP with other communication features like virtual meeting rooms, persistent group chat with document storage, and HD voice and video chat.
  • Usability: The software is designed with an easy-to-use interface, with support for integration from the ground up with open APIs and SDKs.
  • Value-adds: This UCaaS offering supports workflow automation with AI/ML and IoT, and an IX Services team for post-deployment support with managed services and support services.
  • Pricing: Avaya is offered on a subscription model with 4 different feature sets, along with devices as a service solution. Pricing is determined on a case-by-case basis.

3. Cisco Webex and Webex Teams

Webex has been offering robust VoIP services since the late ‘00s, and their acquisition by Cisco in 2007 solidified their position in the market. Today, Webex Teams is the unified communications offering updated for the cloud era.

  • Services offered: Webex Teams offers UCaaS mainstays like meetings, web conferencing, webcasting, cloud contact center, a team collaboration platform, cloud calling, and global multi-site connectivity. In addition to this, they also offer on-premises unified communications and first-party hardware for a seamless and safe experience.
  • Usability: The service offers a Webex Control Hub to provision, control, and analyze all services from one platform. Administrators can control security policies, undertake user and device management, and ensure collaboration security.
  • Security and compliance: The Webex Teams offering features Cisco Cloudlock access security broker to maintain granular access to mission-critical data, data loss protection measures, and Talos ClamAV anti-malware. All communications take place over encrypted channels, with additional measures taken to ensure user identity and access, and additional security features like customizable security controls, remote wipe, selective retention policies. Webex is compliant with HIPAA, GDPR, and ISO 27001.
  • Value-adds: Analytics and reporting are available through the Webex control hub with actionable insights about meetings, user experience issues, and resource utilization. The platform also features integrations into software like Office 265, Google Cloud, Box, Smartsheet, Asana, Trello, and more. Webex also offers SSO for an easy sign-in experience, along with a customizable site and round-the-clock customer support.
  • Pricing: Cisco Webex has a free tier available with 100 participants, with paid plans starting from $13.50 per month per host and going up to $27 with additional features.

4. Dialpad Talk and UberConference

  • Services offered: Dialpad offers a business-grade PBX for VoIP and robust conferencing through the UberConference platform. The latter offers HD call and video, along with screen sharing and powerful call controls. Dialpad claims to integrate AI in every stage of its software after its integration of TalkIQ.
  • Usability: The platform has a clear and accessible user interface, featuring mobile apps with VoIP and meeting capabilities.
  • Security and compliance: This offering has strong security measures, including SAML and SCIM access management with SSO and automated user provisioning. Role-based access with powerful and granular admin controls is also available, and all communications are encrypted with TLS and AES-256 bit on Google Cloud Platform. Dialpad is compliant with GDPR, Privacy Shield, SOC2 Type II, HIPAA, and CSA. The company prioritizes data ownership with customizable data retention policies.
  • Value-adds: This UCaaS platform offers deep analytics with an AI-first approach, with automatic note-taking for meetings, native AI insights into calling, and voice intelligence for speech recognition. It offers integrations into Google Calendar and Office 365, Salesforce, Zendesk and more.
  • Pricing: The platform offers a 14-day free trial, with pricing starting from $15/user/month upto $25/user/month for VoIP. UberConference has a free tier and starts at $15/user/month.

5. Fuze

  • Services offered: Fuze offers PBX features in 110 countries, with HD VoIP, dial-in access from mobile or desktop, team and 1 to 1 messaging, content sharing, and integrated presence with Google and Outlook calendar.
  • Usability: It is supported on Windows, Mac, and mobile, along with integrations to commonly-used solutions like Salesforce, Zendesk, Bullhorn, and Office.
  • Security and compliance: The platform is compliant with SOC 1 and 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA, HITRUST, CSA STAR. For security, Fuze offers automated source-code scanning, multiple levels of network security, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, and DDoS mitigation.
  • Value-adds: VoIP devices are also available, along with valuable features like enhanced OTT, SDWAN, and REST APIs for data and advanced analytics.
  • Pricing: Pricing starts from $15/user/month for 1 DID and a limited set of features, and goes up to $65/user/month for global reach, among other features.

6. Google Voice and Suite

Two of Google’s offerings can be brought together to create a viable UCaaS solution. This includes Google’s VoIP offering known as Google Voice and G Suite for mail and communications.

  • Services offered: G Suite offers IM through Hangouts, and video conferencing with Google Meet. VoIP is available through Google Voice, and companies can add on custom domain emails with Gmail for a truly seamless experience.
  • Usability: These offerings have a tried and tested Google UI, with simple dashboards for analytics and voice communication.
  • Security and compliance: Google offers spam blocking for email and calls, and integrated cloud identity features for access control. The platform is compliant with ISO, HIPAA, and AICPA SOC.
  • Value-adds: Google Voice also has support for automatic voicemail transcription, with close integration with G Suite offerings. The offering has omniplatform support, with applications for desktop and mobile.
  • Pricing: Voice is priced starting at $10/user/month, and goes up to $30/user/month. G Suite is priced at $6 onwards, going $25/user/month for enterprise users and unlimited storage. A free trial is also available.

7. GoToConnect

  • Services offered: GoTo Connect offers a VoIP phone system through Jive, along with web, audio, and video conferencing through GoTo Meetings, bringing together IM and collaboration in one platform. The Jive offering is an enterprise-grade Cloud PBX with over 80 VoIP features.
  • Usability: GoTo Connect offers all required features in one platform with an secure to use interface.
  • Security: The platform has SIP Security, HTTPS support, along with a browser-based admin portal.
  • Value-adds: This UCaaS company also adds custom call routing, team-based call distribution, the feature to join meetings using phone numbers, screen sharing, personal meeting rooms, and call analytics. The service is hosted at 10 worldwide data centers, providing redundancy and security.
  • Pricing: Discounts are offered with a higher number of users, with pricing starting at $19.95 per user per month. Companies with more than 100 users are priced on a case-by-case basis.

8. RingCentral

RingCentral’s offering focuses on customer-facing companies with Interactive Voice Response and customer support helplines. The offering has strong internal communication features as well.

  • Services offered: RingCentral offers cloud phone systems with local numbers, toll-free numbers, extensions, call screening forwarding, intercom, IM with file sharing and team chats, paging, internet-fax and visual voicemail. The cloud PBX offering comes with multi-level IVR, call logs, hot desking, Caller ID, number porting, video conferencing, webinar, and business SMS and MMS.
  • Usability: RingCentral offers apps for mobile and desktop for seamless transitions between mobile and desktop roles. The interface is also reported to be easy-to-use.
  • Security: On the security side, RingCentral offers SSO, fine-grained roles and permissions, overview, and an encrypted VoIP service.
  • Value-adds: The platform includes an analytics portal, performance reports, QoS reports, and live reports. It has integrations with Salesforce, OneDrive, Google Drive, Zendesk, Service Now, Okta, and more to ensure seamless deployment.
  • Pricing: Pricing changes depending on the number of users, and companies with more users get better discounts. Starts from $25/user/month, goes upto $50/user/month.

9. Vonage Business Communications

  • Services offered: Vonage offers voice, SMS, team IM, fax, and meeting facilities with a company-wide social feed for easy sharing of information.
  • Usability: The platform has omnichannel support with apps on mobile and desktop. Vonage promises a plug-and-play approach with multiple integrations and claims to include everything from APIs to call center solutions in one place.
  • Security: The company claims 99.999% uptime and QoS for optimized routing, with advanced encryption, firewall optimization, redundancy, and congestion prevention through SD WAN for added security. Vonage is compliant with HIPAA, HITECH, HITRUST, PCI for protected data, and GDPR norms.
  • Value-adds: The VoIP offering has useful features such as Click-to-dial, call monitoring, virtual receptionist, SmartWAN SD-WAN solution for bandwidth usage priorities, customizable workflows, real-time call transcription. Vonage also offers deep performance statistics and integrations with Salesforce, G Suite, Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365, Zendesk, among others.
  • Pricing: The platform is offered on a 30-day free trial, with prices ranging from $15 – $35 per month per line. Prices reduce as the number of lines increases.

10. Wildix

  • Services offered: Wildix brings browser-based unified communications to the table with WebRTC-enabled video conferencing, IM with presence, audio and video chat, screen sharing, and fax access to shared information. They round out their UCaaS offering with a Cloud PBX and VoIP hardware.
  • Usability: This UCaaS software is entirely web-based with android and iOS apps and claims to be usable with little to no end-user training.
  • Security: Wildix is created with a secure architecture and a native encryption algorithm. The software claims to be secure-by-design, which means that all security features are built-in to the product. In terms of security features, it has SSO, SHA 512 + salt, SIP TLS, SSH console access, DoS protection, requirement for secure passwords, and more.
  • Value-adds: The platform has over 60+ integrations with most cloud services for easy plug-and-play deployment
  • Pricing: Wildix is offered in four pricing tiers with increasing features; pricing is available on request.

Learn More: 10 Exciting New UCaaS Launches and Upgrades in 2020

Closing Thoughts

UCaaS solutions offer the capability for companies to revolutionize the way they approach internal and external communications. Not only can they disrupt traditional methods of communications like telephones, they can also offer significant cost savings over legacy methods. Along with improving a company’s bottom-line, cloud PBX solutions are much easier to maintain and troubleshoot than traditional PBX systems.

UCaaS platforms also bridge the gap between legacy and modern methods of communication, bringing together telephone and fax with instant messaging and video calling. This ensures that employees can reach out to any target audience with ease and seamlessness, further streamlining sales, and support procedures. The addition of modern features also allows companies to adapt their culture to the needs of the employees, increasing ease of work and satisfaction.

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