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UCaaS Providers

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Jive Voice logo
 
Jive Communications delivers a cloud-based unified communication solution to organizations of all sizes across the U.S. Jive Voice includes integrated products for business VoIP, video conferencing and contact center which are all... Read More
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Jive Communications delivers a cloud-based unified communication solution to organizations of all sizes across the U.S. Jive Voice includes integrated products for business VoIP, video conferencing and contact center which are all... Read More
 
Virtual Office by 8x8 logo
 
Virtual Office is a collection of comprehensive web-based business VoIP solutions from offered by 8x8. Enterprise grade phone service, virtual meetings, mobile applications, virtual contact centers and more are available to help companies... Read More
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Virtual Office is a collection of comprehensive web-based business VoIP solutions from offered by 8x8. Enterprise grade phone service, virtual meetings, mobile applications, virtual contact centers and more are available to help companies... Read More
 
Nextiva Office logo
 
Nextiva's Business VoIP solutions offer small businesses enterprise-level telephony service that helps them to streamline company's communications and establish an in-house VoIP phone system. It offers an integrated and scalable PBX... Read More
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Nextiva's Business VoIP solutions offer small businesses enterprise-level telephony service that helps them to streamline company's communications and establish an in-house VoIP phone system. It offers an integrated and scalable PBX... Read More
 
Vonage Business Solutions logo
 
Vonage Business Solutions is a cloud-based unified communication solution suitable for small and midsize companies. The solution offers a business phone system that enables businesses to connect their VoIP phone system to any internet... Read More
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Vonage Business Solutions is a cloud-based unified communication solution suitable for small and midsize companies. The solution offers a business phone system that enables businesses to connect their VoIP phone system to any internet... Read More
 
RingCentral Office logo
 
RingCentral Office is a cloud-based business phone solution that offers business communication tools for video, voice, fax and text. Core features of the solution include conferencing, auto-recording and unlimited long-distance and... Read More
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RingCentral Office is a cloud-based business phone solution that offers business communication tools for video, voice, fax and text. Core features of the solution include conferencing, auto-recording and unlimited long-distance and... Read More

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MegaPath logo
 
MegaPath is Business Voip software that works with medium to large-size businesses in any industry. The system offers companies Internet connectivity, unified communications, security services, managed networking services, and more. With... Read More
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MegaPath is Business Voip software that works with medium to large-size businesses in any industry. The system offers companies Internet connectivity, unified communications, security services, managed networking services, and more. With... Read More
 
Business Voice logo
 
Business Voice is a cloud-based VoiP solution created by PanTerra, which allows users to take or make calls from their office phone number, communicate with their team, and have file access, all from any device with an internet connection,... Read More
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Business Voice is a cloud-based VoiP solution created by PanTerra, which allows users to take or make calls from their office phone number, communicate with their team, and have file access, all from any device with an internet connection,... Read More
 
Simple Phone Co. logo
 
Simple Phone Co is a cloud-based business VoIP solution for small to midsize businesses. Key features include automatic call distribution, call recording, conference calling, auto attendant, internet fax, softphone and SIP trunking. Simple... Read More
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Simple Phone Co is a cloud-based business VoIP solution for small to midsize businesses. Key features include automatic call distribution, call recording, conference calling, auto attendant, internet fax, softphone and SIP trunking. Simple... Read More
 
Five9 Cloud Contact Center logo
 
Five9 is an all-in-one cloud contact center solution for inbound, outbound, blended and omnichannel contact centers world-wide.  Powered by Practical AI, Five9 enables agents to provide customer experiences across phone, email, chat,... Read More
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Five9 is an all-in-one cloud contact center solution for inbound, outbound, blended and omnichannel contact centers world-wide.  Powered by Practical AI, Five9 enables agents to provide customer experiences across phone, email, chat,... Read More
 
NICE inContact Hosted Call Center logo
 
NICE inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More
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NICE inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More

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Ytel Contact Center logo
 
Ytel Contact Center is a cloud-based integrated marketing suite that caters to SMB call centers and businesses with dedicated phone support teams, helping them manage multi-channel communications. The solution offers features including... Read More
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Ytel Contact Center is a cloud-based integrated marketing suite that caters to SMB call centers and businesses with dedicated phone support teams, helping them manage multi-channel communications. The solution offers features including... Read More
 
Amp Telecom logo
 
Amp Telecom is a cloud-based business VoIP and calling solution for midsize and large enterprises. Key features include call routing, interactive voice response (IVR), call monitoring, voicemail-to-email, call conferencing and extension... Read More
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Amp Telecom is a cloud-based business VoIP and calling solution for midsize and large enterprises. Key features include call routing, interactive voice response (IVR), call monitoring, voicemail-to-email, call conferencing and extension... Read More
 
Skype for Business logo
 
Skype for Business is a hybrid voice messaging solution that enables teams and individuals across the world to communicate and collaborate. It offers both cloud-based and on-premise solutions. This solution allows users to interact... Read More
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Skype for Business is a hybrid voice messaging solution that enables teams and individuals across the world to communicate and collaborate. It offers both cloud-based and on-premise solutions. This solution allows users to interact... Read More
 
ShoreTel Sky logo
 
ShoreTel is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that offers collaboration and conferencing tools to enable efficient information flow within the organization. ShoreTel is a managed hosted VoIP solution that configures and manages everything... Read More
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ShoreTel is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that offers collaboration and conferencing tools to enable efficient information flow within the organization. ShoreTel is a managed hosted VoIP solution that configures and manages everything... Read More
 
Sharpen logo
 
Sharpen’s cloud-based platform is a SaaS contact center solution for midsize to large enterprise businesses. As an all-in-one solution, the platform provides businesses the ability to communicate with customers by SMS, MMS, live... Read More
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Sharpen’s cloud-based platform is a SaaS contact center solution for midsize to large enterprise businesses. As an all-in-one solution, the platform provides businesses the ability to communicate with customers by SMS, MMS, live... Read More

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MightyCall logo
 
MightyCall is a cloud-based business VoIP solution designed for small businesses. It helps users manage customer service calls and company communications. MightyCall handles incoming calls including toll-free, local and vanity numbers.... Read More
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MightyCall is a cloud-based business VoIP solution designed for small businesses. It helps users manage customer service calls and company communications. MightyCall handles incoming calls including toll-free, local and vanity numbers.... Read More
 
Digium Switchvox logo
 
Digium Switchvox provides a cloud-based and on-premise phone system that helps users in unified communications. Businesses with multiple locations deploy hybrid Switchvox systems, in which on-premise and cloud-based systems at multiple... Read More
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Digium Switchvox provides a cloud-based and on-premise phone system that helps users in unified communications. Businesses with multiple locations deploy hybrid Switchvox systems, in which on-premise and cloud-based systems at multiple... Read More
 
Evolved Office IP Phone System logo
 
Evolve IP is a cloud-based IP phone and collaboration solution suitable for businesses with over 50 employees. It caters to multiple industries including credit unions, financial services, health care, legal, restaurants and veterinary.... Read More
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Evolve IP is a cloud-based IP phone and collaboration solution suitable for businesses with over 50 employees. It caters to multiple industries including credit unions, financial services, health care, legal, restaurants and veterinary.... Read More
 
UniVoIP logo
 
OfficeConnect by UniVoip is a cloud-based phone system that offers features including auto-attendant, call paging, conferencing, email integration, one-touch speed dial and call recording. The platform is targeted towards mid to large-sized... Read More
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OfficeConnect by UniVoip is a cloud-based phone system that offers features including auto-attendant, call paging, conferencing, email integration, one-touch speed dial and call recording. The platform is targeted towards mid to large-sized... Read More
 
BroadVoice Cloud PBX logo
 
Broadvoice Cloud PBX is a hosted phone system that provides voice applications. The solution caters to the needs of businesses of multiple sizes. It provides a “pay as you go” SIP trunking for a single-vendor VoIP solution. Broadvoice... Read More
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Broadvoice Cloud PBX is a hosted phone system that provides voice applications. The solution caters to the needs of businesses of multiple sizes. It provides a “pay as you go” SIP trunking for a single-vendor VoIP solution. Broadvoice... Read More
 

Buyer's Guide

by Andrew Friedenthal,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: May 22, 2018


“Unified communications” (UC) is a buzzword for technologies that connect voice, email, text messaging, instant messaging (IM) and other business communication channels through intuitive user interfaces and software integrations. UC software systems focus communications functionality around the end user and provide a consistent experience across multiple devices (laptops, IP phones, smartphones, tablets, headsets etc.).

Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), meanwhile, is simply a term for cloud-based UC, which is typically delivered on a subscription basis (in other words, you pay per-month rates for user licenses instead of one-time license fees).

This guide is intended to help you research UCaaS solutions for your organization. It covers the following topics:

What Are Unified Communications and UCaaS?
On-Premise UC, UCaaS and Hybrid Deployment Models
UCaaS Functionality
Key Considerations for Buyers

What Are Unified Communications and UCaaS?

Traditional business phone systems primarily focused on managing the voice channel. This created a disjointed experience for employees who had to use other applications for email, instant messaging and so on. Moreover, these systems didn’t offer the flexible configuration settings users need to personalize their various communication methods. Even worse, legacy phone systems were difficult to integrate with other types of business software.

UC emerged around the turn of the millennium, as phone systems designed for VoIP service began to evolve in response to these issues. Unlike traditional phone systems, UC systems put users at the heart of communications. These systems allowed users to manage all workplace communications from a single system with a unified interface, accessible through tablets, smartphones, laptops and a range of other devices.


iPad video conferencing with ShoreTel Mobility 8

In addition to streamlining the user experience across devices, UC systems and cloud-based UCaaS systems also help users manage communications by providing real-time control over their contact preferences (e.g., whether they’re available for a phone conversation). Moreover, UC and UCaaS systems can integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, accounting systems and other vital software categories to add communications capabilities to workflows involving multiple types of software.

The net result in successful UC implementation: new possibilities for collaboration throughout your organization. UC can also reduce the costs associated with using multiple communication systems. For example, instead of paying for a phone system, a video conferencing system and a stand-alone audio conferencing service, under UC, businesses only need a single communications provider.

Here are the most important communications channels managed by UC and UCaaS software systems:

This is just a high-level overview of the basic modes of communication handled by these systems; it is not an exhaustive listing of capabilities. UC and UCaaS systems are capable of extensive functionality and are quite technically complex, with administrator manuals that can be thousands of pages long.

The first UC systems required the deployment of physical hardware, such as servers and switches, on businesses’ premises. Now, organizations can choose between deploying UC on-premise, in the cloud (UCaaS) or both.

On-Premise UC, UCaaS and Hybrid Deployment

The choice between UCaaS and on-premise UC is an important one. Whereas UC was once confined to enterprises with very deep pockets, UCaaS providers make the technology affordable for a much wider range of organizations by significantly cutting upfront costs. UCaaS solutions can also be easier to manage for organizations with limited IT resources.

On the other hand, on-premise UC systems have disaster survivability benefits: They allow for redundant connections to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) for maintaining service during Internet outages.

Some UC and UCaaS providers allow for cloud deployments at certain sites (such as branch locations) and on-premise deployments at others (such as campuses). This is known as the hybrid deployment model.

In the hybrid model, even though the system has been deployed in different ways across multiple sites, it’s still a single system that can be centrally administered (typically, from the main campus). In addition to survivability benefits, hybrid deployments allow businesses to continue using legacy communications equipment in which they’ve already invested heavily.

You’ll need to factor in networking requirements, legacy investments and organizational structure along with costs when deciding whether to go with on-premise, UCaaS or hybrid deployment.

The systems listed on this page are all UCaaS products.

UCaaS Functionality

The following table lists some additional capabilities of UC and UCaaS systems:

Administrator console Administrators have a unified interface for controlling applications and features, as well as for managing the organization’s dial plan across multiple locations and networks.
Desktop client Clients are installed on end users’ desktops or laptops. Users can communicate across multiple channels, and manage both contact preferences and call routing preferences via the client.
Mobile client Extends major communication channels, such as voice calling, instant messaging, email and conferencing, to mobile devices. Users can make and receive calls with mobile devices using their work numbers. Mobile clients also allow users to access the system remotely to manage settings and preferences.
Single identity number Users make and receive calls using a single work number, regardless of whether they’re communicating on a softphone, headset, IP desk phone, smartphone, tablet etc.
Mass notification UC systems can handle mass notifications in emergency scenarios with capabilities such as SMS blasting.
API Most UC platforms offer APIs for extending the functionality of the system through the development of custom applications or integrations.


Buddy list in Nextiva’s VoIP App Interface

Key Considerations for Buyers

The UC marketplace is complex and continually evolving. Keep the following considerations in mind while evaluating vendors to home in on the systems that will best meet your needs.

  • Integrations with office productivity suites. Increasingly, UCaaS providers are developing pre-built integrations with popular office productivity suites, including Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work. (Such integrations were once a niche filled by middleware vendors.) If you’re already locked into the Google or Microsoft ecosystem, look for vendors that have already done the work of integration so you don’t have to.
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  • Combined UC/contact center deployments. Some UCaaS providers also specialize in deployments for multi-channel contact centers (those that handle communications channels such as email, SMS text, instant messaging, live chat, social media etc.). These vendors can deploy a contact center system that integrates seamlessly with the UC system used by the rest of your organization. Example vendors include RingCentral, ShoreTel, Nextiva, 8x8 and Jive.
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  • Conferencing requirements. The continued evolution of Web conferencing has vastly reduced the costs and technological complexity of both audio and video conferencing. However, UC solutions still differ in the conferencing capabilities they offer users. For instance, not all vendors’ mobile clients can support multi-party video conferencing on tablets and smartphones. Others are limited in their Web conferencing features.

    In particular, the use of WebRTC (an API for browser-based video conferencing) is still evolving. Vendors are actively developing solutions based on WebRTC, while solutions already on the market have implemented it to widely varying degrees. Make sure your short list only includes vendors that offer the conferencing features you need to support your business’s collaboration styles.

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