What is UCaaS?
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is a cloud delivery model that includes a number of communication/collaboration applications and services. Simply put, UCaaS delivers seamless, secure and cost-effective communications across multiple channels (voice, text, video, etc.) anywhere you need it.
Voice and telephony
Includes mobile and softphone telephony with common PBX functions such as virtual attendants, call control, music on hold, and other familiar enterprise features.
UCaaS meeting features include multiparty audio conferencing, video conferencing and web conferencing capabilities.
Presence and instant messaging (IM)
IM allows people to send texts and other information to individuals or groups in real time. Presence services allow individuals to see the availability of other colleagues as well as business resources.
UCaaS enables access to multiple communication functions from a consistent interface on multiple platforms. These may include desk phones, thick desktop clients, browser clients, and clients for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Communications-enabled bsuiness processes
This refers to the ability to integrate the UCaaS solution with other business applications, such as CRM solutions and contact center software.
The benefits of UCaaS
Businesses that use UCaaS avoid the capital and operational costs associated with owning and managing one or more communications systems. Most UCaaS providers are able to scale licenses on demand, so businesses pay for only what they need at the moment and then expand their options as needs arise.
With cloud-based communications, companies are not required to provide technical resources for management and maintenance. Enterprise technical resources can be devoted to more strategic priorities.
Consistent user experience
UCaaS allows organizations to provider a consistent user experience for remote and mobile workers. Features such as four-digit dialing and presence are available regardless of location.
Cloud-based communication solutions have built-in business continuity and automated failover. Businesses don't need to worry about about maintaining multiple platforms in separate locations. If one data center becomes unavailable, a backup takes over and your business is not interrupted. If the business location is impacted, calls can be rerouted to another location or mobile devices.
How UCaaS works
Rather than using traditional telephones to transmit audio signals, cloud service providers use SIP trunking technology that transmits visual and audio information into packet data, then sends it out via internet protocols to relevant destinations.
UCaaS consists of several components:
Platform application servers: Application servers are run by UCaaS providers in their own data centers, hosted in third-party data centers, or hosted in public cloud services from companies. Application servers host the software for voice features; messaging; presence; audio and video conferencing; and, in the case of Ooma Enterprise, contact center services.
Clients: Software clients are either downloaded onto users' devices, like a PC or mobile device, or accessed via a web browser using WebRTC or a plug-in.
Endpoints: Endpoints include desk phones and video conferencing systems.
Customers connect to their UCaaS provider either over the public internet or by directly connecting to the provider's data centers. Because performance depends on the quality of available internet services, dedicated circuits offer more predictable performance.
The future of UCaaS
Communications trends and technologies continue to change to correspond to the way we work today. As fewer and fewer homes have landlines, the same trends are developing across business phone systems. Modern workers are using mobile technology as a primary means to communicate.
With more mobility options, businesses will continue to embrace remote work and distributed teams. This will require technology that allows people to stay productive and connected from anywhere. In short, UCaaS will continue to be the best option for most businesses' communication and collaboration needs.