How CPaaS Differs from UCaaS, But Also Improves Collaboration

How CPaaS Differs from UCaaS, But Also Improves Collaboration

As businesses move to adopt cloud platforms, the landscape of offerings becomes more complicated. I regularly write about these changes, and there’s a lot to keep track of. The root of all this is the SaaS model – Software as a Service – where applications are consumed and paid for on an on-demand basis. The business doesn’t own the platform, and IT can be very hands-off in managing things – both of which are attractive value drivers.

In the communications space, UCaaS – UC as a Service – is the most common SaaS offering. The feature set is largely on par with premise-based versions of UC, so there’s little if any compromise in terms of performance. However, when considering that shift to cloud for UC – whether in whole or in part – you will inevitably bump against two cousins of UCaaS – CPaaS and CCaaS. These two “as a Service” offerings would be for Communications Platforms and Contact Center.


Each of these offerings warrant separate streams of analysis, but that’s for another time. The focus of this post is about how IT decision makers need to think differently about collaboration when considering the cloud. This broader scope of “XaaS” offerings makes the cloud model more enticing, but it also makes the overall strategy more involved.


There’s More to Collaboration Than UCaaS


Collaboration remains a key strategic buzzword in 2020, and IT is under constant pressure to provide the right tools so workers can be more productive. We’re well past the point where upgrading the phone system is enough, and collaboration cannot be viewed as being a simple hardware refresh. The problem-solution paradigm from legacy times doesn’t hold up for collaboration. Given how the installed base of legacy telephony remains large, this thinking still persists, and to have success with the cloud, a different mindset will be needed.


Even if a business is currently using a premise-based form of UC, it can be tempting to think that a cloud variation will fully address your collaboration needs. This may be true to the extent you’re thought about collaboration, and that’s why the cloud is more than just another deployment model.


To some extent, going from on-premise to the cloud can be an apples-to-apples scenario, but that really undermines what the cloud represents. Much the way VoIP replicated legacy telephony, UCaaS can do the same with UC, but that’s only part of the story. The bigger picture is how cloud provides a broader palette to improve communications and drive better collaboration outcomes.


While UC does address most conventional forms of collaboration – voice, messaging, video, conferencing, file sharing, etc. – the cloud opens up new ways of doing things that may not be self-evident. Consider the impact of team messaging platforms like Slack, which complement UC, but do not seek to replace it outright. Some businesses can manage just fine only using Slack, but the vast majority still depend on the richness of legacy applications upon which most UC offerings are built.


Where CPaaS Needs to Be Considered


This is where CPaaS enters the conversation. As noted, the cloud supports many “XaaS” offerings, and CPaaS in particular has some strong affinity with collaboration. Like Slack, CPaaS was never designed to replace UC, but it really wasn’t developed with UC in mind either. Rather, it is based around the notion of programmable communications, where the focus is on developers who can build communications applications that can be embedded in other programs, platforms, applications, etc.


The core idea here is that communications can now natively be part of other processes, and that should streamline workflows and make people more productive. Considering all the effort involved with leaving a workflow application to make a call, send a message, share a file, etc., it’s not hard to see the efficiency that comes by having these capabilities accessible right inside the document or workstream that workers are so focused on.


CPaaS may not be a fit for your everyday collaboration needs at the moment, but as you get further along with UCaaS, the use cases will become clearer. Aside from your own internal discovery process here, you’ll hear more about this from the UC vendors, as most of them have some form of a CPaaS offering. As such, once you start with UCaaS, the CPaaS discussions will soon follow, and the more prepared you are, the better your buying decisions will be. To support that, my next post will outline three specific use cases where CPaaS can enhance your cloud approach for collaboration.