Communications as a Service (CaaS)

Internet-based communications are not a new phenomenon. For many years, we have sent video, voice, and data across the public Internet to correspond with others free of charge or at a low cost. Paradoxically, mainstream adoption of communications services over the public Internet has been relatively slow. With the cost of service dropping and lingering concerns about the quality and reliability of these largely unregulated communications systems, a vast majority of companies and individuals communicate over the same circuit-switched network that has existed since the invention of the telephone.

In the case of enterprise communications, IP communications is largely provided through customer-premise Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems implementing a signaling protocol that runs over IP: H.323 or Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). These IP-based PBX systems offer benefits to companies, such as the ability to run a corporate telephony system on the same network used for data. The convergence of voice and data over the corporate network reduces the costs of installing and operating separate networks for voice and data. Another benefit is the reduction of administrative costs realized by allowing users of the telephone system to relocate their telephones within the network without the aid of an administrator. Unfortunately, these systems are expensive to purchase, configure, and manage; this makes them costly for a small- to medium-sized business (SMB) to implement.

As a result, there is an underserved market for providing cost effective corporate telephony to SMBs. Over the last few years, many incumbent enterprise communications providers have conducted efforts to offer corporate communications in a hosted environment, similar to the environment that corporate back-office applications, such as Microsoft Exchange, are hosted in. Communications applications deployed in this environment are becoming referred to as Communications as a Service (CaaS). CaaS builds on the basic foundation of Software as a Service (SaaS), with some requirements unique to communications applications.