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How to Get In on the Coming CPaaS Revolution

Knowing who you are serving and how it fits with your target audience is key.

Edward Gately

February 21, 2020

6 Min Read
CPaaS, Cloud Computing, networking
Shutterstock

Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) is the hottest new trend in the channel, and we’re sure to hear more about it in 2020.

But what exactly is it, who is it right for and how do partners take advantage so they can be on the leading edge of this tech? There are a lot of questions that will be addressed at next month’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

During a presentation, “How to Get In Early on the CPaaS Opportunity,” on March 11, Jon Arnold of J Arnold & Associates will lead a panel of partners who will share how they’ve used CPaaS to increase customer stickiness, and help attendees lay out a plan of action for jumping on the trend.

Join Rabban, Smith and 100+ industry-leading speakers, more than 6,400 partners and 300+ key vendors, distributors and master agents at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, March 9-12. Register now!

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Phone.com’s Ari Rabban

Panelists include Eric Hernaez, president of SkySwitch; Ari Rabban, CEO and co-founder of Phone.com;, and Steve Smith, CEO of Fonative.

In a Q&A, Rabban and Smith give a sneak peek of the information they plan to share with attendees.

Channel Partners: What encompasses a successful CPaaS solution and provider?

Ari Rabban: The definition of a CPaaS is very wide and I would like to break into four parts:

  • Are you a company that focuses on allowing developers to build applications and services (Twilio arguably the defining company here)?

  • Who are you marketing to? Developers, enterprises, small business?

  • Who is doing the work? The customer or your company with the customer?

  • Is your CPaaS for integrations into known third-party services (CRM, etc.) or for building new applications and solutions?

Knowing who you are serving and how it fits with your target audience is key.

Steve Smith: I think a good CPaaS solution/provider needs to excel in the following areas:

  • Feature set — at a minimum they generally need to make and receive voice calls, and send and receive text messages, as well as provision underlying phone numbers.

  • Agility — because CPaaS is in the cloud, a good provider can move fast, extend the feature set and extend their solution if a customer has specific requirements.

  • Documentation and developer support — a good CPaaS provider will have careful and clear developer docs, and a good system for supporting developers.

  • Customer support — a good CPaaS solution needs have great customer support group, and quickly respond to inquiries and issues.

  • Stability — the provider must have high uptime and should be willing to enter into SLAs.

  • Security — your CPaaS solution should have a solid information security program and be constantly assessing threats and best practices, and doing everything they can to keep customer’s data, calls and texts secure.

  • Scalability — a good provider should have a solution that can scale to the expected needs of the application.

CP: What are the challenges of incorporating/building a CPaaS solution? How did you overcome those?

AR: We focus on small business. and as much as we would like to enable a Twilio-like set of APIs to allow developers to build their own services and applications, we are better served assisting our customers with customized solutions that fit their needs. We do have open APIs that let developers …

… integrate our UCaaS solutions with third-party services (integrations) and to develop their own, but there we will hold their hand in most cases as opposed to just throwing out the APIs and documentation, and letting the customer try it all on their own.

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Fonative’s Steve Smith

SS: Because Fonative is a CPaaS platform, we didn’t incorporate one. I think the key challenges revolve around security, scalability and fault tolerance/redundancy. When we began working on Fonative in 2015, we spent a year on the architectural concerns before we wrote a line of code. We thought hard about how to achieve PCI DSS Level 1 certification, which influenced our network architecture and inter-process communication design. We assessed the performance aspect of each component in our infrastructure, and designed a N+1 scalable approach both within a site and across sites so that we could grow to massive scale. And finally we thought hard about system and network failures to come up with an architecture that is resilient to single points of failure and even failure of an entire site, as well as an internal and external monitoring system so that we have fine-grained information about the health and performance of all components and carriers.

CP: What has offering a CPaaS solution meant to your customers and your business?

AR: For key customers, our ability to deliver a CPaaS is key. Today’s business communications needs for big and small companies are not complete with a phone service on its own. As robust as it is, if you do not offer customized solutions, let alone integrations to third-party products, you will fall behind. We will see this trend expand more and go down market as well.

SS: For us, the CPaaS solution is our sole product, so it’s the entirety of our business. For our customers, who are application providers to enterprises, they have been able to improve, add recurring subscription revenue by extending their product to include the communications abilities needed by their user, adding a new line item to their inventory and simplifying their customers’ lives.

They’ve done this with a fast time to market, at a low cost and complexity. This is because they don’t need costly premises-based telecom gear, they don’t need to manage carriers, servers, infrastructure, session border controllers, SMS gateways and the like. This frees up their staff time, and lets them focus on the applications and core value add.

CP: What do you hope attendees learn and can make use of from your session?

AR: Seeing the bigger picture, seeing a bit ahead beyond 2020 and even 2021. Understanding the changes in communication trends, the behavior of younger generations entering the workforce and how technology innovations (AI, bots, 5G as well as API and the cloud in general) enable small business to enjoy services that were once out of their reach.

SS: I would hope attendees come away with a better understanding of CPaaS — what it is, what it isn’t, why it’s transforming the telecom landscape, and what type of customers and opportunities would be best suited for a CPaaS solution.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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