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CP List Revisited: 20 Top UCaaS Providers for 2019

A lot can change in a year. See who made our list for 2019.

Edward Gately

March 21, 2019

12 Min Read
Twenty, 20, SD-WAN providers
Jörge röse-oberreich/Shutterstock

A lot can happen in a year, especially if you’re in the highly competitive UCaaS field.

Last March, our first “CP List” focused on unified-communications-as-a-service providers with analysts and members of Channel Partners’ Editorial Advisory Board sharing their views with us on what it takes to succeed in UCaaS. We’re back with an updated list and fresh views on changes in the competitive landscape during the past year.

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451 Research’s Raul Castanon-Martinez

Raul Castanon-Martinez, 451 Research’s senior analyst of workforce collaboration, said traditional players increasingly are challenged by emerging players with innovative approaches to business communications and team collaboration.

“I think that, increasingly, this is coming from players in adjacent areas and not necessarily UC,” he said. “For example, team collaboration tools like Slack and Workplace by Facebook are increasingly being used by knowledge workers in lieu of traditional communications (for example, email and UC). I don’t expect UC will entirely be displaced, but we have to come to terms with the fact that a significant amount of traffic that in the past could have been handled by UC, is now diverted to team collaboration.”

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Jon Arnold, principal analyst at J Arnold & Associates, said everybone is trying to be positioned as a cloud provider, and there’s a distinction between companies that want to be cloud-only versus companies that are cloud-enabled.

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Jon Arnold

“A lot of these companies still have a pretty significant base of premises-based customers and premises-based technologies that they’re selling to those customers, so they can’t just walk away from that business overnight, but they have to stay ready for the future,” he said. “So for them, they have to have a cloud story and the name of the game for them is to figure out ways to transition customers to the cloud for a long-term play because it’s going to be really difficult to remain premises-based exclusively going forward.”

A successful UCaaS provider has built an ecosystem where different partner types can take advantage of downstream opportunities, said Jay McBain, principal analyst of global channels at Forrester and editorial advisory board member.

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Forrester’s Jay McBain

“Examples include a marketplace where adjacent ISVs and consultants can be found, open APIs where software developers, integration specialists and workflows can be customized, and programs that promote transactional and non-transactional partners with personalized on-boarding, incentives, co-selling and co-marketing opportunities,” he said.

Our other recently published “top 20” lists include providers of enterprise telephony, SD-WAN, antivirus software, colocation, backup and DR, cloud storage, Ethernet and IoT We also highlighted 20 top channel thought leaders.

Based on feedback from analysts and editorial advisory board members, and recent news reports, we’ve compiled a list, in alphabetical order, of 20 top UCaaS providers that are making the most of the current competitive landscape and charting success. The list offers a mix of well-known providers as well as lesser-known companies that are making big strides in UCaaS.

8x8-300x144.png8×8

Castanon-Martinez and McBain said 8×8 remains a successful, cutting-edge UCaaS provider. Last week, 8×8 unveiled its new Meetings experience that provides video communication with voice, chat and one-touch conferencing. The solution provides a video collaboration platform supporting voice and video on any device on the 8×8 cloud-first environment, which is globally scalable with a server architecture built for WebRTC.

AWS-300x158.pngAWS

Castanon-Martinez said Amazon Web Services (AWS) belongs on the list of successful providers. Alexa for Business is one of the ways AWS is making a strong push into the enterprise space, and they’re using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate running meetings, Arnold said.

“Security for all cloud solutions continues to gain attention and increased requirements,” said Julie Dzubay, WTG’s vice president of sales operations, and editorial advisory board member. “Innovative ideas for securing data, improving performance, ease of doing business and providing business insights through data analytics are becoming more important in the decision-making process.”

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Avaya-300x86.pngAvaya

Avaya remains on our list of successful providers. It has launched a new multitenant UCaaS platform geared to the small business market. Avaya has 3.7 million cloud seats between its public and private offerings, and said it continues to see increased adoption of its cloud solutions across a wide range of industries.

Cisco-300x169.pngCisco

Castanon-Martinez said Cisco continues to “give battle” and is on the offensive to remain among the top unified communications and collaboration (UCC) players. McBain also cited it as a successful provider.

“We continue to see maturation of the UCaaS market with consolidation and price compression as indicators,” McBain said. “There are startups building disruptive point solutions in this space and the larger providers need to welcome them into the ecosystem.”

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Fuze-300x200.jpgFuze

Castanon-Martinez and McBain cited Fuze as a successful provider, and Transparency Market Research lists Fuze among the five leading global UCaaS companies.

In addition, Fuze was the winner of the 2018 Aragon Research Innovation Award for technology in the voice-centric collaboration category. The award recognizes providers leveraging visionary use of technology to not only adapt as markets change, but to actively disrupt and inform how their markets will evolve.

f365dfadb7844f7bb3172985acf88edc-300x177.jpgGoogle

Another player to keep an eye on this year is Google, which at last year’s Cloud Next announced an enterprise version of Google Voice for G Suite users, available via an early adopter program, Castanon-Martinez said. Though not yet generally available, the addition of Google Voice should bridge the gap with key players Cisco and Microsoft, which leverage voice communications as a central component of their respective productivity and collaboration portfolios.

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65d4289fa8414b7fa5c5ff99a78c2989-300x169.jpgIntermedia

Both Castanon-Martinez and McBain cite Intermedia as a successful provider. Earlier this month, Intermedia launched Unite Envision, a new analytics platform that allows administrators and partners to visualize, in real time, the performance of its Unite UCC system.

Intermedia Unite integrates a business phone with web and video conferencing, team chat, file sharing and backup, and other features.

Jive (LogMeIn)

LogMeIn-Jive-logo-300x117.jpgDzubay said Jive by LogMeIn continues to be an innovator in this competitive space with a reputation for strong vertical offerings. LogMeIn acquired Jive last year.

“A lot of companies will tell you, ‘We’re past the point where end customers are asking about the cloud, is this a good thing, should I do it?'” Arnold said. “A lot of businesses now see that the cloud is the way, so it’s … not ‘should I, but [which] path should I take to the cloud?’ They’re getting past that point of questioning it. So that’s an important shift that’s certainly more real today than it was a year ago.”

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Masergy-logo-small-300x160.pngMasergy

Castanon-Martinez and McBain said Masergy remains a cutting-edge provider. At this week’s Enterprise Connect conference, Masergy launched a new AI-powered virtual agent. Masergy Intelligent Virtual Agent powers virtual assistant and chatbot features for the company’s global UCaaS offerings. It also serves as the queueing agent for its cloud contact-center platform.

Metaswitch-logo.pngMetaswitch

Although by no means a new player, among the UCC innovators that need to be spotlighted is Metaswitch, which earlier this year launched MaX UC, an in-network, mobile-native UCC offering that features one-touch in-call via native dialer, network-powered multiple persona support and business-quality voice features, Castanon-Martinez said.

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Microsoft-logo-2018.pngMicrosoft

Microsoft is on the offensive to remain among the top UCC players, and has made significant strides in the last year targeting field workers, mobile employees and front-line workers with Teams, Castanon-Martinez said.

“End-customer expectations are being shaped by two things,” Arnold said. “One is the changing way that their workers engage with technology to do things, and also the expectations of their customers. They’re seeing that to keep their end customers happy, the premises-based technology that they’ve used is coming up against a lot of limitations. They cannot provide multichannel communication, can’t readily access the information within their own organization as needed to address customer needs, and similarly for the workers within their organizations, they’re bringing their consumer experiences into the workplace … and they want the same experience in the workplace.”

Mitel-300x71.pngMitel

Castanon-Martinez and McBain cited Mitel as continuing to be a successful provider. Earlier this month, Mitel appointed Daniel Farrar, previously CEO of Switchfly, as executive vice president and general manager of its UCaaS business unit.

Mitel has more than 4.6 million cloud seats and more than 1.3 million UCaaS seats globally.

Nextiva-logo-small-300x95.pngNextiva

Nextiva remains a cutting-edge provider, both Castanon-Martinez and McBain said. Earlier this month, Nextiva was named in the Customers’ Choice Zone in Gartner’s Peer Insights “Voice of the Customer”: UCaaS Worldwide report. Providers are chosen for this report based on reviews by customers who have experience using a variety of solutions.

Orange-Business-Services-logo-300x127.pngOrange Business Services

Both Castanon-Martinez and McBain cited Orange Business Services as a successful provider.

“Unified communications provides real-time collaboration capabilities that enable employees to meet, message and share content, which accelerates decision making and boosts worker productivity,” McBain said. “Today, more than 60 percent of global telecom decision makers are planning to implement, are implementing or are expanding their use of UC.”

Quobis-logo-300x104.jpgQuobis

Among the emerging vendors giving established players a run for their money is Quobis, a Spanish UCC startup whose solutions include Sippo Web Collaborator, a WebRTC-enabled UC suite that provides features such as video conferencing, call recording and screen sharing.

RingCentral

RingCentral-300x53.pngRingCentral remains among cutting-edge providers, both Castanon-Martinez and McBain said. This month, the company rolled out new enterprise products, including an open platform expansion, new APIs and a cloud reliability product.

“There has been some consolidation in the UCaaS space in the last year,” Dzubay said. “While RingCentral, Mitel and 8×8 continue a strong growth path as top established players, smaller UCaaS providers have added strength to their offering through acquisition such as the Broadvoice acquisition of YipTel. Google and Microsoft are gaining mindshare as they gain recognition as UCaaS options via the cloud space.”

Slack

12448671e6fc4b66bfcc2b05e12304c8-300x177.jpgSlack remains a successful provider, Castanon-Martinez said.

“We brief to these companies all the time and I can’t think of a company that I’ve briefed with recently that isn’t giving you a good-news story,” Arnold said.”They’re growing, their customer wins are coming, they have an exciting road map ahead, and maybe it’s because the ones who are struggling are [lying] low. There’s certainly money going into companies to grow and acquire customers because there is a big push on now with cloud. And if you do it right, you can have a big share of mind with the customers in terms of what you can do for them.”

Tango Networks

Tango-Networks-logo-small-300x75.pngCastanon-Martinez said another interesting innovator is Tango Networks, whose portfolio of mobile-native services now includes its acquisition last year of Simetric Telecom, which effectively positions it as a global private mobile network.

In February, Tango unveiled its Kinetic Cloud Mobile-X, a communications service that creates a private mobile network controlled by an enterprise for maximizing productivity of its distributed workforce.

Verizon-300x68.pngVerizon

Verizon remains among the top UCaaS providers, Castanon-Martinez and McBain said.

“We certainly have the major incumbents at the top of the food chain … and these companies are still the dominant players, but to defend their positions, they’ve all had to make significant moves to become more cloud-focused, more AI capable, so they’ve all been buying companies in those spaces to add pieces to their portfolios and get to the cloud faster,” Arnold said.

Vonage-300x129.jpgVonage

Vonage is making strides with One Vonage, bringing programmable communications into UC, Castanon-Martinez said.

“Though not the only vendor doing so, I think they’re one step ahead of everyone else,” he said. “RingCentral also recently expanded its capabilities with programmable communications. I think this will be a key differentiation for these players and increasingly relevant for UC providers.”

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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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