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June 03, 2010

Businesses Warming to Communications as a Service

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Enterprise telecom managers are warming to 'communications as a service' in areas such as web conferencing and audioconferencing, says Elizabeth Herrell, Forrester (News - Alert) Research analyst. In contact centers, for example, about 18 percent of respondents to a recent survey say they use hosted web conferencing, while 25 percent said they use web conferencing as a service.

About nine percent use a hosted audioconferencing service, while 10 percent use audioconferencing as a service. About seven percent said they use a hosted IP videoconferencing service, as did another seven percent who said they use IP videoconferencing as a service.

So far, conferencing as a service far outstrips use of voice as a service, though. Just four percent of respondents said they used a hosted VoIP solution, as did another four percent who reported using a VoIP as a service solution.

Only about two percent of respondents use a hosted unified communications solution, while three percent said they use unified communications as a service.

Going forward, however, respondents reported higher interest in adopting either hosted or communications as a service approaches for many functions.

About 10 percent of respondents said they would consider a hosted VoIP solution, while 11 percent said they would consider a CaaS solution in the future. Likewise, 13 percent would consider a hosted IP videoconferencing solution, while 19 percent would consider CaaS-based IP videoconferencing.

Some 16 percent indicated they would consider a hosted contact center solution, while 23 percent said they would consider a CaaS contact center solution. Similar percentages of respondents said they would consider hosted or CaaS audioconference solutions.

And a growing percentage of respondents are open to hosted unified communications solutions (20 percent) or CaaS UC (23 percent).

Also, there is continued strong interest in hosted web conferencing (22 percent) and CaaS-based web conferencing (33 percent).

Communications-as-a-service shares many attributes with other as-a-service offerings in its pricing model and delivers voice, conferencing, contact center, IVR, and unified communications services from services providers' or vendors' networks.

CaaS vendors offer full management of the communications system or application, which typically resides on a shared secure platform. Customers typically pay per user, per month, or per transaction for full life-cycle support. Providers offer sophisticated applications in the cloud, allowing companies to deploy advanced unified communications services quickly and affordably across a distributed environment.

Hosted solutions are similar to renting, and the service providers maintain a dedicated application at their data center and fully support its maintenance.

The survey results are based on data from 2,247 IT executives and technology decision-makers located in Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, from small, medium and enterprise companies.

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Alice Straight

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