Man holding a tablet participating in a video conference

The Rise of cPaaS Portends More WAN Problems

When it comes to the cloud, there is certainly no shortage of different types. Usually when people think of “the cloud” they either think of CRM type applications, like Salesforce.com, or common platform as a service providers such as Amazon or Google. However, there’s another type of cloud service that’s growing rapidly today and that’s the “communication platform as a service” (cPaaS) market. The most well known cPaaS provider today is Twilio, who had an enormous presence at Enterprise Connect earlier this year. Other cPaaS vendors include Nexmo, Plum Voice, Aspect and Tropo who was recently acquired by Cisco.

cPaas solutions give enterprises, telcos, and software vendors cloud-based access to communication services such as SMS, MMS, voice, video, IVR, and mobile Web.

Comms + Business

The value proposition is that any organization now can easily and quickly integrate communication functions into business applications. Some organizations have used cPaaS services to quickly build digital applications and disrupt their markets. For example, AltoCloud has created a cloud-based customer engagement service that is disrupting the calls center market.

There are a number of premises-based vendors that offer development environments, but this requires the organization to have to buy racks of equipment to build even a simple application. cPaaS solutions bring cloud style elasticity, multi-tenancy and scalability to UC application development. The goal of cPaaS is to make the development, testing and deployment of communications-based applications quicker, easier and much more cost effective.

The vision of communications-enabled applications has been something the UC industry has been working to achieve for the better part of a decade but it’s remained largely a vision because of cost and complexity. The maturing of cPaaS services will give rise to a number of new applications with real-time communications integrated into them. Imagine being able to click to video directly from application, or having an application that can hold a call, decipher who the user is from the caller ID, automate the paging of a customer service person, and connect the call seamlessly.

Again, businesses have had the ability to build these applications in the past but the developer environments and the cost of the infrastructure made it prohibitively expensive. Having the capabilities available as a cloud service that leverages modern programming languages makes the development of communications enabled applications possible for any organization, large or small.

The Price of cPaaS over the WAN

While the evolution of cPaaS is great for workers and can help businesses embrace digital transformation, it is likely to create even more challenge for network managers, particularly when dealing with the WAN where bandwidth can be limited.

Managing real-time traffic is tough enough when the IT department has control over the call control and media servers and can control where the traffic flows. Now developers can whip up an application with real-time video or voice integrated into it overnight. Any control that IT thought it had over multimedia has gone out the window.

The rise of cPaaS services will create more challenges for network managers. It’s critical that IT leaders prepare for a day in the near future where voice and video are pervasive across web applications. This means greater network agility and better control over the WAN. If you don’t put this in place now, you’ll pay for it later.

About the author
Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. He provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and with long term strategic advice. Kerravala provides research and advice to the following constituents: End user IT and network managers, vendors of IT hardware, software and services and the financial community looking to invest in the companies that he covers.