Definition

communications platform as a service (CPaaS)

Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) is a cloud-based delivery model that allows organizations to add real-time communication capabilities such as voice, video and messaging to business applications by deploying application program interfaces (APIs). The communication capabilities delivered by APIs include Short Message Service (SMS), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), telephony and video. Communication services can be embedded into business applications, such as sales software, to add features such as notifications, click-to-call and multifactor authentication.

CPaaS is deployed by organizations that want to embed communications in their business applications, as well as cloud service providers and developers looking to add communications capabilities to their applications and services. The platforms include standards-based APIs, comprehensive software developer's kits, and Java or .NET libraries for building applications on various platforms. CPaaS providers can also offer bundles that provide pre-packaged, fully functional communication features that can be dropped into applications. CPaaS is typically billed on a monthly basis at a fixed rate for blocks of messages or minutes. Some CPaaS providers offer a pay-per-call, per-video or per-message billing model.

CPaaS offers organizations a faster and lower-cost alternative to communication-enable applications rather than developing their own custom applications. Early CPaaS deployments have focused on applications in telehealth, field services, education, customer service and social media. The CPaaS market was originally driven by startups, such as Twilio, TokBox and Plivo, which offer APIs for embedding communications. Legacy unified communications vendors have entered the market with new services, including Genband's Kandy and Avaya's Breeze. Other vendors have acquired startups, such as Cisco acquiring Tropo and Vonage acquiring Nexmo.

CPaaS is the next wave of UC

Communications platform as a service streamlines the process of integrating communications with business applications.

This was last updated in March 2017

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What business applications in your organization could benefit from embedding communications with CPaaS?
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We actually use one CPaaS framework that lets us add any and all Cloud applications chosen by a person or team.  This creates a single communications environment surrounding the 'tool de jour', and associated to the team members that use that tool set.  It also enables tools to be swapped out as new and better options come to market.
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