Enterprise Connect 2018 conference coverage
Reporting and analysis from IT events
The unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market is relatively new to many businesses, but in reality, it's been around for a couple of decades. Vonage was one of the pioneers in cloud communications and has been selling cloud-based telephony and collaboration for more than 15 years.
Historically, the company has offered two UCaaS services: Vonage Essentials targets the SMB market (for companies with fewer than 100 employees) and is built on the company's own software stack; and Vonage Premier targets larger companies and is built on Broadsoft software. (Broadsoft was acquired in 2017 by Cisco. Cisco is a client of ZK Research; Vonage has previously been a ZK Research client.)
Premier has been a highly successful product for Vonage business customers, as it is highly customizable and has enabled the company to win a number of deals with large enterprises. It is not suited to the mid-market, however, which is defined as companies with 100-1000 employees. Vonage Essentials didn't suit the midmarket either, as it was an older platform that didn't have the necessary scale and was more of a voice over IP (VoIP) offering than a full-fledged unified communications system.
Recently, Vonage announced a new service, Vonage Business Cloud (VBC), which will replace Essentials. VBC is the result of a three-year software development effort started in 2014 when Alan Masarek came to Vonage from Google and took over as the company's CEO. It's important to understand that VBC isn't just an upgrade of Essentials; it's a complete rewrite that is cloud native and uses modernized technology. For example, VBC was designed to run on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for on-demand, elastic scaling. The use of a public cloud service also improves availability through cross-region failover. It also employs other technologies including microservices, serverless functions, containers, machine learning and managed databases for greater agility.
The midmarket customer is perhaps the most underserved in the UCaaS industry. Almost all UCaaS vendors cut their teeth on small business then turn their focus on the lucrative enterprise market, bypassing the midmarket. UC decision-makers that choose VBC in this market segment should notice faster deployment times and application integration, better reliability and scalability. The long-term benefit of VBC, however, is that the cloud-native approach ensures that, as the market changes, Vonage can drop in whatever new services are necessary to stay current.
One of the interesting aspects of UC is that it is constantly evolving, making it difficult for service providers to ensure their customers are always getting the latest, greatest features and functions. The modernized VBC platform will enable Vonage to ensure that as the UC changes, it can quickly update VBC to ensure its customers are always on the leading edge of this market.
VBC offers access to other Vonage business services
Another interesting aspect of VBC is that Vonage's SmartWAN, a software-defined WAN service, is now available with the new service. SmartWAN is designed to run VoIP over broadband connections rather than MPLS only. Previously available only to Premier customers, VBC provides QoS capabilities for better call quality and improved service level agreements. Customers that aren't quite ready for SD-WAN can still use private lines or purchase VBC as a pure over-the-top service, then migrate to the advanced WAN when ready.
VBC also provides greater access to other Vonage business services, many of which come from the recent acquisitions. For example, in 2015 Vonage acquired gUnify, a company that enabled Essentials to connect to a number of third-party applications, including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Google G-Suite, Zendesk, Zoho, Clio and others. With Essentials, each app had its own connector, which made integration tedious. In contrast, VBC has a single connector that can interface with multiple applications, significantly speeding up the time to deploy.
The benefits of VBC extend past the back end, and end users will notice some improved funtionality. The service includes a completely redesigned desktop application with modernized messaging capabilities like delivery confirmation and read receipts. Users will also have access to a personalized portal to set up, maintain and manage their accounts and web applications. An upgraded mobile app includes enhanced messaging, document sharing and rich media that enables users to do more from remote locations. Other mobile improvements include video calling, call log management, blocking capabilities and search features.
Vonage business enterprise UCaaS rebranded
As part of this change, Vonage has renamed Premier as Enterprise to emphasize its focus is large enterprise customers. Broadsoft's BroadWorks and BroadCloud are both modernized platforms, so nothing major is happening outside of the brand change. Enterprises that use this product should feel confident that Premier will be sticking around for the foreseeable future