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RingCentral integrates UCaaS with Google Apps Unlimited

RingCentral has integrated its UCaaS products with Google Apps Unlimited, adding features that could appeal to larger companies.

RingCentral Inc. has an eye on larger enterprises in integrating its unified communications as a service product with Google Apps Unlimited -- a premium version of Google's web-based email, messaging and content-sharing service that competes with Microsoft Office 365.

Introduced last week, the RingCentral Office Google Edition combines the UCaaS vendor's services with Google Apps Unlimited and Google Hangouts, a unified communications (UC) service that lets users initiate and participate in text, voice or video chats either one on one or in a group.

RingCentral had already integrated its services with Google Apps for Work, which lacks a number of features found in the more premium version. Google Apps Unlimited outdoes Apps for Work with unlimited storage and more security and administrative controls.

Google Apps Unlimited also includes Vault, which is used to track information created, stored, sent and received through Apps programs, such as Gmail. Vault, which is a paid add-on in Apps for Work, is a pivotal feature for companies that need to account for information in case of litigation.

Google has some UC features in Apps, but not enough to meet the communication needs of many midsize enterprises, a market that RingCentral is targeting with its cloud-based phone system. The Google-RingCentral integration lets corporate workers use the latter's infrastructure to place phone calls within Hangouts and instant messages. People can also launch video and audio conferences powered by RingCentral, which lets people who are not Google subscribers join meetings.

"What we're seeing here is tight integration from two cloud-based players that are finally getting to the point where there's feature parity to what historically has only been available through on-prem [on-premises communication technology]," said Aric Bandy, the president of Minneapolis-based Agosto Inc., a Google Apps reseller since 2007.

A large portion of Agosto's revenue comes from companies with 2,000 to 4,000 Google Apps users, Bandy said. Agosto's average customer has roughly 800 users.

RingCentral wants larger customers

RingCentral, which also provides integration of its cloud-based phone system into Office 365, has been building up its business operations to support accounts with more than 1,000 employees, Gartner said in a report released last September. To date, RingCentral lacks strong brand awareness in businesses with more than 2,000 employees and a professional services operation capable of supporting accounts above 5,000 workers.

In general, larger enterprises have balked at moving to an all-cloud phone system, fearing it lacks the maturity to meet the communication demands of organizations with thousands of employees spread across the U.S. or many countries. 

Smaller organizations with simpler communication requirements have swapped on-premises systems with ones in the cloud to cut costs. Their move to UCaaS, which includes telephony, is helping to drive a global market that is expected to grow from $14 billion last year to $49 billion by 2023, according to Global Market Insights Inc., based in Ocean View, Del. At the end of the same timeframe, the overall UC market is expected to top $96 billion.

Within that market, Office 365 is gaining market share at the expense of Google Apps, according to a recent survey of 2,200 cybersecurity pros conducted by security firm Bitglass. The poll found 61% of organizations have or plan to have Office 365, up from 45% in 2015. Google Apps deployments, on the other hand, fell from 29% last year to 26%.

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