SOURCE: CommuniGate Systems

December 18, 2008 14:02 ET

Unified Communications as SaaS: What Service Providers Need to Consider to Be Effective

CommuniGate Systems Highlights Seven Key Criteria Service Providers Must Bear in Mind When Choosing a SaaS Delivery Platform for Value-Added Services

MILL VALLEY, CA--(Marketwire - December 18, 2008) - By the year 2012, the market volume for Software as a Service (SaaS) will have quadrupled, according to the latest white paper produced by The Radicati Group Inc. It is predicted that Value-Added Services such as Unified Communications will not only generate additional revenues from residential and business subscribers, but will also help increase customer loyalty and reduce churn rates. SaaS offerings can bring even the most sophisticated technologies within the reach of small and medium businesses at an affordable price.

Providers need to select a high-capacity UC to ensure the monetisation of the product results in profitability for the provider at an affordable cost to the subscriber. On-premise, or "Enterprise class" solutions are not designed technically or by costs to become effective SaaS delivery platforms. CommuniGate Systems has identified seven important criteria that service providers should keep in mind when making their decisions about investments in a UC SaaS delivery platform:

Modular class of services

By providing UC solutions in a modular way, service providers can create a completely tailored package, individually customised to meet specific customer needs. The UC services can also be granularly expanded with features like groupware and presence information, as well as rich media applications such as video on demand, video mail, and mobile push e-mail.

Flexible Web 2.0 delivery client support

A crucial aspect for user acceptance is the design of the user interface and experience. A sophisticated client that integrates with various applications must be presented in a simple and easy to use format. Fundamental to this functionality are web 2.0 technologies such as Adobe Flash and AJAX, which allow providers to easily adapt the user interface to the customer's corporate design or particular preferences. The client should not be fixed to a particular desktop or laptop, users are mobile, and the services must also be mobile. Client and platform support must include Apple Mac in today's business environment with Apple laptops becoming commonplace. This means the platform should include CalDav support for Apple Groupware and XMPP for IM and presence services.

Most up-to-date technology

By investing in SaaS delivery technology, service providers can deliver cutting edge technology to their subscribers. The service provider must be assured that they are prepared for the future with a platform that enables easy integration with new technologies in a modular way. In addition, providers must look for a development environment that is capable of integrating new server or desktop applications such as widgets, to allow development of industry tailored solutions in a highly competitive market.

Integration with existing billing and provisioning systems

Service providers invest significantly in billing and provisioning systems. A platform that integrates well with existing solutions and has a solid set of APIs such as Parlay X, Diameter (AAA), and Radius offers the best opportunity for low upfront capital investments.

Multi-Tenancy

Multi-tenancy is key in ensuring strong economies of scale through the use of a reliable, shared platform, while allowing providers to pass some of their cost savings on to customers. A multi-tenant UC platform enables the provider to virtualize individual hosted enterprises on a single system, whilst at the same time offering individual services and safe access to customer data. Customers benefit from a delegated and centralised administration system.

Mobility solutions

Today's workforce is mobile, people move from desktop to laptop to home computer to mobile device. The UC solution must therefore support synchronisation protocols such as ActiveSync for push e-mail on mobile devices, plus enable users to synchronize their contacts, and calendars. Mobile capabilities must support enterprise class security features such as enforcement of PIN codes and remote wipe in the event a device is lost or stolen. Mobile access must support a wide range of devices, from Nokia, to Windows Mobile to the new iPhone 3G to be effectively competitive and provide choice to customers.

High density, efficiency and extreme availability

Service providers that want to guarantee reliable communication and collaboration services for their customers need a carrier class platform that can provide 99.999% uptime. The platform must ensure change management can occur without taking the system offline. These features enable service providers to use their resources on a maximum level and to expand their capacities easily.

"Service providers and network operators of all types are gaining crucial market advantages by delivering Unified Communications; arguably one of the most sticky applications possible to business subscribers. CommuniGate Pro provides an integrated solution which can seamlessly expand from five to 50 million subscribers. Modular services for messaging, groupware or mobility enable easy administration and low total costs of ownership for providers and subscribers of the service", says Jon R. Doyle, VP Business Development, CommuniGate Systems. "The largest un-tapped market for UC is the SMB sector, and SaaS makes the most economic sense for these customers; a huge opportunity for any service provider."

The whitepaper "Unified Communications as a Software as a Service (SaaS) Opportunity" by The Radicati Group, and "Monetizing UC for an Enterprise SaaS Value-Added Service" by Frost and Sullivan are available for free download on: http://www.communigate.com/carrier/reviews.html.

About CommuniGate Systems

Founded in 1991 and based in Mill Valley, California, CommuniGate Systems develops carrier-class Unified Communications and media delivery software for broadband and mobile operators to deliver value-added services and SaaS solutions. CommuniGate Systems delivers powerful mashups of technology mixed with media and entertainment applications for portals, social networks, enterprises and mobile communities. CommuniGate Systems is revolutionizing the Unified Communications industry with a unique Flash-based client framework Pronto! bringing together all forms of communication and breaking the leash to the desktop with Web 2.0 mobility.

CommuniGate Systems is the first choice in technology solutions for over 12,000 customers with over 130 million subscribers unifying e-mail, collaboration, IM, presence and VoIP with a single identity. The Unified Communications platform provides flexibility, performance, and scalability with benchmark proven architecture remaining unchallenged in the industry. Our technology powers OEM partner products ranging from embedded real time systems to powerful unified messaging platforms at top tier global network operators. The open development environment's simple APIs deliver extensible flexibility with a unique clustering technology for 99.999% uptime for the most demanding application environments.

The company is a trusted and financially stable vendor, maintaining the highest customer satisfaction levels in the Unified Communications industry with over 175 members in its partner network worldwide.

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