Ask the Experts: UCaaS vs. Basic Hosted Telephony

Welcome to Ask the Experts, brought to you by In this video, Intelisys’ SVP Cloud Transformation Andrew Pryfogle goes in-depth on the components that separate UCaaS from basic hosted telephony with CallTower’s Vice President of Product Management and Wholesale Operations Jason Turner. Find out more about enterprise-class unified communications from Jason and the CallTower team here:

Andrew: Okay. On to our next Ask the Experts session, guys. We’ve been talking about hosted VoIP, cloud telephony, hosted PBX–all those terms we’ve thrown around to illustrate the idea that the phone system is moved from the customers prem to the cloud. How does that concept work? How do you get features around it, and so forth? I want to now bring in a new concept that you may or may not of heard of before and that’s UCaaS. That’s Unified Communications as a Service.
To introduce this idea that we’re going to go into a lot more in depth detail on in a next certification, I wanted to have a guy come in who really knows this space inside and out. One of our suppliers, CallTower. Introduce you to Jason Turner, who is the Vice President of Product Management and Wholesale Operations for CallTower. Jason, welcome to the session, man.
Jason: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Andrew: All right, very cool. So you kind of heard my intro there. I’d love to get your take on what separates UCaaS from basic hosted telephony. Hosted VoIP, hosted PBX. When do you really start to change the conversation into Unified Communications as a Service? Talk to us about that.
Jason: Yeah, absolutely. I think some of the main components within that is when you move from a basic telephone service to other collaboration components. This is very common within the business industry, to have more than just the phone service as a communications method. You’ll have your email, but in addition to that, what a lot of providers are doing now–and something that we’re doing at CallTower–is bringing in other options such as IM and chat opportunities, presence managements, and other types of soft dial clients.
This can be done a lot of different ways within various organizations. There’s a lot of different services that can provide that. CallTower uses products such as Cisco Unified Presence and Microsoft Lync in the cloud to provide these types of services. Where you are able to collaborate not only from a telephone itself, which is where you’re into that hosted VoIP, but from other aspects such as internal IM, presence management of soft dial clients, integration within your email systems, etc. So different things that pull more than just the phone and the telephony into an overall suite.
Andrew: Yeah, makes sense. So that’s some exciting stuff. That’s really the direction everything is now headed. A lot of customers have gotten used to and comfortable with the idea of putting their PBX in the cloud. Now they are trying to figure out, “How do I leverage even more capabilities around this to wrap around how my employee base communicates every single day?” And it’s not just telephones any more. You’re absolutely right. So you mentioned instant messaging, collaboration, video is a component with it. Talk to us real quick about how you guys are tackling video because I’ve seen your demos. I actually have one of your phones working at my home office in a Microsoft Lync configuration. How does video play into this whole strategy?
Jason: Video is becoming a much larger component of collaboration within organizations. Microsoft Lync, which is one of our main products that does the video conferencing, provides full conferencing bridges that can be managed from PC clients through full conference room systems–down to even remote users at home that are running a webcam. It integrates within an Exchange environment. Most companies are using some type of an Exchange environment to manage their email. The product itself will allow you to send meeting invites right out of Exchange, including the conference bridge that can be joined from anywhere in the world for audio as well as for video. The video components becoming a much larger portion of us internally, as well as our customer base. To really drive home the “we’re all in one place,” even when we’re not. Work from anywhere, but be together type environment.
Andrew: Very cool. Love it. One last twist on this–we’ve seen an enormous explosion of mobility, right? The number of employees that are mobile users. How does UC and mobility kind of marry together?
Jason: Well, that’s one of the great aspects of a lot of the platforms providing Unified Communications as a Service. There are mobile components within that. The Microsoft Lync product, for instance–obviously this is one of CallTower’s strong suits–has a full mobile client that would allow you from any Android, iOS or Windows phone device or tablet to have the same functionality you’d have from a PC client, or some type of a room system. So straight from my cell phone I can also join a video conference, see the desktop sharing, and participate anywhere I am on the road, as long as I have a data connection. So all I would need is my data signal, and I can still be a fully operable employee on the road.
Andrew: Very cool, man. You’re getting the geek in me all excited. I love this stuff. I love where it’s going with UCaaS. That’s some great insight. Guys, that’s Jason Turner. He’s the Vice President of Product Management and Wholesale Operations for CallTower. One of our leading UCaaS providers in our portfolio. Jason, thanks for jumping in, man.
Jason: Thank you for having me.
Andrew: All right, guys. Make sure you check out the CallTower learning center and go deep with them. They can help you win big deals in this new burgeoning opportunity of Unified Communications as a Service and continue learning, getting smart about this new opportunity. Good selling everyone.