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    Best UCaaS Providers 2021

    The cost of poor communication is impacting the global economy. A loss of an estimated $37 billion each year is a direct result of poor communication. When it comes to keeping people connected, Unified Communications (UC) aims to eradicate the common problems enterprises face.

    UC is the integration of real-time and non-real-time enterprise communication services like instant messaging (IM), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), audio, web and video conferencing, mobility features (including single number reach and hoteling), fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) and unified messaging (SMS, integrated voicemail, fax and email).

    UC is a set of products rather than a (not necessarily) single product that provides a consistent, unified user interface (UI) and experience across several devices and media types.

    What is UCaaS?

    Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) offers similar features as UC, such as IM, VoIP, audio, web and video conferencing and presence information. The key difference is that UCaaS functions as a cloud-based subscription service with reduced or no upfront costs.

    In essence, UCaaS is a flexible, cloud-based UC model that enables you to tap into state-of-the-art technology without having to incur the initial expensive costs of setting up an ultra-modern communication strategy. An UCaaS provider should support these communication services:

    • IM and presence information
    • Enterprise telephony
    • Audio, web and video conferencing
    • Mobility features
    • Communications-enabled business procedures
    • Unified messaging 

    The benefits of UCaaS include:

    • A cloud-based service ensures that your employees can benefit from the tools they need irrespective of their location.
    • UCaaS systems feature high-quality voice, call recording, sentiment analysis and intelligent call routing. 
    • UCaaS solutions enable enterprises to easily switch a conversation from a message to a phone call and a video call.
    • Video and meeting solutions enable you to host conversations, share files and launch presentations from computer systems.
    • You can leverage real-time and non-real-time messaging solutions.
    • Presence information enables you to understand the current working status of an employee.

    In this guide, we will explore all you need to know about the top UCaaS companies.

    Best UCaaS platforms

    Here are the top UCaaS vendors in no particular order. 

    Microsoft Teams

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    Microsoft Teams is a desktop and mobile UCaaS solution that enables enterprises to meet, chat, call, and collaborate on a single platform.

    Microsoft Teams is free of cost and does not come with additional Microsoft Office applications and services but offers several features, including real-time user presence status, online meetings with a participant capacity of 100 members, screen sharing, customized backgrounds, a maximum meeting duration of an hour, and scheduled meetings.  

    We recommend Microsoft 365 Business Standard for small- and mid-sized enterprises and Microsoft Office 365 E3 for large enterprises. Both solutions come with Microsoft Teams as a part of Microsoft 365.  

    Key Differentiators

    • Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft Office 365 E3 include several applications and services, like Teams, Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher (desktop only) and Access (desktop only). By integrating applications and workflows, you can streamline critical business processes and tasks.
    • Both solutions allow you to host (and participate in) online meetings with a participant capacity of up to 300 members, share files and screens, conduct meetings that last up to 24 hours at a time, schedule and record meetings and customize backgrounds.
    • With Together Mode, you can virtually sit in a meeting room with a shared background.
    • You can chat in a group or one-to-one messages. 
    • Both solutions are available in 181 markets and 53 languages. You can connect across iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows devices.
    • Microsoft Office 365 E3 includes several additional perks, such as the ability to host online events for up to 10,000 users, data loss prevention for files and emails, Core eDiscovery for additional compliance capabilities and unlimited personal cloud storage.
    • Microsoft 365 Business Standard is available for $12.50 per month/per user (annual commitment) and Microsoft Office 365 E3 is available for $20 per month/per user (annual commitment).

    RingCentral MVP

    RingCentral MVP (RingCentral Office) is an all-encompassing business communications platform for messaging, video chatting and phone calls. With individual and team messaging, file sharing and task management, you can simplify enterprise workflow.

    The UCaaS provider offers a one-click video meeting provision and the ability to manage business text messages, calls, voicemails and faxes with carrier-grade reliability. RingCentral MVP Premium is the most popular solution for small- and mid-sized enterprises. RingCentral MVP Ultimate is ideally suited to large enterprises.

    Key Differentiators

    • Both RingCentral MVP Premium and RingCentral MVP Ultimate offer capabilities like no limit on the number of users, presence monitoring, unlimited internet fax, unlimited audio conferencing, voicemail-to-text, team messaging, document sharing, up to 24-hour meeting duration, 24/7 customer support, hot desking and automatic call recording.
    • Up to 200 participants can partake in a video conference.
    • Both solutions are available in over 40 countries and 15 languages.
    • You can integrate hundreds of applications and services, including Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Slack, Canvas and Smarsh. You can also build custom applications with RingCentral open application programming interfaces (APIs).
    • With real-time analytics, you can evaluate how employees use the system to better understand trends, behaviors and preferences. Targeted reporting, deep analysis, centralized management and monitoring and real-time notifications enable you to get the most out of the system.    
    • RingCentral MVP Ultimate offers unlimited cloud storage, device status reports and alerts and 10,000 toll-free minutes.
    • You can expand your system as needed at an additional cost.
    • RingCentral MVP Premium costs $34.99 per user/per month. The solution is available to try for free. RingCentral MVP Ultimate is available for $49.99 per user/per month.

    8×8 X Series

    8×8 X4 is a cloud-unified communications solution that offers a plethora of features, including business phone, team chat, video conferencing, SMS and MMS messaging, AI-driven insights, more than 35 business application integrations, programmable APIs, real-time presence status, call quality reporting and monitor, whisper and barge.

    The UCaaS platform is available as a macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android solution. The platform enables you to connect your employees and customers for all modes of communication. 8×8 X4 runs on the 8×8 Open Communications Platform in the cloud. 

    Key Differentiators

    • The solution offers a modern, cloud-based business phone system that is equipped with high voice quality, powerful analytics and business application integration capabilities. 
    • You can leverage real-time individual and team messaging and launch audio and video calls with a single click from a chat thread. 
    • 8×8 X4 offers a complete cloud contact center suite.
    • The UCaaS solution offers 100% secured and encrypted video conferencing for up to 100 participants at a time, with rich content sharing and collaboration capabilities and no time-bound restrictions.
    • The solution offers AI-driven actionable insights to identify key employee trends and customer behavior. With readily available, accurate data, you can make key business decisions.
    • 8×8 X4 integrations include Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, Google Workspace, 1CRM, Copper and Freshdesk. 
    • You can create engaging customer experiences at scale with industry-standard APIs. 
    • The solution is available in over 120 countries, guarantees uptime and voice quality and is secure. 
    • 8×8 X4 is available for $44 per user/per month. 

    Zoom Meetings

    Zoom Meetings is the free version of Zoom’s conferencing offerings. The desktop and mobile solutions come with basic features, like private and group chat, video conferencing with up to 100 participants at a time, unlimited one-on-one meetings with no time constraints and unlimited group meetings for up to 40 minutes at a time.

    Other Zoom products include Marketplace, Video Webinars, Phone System, Events, Chat, Rooms and Workspaces and Developer Platform. If you are looking for a collective experience, Zoom United Enterprise is the best solution.

    Key Differentiators

    • Zoom United Enterprise includes best-in-class versions of Meetings, Phone System and Chat.
    • Zoom Phone System features include unlimited calling within the United States and Canada, a US and Canada phone number for each user, dial by name directory, automatic call distribution and unlimited calling in up to 18 other countries as an optional add-on.
    • Zoom Meetings features include video conferencing with up to 500 participants at a time, social media streaming, presence status icons, single sign-on, recording transcripts, managed domains, company branding, a 30-hour group meeting duration at a time and unlimited cloud storage.
    • Zoom Chat enables you to connect your teams through one-on-one/group chat and streamline communications.
    • You can use Zoom’s interactive apps to create enjoyable meetings, drive engagement, streamline workflows and personalize meetings. You can create your own app with the Zoom Developer Platform.  
    • Zoom United Enterprise starts at 100 licenses for $36,000 annually.

    Google Meet

    Google Workspace plans include Gmail, Drive, Meet, Calendar, Chat, Currents, Jamboard, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Sites for Forms. While you can use Google Meet free of cost, it comes with several limitations, especially at an enterprise scale. We recommend opting for the Google Workspace Enterprise plan.

    Key Differentiators

    • With Google Workspace Enterprise, you can avail of custom and secure business email capabilities, eDiscovery, retention and S/MIME encryption.
    • Up to 250 participants can take part in video conferencing simultaneously, with recording, attendance tracking, in-domain live streaming and noise cancellation.
    • You can utilize unlimited cloud storage space.
    • Take advantage of advanced compliance controls and secure management, including enterprise endpoint management, Vault and DLP data regions.
    • 24/7 premium customer support.
    • You can try Google Workspace Enterprise free of cost for 14 days. 

    Choosing a UCaaS Provider

    Microsoft Office 365 E3 and RingCentral MVP Ultimate are fantastic options for large-scale enterprises. Both UCaaS providers offer integrations with several applications and services and a variety of features, including individual and group messaging capabilities, 24-hour meeting capabilities, in-meeting document sharing and unlimited cloud storage.

    RingCentral MVP Ultimate offers a larger selection of integrations and the option to develop applications with RingCentral open APIs. Overall, the solution offers a greater selection of features. That said, Microsoft Office 365E3 is cheaper and allows you to host more video conference participants (300 compared to RingCentral MVP Ultimate’s 200).

    8×8 X4 is a solution that provides AI-driven analytics for administrators and supervisors and a multitude of features. However, 8×8 X4 offers video conferencing capabilities for only 100 participants at a time. Zoom United Enterprise is a viable yet expensive solution that accommodates up to 500 participants at a time for video conferencing.

    Google Workspace Enterprise includes premium Google products and services. With the solution, you can partake in video conferencing with up to 250 participants simultaneously. Carefully assess each solution and opt for the one that best represents your enterprise necessities.

    Read next: Top Privileged Access Management (PAM) Solutions 2021

    Surajdeep Singh
    Surajdeep Singh has been working as an IT and blockchain journalist since 2018. He is a contributor to publications including IT Business Edge, Enterprise Networking Planet & Smart Billions and works as a consultant at Drofa Communications Agency.

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