Top 10 UCaaS Leaders In 2016

The Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) market is worth $3.9 billion per year, and expected to grow 11 percent annually through 2020.

Interestingly, the top 10 UCaaS providers (ranked by the Research firm IHS based on criteria such as service capabilities and development, financial stability, operational cash flow, growing revenue, market strategy, installed base of seats and support – see list below) account for only 30% (estimate based on available data) of the total market.

Rank Company Annual Revenue (Millions)
10 Nextiva 66.2
9 Fuze 14.7
8 Broadview Networks 36.4
7 Star2Star 49.5
6 Verizon Enterprise Solutions UCaaS business unit revenue not available
5 Mitel UCaaS business unit revenue not available
4 Ring Central 299
3 West Corp. UCaaS business unit revenue not available
2 Vonage Business 200
1 8×8 209

GoDaddy is now a Hosted PBX Provider

go-daddy-logoLast week, GoDaddy jumped into the business voice space with the acquisition of FreedomVoice for $42 Million in cash (and up to $5 Million in additional milestone payments).

According to Steven Aldrich, Chief Product Officer, GoDaddy. “FreedomVoice is a natural fit with GoDaddy as we both share a common goal: to harness the power of the cloud to deliver products that fit the specific needs of small businesses, coupled with customized, empathetic customer care.”

“At FreedomVoice our mission has always been to help companies start, run and grow, and we’re ecstatic to join GoDaddy who is just as passionate about helping small businesses succeed,” said FreedomVoice CEO Eric Thomas. “There is great synergy between our companies and our team can’t wait to get started on delivering the next generation of voice to small businesses around the world.”

The press release states that GoDaddy has 14 Million business customers.   Doing some quick back of the envelope calculations, if they were somehow able to convert 10% of their existing customer base to voice customers, they could conceivably achieve the same scale as Ring Central ($299 Million revenue) or 8×8 ($206 Million revenue).

I am sure that is the plan.  But then, we all know that onboarding SMBs is not a task that lends itself to cookie cutter service (which runs deep in GoDaddy’s DNA from my own experience).   It will be  interesting to see how this pans out.

8×8 FY 2016 Results Bode Well for UCaaS Industry

After a period of poor stock performance, the stock price of Hosted PBX giant 8×8 leapt 7.3% after the company announced that in the current fiscal year, it expects revenue of $251 million marking a 32% year over year increase.

The success of 8×8 (an underdog in the ‘not Cisco or Microsoft’ camp) is good for the entire UCaaS industry, and further proof that the market is recognizing the transformational effects that UCaaS is having on business.  For more info, see here.

How do you make sure VoIP bandwidth is sufficient?

voip qosIn the Hosted PBX realm, managing VoIP Quality of Service (QoS) ultimately comes down to allocating sufficient bandwidth to VoIP packets at the customer’s router.

Here is an informative article that covers the various methods that organizations can use to ensure  that VoIP quality of service meets the customer’s’ needs.  It states that:

The most common approach to support VoIP bandwidth is to apply a mix of virtual local area networks, quality of service (QoS) and traffic prioritization across the network to ensure voice traffic is always segregated or given the highest priority between endpoints and call-control platforms.

The article also includes a link to another article –  DiffServ QoS model works wonders for VoIP networks – which explains that the three main models used for implementing QoS within a network infrastructure: Best-Effort, Integrated Services (IntServ) and Differentiated Services (DiffServ).

At SkySwitch, we recommend SimpleWan quality of service routers to perform the important function of traffic prioritization.  You can learn more about the factors that affect VoIP QoS by  downloading our informative whitepaper – Hosted PBX without the Headaches:  Quality of Service –  on this topic.

SkySwitch & NextLevel Finalize Web/Video Conferencing Plans

 

 

Nextlevel

(San Diego, CA) SkySwitch and NextLevel Internet met at the NetSapiens User Group Meeting yesterday to finalize plans for the integration of SkySwitch’s web/video conferencing platform into Nextlevel’s NetSapiens switch.

Bill Green (left), Jeff Posner (right) of NextLevel Internet and Jayson Jones (center) of SkySwitch enjoyed the sunny weather, the four day NS UGM conference agenda and the opportunity to connect face to face to finalize the integration plan.

Skyswitch offers an array of value add UCC platforms and portal automation to enhance any NetSapiens switch environment. From iOS and Android based smartphone apps, web/video conferencing platforms, DID Inventory Management, integrated fax solutions to archive call recording, NetSapiens switch owners are able to deliver new UCC services faster, get unparalleled support and get their new services to market quicker.

The Evolving Business Communications Landscape

post in Tech Crunch by Bob Goodman  (founding partner of the NY office of Bessemer Venture Partners) discusses the opportunities for start-ups in the Business Communications space.

Interestingly, he enumerates 9 separate areas of the business communications landscape:

  • Unified Communications
  • Collaboration
  • Contact Center
  • Call Tracking
  • Enterprise Messaging
  • WebRTC Customer Service
  • CPaaS (Collaborative Platform as a Service)
  • Customer Service Messaging
  • Mobile B2C Messaging

Five of them (Enterprise Messaging, WebRTC Customer Service, CPaaS, Customer Service Messaging and Mobile B2C Messaging) did not exist five years ago, and three are related to messaging.

The accompanying infographic provides a current who’s who in each area.

 

The Business Communications Landscape

SkySwitch Resellers Gather for Vectors User Conference

Vectors 2016 Banner

SkySwitch Resellers from around the United States gathered in Orlando Florida on February 28 – March 1, 2016 for three days of education and camaraderie at Vectors 2016. The event, sponsored by Polycom, Overgroup H2O, NetSapiens, IP Pay and Compliance Solutions, Inc., was the inaugural reseller conference hosted by SkySwitch. In addition to presentations from the sponsors on how their products/services enhance the SkySwitch white label UCC platform, there were also a variety of technical and roadmap presentations from SkySwitch personnel, strategic partners and interactive sessions from SkySwitch resellers themselves.

“The conference is named “Vectors” stated Eric Hernaez, Managing Partner of SkySwitch, because our mission is to to help our resellers chart a course from launch of service to success as quickly as possible. To achieve that objective, we try to give resellers a clear path to profitability – one that leverages our proven UCC infrastructure, operational processes and domain expertise. Events such as the Vectors conference play an important part in that strategy.”

Convening in Orlando for three days gave SkySwitch resellers an opportunity to forge stronger ties with the SkySwitch team, develop relationships with reseller peers, and most importantly, the ability to cultivate a deeper understanding of the SkySwitch vision to grow their business through innovative technology and carefully selected partner and vendor relationships.

Guy Fawkes, President of VoIPWRX in Tampa, FL, was one of the SkySwitch resellers in attendance. “SkySwitch’s Vectors conference in Orlando was simply one of the best I’ve attended in many years. Everything from being able to meet with industry peers right-through to the vendor and partner presentations were just outstanding. I look forward to growing my business with SkySwitch in the coming year and look forward to the next SkySwitch partner conference,” said Fawkes.

SkySwitch has experienced strong growth since its inception in January 2014, increasing from eight resellers to fifty-eight in a span of twenty four months, and is poised for another year of rapid expansion in the white label service provider space. Vectors 2017, already in the planning stages, will build on the success of this event with the hope of creating an enduring tradition for many years to come.

SkySwitch Partners With Obihai for Enhanced SIP Trunking

Obihai 508

“Although UCCaaS as a market segment is growing significantly, there continues to be a need to accommodate businesses that are reluctant or unable to replace their aging PBX or Key Systems” said Eric Hernaez, Managing Director of SkySwitch.  “In order to help our Resellers engage this market effectively, we realized the need to find a cost-effective and easily supportable analog access device to integrate these older systems with the SkySwitch service.   We found this solution by partnering with Obihai, a leading supplier of ATAs (Analog Telephone Adapters) and IP Phones.”

Sherman Scholten, VP of Marketing for Obihai stated, “Since the late 90’s – the start of the modern Internet telephony era at other companies, Obihai’s core engineering team delivered many VoIP endpoint provisioning, management and operational innovations that have become de-facto standards used by virtually every equipment vendor and service provider in this space.  Since 2010, Obihai has been providing next-gen, state-of-the-art cloud-managed VoIP endpoint equipment to these same service providers and their resellers who pioneered Over the Top VoIP Services.  SkySwitch is a perfect example of an extrememly innovative service providers with deep roots and experience in this industry, and we are very pleased to partner with them today. The OBi504vs, OBi508vs, and the OBi3 series delivered the gateway functions required by SkySwitch in a variety of configurations (1, 2, 4 or 8 ports) so that the “right sized” solution can be deployed.  These solutions are cloud-managed, cost-effective, without compromising Obihai’s commitment to deliver iron-clad security and ongoing, responsive support for our products.”

“Using Obihai devices in conjunction with the SkySwitch Web Centrex platform, our Resellers can sell enhanced SIP Trunking services that work consistently, regardless of whether a user is behind a PBX or key system, or accessing the company communications network from the cloud – with features that include extension dialing, find-me-follow-me, and offline failover. In addition, the OBiTALK Device Management Platform for provisioning and cloud management complements the SkySwitch Device Provisioning server to allow for complete control of the devices’ enhanced features.  In all, the affordable price points, proven performance, superior manageability and rich feature set make the Obihai lineup a great addition to the SkySwitch ecosystem” concluded Hernaez.

For more information about the SkySwitch platform please visit www.skyswitch.com.  For more about Obihai, visit http://www.obihai.com/.

 

FCC Process to Obtain Telephone Numbers Now Available

FCC logoBack in June 2015, the FCC made public a decision to allow VoIP providers to obtain telephone numbers directly, rather than having to purchase them through a third party organization.

That FCC Order  established a process called “Numbering Authorization Applications” and created an electronic filing mechanism for these applications, to become effective on January 5, 2016.

On February 4, 2016, the FCC announced the steps that a VoIP Provider must follow to complete the application procedure.  The relevant text is below:

To obtain numbering authorization under the new Commission process, interested interconnected VoIP providers must file Numbering Authorization Applications through the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).4 When e-filing a new Numbering Authorization Application, a filer must select “VoIP Numbering Authorization Application” from the Inbox list of the “Submit a Non-Docketed Filing” module of ECFS. Applicants are not required to use a particular form or format in filing their Numbering Authorization Application; however, 52.15(g)(3)(i) of the Commission’s rules5 requires a Numbering Authorization Application to contain the following:

  • The applicant’s name, address, and telephone number, and contact information for personnel qualified to address issues relating to regulatory requirements, compliance with Commission rules, 911, and law enforcement;
  • An acknowledgment that the authorization granted in this section of the rules is subject to compliance with applicable Commission numbering rules, numbering authority delegated to the states, and, industry guidelines and practices regarding numbering as applicable to telecommunications carriers;
  • An acknowledgement that the applicant must file requests for numbers with the relevant state commission(s) at least thirty (30) days before requesting numbers from the Numbering Administrators;
  • Proof that the applicant is or will be capable of providing service within sixty (60) days of the numbering resources activation date in accordance with 47 CFR § 52.15(g)(2);
  • Certification that the applicant complies with its Universal Service Fund contribution obligations under 47 CFR part 54, subpart H, its Telecommunications Relay Service contribution obligations under 47 CFR § 64.604(c)(5)(iii), its North American Numbering Plan and Local Number Portability Administration contribution obligations under 47 CFR §§ 52.17, 52.32, its obligations to pay regulatory fees under 47 CFR § 1.1154, and its 911 obligations under 47 CFR part 9;
  • Certification that the applicant possesses the financial, managerial, and technical expertise to provide reliable service. This certification must include the name of the applicant’s key management and technical personnel, such as the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Technology Officer, or equivalent, and state that none of the identified personnel are being or have been investigated by the Federal Communications Commission or any law enforcement or regulatory agency for failure to comply with any law, rule, or order; and,
  • Certification pursuant to 47 CFR §§ 1.2001-1.2002 that no party to the application is subject to a denial of Federal benefits pursuant to section 5301 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. See 21 U.S.C. § 862.

Let the games begin!

Problems with Hosted PBX and Google DNS 8.8.8.8

DNSIt is common for Hosted PBX resellers to configure Google’s public DNS servers (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) for domain resolution on SIP devices. In most cases Google is a good alternative to the local ISP for DNS, as Google has gone to great lengths to engineer high performance into its service. Without a doubt it is fast and reliable.

In some cases, however, using Google DNS can cause problems due to rate limiting steps that Google has taken to thwart DoS attacks.

As described here, Google Public DNS implements two kinds of rate limits:

  • Rate control of outgoing requests to other nameservers. To protect other DNS nameservers against DoS attacks that could be launched from our resolver servers, Google Public DNS enforces per-nameserver QPS limits on outgoing requests from each serving cluster.
  • Rate control of outgoing responses to clients. To protect any other systems against amplification and traditional distributed DoS (botnet) attacks that could be launched from our resolver servers, Google Public DNS performs two types of rate limiting on client queries:
    • To protect against traditional volume-based attacks, each server imposes per-client-IP QPS and average bandwidth limits.
    • To guard against amplification attacks, in which large responses to small queries are exploited, each server enforces a per-client-IP maximum average amplification factor. The average amplification factor is a configurable ratio of response-to-query size, determined from historical traffic patterns observed in our server logs.

    If DNS queries from one source IP address exceed the maximum QPS rate, excess queries will be dropped. If DNS queries over UDP from one source IP address exceed the average bandwidth or amplification limit consistently (the occasional large response will pass), queries may be dropped or only a small response may be sent. Small responses may be an error response or an empty response with the truncation bit set (so that most legitimate queries will be retried via TCP and succeed). Not all systems or programs will retry via TCP, and DNS over TCP may be blocked by firewalls on the client side, so some applications may not operate correctly when replies are truncated. Nonetheless, truncation allows RFC-compliant clients to work properly in most cases.

When SIP devices are configured with multiple BLF keys, the SIP SUBSCRIBE and NOTIFY messages that are used to communicate presence can amount to many thousands of  DNS queries on an active network.

Google does not publish the specific number of queries per second (QPS) that will trigger the safeguards.  However,  as all of these messages will likely resolve to a single SIP server (and therefore a single nameserver), the aggregate traffic will likely trigger the outbound nameserver QPS limit.  And, if all of the SIP devices are running on the same LAN (behind a single router), then the DNS traffic could also trigger the one source IP address QPS limit.  The resulting dropped queries will greatly slow the presence updates to phones, leading to sluggish status changes or even dropped calls.

For these reasons, it’s important to understand the limits of Google DNS and check the SIP device’s error logs when these types of problems occur (one good way to do this is to point the SIP Device to a syslog server as described here).   In these situations DNS caching on the SIP device or the router is often the only way to circumvent these issues.

Pin It on Pinterest