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Leading Lights 2019 Finalists: Most Innovative Business Cloud Service

Phil Harvey
4/23/2019
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Communications service providers are usually not the first companies that come to mind when you think of off-premises, multi-tenant offerings that save money and time. In fact, we didn't have a single traditional telco enter this category, which is kind of a testament to where their cloud game is at these days when it comes to delivering value to corporate users.

With that in mind, we looked outside the ranks of traditional telcos and what we looked for, to be clear, were communications service providers that have launched "the most innovative business cloud service for enterprise and/or small or midsized corporate users during the past year."

The winners and the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees will be announced at the Leading Lights Awards dinner, which will be held at the Pinnacle Club in Denver, on Monday, May 6, on the eve of the Big 5G Event. Find out about how to book a table and attend the awards dinner by clicking on this link.

Here are some details about the shortlisted entries in the category of Most Innovative Business Cloud Service:

Colt Technology Services – Dedicated Cloud Access (DCA) On Demand
Service providers have been offering direct cloud connections to their enterprise customers for a while now. Colt, in fact, said it has over 600 DCA customer connections globally. But in the past 12 months, Colt has evolved the service by providing SDN-enabled, on-demand cloud connectivity.

The company made the shortlist here because it provides telco-level security and reliability without sacrificing what everyone loves about the cloud.

In Colt's own words, its new service will enable customers to "flex bandwidth in real-time or in advance via a calendar, benefit from real-time service delivery and per hour billing granularity, all via an intuitive customer portal or API." Enterprise customers will pay for the bandwidth they use and, if they're using a high volume of connectivity services, they'll be able to save money by only connecting to the cloud when needed.

Colt offers DCA On Demand to public cloud providers including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google's Cloud Platform. Connections to IBM and Alibaba will follow later this year, Colt said.

Comcast Business – Comcast Business VoiceEdge
Comcast Business has already been in the winner's circle with its cloud-based, unified communications and collaboration service. Last year, Comcast Business took home the Leading Light award in this category because it added the ability for users of Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business to do click-to-dial telephone numbers to launch secure, reliable calls over the Comcast dedicated VoIP backbone. It was an innovative integration that both saved customers money and gave them a nice productivity boost.

In the last 12 months, Comcast Business has kept up the momentum by giving customers to use its audio-conferencing features within Slack, the world's most popular set of workplace (and cloud-based) collaboration tools and services. Comcast Business VoiceEdge customers can start audio conferences by entering the Slack slash-command/bveconference and invited participants -- even those that aren't VoiceEdge customers -- are given a shareable link so that up to 50 participants can join the call. Once again, it's an integration that is timely, cloud-centric and saves users a lot of hassle.

Vonage – Vonage Business Cloud
In the age of remote workers, virtual offices and companies just trying to buy less hardware and control costs, a new, cloud-native UCaaS platform from a well-known VoIP provider was a welcome entry.

Granted, most business UCaaS services aren't "new." Vonage Essentials was the old name of its UCaaS offering for companies with up to 1,000 seats, but we chose to allow this rulebreaker in the finalists' lounge because, behind the scenes, Vonage's "new" business cloud service puts into practice all the advantages of cloud computing and machine learning. Vonage's focus on getting the core service right -- and re-building it in the cloud -- is key here. It touts its ability to use its extensive API library and partnership to help integrate office functions versus the traditional telco approach which usually isn't that flexible.

Vonage now runs its hosted PBX services from Amazon's cloud and offers Amazon's Chime as a fully integrated online meeting, video conference, and collaboration service. For some integration chores, a prospective Vonage customer might do well to work through a channel partner, but the service comes with VonageFlow -- a messaging and SMS communicator -- and an integrated call center product. With some help from Amazon, Vonage is paying off the disruptive promise of the cloud for business communications with a convenient service delivered by a non-telco player with as little hardware and fuss as possible.

Related posts:

Phil Harvey, US Bureau Chief, Light Reading

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