UCaaS vs CCaaS vs CPaaS: What You Need To Know

This post covers the similarities/differences between Unified Communications (UCaaS), Contact Center (CCaaS) and Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS).

Unified Communications
Rob Rodier

Jan 13, 2022


Cloud-based technologies are taking over and when it comes to improving a company's communication systems, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) and Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS), are at the forefront of innovation. 

The size of the Cloud Communication market is expected to grow from $4.6 billion in 2021 to $22.4 billion by 2028, a CAGR of 25.3%. With so many different vendors, acronyms, and unique technologies out there, the landscape for navigating these cloud-based solutions can be increasingly difficult. 

It should be made clear that UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS - despite their acronym similarities - are each their own unique, cloud based telephony solution. However, they all come with a similar set of architectural benefits, including simplicity, scalability, and an OpEx billing model. 

Let’s dig into each system, starting with the granddaddy of them all: UCaaS.

What is UCaaS?

UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) is a cloud-based communication system that provides enterprises with multiple means of communication capabilities such as calling, messaging, video conferencing, and more.  

UCaaS offerings also often provide integrations into adjacent applications such as your enterprise’s CRM which is great for driving efficiency and keeping your cloud-based systems interconnected.

The typical functions (most) UCaaS solutions offer include: 

  • Enterprise telephony

  • Instant messaging and presence system

  • Voicemail 

  • Call recording

  • Call analytics

  • Click to dial

If you’re looking for a deeper dive into the different flavors of UCaaS, check out this guide to UCaaS.

The Benefits of Unified Communications as a Service 

The sales pitch for UCaaS lies in the productivity gains your team will reap from utilizing a fully integrated, cross platform communications system. However, the true beauty of UCaaS lies in its scalability and resilience. 

Scalability: Transmitting sound and converting it into data packets a la VoIP is no easy task and can be burdensome for the infrastructure of any organization. Turning up a UCaaS solution and adding seats/users is a relatively easy task that enables enterprises to scale their solutions more quickly. Depending on your needs, you can scale a UCaaS solution without additional hardware as well. 

Resilience: Almost every UCaaS provider has built geo-redundant networks to ensure that phones ring even in the event of an outage or other type of disaster. Enterprises can build their own systems with this same type of architecture,  but it is expensive and complex; UCaaS makes it all easy. 

As long as you’re picking a UCaaS provider the right way, all your internal communication needs are in one place at a lower price and faster set-up time.

Why You Might Be Hesitant to Transition to UCaaS

If we’re being honest, we think UCaaS is the future and there’s minimal reasons against making the switch. That said, we’ll recognize why an organization might be hesitant to make the switch. 

If you’re an enterprise with loads of analog devices, moving to UCaaS could require some heavy lifting. You’ll need to buy all new hardware for the switch over or two different signaling devices to run both IP and Analog side by side. 

UCaaS Providers of Note

Microsoft Teams 

Now this solution is in a league of its own. By far the fastest and largest adopted UCaaS system in the world, this provider is unique since it operates direct routing which is different from every other provider that does the solution end-to-end. Over 650,000 companies use a package that includes Microsoft Teams and it is currently the second-largest UCaaS platform in the world.


Known primarily as an industry leader in video conferencing, Zoom is quickly becoming a leader in the UCaaS space. Zoom offers VoIP phone service, video conferencing, chat, and more in a single app.


RingCentral provides all the features of a perfect UCaaS. The company is one of the most popular providers for businesses looking to implement virtual call centers, offering flexible functionality for businesses of all sizes. This includes SMS messaging, video and audio conferencing, automated voicemail, and third-party integrations.


Vonage offers click-to-dial, paperless faxes, call monitoring, local or geographic numbers, call flip, and a virtual receptionist. It might not be as robust as RingCentral, but they can offer a lower price for less robust services.. 


8X8 prides themselves on their security and easy integrations. Their platform has all of the basic features of the other providers but their speech analytics software and virtual agents are huge advantages.

What is CCaaS?

While UCaaS is better suited for internal communications and collaboration within teams, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is built to accommodate primarily customer communications. 

CCaaS is a cloud-based solution that brings your call centers to the cloud, whether these are utilized for sales teams or customer support teams. 

The solution allows your teams to streamline their customer communications into one place where they can send and receive calls, messages, track employee availability, and more. 

In addition to the typical features mentioned above for UCaaS, some of CCaaS’s main features are:

  • Interactive voice response (IVR) (can be used for conflict resolution, routing calls, etc.)

  • Call recording and analytics/reporting capabilities

  • Voice and video calling

  • Customer authentication

  • Omnichannel touchpoint management

  • Call queuing 

The Benefits of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) 

In addition to the benefits of productivity, scalability and network resiliency (discussed in the UCaaS section), CCaaS also offers features that can significantly improve the customer experience and drive sales. 

This includes omnichannel touchpoints and analytics (I.e. if the customer is speaking with your company across multiple avenues like text, call, and email, your customer service representatives can view all of that information in one place) and call priority queuing (increases agent productivity and customer satisfaction). 

Oftentimes, CCaaS is used for large sales teams and is an ideal solution for remote customer service teams, as well. 

The benefits of a CCaaS solution were perfectly described in a recent blog by the CIO of Jiffy Lube

“Historically, the local Jiffy Lube stores handled all telephonic customer inquiries. That meant that the staff and shop technicians who are focused on servicing vehicles were also required to serve as sales and customer service experts when customers came calling.

The new CCaaS initiative enables a customer touchpoint that functions as an extension of our retail locations and creates new opportunities to engage and educate our customers regarding our service offerings. We predict that this enhanced customer experience will also improve our top-line performance and growth across our product mix.”

Check out The CIO’s Role in Driving Organic Growth & Customer Success to read more.  

Why You Might Be Hesitant to Transition to CCaaS

The switch to CCaaS is a little bit less of a no-brainer than a switch to UCaaS, for a few reasons. 

First and foremost, given how customer facing the call center is for your business, any change to that function takes lots of consideration; migrating to CCaaS can be a hassle and you don’t want to risk anything going wrong. Additionally, some organizations might be concerned with the “loss of control” that comes with switching from in-house to an “as-a-service” model. 

Lastly, CCaaS can sometimes be cost prohibitive compared to your status quo solution/willingness to spend on your call center solution. This certainly isn’t always the case, however. 

For a deeper dive on the perfect example of a strong UCaaS and CCaaS use case check out this overview of Dialpad and Aircall, two emerging UCaaS / CCaaS platforms.

CCaaS Providers of Note


Five9 is a leading CCaaS provider that builds a flexible architecture that adapts to each company's needs.


A cloud-based contact center, Talkdesk specializes in providing solutions to the financial services, insurance, health care, and retail industries.


Avaya’s OneCloud experience platform incorporates UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS which is great if enterprises are looking for multiple solutions that can be integrated with one another.

Genesys Cloud

Genesys is known for its Cloud CX platform that unifies customer and agent experiences, using chatbots, voice bots, and speech-enabled IVR.

Nice inContact

Nice inContact is a smaller player that offers contact center solutions to enterprises as well as small businesses. 


Dialpad is one of our favorites and is coming up quickly in the CCaaS world by offering all-in-one communications built around great design.


Aircall falls in the CCaaS bucket but is first and foremost an outbound sales enablement tool. Aircall is great for sales teams as it uses data-driven AI to help book more meetings and close deals faster with their cloud-based solutions. 

What is CPaaS?

Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) provides cloud based APIs that enable your developers to integrate customized communications functionality into your existing applications, products and services. CPaaS is also often referred to as “embeddable communications”. 

Historically, embedding communications capabilities with existing applications was a difficult and time consuming process. CPaaS enables developers to layer on various communications channels without also needing to create the backend interfaces and infrastructure required to support said communications features. 

An important distinction to call out is that UCaaS and CCaaS are one-stop platforms with built-in communications functionalities. CPaaS, on the other hand, provides your developers with the tools needed to layer on the communications features you desire - including the types of features that are available from UCaaS and CCaaS solutions. 

The Benefits of Communications Platforms as a Service (CPaaS)

In contrast to UCaaS/CCaaS offerings that are ready “out of the box”, the communications functionality that you can layer in with CPaaS ranges widely and is fully customizable; CPaaS allows customers to customize their own software to their liking, adding new communications features into their apps as they please. 

Well known CPaaS player, Twilio, succinctly captured the value of their offering with a tongue-in-cheek billboard stating:  “Ask Your Developer”

Why You Might Be Hesitant to Transition to CPaaS

First and foremost, due to the fact that CPaaS requires hands-on developer work, it may not be the right fit for companies that are in the early stages of moving their call centers or sales teams to the cloud. 

Additionally, CPaaS may not be a good fit if you are looking for a streamlined, one-size-fits-all solution for your communications needs. Like we said, it is fully customizable and not a “ready out of the box” solution like most UCaaS and CCaaS solutions.

CPaaS Providers of Note 


Twilio is a giant in the CPaaS space and by far the industry leader. It’s the perfect solution for large teams of developers to communicate with one another.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Alcatel-Lucent is another big player that offers CPaaS solutions to large organizations like governments and universities.


MessageBird is one of the most popular CPaaS Solutions and is used by industry leaders like Airbnb, Uber, Glovo to help enterprises communicate with their customers through their apps.


Bandwidth is known for its messaging API which can integrate with other solutions like Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, and Genesys.


Plivo has an SMS API, MMS API, and Voice API which helps companies like Mercado Libre and IBM increase customer engagement.


2600Hz is another player in the CPaaS industry that has over 300+ APIs that enable you to customize a solution to help your customers do business better.

Thinking of moving to a cloud based telephony solution?

UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS are changing the way companies engage with their teams and customers. With these cloud-based solutions, companies are able to grow faster while often reducing costs and increasing productivity across the board.

Of course, finding the perfect communications provider is never easy. 

Lightyear has procured thousands of cloud based telephony solutions for its customers and handles the project scoping and vendor negotiations on your behalf. 

If your enterprise is in the market for a new UCaaS/CCaaS/CPaaS solution, schedule a demo to hear how Lightyear can help.  

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