RingCentral Adds Direct-to-Cloud Access Ramp
Targets direct interconnections at midmarket, enterprise companies with more than 250 users per location.
On its path to push upmarket, UCaaS provider RingCentral has come to realize that many businesses in the midmarket and enterprise segments aren't so attached to the idea of accessing cloud communications services via public Internet connections. In fact, when it comes to mission-critical capabilities, they're quite willing to pay for a higher level of connectivity than afforded by the traditional bring-your-own-broadband approach.
Better connectivity has been "a continuing ask," Matt McGinnis, AVP of product marketing at RingCentral, told me in a briefing.
With that, RingCentral earlier this week introduced a direct interconnection option called RingCentral CloudConnect. This option is for the 5% of the cloud communications market needing absolute quality of service (QoS) and wanting the ability to monitor and manage their cloud interconnections, McGinnis said.
In other words, over-the-top (OTT) connectivity will remain the "heart and soul" for RingCentral Office -- "it empowers mobility and a very cost-effective, efficient multilocation-type strategy," he said. "But as soon as you start to get concentrated numbers of employees in regional or national headquarters, then going from a routed Layer 3 to a switched, point-to-point Layer 2 interconnection [that delivers absolute QoS] makes a lot of sense."
RingCentral will target enterprises with 250 or more users per location as candidates for the for-pay CloudConnect option, McGinnis said. At 1,000 users, the UCaaS provider sees CloudConnect as "absolutely essential ... in providing predictable quality of service and performance." It's also proving of value among verticals like financial trading where high-performance communications is mission critical, no matter the number of users at a location, as well as for companies with stringent security and QoS mandates, he added.
As of this launch, 21 companies are using CloudConnect, each at multiple locations, McGinnis said. Based on what it's learned in working with those companies, RingCentral has determined the appropriate bandwidth requirement for a 1,000-user site to be 200 Mbps, and has priced this option accordingly. CloudConnect costs $1,000 per connection per month, with that single connection providing a full 200 Mbps of bandwidth for the company's use, he explained.
Importantly, the CloudConnect offering isn't just about the interconnection. It comes with professional services, too. CloudConnect customers get A-to-Z project management, which includes coordination of circuit provisioning and the carrier interconnections, as well as the monitoring and management of the service from the RingCentral network operations center, McGinnis said.
CloudConnect launches with 14 points of presence (PoP), or what McGinnis likes to call "meet me" locations, sprinkled at major cloud exchanges across the global. At two domestic PoPs, in Chicago and San Jose, it has equipment up and ready to go and is able to turn up CloudConnect service within 14 days, McGinnis said. The other PoPs are a work in progress, but RingCentral has the space carved out. At five North American and European CloudConnect PoPs -- in Amsterdam, Atlanta, London, Los Angeles and New York -- RingCentral can have equipment provisioned and service available within 60 days. And, it is prepared to go live within 120 days at another seven CloudConnect PoPs in the Latin America and Asia-Pacific regions, McGinnis said. Those CloudConnect sites will be in Hong Kong, Melbourne, Rio de Janiero, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, and Toyko. Additional PoPs will be brought on board as RingCentral expands its CloudConnect option, he added.
In addition, RingCentral already has interconnection agreements with a dozen network service providers co-located at the cloud exchanges it has designated for its CloudConnect PoPs, McGinnis said. This means streamlined provisioning at the CloudConnect PoP for customers that use these same carriers for their MPLS circuits. Among the network service providers with which RingCentral has established CloudConnect relationships are AT&T, Level 3 Communications, Verizon, and XO Communications.
While RingCentral anticipates most companies will take advantage of existing MPLS networks, it recognizes that some may want an even greater level of control. With that in mind, it also offers a custom CloudConnect option that will provide direct Gigabit Ethernet connectivity between a customer's and RingCentral's switches, McGinnis added. Should a company want, he said, RingCentral can support software-defined WAN interconnections as well.
Internally, RingCentral uses a roadways metaphor to think about the two basic choices it now offers its UCaaS customers. OTT equates to the city streets, while CloudConnect the highway. In either case, all roads lead to the cloud.