What's CPaaS Anyway?

CPaaS, formally known as communications platform as a service stands for... well... I'm not sure anymore.

The problem I'm having is that there's no MVP for CPaaS -- no minimal set of features that must exist for me to categorize a platform as such.

Here are three examples of CPaaS vendors (all starting with a "T" for some reason).

Tokbox
Tokbox offers OpenTok, which it calls a WebRTC platform for video, voice, and messaging.

If you want to build a video chat application, then Tokbox is one of the CPaaS vendors that enable you to do just that.

All Tokbox services -- voice, video, and messaging -- are IP based. And while it does offer support for legacy telephony through a SIP interconnect, that's more of an exception rather than the rule when it comes delivered services.

TeleSign
TeleSign announced a self-service CPaaS offering, then got acquired by BICS a mere month later.

TeleSign focuses on messaging and voice, where messaging includes SMS-related features and capabilities and voice is all about programmable legacy telephony.

TeleSign offers no IP-based services at the moment.

Twilio
Twilio. Well... Twilio offers just about any imaginable communication service in API form.

Its broad services portfolio ranges from SMS to legacy telephony, to IP-based voice, video, and messaging, and on to omnichannel experiences.

In a way, Twilio is a superset of what communication APIs are these days.

Tune in to this recent No Jitter On Air podcast with Tsahi for more on this topic...

Is There a Lowest Common Denominator?

But what do we define as CPaaS then?

There's no lowest common denominator between Tokbox and TeleSign -- not a single service that they both offer and compete on. However, they both compete with Twilio on most of its feature sets.

And what about real time infrastructure-as-a-service providers such as Pusher or PubNub? They offer messaging infrastructure that can be viewed as IP messaging. But they aren't really considered CPaaS.

I don't have an answer here, which is why I decided to write this post. I'm interested in your thoughts.

What do you think is a mandatory feature set for CPaaS? Share in the comments section below.