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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 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 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. 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.