Sep 02 2016

FedRAMP Certifies First Cloud-Based Unified Communications System

Now that Collab9’s system has been approved, federal agencies could soon have more choices as they migrate to cloud-based UC services.

In the push to meet the federal government’s cloud-first mandate to adopt cloud-based services, agencies have moved email, enterprise applications and mission-specific apps to the cloud. Now, they will likely start migrating their unified communications (UC) systems there as well.

Last month, the General Services Administration’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) approved unified communications firm Collab9 to operate with federal agencies, the first Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) provider to receive such authorization.

Collab9 is touting the benefits of its system for agencies and contractors, but its top executive admits it will face more competition in the UCaaS market. Agencies will probably have more choices soon as other UCaaS providers get FedRAMP’s blessing. That could lead to lower costs as agencies move to the cloud and no longer need to maintain outdated UC systems. Departments and offices will also likely be able to deploy UC services faster thanks to cloud-based options.

More Options Coming for Cloud-Based Unified Communications

Collab9 CEO Kevin Schatzle told FedScoop that UCaaS is “the next low-hanging fruit after email” in terms of services that agencies can move to the cloud.

“The federal government today has an enormous amount of legacy systems they are paying ghastly maintenance on,” he said. “We think the federal market is huge — it’s a good vertical market for us to focus on coming into.”

Ashley Mahan, the FedRAMP agency evangelist at GSA, told FedScoop that more cloud service providers are seeking to become certified for specialized services like UCaaS, as opposed to more traditional Software as a Service or Infrastructure as a Service offerings.

“As agencies are increasingly using more cloud services, specialized services like UCaaS solutions are gaining greater entry into the federal marketplace,” she said. “FedRAMP is cloud-agnostic, so the authorization process works for any delivery model or service type. The federal government’s increasing adoption of all types of cloud services will result in many more specialized services coming through FedRAMP, like UCaaS solutions.”

As agencies adopt newer and faster network technologies, they are more likely to adopt services like UCaaS. Such systems will also help them lower their costs, Burke Daidy, senior director of government solutions at BroadSoft, told FedScoop. “The application of the service has really started to latch onto the gears here and has become an obvious choice for the government, and I believe it is why you are now starting to see these services,” he said.

Collab9 Touts Its UCaaS Offering

In a statement, Collab9 said agencies that adopt its system will benefit from increased productivity, newer technology, cost savings and the flexibility that cloud technology brings, and will also be able to address business needs.

In terms of financial savings, Collab9 said its UCaaS offering provides “substantial” cost savings over traditional UC solutions, as well as reduced capital expenditures for critical phone infrastructure, maintenance and upgrades. The UCaaS system also requires fewer IT staff to run on-premises at agencies. Agencies will also face lower compliance costs because the system has been authorized to operate by FedRAMP, Collab9 said.

Collab9 also said its system can be rapidly deployed and that the solution and infrastructure will be continuously updated via the cloud, the company said. Agencies will be able migrate away from obsolete or aging communications systems, and will also be able to deploy feature-rich, cloud-based voice services managed outside the organization.

The Collab9 solution offers service for hosted voice, which it said is the second most common application for businesses after email. The hosted collaboration solution offers numerous features, including unified messaging that integrates voicemail and email; video calling; mobility, instant messaging and presence applications from Jabber; customer care applications from Collab9's Contact Center service; integration with Microsoft Office 365, Skype for Business, and Gmail; and E911 functionality.

Additionally, Collab9’s solution incorporates a variety of technology and services from Cisco Systems, EMC, Equinix, Level 3, Microsoft and VMware.


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