Celebrating 20 years of CPaaS: How Technology Came to Be

Posted by Allison Boccamazzo on August 8, 2018 at 9:30 AM


Organizations are coming to understand the pivotal role of communications for successful digital transformation: research estimates $7 trillion will be spent on digital transformation by 2021, with a large share allocated towards communications technologies. Critical growth and innovation objectives boil down to real people collaborating to create extraordinary outcomes, and this depends on the communications tools that are employed.

In this next-gen era where communications drive sustainable transformation, Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) has emerged as a strategic weapon (the global market is expected to grow from $400 million in 2015 to over $800 million by 2019). But CPaaS isn’t anything new; in fact, the technology was founded by The Parlay Group 20 years ago.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of CPaaS, let’s take a brief look at how the technology has grown to become mainstream…

Celebrating 20 Years of CPaaSIn 1998, a group of vendors and telco providers called “The Parlay Group” was founded, specializing in application programming interfaces (APIs) for the telephone network. The group’s initiative was to create standard APIs for the public switched telephone network (PSTN), an innovative concept that proved to be too ahead of its time. Painstaking telco budget approval processes, among other factors, prevented the group from hitting its stride.

Around 10 years later, the GSM Association (GSMA) and Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) took over The Parlay Group and refreshed the standard, now called OneAPI, to make it more Web-centric. At this point many CPaaS providers were being founded, having noticed the changing paradigm and competitive opportunity to correct missteps of the telecom industry.  

The following 10 years would see the rise and fall of Wholesale Application Community (WAC) which, after joining forces with the GSMA in 2012, was taken over by Apigee. Soon after, a new crop of programmable telecoms players would emerge and lead the charge in Web APIs, building easy-to-use APIs with loads of code samples to help customers solve critical business problems.

By 2016/2017, CPaaS had gone mainstream with the IPO of Twilio, Vonage’s acquisition of Nexmo, and the IPO of Bandwidth. Today, dozens of CPaaS providers from Vonage (Nexmo) to Cloudlink (Mitel) to VoIP Innovations (Apidaze) now compete for market share.  

Gain a deeper understanding of the history of CPaaS and more with VoIP Innovations' latest eBook “The Enterprise Telecoms Revolution: A Potted History of CPaaS,” published in partnership with Alan Quayle, founder of TADHack and TADSummit.

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