By Gina Narcisi, Senior Editor CRN

It's one thing to have a strong internal communication strategy, but just as important is a businesses' ability to connect with their own customers.

Unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) and collaboration tools have had their moment in the sun over the last year and a half, but many channel partners agree that cloud contact center is one of the hottest areas in IT right now. What isn't so uniform, says channel partners, is whether it makes the most sense to stick with one vendor for all communications needs, or to go with a best of breed approach for contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) deployments.

AVANT Communications, a Chicago-based master agent counts UCaaS and contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) as big pieces of its business. "The CCaaS industry is blowing up. It's blowing up just as much as the UCaaS industry," said AVANT president and co-founder Drew Lydecker.

There are some strategic advantages to having one provider for both UCaaS and CCaaS. However, internal collaboration and customer-facing communications are two very important applications with often divergent requirements and necessary features, Lydecker said.

"We're really talking about two different things," he said. "Sometimes, your contact center is vastly different than your unified communications environment and should be treated separately."

Solution provider giant World Wide Technology (WWT) is seeing a mixed bag of customers that go all-in with one vendor for all their communication and collaboration needs, as well as those that pick and choose separate providers to meet their UCaaS and CCaaS requirements.

"We've got a lot of customers who are Cisco UC and Cisco call center. And then we'll have customers who are maybe Avaya for UC, but maybe Genesys or Cisco for the call center -- it depends," said Joe Berger, senior director of WWT's digital workspace practice.

With an influx of cloud specialist entering the market, customers have their choice of any UC vendor, while still leveraging these flexible players for their cloud contact center expertise, Berger said. "There's definitely some benefits to sticking on one vendor -- maybe there's some cost benefits there, too. But I don't think it's always a necessity," he added.

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