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On-prem PBX usage crumbles as Microsoft racks up UCaaS clout

On-prem PBX usage crumbles as Microsoft racks up UCaaS clout

In the first quarter of the year, the global UCaaS user base grew by 46 per cent from what it was in the first quarter of 2020.

Credit: Chris Montgomery / Unsplash

Microsoft has quickly climbed to second place in the global unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) market as on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) phone systems’ usage wanes.  

The latest figures from analyst firm Synergy Research shows, in no uncertain terms, that the installed base of on-prem PBX users continues to erode as UCaaS and hosted PBX solutions gain favour, broadly eating into the market.  

In the first quarter of the year, the global UCaaS user base grew by 46 per cent from what it was in the first quarter of 2020.  

The biggest winner in that growth trajectory has been Microsoft, which is now ranked second in terms of UCaaS revenues. Just two quarters previously, Microsoft was ranked fifth in the world.  

However, the big daddy in the UCaaS space remains RingCentral, which continues to lead the market by a wide margin. The other leading UCaaS providers are Mitel, 8x8, Vonage and LogMeIn. When ranked by subscribers instead of revenues, Cisco, Zoom and Fuze all feature more prominently. 

While the on-premises PBX share of total users is dropping by half a percentage point per quarter, this points to strong growth for the much smaller UCaaS and hosted PBX segments, Synergy said. Total UCaaS subscriber numbers are now over 17 million, and have doubled since the end of 2018.  

“While RingCentral remains in a field of its own, there is a battle going on among the chasing pack of UCaaS providers,” said Jeremy Duke, Synergy Research Group founder and chief analyst. “Microsoft was late to the party but is now growing strongly and is doubling its UCaaS subscriber base every six months. 

“The other two particularly high-growth providers are Zoom and Fuze. While neither of them make the top six when ranked by revenue, they both passed the 1 million subscriber mark this quarter.  

“The good news for all of the vendors is that this is still early days for UCaaS and there are many years of high growth ahead as the vast PBX installed base gradually transitions to cloud-based services,” he added. 

In May, Synergy Research claimed that the global UCaaS market had doubled in the prior two years to reach more than 15 million subscribers. 

At the time, although RingCentral had held its market leading position with 20 per cent share, the rise of Microsoft and Zoom had driven the overall increased growth rate of UCaaS solutions, the latter two collectively gaining ten percentage points during 2020. 


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