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As unified communications as a service becomes mainstream for businesses of all sizes, companies may wonder what network segments constitute a cloud-based deployment and how to address quality of service, or QoS, for those segments. QoS is essential to provide good UX, but it only comes into play when and where congestion points appear in your network.
To tackle this issue, let's look at the network components that are involved in a UCaaS deployment and how IT administrators can approach QoS in cloud communication architectures.
Your UCaaS sessions will always pass through at least two network segments that you control: your internal LAN and external WAN. Fortunately, you only need to be concerned about one of these segments.
The devices, such as computers and smartphones, connected to your internal LAN are likely connected via wired Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or high-speed Wi-Fi 5 wireless LAN connections. And your uplinks between internal LAN segments are likely 10 GbE or even higher. Translation: No congestion here, so no concern.
You must be vigilant, however, where your high-speed internal LAN meets your relatively low-speed WAN connection to the internet and your UCaaS provider. If you have congestion in your network, this spot is where it would likely take place.
WAN routers assist with QoS in cloud networks
You will have various options for monitoring bandwidth use depending on what your router offers. But, even if you don't monitor for usage, your users will certainly notify you when congestion causes voice over IP (VoIP) calls to drop or other UCaaS tools to perform poorly.
Beyond making sure you have provisioned appropriate WAN bandwidth for your business requirements, implementing QoS controls on your WAN router is how you can ensure UCaaS traffic gets the WAN resource it needs in times of high demand.
And, remember, it's not always about having enough bandwidth, but about providing low latency. VoIP sessions require relatively low bandwidth, but quality will degrade if packets are delayed -- namely, if latency increases too much. Only by using QoS controls in your router can you prevent these problematic situations.
Don't forget that UCaaS is not just one type of traffic that needs one QoS setting. Chat functions, video, file transfer and other features have different bandwidth, latency and performance requirements. If the WAN link is busy, it's OK to have QoS slow down a file transfer a little so that your VoIP conversations maintain good quality.
To implement QoS in cloud environments correctly, you need to contact your UCaaS vendor and ask for specifics about its UCaaS traffic streams and recommendations on QoS settings that mesh best with its UCaaS product. For example, TCP ports might not be standard port usage for all vendors.
Bottom line: Don't wait until your users complain. Be proactive in planning and implementing QoS controls on your WAN router. If you never hear from your users, you will know you've done a good job.
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