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How SD-WAN can unlock UCaaS benefits

Reaping UCaaS benefits means taking a hard look at your network configuration. Learn how SD-WAN can help optimize performance and reliability for UCaaS applications.

Organizations deploying unified communications as a service want to achieve the full benefits of migrating their communications to the cloud. But organizations that don't evaluate their network configuration prior to deployment risk missing full UCaaS benefits. The wrong network setup can cause issues for communication applications, like voice over IP and video conferencing.

Planning network architecture can mitigate issues such as jitter, call dropping and delays. Understanding what causes these quality-of-service (QoS) issues and how to circumvent them through software-defined WAN can go a long way toward improving the overall UCaaS experience.

What causes QoS issues, and how can you navigate them?

The most common QoS problem that prevents organizations from reaping the benefits of UCaaS is a lack of available bandwidth. Many UCaaS applications are considered high-volume data applications. Voice and video, in particular, are data-rich and need a lot of bandwidth to function without service interruption.

SD-WAN provides the necessary bandwidth by offering more pathways and allowing protocols that dictate a hierarchy for types of traffic. With SD-WAN, voice over IP (VoIP) and video calls can be designated as priority traffic, effectively pushing other nonessential traffic to a different pathway and eliminating the strain on the network. 

In addition, SD-WAN can provide real-time failover protocols by allowing an application to switch to a new circuit when the network experiences sudden traffic or service issues. The idea here is the switch should happen quickly, so there is no discernable interference with the applications. It's important to test the speed and frequency of circuit switching, as an overabundance of switching can cause problems with codec matching.

How does UCaaS management benefit from SD-WAN?

One of the UCaaS benefits is its accessibility on a wide range of devices, regardless of their location. SD-WAN doesn't require a physical connection between endpoints, making it a good option for remote and home office environments. SD-WAN also provides simple centralized management that can be applied to a wide variety of devices. Without centralized management for circuits, traffic won't be prioritized, which creates performance and reliability issues.

In addition to centralized management, SD-WAN can eliminate the need for IT specialists for monitoring and configuring network traffic. SD-WAN doesn't require the same knowledge base that most network configurations need to run smoothly and communicate with applications.

Can SD-WAN handle connecting cloud applications?

Oftentimes, cloud-based applications need dedicated network links. Cloud applications like VoIP require multiple links and require a protocol that can handle the traffic associated with the application. SD-WAN is equipped to handle the dedicated links necessary for UCaaS applications, which makes it easier to access the all UCaaS benefits. The links used to connect to UCaaS, however, are open and vulnerable to attack. Deploying session border controllers with SD-WAN brings an additional layer of security to protect those connection points.

This was last published in May 2019

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