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SD-WAN: UCC holy grail or bandwidth bandage?

June 28, 2017

SD-WAN: UCC holy grail or bandwidth bandage?

Everyone who’s sold UCC solutions today has encountered customers with concerns over voice and video quality. Many of the first VoIP and video solutions suffered from fledgling technologies, early-generation codecs, and bandwidth reliability and speed limitations. Customers have long memories about such things.

In the years since, technology and codecs have improved and bandwidth has not only become more reliable and faster, it’s cheaper than ever. Still, concerns over UCC performance linger. Thankfully, a burgeoning technology stands to wipe away any concerns customers should have regarding UCC quality and performance—SD-WAN.

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN, or software-defined wide area networking, is the application of technology that allows an organization to seamlessly combine two or more WAN connections (fiber, DSL, cable, MPLS, even 4G/LTE) to gain networking efficiencies.

SD-WAN monitors WAN connections and can automatically calculate the fastest, most efficient path for traffic. For example, packets that contain email can be sent via a VPN over a standard cable internet line while bandwidth-hungry applications such as VoIP can go over the MPLS.

This technology can also consider expense. If cable internet costs $600/month and the MPLS costs $1,000/month, SD-WAN can ensure the cheaper bandwidth is used before the more expensive.

Finally, SD-WAN creates redundancy. If one line goes down, traffic can automatically be rerouted to the other line(s).

How UCC is affected

As mentioned, SD-WAN allows you to put voice and video traffic over the lines that make the most sense from a performance standpoint. The redundancy can also help ensure communications don’t drop.

Additionally, SD-WAN allows organizations to mirror data packets. Using this functionality, it’s possible to send all voice traffic simultaneously across all connections and whichever hits the target first is used. Mirroring also can take some packets from one line and some packets from another. The result is data being sent across an organization’s network at the fastest possible rates at any given moment.

Another possible use in the UCC space is with hosted phone providers who hear concerns about performance. These providers can use SD-WAN between themselves and their customers to ensure communications are clear.

What's the catch?

There’s no catch here—SD-WAN is as useful and effective as it’s made out to be. Some could argue that with bandwidth and UCC technology improvements, SD-WAN is only making something good even better, there aren’t many reasons to not leverage SD-WAN.

Solution providers and customers still have lingering concerns over voice and video reliability, and SD-WAN addresses those concerns and then some. The cost savings of SD-WAN alone justify its implementation.

Thankfully, there are many vendors offering SD-WAN solutions today, and getting one up and running is straightforward for any solution provider with networking experience. If reliability or cost savings are concerns for your customers, you now have a viable solution.