Why Unified Communications as a service needs software defined WANs

Unified communications (UC) has been a market in the making for nearly two decades now. Despite the gap between hype and adoption, over the past couple of years, UC has seen a sharp increase in interest consequent adoption. The catalyst for this resurgence has been the growth of UC as-a-Service (UCaaS) where companies can buy and access all their UC apps from the cloud.

Could offers faster adoption, better alignment with mobile while taking away the need for up-front hardware costs (excluding endpoints). In addition, it enables organisations to accelerate innovation by enabling new features to become immediately available, driving more adoption – think of team collaboration, for example.

Despite the popular belief that UC is just another app on the networks, the reality is not that simple. UC is indeed a app, but it’s a very unique type of app that is subject to issues to to things like latency, packet loss and jitter. Due to its usage, it’s also important that quality of voice and video remains high, otherwise any savings looked to be gained by moving UC to the cloud will be for naught and that ROI wasted.

SD-WANs provide a superior network and user experience for UCaaS (UC as-a-service). This technology should no longer be thought of as something equivalent to traditional networks. Instead, it is important to understand that SD-WAN is a far better network, particularly for cloud-first businesses.

Historically, businesses have relied on expensive MPLS circuits to provide the best call quality for voice and video. This works most times and you can even fail over to a backup circuit if there’s an outage. But how do you compensate for congestion on the network? Or, if there’s a network issue where packets are being dropped? In this case, the traffic will continue to head down the poor-quality path and only fail over if there’s an issue.

This is where the value of SD-WAN really shines for many businesses. SD-WANs constantly search for the best possible path for directing real time communications, allowing companies on broadband or MPLS to have a better quality of experience. A user makes a VoIP call and the SD-WAN automatically prioritizes the traffic across the WAN to ensure the best possible call quality.

Also, most SD-WANs have security tools such as firewalls, VPN services and others to make it easy to move to a direct-to-cloud model enabling greater security while dramatically simplifying the architecture. Branch-to-branch calling can be done more efficiently as well though the creation of dynamic VPN tunnels between locations.

The final benefit is dramatically lower costs. The ability to replace MPLS with broadband as contracts come up for renewal will dramatically lower the cost of communications. Dynamic path selection and sub-second failover ensures call quality is maintained irrespective of network conditions across underlying links.

Lower cost, better quality and improved security. These are the benefits that SD-WANs can bring to UCaaS. Businesses of all sizes should be actively evaluating UCaaS solutions as it’s a better, more efficient way of enabling better workforce collaboration.