Cloud UC and SD-WAN: Why they’re better together

Avatar for Rudy TibuniBy Rudy Tibuni|Nov 12, 2019|7:30 am CST

The benefits of cloud-based unified communications (cloud UC) are big. Nemertes Research shows that Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) adopters are seeing verifiable improvements. Of those who measured their success with a workplace collaboration project, 66.1% measured improvements in efficiency, 45.5% had measurable cost savings, and 24.1% had quantifiable increases in revenue. What’s more, cloud UC isn’t just for small companies anymore–30% of companies with more than 2,500 employees are making the pivot.

But it can be a big undertaking to transition to cloud communications and provide network support for them. So, how are companies hastening their success? Those who are most satisfied with their UCaaS solutions are using SD-WAN, according to Nemertes’ research. Here are some of the challenges of delivering cloud UC and how SD-WAN addresses them. This is why cloud UC and SD-WAN are better together.

The hidden challenges of cloud UC: multiple associated systems

Despite the flexibility, agility, and cost savings of cloud UC, there are some challenges to consider in terms of app/platform performance and manageability:

  • Performance Sensitivities: Too much latency and jitter hurt the UCaaS user experience. The network itself must be equipped to keep up with the high demands of new cloud deployments. Additionally, buyers also have to procure network service separately, which can become complex and error-prone.
  • System Transparency: Having multiple network dashboards can make it hard for IT to see what’s happening inside the network. This makes troubleshooting difficult, keeping network engineers from identifying the source of the issue.
  • Security: The security of cloud communications can’t be taken for granted, especially if IT means integrating multiple systems across clouds. IT still has to ensure the security of cloud-based communications, and must evaluate both the platforms and the networks used to access them.

Cloud services are rapidly gaining market share across businesses of all sizes, yet offerings should be designed for a simple, holistic approach to optimize performance, security, and manageability. Enter SD-WAN.

The solution: cloud UC satisfaction correlates with SD-WAN

The reliability of an enterprise’s cloud UC is only as solid as its IT network. Increasingly, that foundation is becoming a software-defined wide area network, or SD-WAN. With better bandwidth availability and performance visibility, SD-WAN has emerged as a key enabler of cloud communications.

Even the data says SD-WAN might just be the perfect mate for UCaaS and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions. Nemertes found a direct correlation between the success of cloud communications initiatives and SD-WAN adoption: 63.4% of those who are satisfied with their UCaaS/CCaaS deployments are using SD-WAN versus just 21.9% of those who are unsatisfied with the performance of their cloud communications services.

Their studies found SD-WAN supports UCaaS in four key ways:

  • Performance assurance
  • Uptime assurance
  • Security assurance
  • Economic efficiency

Unsurprisingly, both the SD-WAN and UCaaS markets are experiencing side-by-side growth. Research from IDG shows that 90% of companies will have some part of their applications or infrastructure in the cloud by the end of 2019 and when you account for SaaS that number jumps higher. At the same time, the firm found that 90% of organizations have either already adopted SD-WAN or are now actively researching it.

UC embedded into your SD-WAN network fabric

While most UCaaS applications and network services are sold separately, they shouldn’t be thought of as an individual components. UC needs to be embedded into the SD-WAN network fabric itself. In other words, your UC platform should be part of a holistic technology suite that provides a single integrated solution crossing network services, communications, and security. 

Embedding UC directly into the SD-WAN platform maximizes bandwidth and cuts costs. Users gain application-by-application visibility into the network and embedded UC apps–not to mention the benefits of real-time control and dynamic redirection of packets. App prioritization and traffic steering have been proven to boost available bandwidth by as much as 30% and costs by as much as 40%. The inclusion of a software-defined network platform for UC also enables SLAs with near-perfect performance. Perhaps best of all, a fully managed service allows for performance monitoring services as well as security add-ons including firewalls, continuous threat monitoring, and incident response services.

Evaluating cloud UC + SD-WAN together: what to know

Look for an SD-WAN solution that is built for global continuity, offering a globally reliable service with SLAs that guarantee performance on both the call platform and the network. Industry-leading uptime should translate into less than one millisecond of jitter. This worldwide coverage should include:

  • Private and public network connectivity options
  • Hybrid cloud deployment models supported by SIP trunking
  • A focus on security with embedded security at the network and application layers
  • Add-on security services for 24×7 threat monitoring and response
  • Management and support–a dedicated project manager for implementation and ongoing service
  • Unlimited training and tech support for users
  • 24×7 network performance monitoring with proactive service notifications

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