The Hidden Iceberg

Seven Metrics for Evaluating the Network Beneath Your Unified Communications Solution

Much like the underbelly of an iceberg, the network beneath your unified communications solution can create unforeseen obstacles. Whether you procure your own private network or rely on either the UCaaS provider’s network or public connectivity, there are navigational errors to avoid.

  • Explore the pros and cons of each connectivity type as well as three basic must-knows
  • Get seven metrics for evaluating a network’s ability to support voice communications
  • Ask yourself these four critical questions before making a UCaaS network decision

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Roughly 90 percent of an iceberg’s mass sits below the surface of the water, and the shape of the underbelly can be very difficult to map just by looking at the portion that sits above the water line. These invisible obstacles create cause for concern for vessels navigating icy waters. Much like the bottom of an iceberg, the IT network is the behind-the-scenes communication courier that lurches below every unified communications technology. It’s a critical mass that IT leaders must carefully maneuver in order to arrive at digital transformation.

When it comes to communication workloads, the network must deliver perfect performance in order to keep VoIP calls and video conferences from turning into digital mush. With latency and jitter non-negotiable for enterprise contact centers and executive video conferences, the network is arguably the single most important element of a cloud-based communications solution. Without reliable connectivity, video calling technologies and collaboration benefits are of no practical value.

Therefore, looking below the surface to evaluate the network’s quality of service is a critical step in any Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) purchase. Do you saddle your internal IT team with the responsibilities of providing perfect bandwidth? Can you trust your provider’s network to deliver on that perfection? Or, do you rely on public connectivity to do the job?

The route you choose can mean the difference between a successful solution and a serious navigational error. Understanding the pros and cons of each route as well as the ancillary network services are key in selecting the right solution and partner. This paper explores potential pitfalls associated with each network service type and covers seven metrics that can help you identify UCaaS providers whose network is as substantial as their unified communication technology.

“At Masergy, we’re seeing network reliability rise to the top of the priority list for UCaaS buyers. While IT executives care about communications features and functionality, they’re focusing more on the quality of service the network delivers, the implementation process and our Net Promoter Score. Features and price are becoming second-tier criteria.”

UCaaS network connectivity: three basic must-knows

The golden rule of the user experience

When it comes to unified communications, the quality of the user experience is determined by two things: the technology (i.e. the end-user endpoint or service features) and the network service that supports it. Comparing communication technology features can quickly become a matter of clicking checkboxes against your enterprise needs (VoIP, instant messaging, voicemail-to-email, etc.), which often makes the network the next critical conversation as well as a key differentiator.

The quality of the user experience is determined by the technology and the network service that supports it.

Basic requirements for managing voice traffic

Key network criteria should include (among other things) network reliability, dynamic bandwidth control as well as full visibility into the network performance as it relates to voice and video packets. IT teams can’t dial up the bandwidth to support voice traffic if they can’t see where the bottlenecks are happening. Likewise, they must be able to quickly and easily make adjustments to the network resource allocations in order to make the needed corrections. Thus, probing into a UCaaS provider’s network performance dashboards and control tools becomes a critical step in the due-diligence investigation.

Key network criteria should include full visibility into application performance and dynamic bandwidth control.

The best tools of the trade

Software defined network platforms are best positioned to deliver on the needs above, because they serve up deep performance intelligence, empowering administrators to pinpoint bandwidth-hungry applications and modify the network on the fly. Using advanced network approaches, these platforms are known for breathing agility into the IT management process, making performance analytics as well as optimization fast and simple. Best of all, these platforms come with online control portals and easyto-understand dashboards making bandwidth tweaks from the beachside lounge chair a reality. Seriously!

Software defined network platforms are best suited for communications.

Avoiding pitfalls: choosing the optimal network for UCaaS

There are several pitfalls and a couple “gotchas” to know when deciding which network should support your critical communications traffic. There are pros and cons associated with each strategy

Your own private network: the burden is on you

Some communications providers don’t offer managed network services with their UCaaS solutions. Instead, they dazzle you with ad speak and promises of cutting-edge technology, basically calling the network irrelevant. The truth is, the network is critical, and these vendors would rather put the burden of procuring network connectivity on you. While large enterprises have the time and resources to accept this responsibility, taking the work in-house, many prefer to rely on a partner for network services.

The UCaaS provider’s network: due diligence required

UCaaS providers that bundle their cloud-based communications technology with network services bring value in the form of a fully managed service with a single source for accountability. While these providers help you solve for both technology and connectivity, they are also held responsible for the quality of service delivery, which can add up to superior reliability, support, and features. But due diligence is necessary–selecting a vendor whose network is as strong as their communications features is the key to success.

Some providers may try to tell you that your existing cost-effective, broadband Internet access is all you need. Beware! Public connectivity is a shared resource, known as a mere “best effort” connectivity type. It is prone to jitter and latency particularly when routing traffic across long distances.

Public connectivity: jitter risks and accountability frustrations

Some may claim, “Broadband is so cheap–just buy two connections” (one for primary and one for backup redundancy). But here at Masergy, we advise against that strategy because latency and jitter delays will still be an issue on the broadband failover path. We believe critical and real-time services should always traverse private network architectures to ensure packets arrive in sequence and on time. This ensures your mission-critical IP traffic receives the predictable outcome customers expect. At the end of the day, put critical applications on networks that can accommodate it.

Here’s what will likely happen if you have different providers for the network and UCaaS. When you call to complain to your new UCaaS provider about the quality of your communications service, they will quickly pass the buck, telling you to call your network service provider. The result: a frustrating customer experience.

Before you make a network decision, ask yourself these questions

  • Does it make sense to have separate network service and UCaaS providers? What impact will this have on my IT team?
  • Has my network services provider built a voice platform that delivers seamless reliability and advanced communications services that complement my network?
  • Can my UCaaS services provider guarantee a seamless experience with minimal jitter and delay?
  • Will the locations, applications, and user groups supported by public connectivity be tolerant of downtime and lower service quality?

Identify the most reliable UCaaS networks

Unified communications partners who have software defined network platforms and have embedded the UCaaS offering into the fabric of their network platform can guarantee voice and video performance through service level agreements (SLAs). When you want to ensure your global video conference call doesn’t result in garbled voices and image tiling, evaluate providers based on network SLAs. These providers will easily pivot from pitching video conferencing features to explaining network reliability factors that remove latency and jitter from the user experience.

Major internet outages ahead?

We live in an unpredictable world, and many CIOs are taking into account the possibility of massive internet outages when planning for business and communications continuity. For example, a Gartner enterprise networking predictions report warns that “within the next five years, there will be a major internet outage that impacts more than 100 million users for longer than 24 hours.” These forecasts are shaping decisions related to communication networks.

Seven metrics for evaluating the network beneath your unified communications solution

The metrics and guarantees below allow for more apples-to-apples comparisons across providers and will help tease out network leaders:

  1. In-sequence voice packet delivery percentages
  2. Latency metrics guarantees per route (POP to POP)
  3. Jitter metrics in milliseconds (POP to POP)
  4. Fallover rates
  5. End-to-end service availability guarantees
  6. Proactive customer notifications
  7. Global coverage (delivers localized experience for UCaaS and SIP trunking that includes inbound DID/DDI and outbound termination capabilities)

BONUS

Customer service ratings and Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Enterprise-grade UCaaS: the Masergy network difference

Over the last several decades, telecom service providers have engineered an extensive range of sophisticated features into their networks, to the point where they guarantee “six-nines” reliability. That means the network is guaranteed to be up 99.9999 percent of the time, implying a downtime of no more than 32 seconds per year. This is what makes an “enterprise-grade” experience, and this is one of the reasons that Masergy Global UCaaS is so unique.

The Masergy UCaaS customer experience is superior because our software defined network prioritizes voice communications traffic and guarantees performance through SLAs. Our customers receive high-quality audio and multi-channel communications with the following Masergy network guarantees:

  • 100% in-sequence packet delivery
  • 0% packet loss
  • Less than 1 millisecond of jitter
  • 99.9999% network uptime with built-in disaster recovery and auto failover that minimizes disruptions

Don’t want to use Masergy’s network? No problem.

We also offer complete flexibility to run Masergy UCaaS over your existing network connection or any broadband service.

In addition to enterprise-grade UCaaS, Masergy offers advanced features such as:

  • Hybrid deployment models via SIP trunking capabilities
  • Robust bundles and flattened pricing that makes it easier to get your must-have features
  • Customer-specific deployment design with a dedicated implementation team for easy migration and full support
  • 24/7 live support and monitoring, unlimited online training, and lifetime warranty/support for all hardware
  • Standard APIs for custom integrations
  • One management platform and industry-unique analytics

Conclusion

When it comes to cloud-based communications, the technology features are important, but the network that supports it plays a vital role in the success of the solution. When relying on ancillary network services offered by UCaaS providers, adequate investigation into the reliability of the network is necessary. IT leaders must look beneath the surface to understand the quality of service, application visibility, performance optimization capabilities, as well as the details of the SLA to separate the leaders from the laggards. These competencies ensure the buyer will receive the best service and the end user will experience flawless communications fostering collaboration and productivity for years to come.

Masergy UCaaS equals superior user experiences

Masergy regularly outperforms industry expectations with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) over 70, well above the telecom industry average of 21. Deliver a superior user experience with Masergy’s voice infrastructure. Learn more about Masergy UCaaS.

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