Why UCaaS and SD-WAN Are Better Together

How SD-WAN and UCaaS work together to prevent dropped calls and fuzzy video conferences from slowing down your business.

More than 85 percent of businesses moved all or part of their communications tools to the cloud via Unified Communications as a Service. UCaaS joins voice, videoconferencing, screen sharing, instant messaging and a host of other communications tools for the cloud. 

According to Business Communications Strategies, cloud-based UC services are a no-brainer for several reasons: 

  • Scalability: UCaaS easily scales up or down, so it’s a perfect solution for small- and medium-sized businesses as well as large, enterprise-sized businesses with multiple locations. 
  • Easy manageability: Day-to-day management, including the integration of BYOD and mobile devices, is typically uncomplicated. 
  • Cost reduction: Less expensive than onsite hardware like PBX or services rented from telecom providers, such as multiprotocol label switching from Cisco, UCaaS platforms can save money. 

Despite its advantages, UCaaS on its own isn’t a perfect solution. Legacy systems that use only MPLS or PBX inefficiently move packets of information to several locations before they reach their final destination. This takes milliseconds, and isn’t noticeable when using email or instant messaging. But with real-time communications, voice and video calls can become pixelated, freeze, drop out or produce echoes. The problems are endless, and it’s not good for business.

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Choose SD-WAN To Streamline Small Business Needs 

Software-defined WAN is gaining speed as an essential technology for a variety of cloud, Big Data and mobile applications. According to an IDC survey in Network World, sales for SD-WAN technology reached $225 million in 2015. By 2021, sales are expected to top $8 billion.

In general, SD-WAN helps streamline network activity by routing data through an organization’s infrastructure in the most efficient way possible. It also offers cost savings, reliability and other advantages

In other words, SD-WAN solutions automatically differentiate network traffic. Real-time videoconferencing and other live activities are prioritized and allocated more bandwidth for clear, crisp communication, while nonessential activities are rerouted to lower-priority pathways.

Specialized SD-WAN technology makes this happen. For example, Aruba Networks’ SD-WAN solution has built-in deep-packet inspection capabilities that identify voice and video traffic. It automatically monitors and steers traffic around the network to optimize communication. This becomes critical if an internet connection is lost.

“When SD-WAN is done right, it should offer a simplified ability to route enterprise traffic in a secure manner with a consistent quality of experience,” Cisco’s Robb Boyd explains in a blog post

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Check out how Briggs & Stratton increased network efficiency by tapping SD-WAN.

Cut Communication Costs by Combining Resources

Choosing a qualified vendor can help substantially reduce both operational and capital expenditures, according to a Doyle Research white paper commissioned by Aruba Networks.

On the CAPEX side, SD-WAN “allows organizations to selectively consolidate WAN services including routing, Wi-Fi, ethernet, firewalls, VPNs and application visibility into a single platform,” Doyle notes. “This consolidation provides the potential for a significant reduction in the hardware costs associated with the multiple box solutions.” Expect maintenance cost reductions of about 15 percent as well.

As for OPEX, Doyle says organizations can expect to see a 15 percent reduction in maintenance on consolidated equipment, for starters. More importantly, it notes that OPEX savings accrue because of SD-WAN’s advantages with respect to agility, scale, ease of management and unified network security. The savings increase with the number of branches a business has.

Combining SD-WAN with UCaaS, meanwhile, can reduce businesses’ communication costs significantly. 

Those cost savings are echoed in a case study by a subsidiary of Talari partner Oracle, which worked with SI Group, an international chemical company with more than 2,800 employees, to integrate SD-WAN technology for UCaaS as well as enterprise resource planning, backup and disaster recovery. Because many of SI Group’s locations were remote, connectivity options were limited, and segments of the network would frequently go dark.

The SD-WAN and UCaaS combination solved the problem. If there’s an issue with one connection, the technology, which is carrier agnostic, automatically moves to another. Uptime is now at 99.9 percent, and the most noticeable improvements are in live voice and video calls. 

Between simplifying management and reducing the number of MPLS connections, the company estimates major savings. “We’ve gained more bandwidth and reduced costs 40 to 80 percent while increasing network reliability with Talari,” says former SI Group CIO Allen Look in the case study

Has your company brought communication to the cloud yet, and have you considered the combination of UCaaS and SD-WAN?

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.

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Getty Images / metamorworks
Jun 24 2019

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