Unified Communications, aka UC, is quickly becoming the corporate norm. Its seamless combination of voice (VoIP), video and audio conferencing, collaboration, email, messaging, presence, file transfer and shared workspaces makes it easy for dispersed teams and workers to get things done as if they were in the same room. In the world of UC, email, IM or phone calls naturally meld into meetings online, with ready sharing of files, documents, designs and projects. All reasons why UC is experiencing an astonishing uptake; and it’s likely to overtake on-premises solutions soon. But there’s a catch; for some users, inconsistent performance or reliability of their underlying network – especially those using “best effort” broadband Internet – can hinder the quality of things like voice and video. This can make UC somewhat frustrating, with jittery voice, jerky video or dropped connections. The upside: broadband users can avoid that by combining UC with SD-WAN, which can guarantee voice and video quality, and minimize latency and jitter using best effort Internet to satisfy the needs of even the most demanding users.
UC + best effort Internet: good enough for some; for others…?
To truly benefit from the collaboration and improved productivity UC offers, businesses need to evolve beyond the basic “best effort” Internet packet delivery model, which assumes links used to send packets won’t impede delivery. Unfortunately, even small degrees of delay or variability in delivery, from dropped packets or out of order reception, can degrade voice and video quality. That’s why ordinary Internet connections work fine sometimes, but not as well at others.
Similarly, some businesses will find the quality they get from UC using standard best effort IP is adequate for their needs (kind of like they do cell service). While others – especially those in knowledge based businesses where consistency and quality are essential to success – may say that “good enough” for some is “not good enough for me.”
SD-WAN enables UC quality over broadband; taking “best effort” to “high performance”
When Unified Communications is built on SD-WAN, it can offer relief from the conventional best effort Internet connections that aren’t good enough for some prospective UC users. This kind of solution uses multiple “active/active” Internet links to ensure reliability, continuity and uptime and offers service level guarantees based on priority delivery for time and latency sensitive applications. Adding SD-WAN makes more effective use of broadband to ensure network issues don’t impede collaboration.
This can be a huge benefit, especially in knowledge-based industries, such as engineering, tech, law, healthcare, finance, architecture, media – or other business built on “intellectual property” where clarity and availability are essential to business outcomes. This type of investment in UC can also serve as a great leap forward in furthering digital transformation.
The forecast calls for High Performance UC
Taking proper advantage of UC and/or moving to UCaaS means setting it up to succeed from the start. In any form, UC promises improved productivity. But UC built on SD-WAN can deliver on that promise without question, bringing the benefits of cloud-based collaboration up a notch for even the most sophisticated users.
Of course, given SD-WAN is relatively new, and not without some initial complexity, shopping for a combined UC and SD-WAN solution isn’t just a matter of identifying and linking two best of breed applications/solutions. It can be smarter to find a single solution from an MSP that’s done the investigative work for you. Earthlink, now Windstream, offers a High Performance Unified Communications solution that melds a comprehensive UC solution with a fully-managed SD-WAN Service, designed to ensure you can collaborate with exceptional quality and performance without downtime.
With solutions like EarthLink High Performance UC, the shift to fully hosted, off-premises UC may continue at an even faster rate than analysts predicted. Curious to hear what others think; feel free to weigh in if you have any ideas.
– Scott Yelton
EarthLink is now Windstream
Using a cloud-based UCaaS model for unified communications, organizations can lower costs, reduce complexity and improve end user productivity and user/customer experience (UX/CX). Download our white paper, The UCaaS Era Begins, Why the Future of Unified Communications is in the Collaborative Cloud, and find out how, in contrast to the narrow uses and inflexible characteristics of legacy voice and UC systems, cloud-based UCaaS delivers multiple tangible benefits for organizations of all sizes.
EarthLink is now Windstream