As contracts come up for renewal, enterprises are evaluating new communications technology and finding that unified communications as a service (UCaaS) provides the advantages necessary in terms of scalability and cost. It also offers unique features that encourage collaboration and faster decision-making, boosting overall productivity. When the solution is implemented without the control and visibility of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), problems often outweigh the benefits.

UCaaS not only offers a wide variety of features; all its bells and whistles come with the added benefit of all aspects being managed by a managed services provider, removing all communications headaches from the IT team. There’s no initial hardware investment, and the monthly subscription allows for predictable invoices that charge only for the number of users accessing the system.

In addition, UCaaS supports remote and mobile workers by allowing them access to the same communications tools no matter where or when they are working. All features are available through a single application.

What begins as a communications fairy tale is often poisoned by the problems that occur when the enterprise network isn’t up to the demand that UCaaS places on it. Because all traffic flows over the existing network, UCaaS is heavily reliant on that network and sensitive to factors such as congestion, latency, and jitter.

For instance, the factors that have little-to-no impact on an email can devastate a voice call when there’s jitter on the pathway. Packets that are dropped or arrive out of order can render a voice or video call a failure.

The SD-WAN Solution

When enterprises deploy UCaaS, it’s important to fully test the network for speed and performance, but in most situations that won’t be enough. The problem is not exclusively tied to bandwidth demand — It’s about traffic prioritization.

SD-WAN provides improved visibility and control over how connectivity is prioritized. Network engineers are able to determine which types of traffic receive preferential treatment based on application, user, or type. This means that when the CEO is conducting a videoconference, the network is automatically set up to prioritize that traffic over other types.

SD-WAN makes it possible for contact center traffic to always be preferred over employees streaming videos on break or scrolling through social media, so that customers never experience an interruption.

Automatic failover is also a feature of SD-WAN that benefits UCaaS. When a pathway is experiencing congestion or any other type of problem, SD-WAN automatically directs the transmission to the next best line. The end user never knows there was any change to the pathway.

Many of the specifications that come with using UCaaS or other cloud-based solutions aren’t just about loading up on more bandwidth. In many cases, the challenges are best solved with an SD-WAN solution that improves control with traffic prioritization. To learn more about how SD-WAN supports your digital initiatives surrounding UCaaS and other cloud solutions, contact us at Clarksys.