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By Graham Schultz, ANZ regional director for Silver Peak

Today, most enterprise CIOs are of in the midst of migrating more of their business applications and infrastructure to the cloud, including real-time voice calling, video conferencing and collaboration applications. 

In fact, Gartner predicts by 2021, 90 percent of IT leaders will not purchase new premises-hosted unified communications (UC) infrastructure because future cloud-hosted UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) offerings will be far ahead in terms of features, functions, analytics and dashboards.

Users now have access to tools to encourage collaboration and productivity across an organisation’s communications network from any device and any location, be that between branches or regional divisions, remote workers or offices on different sides of the world. 

While enterprises are increasingly adopting UCaaS to streamline voice, video and web conferencing, these services are particularly sensitive to packet loss, latency and jitter. Dropped calls, weak signals and degraded video connections with pixelated screens are relatively common occurrences. 

Most of these issues can be attributed to impairments in the underlying transport network, which is often the public internet. Voice and video quality problems can also be exacerbated when traffic must traverse multiple peering internet service providers, resulting in an unpredictable user experience, especially when accessing real-time services in distributed regions.

We regularly hear from organisations that employees often ignore expensive collaboration tools because the experience is too frustrating. Many are also using their personal mobile phones for work because the VoIP experience the company provides has become so unreliable.

Failed telephony and network connections are more than annoying. They result in negative user experiences, lost time and missed opportunities. Users often blame technical difficulties on conferencing technology or applications, the internet service or a “bad line.” In fact, it’s more than likely a network infrastructure problem the business must address. 

Solving frustrating performance challenges for voice, video and real-time collaboration tools is the crux of why the next big thing in UC is software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs). 

Deliver a turbo charged engine

An SD-WAN enables an organisation to avoid convoluted and inefficient network design because it gives users direct access to UCaaS services from any branch location. This is dramatically more efficient than having to traverse the corporate private WAN. 

According to recent research from Frost & Sullivan, more than half of Australian enterprises plan to implement SD-WAN this year or next, looking to deploy new branch sites faster, apply granular security policies and achieve superior WAN and application performance.

Most modern SD-WANs will provide basic path selection based on the performance needs of the application, to intelligently and dynamically direct traffic over the best available connection to realise improvements in application performance. 

However, to achieve specific, desired performance levels for cloud-based applications and services, improve the user experience and enhance collaboration opportunities, you must look for an advanced SD-WAN platform designed for these business requirements.

A business-driven SD-WAN platform is like a turbocharged engine in a car. It can accelerate performance and optimise the UCaaS user experience. So, what should you look for to turbocharge your UCaaS services offerings?

Dynamic path control for multiple connections to a site, which provides automatic seamless failover from a failed branch circuit for all voice calls, video calls and real-time collaboration.

Application visibility and control to enable better management of the underlying connectivity, eliminating the impact of possible UCaaS service packet loss/drop, WAN link congestion or failure.

Cloud hosted offering to give you the ability to do ruggedised/protected last mile with a cloud-based IaaS instance of the SD-WAN. This is one of the best ways to assure consistent UCaaS performance.

Local internet breakout to identify UCaaS applications on the first packet and automatically steers traffic to a local UCaaS service PoP without backhauling to a data centre, so users can always securely connect to their application from anywhere.

Business-driven application specific routing to automatically prioritise network resources to UC, steering traffic directly to the UCaaS service, thereby improving quality of service (QoS) and delivering the highest quality of experience to users.

Better performance means happy users

Don’t forget that you’ve given these UC tools to users to drive value for your business. By ensuring a superior experience, they can cut through silos and improve productivity. They can innovate and make better decisions together. 

Why ruin your chances for the best ROI possible, by not having the right network underneath your UCaaS? Support these tools with the right infrastructure and improve the user experience to help your employees get the job done. 

Graham Schultz is ANZ regional director for Silver Peak, responsible for accelerating growth and customer adoption of the company’s SD-WAN solutions. Schultz has over 20 years of industry experience, spanning cloud, virtualisation, networking, storage and business intelligence. For more information, visit: https://www.silver-peak.com