Humble text kingpin for trusted customer comms: Soprano Design

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By Richard Favero, Soprano Design Founder and Executive Chairman

We’re communicating with each other more than ever before. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram have become king for keeping connected replacing traditional mail but for me, text messaging still reigns supreme.

It has been nearly 27 years since the first text message was sent and the way we connect and interact with each other was changed forever more. In many ways, the text message is like a digital post-it note. It works best when the message is kept short and to the point. It’s also arguably one of the most efficient ways for businesses to communicate with their customers, employees and suppliers.

It’s also why, in the United States alone, more than nine trillion SMS messages are sent each year and the number continues to grow. Over the ten years up until 2017, the volume sent each month has increased by nearly 8,000 percent. That’s a pretty enviable growth rate for any platform.

So, what’s driving this growth? Aside from most of us being on our mobiles almost constantly, it’s also effective with 90 percent of messages read within three minutes of receipt. Also, you’re seven times more likely to respond to a text compared to an email. Our mobile number has become an essential part of our identity which is why so many businesses, government organisations, finance companies and health care providers are investing and utilising our mobile-based technology to connect with people.

It’s also why earlier this month we launched Soprano Connect, new digital interactive channels designed specifically to keep pace with customer demand for increased interoperability and two-way interactivity between enterprise and social messaging platforms. Our early adopter customers and telco partners in the United States, Europe, Asia Pacific and Australia are now trialing it across WhatsApp and Rich Communications Services (RCS) ahead of our global launch in a few weeks.

The need for stronger customer relationships was the original catalyst for our creation of a trusted mobile interaction system back in 1994. Twentyfive years later it remains king alongside ensuring the right person receives the right information at the right time with our software. Our software makes trusted mobile interactions easy, adaptable, secure and low risk. It is a great promise to offer and we’re now on track to achieve our strongest year to date with our global messaging volumes set to exceed seven billion in 2020 – nearly 40% year-on-year volume growth since 2018.

Removing barriers for distribution and risks around delivery means clients can focus fully on messaging content. The process is simple too we integrate their data with our messaging solution, creating a seamless experience for the end receiver.

And while we’re delivering the information, for all intents and purposes, it is on behalf of a person’s bank, heath care provider, a government agency or a favourite retailer providing confidence and greater engagement between the two parties.

What next for the text?

Looking to the next 10 years, we’ll no doubt see further changes in technology. And while the fundamental need for communication will stay the same, the way we go about delivering that information will change, smartphones are not going anywhere. We will see only more mobile interactions which we’re focused on harnessing. We’re continuing to grow the number of text messages we send for our customers, improving their communication with clients, maintaining privacy and enhancing our solutions to keep pace with technology opportunities and keep messaging efficient, effective and relevant.

The team at Soprano gets a real thrill out of the size and scale of the problems we solve on behalf of our clients. We are continually constructing solutions based on our customer needs such as better interoperability between clients and their customers. Even if that delivery is based around the humble text.

Richard Favero is Founder and Executive Chairman of Soprano Design, a global software design firm that delivers trusted mobile interactions via its cloud-based mobile communication platform. www.sopranodesign.com/

Security will prove key differentiator for 5G: Palo Alto Networks

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By Sean Duca, VP and regional CIOr, Asia Pacific and Japan, Palo Alto Networks

Consumers and businesses are set to benefit enormously from the exponential network improvements promised by 5G.

More than just an incremental upgrade, 5G will create opportunities for the most exciting science fiction inventions to become science facts. It will lead to a level of connectedness and interconnectedness that hasn’t been seen before as data is shared between devices and applications at speeds even faster than the human brain.

However, consumers and businesses won’t be the only parties benefiting from these improvements. Cybercriminals will be able to take advantage of 5G to mount even more sophisticated attacks, gain better economies of scale, and target more attack vectors. Therefore, it’s essential for any person or business considering moving to 5G be aware of security upfront, according to Palo Alto Networks.

With 5G applications, a cyberattack can go beyond locking up data or compromising business operations. For example, cybercriminals could cause car accidents as autonomous vehicles become ubiquitous, or loss of life by hacking surgical robots or connected lifesaving devices; and these are just two of literally millions of examples of society’s potential reliance on 5G-enabled devices and applications.

Security will absolutely be the key differentiator for 5G; without security baked in as part of the fabric, 5G applications will be risky. It’s also imperative to take stock of where security is at today because threats aren’t waiting for 5G.

Palo Alto Networks recommends a three-pronged approach to improve security in preparation for 5G:

1. Government: address systemic issues present in today’s mobile networks

There are currently security issues in mobile networks that create risks for all users. Therefore, the government needs to step up to do more to regulate telecommunications providers to ensure they’re doing everything they can to keep the network secure.

If there are challenges that remain unaddressed in today’s networks, they are only going to get worse when 5G arrives. To successfully deliver on the promise of 5G, security is absolutely fundamental and must underpin everything. Government-mandated security can help.

2. Telecommunication providers: provide value-added security services to customers

Currently, telcos provide data and carriage with no responsibility for security. This means they’re missing an obvious opportunity to differentiate their offering with a value-added security service.

When passengers go to the airport, they know every single bag will be inspected before it gets on the plane. The same should be true of network traffic. Telcos should be inspecting all of the traffic that passes through their networks and blocking traffic where appropriate. This should be a point of differentiation for telcos moving to offer 5G services.

3. Customers: demand secure offerings to enable innovative applications

When businesses are looking to provide next-generation services like autonomous cars or robotic surgery, they need to demand that their telco provides a secure network for these applications. Customer demand is a powerful way to compel providers to improve security.

Telcos can dedicate a piece of their network to specific customers who demand it, such as those who want to provide a service like autonomous cars, and ensure strong security across that slice of the network. With the potential for innovation that 5G offers, now is the time for telcos to prove that they can play a key role in providing the essential underpinning security required for these applications to work.

Security will be a fundamental enabler for 5G, with 90 per cent of mobile service providers identifying security as a key differentiator according to an Ericsson survey. (1)

Therefore, before embracing 5G, organisations should look to service providers to provide a resilient network with robust security mechanisms in place. They should take a preventative approach, and establish application-layer visibility and consistent security across all 5G applications and devices.

On a macro level, it’s critical for government and industry to work together to identify ways to build security into 5G networks from the outset, and continue to identify and drive progress towards best practices.

 

References:
(1) “Exploring IoT Strategies,” Ericsson, April 2018, https://www.ericsson.com/en/internet-of-things/trending/exploring-iot-strategies

Enterprises need to keep edge networks safe: Versa Networks CEO

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By Kelly Ahuja, President & CEO at Versa Networks

Network security is not only a top boardroom priority, but ensuring the protection of corporate data moving from the edge network out to the cloud and back is not an easy task, given today’s complex hybrid-cloud architectures.

Network security matters more than ever, especially given that it is now a major C-level concern for every large and mid-market enterprise. Senior executives have seen too many examples of what can go wrong when defences are breached to be in any doubt about what’s at stake.

A serious security breach has the power to damage a brand or erode shareholder value, reversing in a day a good image that may have taken years to build. It doesn’t end there. In many sectors, regulators have the power to levy major penalties on those who have suffered breaches, particularly if customer data has been compromised. New directives like GDPR are raising the bar further.

With enterprises investing heavily to transform themselves digitally, the threat has in many respects intensified and diversified. Enterprises pursuing a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud strategy, or relying on a software-as-a-service model to give remote workers access to critical applications, perhaps via a mobile device, will be potentially exposing themselves to new threat vectors that must be built into an already long list of security considerations for WAN edge optimization.

A digital enterprise may well have numerous points of vulnerability, and those who would seek to exploit these vulnerabilities are more highly motivated, organised and technically savvy than ever.

Threats can come in the form of DDoS attacks, malware, viruses or industrial espionage. They can affect the functioning of a network or website, or be aimed at the theft of intellectual property or customer data. The question for anyone responsible for network security is not whether such an attack will ever happen, but when. Total prevention may not be possible, so the focus must instead switch to limiting damage where it occurs.

As enterprises look for ways to accelerate their digital transformation journeys and to achieve greater business agility, they must match that by transforming their wide-area network to be more software-driven. By transforming their networking strategy with the right SD-WAN solution, they are not only gaining manageability and control, they are taking a big step toward better network security as well.

The keys to the kingdom

Putting security first means taking a multi-layered approach that is scalable and safe while also being simple to deploy, as well as straightforward to manage via an SD-WAN fabric. Truly secure networks are all about a multi-tiered architecture where multiple checks, authentications and authorizations are required to gain access to the internal network.

A major caution, however, is that not all SD-WAN solutions handle edge security in the same way. On the surface, all seem to offer cost reduction and application awareness, relying on a mechanism of building secure tunnels between sites.

But different SD-WAN solutions take a variety of approaches to important areas, such as key exchange and where the keys are stored. Keys determine who has access to what are crucial to WAN security. Certain SD-WAN models are more exposed and hackable than others, with the handling of keys often effectively allowing criminals to exploit vulnerabilities, especially where the system is directly exposed to the Internet.

Given that cipher keys are so important in encrypting messages, it’s all the more critical that network managers have a way to make them secure and complex enough such that any compromised endpoint cannot reveal the key to hackers. One technique that helps is to have a longer key, of at least 128 bits and preferably 256 bits.

An even more secure solution is to only be able to exchange part of a key and have an algorithm that can validate the partial key using elements that are secret to each device. In this manner, no device has all pieces to reassemble the key. The capture of keys from one device does not therefore provide any usable means for unauthorized access to the enterprise network. Keys do not need to be stored and can be computed with each packet that needs to be encrypted or decrypted.

The networks of yesterday were data centre centric; however, with SaaS and multi-cloud
requirements, site-to-site connectivity from the edge and to the cloud are required.

Branches need not connect back to the corporate data centre to access apps and clouds, in addition to packet inspection and security posture, which resulted in a lousy user experience because of backhauling all traffic to the data center.

What the contemporary enterprise needs is direct Internet access but without security limited branch by branch with different requirements. SD-WAN however allows for all security policies to run at all branches at the same time in the same context as more deterministic network performance.

In some cases it only takes just a portion of security to be CPE and integrated cloud-based security for scaling up and scaling down to workload demands. Cloud security as a service will do that natively, and then you don’t have to worry about sizing compute bespoke for every branch.

Multiple connections to your SD-WAN including private and hybrid connections allow branches to gain direct Internet access (DIA). Managed SD-WAN and cloud security as a service can manage both on-premise and cloud based policies, uniformly.

For extending WAN edge to the cloud, SD-WAN solves the bottleneck from private cloud to public cloud, and when the bigger threat is that once the branch is on the web, the IP of the branch is exposed, and users worry about DDoS attacks and unknown vulnerabilities, it’s security paramount to protect the public window at the edge; there’s no need to throw in line an expensive hardware-oriented at every branch.

Hardware-based platforms do not scale in or out when you have to change a policy or service. SD-WAN is more elastic, paying for only what you need at the time it’s needed, as opposed to over provisioning hardware capacity that my never be used.

An SD-WAN solution that is fit for purpose will also enable visibility and manageability, offering a seamless way to look at security, whether at branch or head office level. Cloud-security-as-a-service will enable this, whether the connection is in the form of the Internet or a private link of some sort.

That and many other capabilities must be embedded within an SD-WAN fabric. Protecting data has always been important – and challenging. Every enterprise has at least some private information, along with a duty to protect that data whether it is intellectual property, financial information, customer subscription information, payment history, or other information that a regulator says must be given maximum protection.

The right SD-WAN solution will give this protection.

Versa Networks President and CEO Kelly Ahuja has more than 20 years of experience in networking and telecoms. He currently serves on the board of directors for two startups in Silicon Valley. Kelly spent 18 years at Cisco deeply involved with the design and deployment of telco networks. He was most recently SVP of Service Provider Business, Products and Solutions at Cisco where he was responsible for developing and managing the service provider segment strategy and portfolio. Kelly held several other senior executive roles at Cisco, including SVP and GM of the Mobility Business Group, Chief Architect for the Service Provider business, and SVP and GM of the Service Provider Routing Technology Group.

Richard van der Draay was in San Jose as a guest of NetEvents

Digital transformation is about people, not technology

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By Katja Forbes, emerging tech specialist and A/NZ MD of Sydney-based strategic design firm Designit.

The whole purpose for building technology in the first place is all about the human experience. That’s really what drives our need for digital transformation – it always has and it most probably always will. 

Technology is just one aspect, usually the largest, of what designers and engineers use when they create these solutions. Which is why I always stress that digital transformation is about people, not technology, no matter how it may be made out to appear. 

Understanding the intricacies of the technology itself is not necessary unless you are the relevant engineer yourself. Understanding the human experience behind the appropriate concept is key to appreciating our global and individual need for digital transformation.

Speaking of misunderstanding, we tend to imagine that digital transformation will just appear on our doorstep in a convenient little package and, upon unboxing, will immediately go ahead and change our lives. Unfortunately, that is not the case – how awesomely straight forward would that be! Digital transformation is more about people and behaviour, than it is actually about technology. 

Digital transformation is more about people and behaviour, than it is actually about technology. The ‘transformation’ part describes the changing of behaviour, and not the building of technology. Humans need to accept that the way we have always done something has caused a problem, and now this problem is under the microscope.

We need to change whatever we have always been doing, in conjunction with using this new piece of technology. If we don’t change what we have always been doing, the results won’t change either. If we want a different result, we all realise that we need to actually do something differently. The designer and their associated team have the job of convincing us to change our behaviour.  Once we start to behave differently utilising a purposely designed piece of technology, and receive desirable results, this is known as digital transformation. 

Before the tech wizards start to assemble, and the designers begin to evolve and create, the most important step is to discover where the transformation is required. This applies to every company and every industry or facet of life. And this discovery process cannot be undertaken without communicating with the human occupants.

In other words, experience designers need to firstly figure out whether their exciting new solution will be used in the anticipated way, before they jump in there and enforce this latest transformation. That means they need to communicate directly with those who are impacted – if not face to face or by email, then market research.

Designers need to determine what exactly the problem is or could potentially be, and how these people feel it could potentially be resolved.  Once a particular solution has been suggested, this again needs to be communicated to the humans who will be affected. Research has shown time and again that if those who are affected by the transformation are behind it from the beginning, then they will actually use it.

If, on the other hand, it’s just thrust upon them with no prior warning, if they are not given a voice, they won’t bother to evolve. Humans like to feel engaged and involved in the process. Humans especially like to feel empowered. As digital transformation is all about people, the purpose should be about finding a solution and empowering people to be part of enforcing the transformation, rather than it all just happening to them.

It is a shame that so many are wary of digital technology, assuming that if they are not a tech whiz, then it’s not something for them. Digital transformation is for all of us. It involves all of us, belongs to us and empowers us. It gives us a voice and communicates with us.

There is nothing more isolating than being left behind on each wave of digital transformation. The first step in avoiding that from happening is to realise that digital transformation is all about people, and nothing about technology.

Katja Forbes is an Australian pioneer in the field of experience design including research, emerging technology as well as service design, customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX). As Managing Director of DesignIt, Australia & New Zealand, Forbes works with ambitious brands to create high-impact products, services, systems and spaces. She is also International Director on the Global Board of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). In 2014, Forbes founded Syfte, a specialist research and experience design firm which was acquired by Wipro in 2018. Forbes: “One of my personal motivations is to inspire other women, especially in this industry, to reach toward their definition of professional success.”

Is there a future for Edge Data Centres? 

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By Blue IoT Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Bob Sharon

For those of us that have been around I.T. for a long time, it wouldn’t take much to hark back to the old days when it all started from centralised computing, “The big mainframes”.

With the innovation of desktop PCs, we migrated to decentralised computing and then client server architectures appeared, thin clients, centralised computing again and so forth.

Network traffic will continue to change shape as new technologies place new demands on existing networks. This means that infrastructure and our approach to it must adapt accordingly. Edge data centres bring lower latency and higher bandwidth to towns and cities, away from the core’s of the networks. Therefore, increasing the number of edge data centres could be a way to meet these demands.

Below we look at some of the key challenges we face and how the edge can help. Gartner goes so far as to say that data centres are “Toast”. Gartner maintains that “80% of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centers by 2025, compared to just 10% today.” 

Joshua Au Head (Data Centre) Information Technology Shared Services :: Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore state, “We are living in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. That makes it all the harder to predict the future, but I think the stakeholders (including policy makers and consumers) would do well to be more deliberate and strategic to talk about how to shape the direction edge compute is headed”. 

Seagate Technology’s Rags Srinivasan says “The rise of edge computing could see the advent of a rapidly growing array of smaller data centers built closer to population centers.” 

The internet of things (IoT) ecosystem of devices that add sensors and other capabilities to objects continues to grow exponentially. Smart Cities which is predominantly based on IoT is forecast to be worth $2.57 Trillion by Grand View Research.

IoT is exploding all around us and will required multitudes of edge compute power while central compute power will be required to conduct the macro analytics across all the industry sectors. With everything from cars to temperature sensors sending data across the network, the requirements for processing this data close to the source are increasing exponentially. 

Edge data centres can will increase performance while reducing the amount of data transiting networks. Both colocation and managed service providers offers fast and scalable provision for IoT providers, which is one reason that new data centres with smaller footprints are opening up around the network edge. 

As the industry 4.0 expands and grows, Big Data and connectivity are becoming more crucial to business success. However, industrial sites are often located far from the network edge, making latency an issue for connected machinery and systems. 

Bevan Slattery – Founder & Executive Director of Superloop says that Edge data centres will proliferate and increase the points of interconnect and deliver services to the last mile very much like the telephone exchanges of old. 

Mark Thiele – Director Engineering, Edge Computing, Ericsson USA says that the Edge market, not just an example of edge computing or edge cloud is on the precipice of creating 10s of 1000s of new business models and use cases for technology.

We will need data centers that are like ATMs (Cash Machines) that are just stuck in the corner of a building and we’ll need data centers in Central Offices and in Cell Towers and we’ll even need more of the hyperscale data centers. Data center builders will need to consider the ramifications of greater numbers of smaller DCs distributed over a wide area and what that means to efficiency and automation. 

James Braunegg, Managing Director Micron 21 says “The nascent IoT and 5G space has garnered a lot of debate on the role of Data Centres with a proposed shift in compute away from central services to edge devices as data will need to be processed and produced locally. While the latter is true, we doubt we will see a shift but rather a complimentary increase in compute and data.

There are two major factors that need to considered that play to the strengths of Data Centres. Firstly, individual data sources provide limited information, and a lot of them produce noise. The aggregation and summation of disparate data sets provides information and meaning.

This requires a convergent point that logically sits at a Data Centre where hosted AI and machine learning tools leverage the economies of centralised resources and data throughput. Secondly, the plethora of different IoT standards and the pace of change creates a hotbed of security concerns. 

Edge Computing and data centres are indeed a hot topic and will remain so for some time to come. It is the opinion of the author that Edge data centres will indeed grow dramatically in the coming years while hyperscale will slow down in growth and will remain constant for a period of time. After that, well that will require another long article. Watch this space. 

Winner of the 2019 Australian IoT Pioneer Award 2019, Blue IoT is a disruptive smart buildings and cities integration services firm who delivers substantial reductions in energy, maintenance and operational costs while improving,safety, security and human comfort in buildings and facilities of all kinds. In a nutshell, Blue IoT delivers smart and intelligent buildings and cities utilising a systems thinking approach and disruptive technologies.

Internet SD-WAN alone isn’t enough to power most organisations: Brennan IT

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Lyncoln de Mello, Head of Cloud, Networking & Infrastructure at Brennan IT

If you were to believe the news in the market lately, it would seem that pure Internet based Software Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) will be the solution to all of our problems, with some reports calling it ‘the most disruptive technology of 2019.’

In the same way, you’d also think that a 100 percent cloud-based organisation is the ideal model for most businesses.

The truth of the matter, however, is that whilst it might be in certain technology and service providers’ interests for you to believe that both of these things are true, the reality is likely to be quite different. IT is still very much hybrid and now the network is evolving to match.

Innovation and the performance gap

Traditional WANs haven’t been able to keep up with the pace of an increasingly Cloud SaaS and mobile workforce for some time; their cost vs. speed and centralised network architecture is not always ideal for the modern business IT environment and this can restrict innovation elsewhere in organisations.

Australian businesses will invest an average of AU$26 million in 2019 on transformational technologies, however, only 29 percent believe that they can cope with digital challenges. Not only that, just 20 percent of local organisations believe that they’re able to meet worker’s demand for constant connection to data and services, which is leading to more than AU$16.4 million in losses every year.

In the age of connectedness, your network up-time and performance can be the key to driving your organisation’s productivity. However, many businesses are still taking a piecemeal approach to networking, which is leading to difficulties with compatibility and causing performance issues which are directly impacting their workforces.

The most recent example of this is the rush to move to 100% cloud environments and adopt SD-WAN-only approaches to networking – the problem is, they’re not going to fix them and are causing other problems elsewhere.

Does SD-WAN live up to the hype?

The answer is both yes and no.

By 2020, the worldwide SD-WAN market for infrastructure and services will exceed AU$8.75 billion, with a 91 percent compound annual growth rate, according to IDC’s Worldwide SD-WAN Infrastructure Forecast for 2018–2022.

In reality, for all its benefits, SD-WAN only represents a fraction of the addressable issue. And as the complexity of applications and devices grows, and security becomes an increasing priority, SD-WAN over the Internet alone is simply not enough to power most organisations.

This is something organisations need to take into serious consideration, especially since SD-WAN expands a network’s attack surface, making it more vulnerable to cyber threats.

So what should organisations do?

A Hybrid Networking approach, utilising Secure Hybrid SD-WAN, is the elevated path that organisations should choose to not just improve where they are, but also to get the most out of their existing Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks and enhance security, control, performance, and value.

Hybrid Networking and Secure Hybrid SD-WAN

Hybrid Networking is a method of combining traditional MPLS infrastructure and internet connections with SD-WAN technology to create ‘Secure Hybrid SD-WAN’. This is an evolution of Hybrid WAN, which simply refers to using a mix of connections, such as public internet, private circuits, and cloud.

Too many people suffer from the misconception that the two are the same thing and that SD-WAN will replace MPLS – it won’t (or shouldn’t).

The difference is that SD-WAN is an overlay technology that uses software to create layers of network abstraction which can be used to run several independent, virtualised network layers over the underlying physical layer. MPLS, however, is an underlying technology that sits beneath the network infrastructure and provides connectivity.

When the two are combined, as in a Hybrid Networking model, they offer twice the benefit. MPLS allows organisations to implement affordable, high-speed connectivity into their network, combine it with multiple cost-effective internet connections, and then add SD-WAN to link them together and create one aggregate bandwidth.

john-schnobrich-yFbyvpEGHFQ-unsplashThrough SD-WAN technology, you can then direct individual application traffic to where it needs to go faster to increase performance, put in automated failover rules, enhance security, and get full visibility and control at each site of all network traffic. This can significantly reduce costs, cut complexity, and enhance speed across your entire network, not just the core.

Every business is different and so is their IT architecture and environment. Because of this, SD-WAN shouldn’t be applied as a blanket solution – it needs to be integrated with traditional network methods to receive its full benefit (and what it was actually designed for).

In taking a Hybrid Networking approach that utilises Secure Hybrid SD-WAN, organisations can maximise performance, minimise costs, and, in a connected world of business, help your workforce to achieve more.

Turbo charging collaboration in a cloud-first world

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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