Whatever has prompted you to look for a cloud-hosted phone system, also called unified communications as a service or UCaaS, there are several puzzle pieces you must fit together for a successful deployment.
This includes obvious pieces, such as determining which vendor you’ll go with, how you’ll connect to dial tone, and the right license tier for your users.
Each of those is a critical decision for the functionality of your cloud-hosted phones.
However, you mustn’t forget to evaluate the background components that will power your new UCaaS solution.
At The KR Group, our team evaluates your network and infrastructure during a cloud-collaboration readiness assessment. This shows us any areas in your IT environment needing upgrades before you deploy a cloud-hosted phone system
One of the areas that we’ve seen come up increasingly more often is SD-WAN.
Short for software-defined wide area network, SD-WAN is a network architecture that allows you to set rules on how traffic is routed between two or more circuits within your organization.
But what does this have to do with a UCaaS deployment? We’re glad you asked!
Here are a few reasons your IT consultant may recommend implementing SD-WAN in conjunction with your cloud-hosted phone system:
- Voice and audio data are sensitive
- SD-WAN can efficiently route multiple connections
- Redundancy is streamlined
- You can address other needs
On their own, cloud-hosted collaboration and SD-WAN can improve your business’s communication and networking abilities. When used together, you can leverage both technologies to their optimal capacities.
Voice and Audio Are Sensitive
Every time you send an email, browse a website, or make IP calls, you send and receive data over the internet.
Occasionally, you might notice lag or delay in receiving these packets. This is often apparent when your web browser takes longer than normal to load or you have to refresh your inbox several times to load.
While both of those examples are inconvenient, when issues happen with your voice or video internet, the symptoms are more severe.
Jitter can occur when your internet connection is unstable and has lots of speed fluctuations. As a result, the audio will sound choppy, like a bad cellular call or an old speakerphone.
The other problem is latency, a lag between sending and receiving data. This is especially noticeable in video calls when you can see a person’s movement and audio don’t line up.
To avoid these issues, you’ll need to prioritize voice data in your network, which you can do with a good SD-WAN solution.
SD-WAN can create an “express lane” for your UCaaS data, so your network will direct this type of data in the most streamlined route. Meanwhile, if you have an overwhelming amount of competing data, your SD-WAN will direct other types of data through less efficient routes.
When done properly, this means your audio and video data should be clear over your network, but your email may be a bit slower to load during times of heavy traffic.
SD-WAN Can Efficiently Route Multiple Connections
You can also configure policies to have your SD-WAN solution route the traffic across multiple internet connections.
This feature, called load balancing, allows your network to intelligently route traffic across your connections. Plus, you get to decide what traffic types — voice and video, for example — you’ll prioritize. As a result, you give all internet traffic optimal routes across all your internet connections.
You may hear this outcome referred to as quality of service. Your SD-WAN analyzes the types of traffic sent over your network, then evaluates the best route based on what you’ve designated as a high priority.
Redundancy Is Streamlined
Any area of your network that represents a single point of failure has the potential to halt part or all of a company’s production. Redundancy is the antidote.
When you have multiple internet connections, you can withstand an outage because you have a back-up or secondary connection. However, there are still variables in redundancy, such as how fast your other internet connection picks up the traffic from your primary circuit.
One of the most efficient ways to do this is by implementing SD-WAN. With the solution’s capabilities for traffic prioritization and load balancing enable redundancy, your network can quickly respond to an internet outage. This may cause a slight interruption for your users, but it is still much more streamlined than manually configuring the failover of your network’s traffic from one circuit to another.
SD-WAN Also Meets Miscellaneous Needs
There are undoubtedly many other ways SD-WAN can benefit your UCaaS deployment.
Take your dial tone, for example. With many cloud-hosted collaboration solutions, you can choose to receive dial tone from the cloud or continue using a SIP trunk. By choosing the latter, you’ll have additional network traffic to consider when routing.
Of course, you may also find different network traffic variables based on your organization’s specific actions.
Planning Your UCaaS Deployment
The good news is you don’t have to be alone setting up SD-WAN rules and finding the ideal cloud-hosted collaboration
Working with an IT consultant or VAR (value-added reseller), you can look for specific advantages available with different UCaaS vendors and set up SD-WAN to meet your organization’s needs. This includes prioritizing voice and audio data, routing multiple connections, incorporating redundancy, and more.
At The KR Group, the first step we take to address your UCaaS and SD-WAN requirements are a readiness assessment. This looks at what you currently do for our business phones (and network) and creates a plan to ensure a successful UCaaS deployment.
You can learn more about this process with this free timeline for a UCaaS deployment. It goes through the various phases involved in a cloud-collaboration deployment and will help you prepare for signing up for the solution.