UCaaS is Better with SD-WAN: Here’s Why

UCaaS is Better with SD-WAN: Here’s Why

UCaaS represents one of the fastest-growing and most popular technology investments in the digital landscape. Powering flexible, resilient, and consistent conversations between business users around the world, UCaaS allows companies to prepare for virtually UC need.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the market for UCaaS is set to grow at a rate of 13.4% up to the year of 2028, accelerating to a value of around $69.93 billion. Since the pandemic, demand for this landscape has only continued to grow, as companies recognize the need for agile, flexible, cloud-based technology.

However, as UCaaS continues to gain popularity, so too does the desire to pair this new technology with the right underlying network infrastructure. After all, your communications strategy is only as good as the technology responsible for powering your connections.

Enter SD-WAN.

Software-Defined Wide Area Networking, or SD-WAN is the technology rapidly gaining attention as perhaps one of the most important accompanying tools for UCaaS. With SD-WAN, companies can easily upgrade the reliability, performance, and security of their UCaaS investment.

Here’s why UCaaS and SD-WAN are better together.

The Rise of UCaaS and SD-WAN Technologies

According to Frost and Sullivan, around 85% of companies have now moved either part or all of their communications into the cloud. Additionally, approximately 51% of organizations have moved part or all of their telephony strategy into the cloud. Clearly, the demand for flexible solutions like Unified Communications as a Service is growing.

While interest in UCaaS has been increasing for some time, the need for such technology has become increasingly evident in the last couple of years, with the rise of the pandemic. As lockdowns and restrictions have pushed companies into new modes of hybrid and flexible working, UCaaS has emerged as a solution to keep teams connected and productive.

Ultimately, UCaaS and cloud-based communication services are becoming a no-brainer for business leaders, thanks to benefits like:

  • Scalability: UCaaS can scale easily up or down to suit your needs, new trends in the marketplace, and your budgetary restrictions. It’s ideal for both small to mid-sized businesses, and much larger enterprise companies.
  • Easy manageability: Day-to-day management, including the integration of mobile devices, BYOD and other tools is simple. You can even use zero-touch provisioning to deliver communication functionality quickly and easily to team members.
  • Cost reductions: UCaaS requires very little upfront investment, and usually costs less to maintain and manage than a traditional communications kit.
  • Innovation: UCaaS ensures companies can access the latest in communication tools, from AI and automation to innovative collaborative tools easily.
  • Business continuity: With UC delivered over the cloud, it’s possible to enable and empower team members in any environment, even if they’re not present in the office.

Despite all of these advantages (and more), UCaaS on its own isn’t always a perfect solution. Many systems rely on MPLS, or PBX solutions used somewhat inefficiently to move packets of information to various locations before they reach their intended destinations.

While all of this movement, only takes milliseconds, even the smallest amount of lag can become significantly problematic with real-time communications like voice and video calling. Software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN is quickly gaining speed as an essential technology to improve the quality of the connections in today’s cloud-based world.

How Does SD-WAN Improve UCaaS?

SD-WAN is a virtual alternative to the old-fashioned and clunky WAN infrastructure most companies are used to. Built for the age of cloud-based technology like UCaaS, SD-WAN is emerging as one of the most important cloud technologies in the world. According to a report from Markets and Markets, the landscape will reach a value of around $8.4 billion by 2025.

When it comes to cloud-based solutions like UCaaS, having the ability to actually control your traffic is crucial. Video and voice can easily be impacted by all kinds of issues, from packet loss, to delays and jitter. However, traditional WAN solutions don’t treat different kinds of data in your communication ecosystem differently.

With old-fashioned solutions (not using SD-WAN), all forms of data move through the network at the same speed, with the same share of bandwidth. However, while you might not notice network lag with instant messaging and chat, you’ll definitely notice the impact on your video and voice communications. This means you need to prioritize the most significant real-time communications before anything else.

In general, SD-WAN helps to streamline activities in your communications network by routing data through the organization’s infrastructure in the most efficient manner. SD-WAN automatically finds the path of least resistance for the traffic which requires the most bandwidth. You can even access various tools which allow you to control the way data moves through your organization.

SD-WAN solutions can also automatically differentiate network traffic, prioritizing real-time videoconferencing and other live activities so they can have more bandwidth for crisp and clear communications. All the while, non-essential activities are routed to low-priority pathways.

SD-WAN also allows you to expand your unified communications to more locations in a cost-effective manner. For instance, if a company has hundreds of sites, IT can reduce the costs of deploying UC to these locations in half with SD-WAN using broadband circuits, instead of MPLS.

The Benefits of SD-WAN with UCaaS

With SD-WAN architecture forming the foundation of your network strategy, UCaaS becomes more accessible and flexible. The architecture can be fully managed by a service provider, and enhanced according to your specific needs. Even if you need to extend your services to a new business or location, SD-WAN allows for zero-touch provisioning to get everything up and running quickly.

Moving unified communications into the cloud has become an essential part of any digital transformation strategy for the majority of brands. However, this transition creates an interesting and complex scenario, where voice is treated as the same as any other kind of data.

SD-WAN bypasses this one-size-fits-all approach, to enhance quality of service, applying technical architecture parameters which allow companies to control the flow of bandwidth.

The most significant benefits of SD-WAN for UCaaS include:

Better Routing
First and foremost, SD-WAN addresses the common issues which contribute to significant problems in the modern UCaaS environment, like packet loss, jitter, and latency. By deploying dynamic traffic management across multiple network links in real-time, SD-WAN improves routing for everyone. Some SD-WAN solutions also allow for providing both redundancy and quality of service improvements to networks, improving the quality of an organization’s communications.

Improved reliability
SD-WAN can be a powerful tool for bringing more reliability into your communication stack. In most cases, the technology comes with an abundant failover strategy built-in, with multiple networks to choose from if one connection fails to work correctly.

For instance, a company struggling with its standard WAN connection at a branch location could automatically move over to a broadband line to manage internal data, then switch back later. If a link fails, it’s possible to get everything back on track almost immediately, reducing the risk of downtime.

Enhanced Security
SD-WAN can support the improved security of UC solutions in a variety of different ways, including with the use of WAN segmentation. This basically means you can disconnect various points of connection in your business, minimizing the outcomes of various cyberattacks targeted on UC systems.

Isolating traffic by application makes it harder for certain threats to damage core applications. Some companies are also beginning to offer upgraded SD-WAN solutions known as “SASE”, which combine SD-WAN functionality with further security solutions and protection.

Greater Network Monitoring
Keeping track of all the various connection points in your business would be practically impossible with the right technology. SD-WAN provides a central controllable environment for managing all of your connections, and ensuring you get the right quality of communication service where you need it most. There are even tools that can automate this process for you.

SD-WAN technology can consistently search for the best path to enable real-time communication data to transition through the workplace as efficiently as possible. If you choose a managed service approach to SD-WAN, your provider can also help you boost the quality of your network too.

Aside from making sure you get a better quality of service from your communication strategy, SD-WAN can also assist with compliance requirements. Because you have more control over how your communications move through the network, you’re more likely to be able to adhere to the latest guidelines and regulations for your industry.

With specialist managed service provider solutions, you can also create customized SD-WAN strategies based around requirements from regulations like PCI and HIPAA.

Finally, one of the major benefits of SD-WAN is the same as one of the most significant benefits of UCaaS: Scalability. Because you have more control over your communications architecture, you can also add other cloud-based solutions and connect new locations to your ecosystem with ease.

In an old-fashioned communication environment, adding or integrating new solutions into a network environment would usually be expensive and inefficient. With SD-WAN, you can easily expand your ecosystem whenever and however you choose, leveraging the assistance of your provider.

How Can You Bundle UCaaS and SD-WAN?

Until recently, companies have been struggling to find the right solution to bundle all of their voice, video, and data requirements into the cloud for flexibility and scalability. Using the traditional public internet hasn’t always been the most secure or reliable solution in the past. Fortunately, SD-WAN offers a reliable and resilient alternative.

SD-WAN enables a multitude of benefits and protections for multiple modes of connectivity in the communication landscape. With SD-WAN, companies can access a wide range of different MPLS and broadband circuits, as well as 4G and 5G connections for their mobile employees.

As the shift to the cloud takes over the digital transformation initiatives of companies in countless industries worldwide, the bundling of SD-WAN and UCaaS is becoming increasingly common. In the past, you might have had to purchase your UCaaS and SD-WAN solutions separately and hope the two providers you were working with were capable of working efficiently together.

Now, many UCaaS providers are beginning to look at ways for bringing SD-WAN into their service as part of the underlying experience. This means you can access more of the network connectivity you need from the same company managing your communication strategy. You could even enhance your communication solution even further by combining UCaaS with Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) technologies, and enabling them both via SD-WAN.

Like with UCaaS, SDWAN can also help companies to upgrade their contact centre interactions by adapting the way crucial communications data is moved through multiple environments in the digital world. This could even help you to strengthen your customer experience strategy and improve your chances of attracting more loyal customers to your brand.

Keep in mind, when shifting your UCaaS environment into an SD-WAN network environment, you’ll generally have a range of service options to choose from. Depending on the number of technical experts you have in-house, you may want to consider looking into managed service options if you don’t have time to configure and track your SD-WAN yourself.

What’s Next for UCaaS and SD-WAN?

As more companies continue to discover the benefits of SD-WAN and UCaaS blended together, it’s likely that the demand for this bundle will continue to grow. Companies in the UCaaS and networking space are already beginning to work together more often to produce more comprehensive solutions for communication in the new age of cloud and hybrid work.

Moving into the future, we may also see other solutions being bundled in alongside UCaaS and SD-WAN, such as access to CCaaS technology or CPaaS customization. Alternatively, there may be a higher demand for SASE solutions to replace and enhance the SD-WAN environment. SASE, OR Secure Access Network Edge offerings would bring an extra layer of security and more application controls to you upgraded UCaaS environment.

Want to learn more about SD-WAN and UCaaS? Connect with the team at UC Advisor today for help finding your ideal communication infrastructure.

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