Unified Communications Featured Article

Want a Better UC Environment? Look Into SD-WAN Systems

July 19, 2016

The benefits of unified communications (UC) are well known by now, and many firms have taken advantage of UC's benefits to improve collaboration and even reduce expenses in some cases. With the systems now well in place, and their use now a necessity rather than an edge, some are looking for ways to improve these systems and get that edge back. The answer may lie in a different, though complementary, technology: software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) systems.

While the good news of the situation is that employees won't resist a move to UC systems, the bad news is that these systems are actually so desirable that those firms that don't already have the systems in place will find employees resorting to shadow IT—unofficial information technology (IT) operations—to bring such tools into the office. This can hurt an organization; shadow IT can mean big money in licensing fees that aren't properly factored in as well as security risks from improperly vetted products.

This is where SD-WAN can be particularly helpful. Using SD-WAN properly means that businesses can keep an appropriately tight grip on IT activity, while still opening up the floor for individual employees to get the most out of a user experience with cloud-based systems, like UC. Using both public and private links becomes a lot easier on an SD-WAN system, as it reduces operational expenses and the long deployment times often seen with multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links. SD-WAN can lower these expenses while also improving deployment times.

Better yet, with SD-WAN, the various network planes—control, data, and orchestration—are more readily separated, allowing for not only better security policy, but also an improved quality of experience (QoE). There's also a substantial drop in costs, both in capital expense (CAPEX) as the necessary hardware to run these systems drops, but also in operational expense (OPEX) as SD-WAN allows for traffic prioritization, which allows some traffic to be routed over cheaper systems.

Finally, simplification kicks in to provide further value, with zero-touch deployment systems possible and further insertion of services later on also a clear possibility. Further optimization of performance can follow, making a system better for SD-WAN's inclusion and more valuable overall.

We see, therefore, that with the use of SD-WAN, it's not only easier to bring in UC systems, but such systems can be managed in a more profitable fashion that allows for better connectivity—along with the chance of better revenue generation thanks to improved collaboration on new products and services—and in a fashion that lowers expenses. That's a winning combination by most any standards, and supplying tools that employees want to use that can make business better as a result is a hard proposition to pass up.

UC alone can make for big improvements, and also some big risks if done improperly. Adding SD-WAN to the picture improves it greatly, and makes it that much easier to add a powerful new technology.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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