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What would you do if you couldn't get good water pressure in your home? You'd probably call a plumber or (if an apartment) the super, and ask that they take a look at the building infrastructure to see if there were any leaky pipes, blockages or other issues. Given how critical the situation would be, you wouldn't wait around enduring the inconvenience of not being able to bathe or even fill a glass with water to drink.
However, many organizations encounter similar emergencies with their wide area networks (WANs), yet take minimal action. Instead of low water pressure, the issue is unreliable service, usually from existing MPLS links. These connections buckle under the pressure of real-time applications like hosted VoIP and video conferencing, which demand much greater performance than standard TCP apps like chat, email and bulk file transfers. Jitter, latency and packet loss all accumulate and ultimately degrade the user experience.
It's the WAN equivalent of turning on the faucet in the morning and having nothing come out. The root causes are usually insufficient bandwidth and lack of intelligent prioritization of real-time traffic – two problems that are fully solvable with a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) from a provider like Telesystem.
As the name indicates, SD-WAN derives its power from a software layer, which sits between your underlying infrastructure and the services on top of it. This software performs a variety of tasks, with the most important being:
Indeed, the SD-WAN conversation is often conducted within the frame of "SD-WAN vs. MPLS," but there's much more to it than that. Yes, SD-WAN can be an alternative to MPLS, since it opens up new possibilities to incorporate scalable, economical and secure transport options including broadband, 4G LTE and satellite internet. But it can also be an enhancement to existing MPLS investment, even seemingly shaky ones that are the network equivalents of those low-pressure water fixtures we mentioned earlier.
That's because SD-WAN automates many of the essential functions of network connectivity and creates failsafes in case something ever threatens the performance of key apps. For example, if one MPLS link suddenly became congested, an SD-WAN solution could reroute VoIP calls to a different connection on-the-fly, MPLS or otherwise. There wouldn't be any noticeable drop off in the consistency of the VoIP experience, despite the complex machinations occurring behind the scenes.
Hosted VoIP solutions free you from the complex overhead and high costs of on-prem PBXes, so it only makes sense to support it with a new WAN that provides similar advantages vis-a-vis your existing network infrastructure. SD-WAN is far better suited than traditional WANs to supporting VoIP as well as other hosted and cloud services.
Whereas old-fashioned WANs – not unlike PBXes – take a lot to deploy and configure, an SD-WAN can be implemented and modified in much less time. Plus, SD-WAN strikes a much more practical balance between performance and security than is achievable on previous WANs. Instead of backhauling all cloud-bound traffic through a corporate data center (which incurs a significant performance penalty), an SD-WAN can deliver a secure direct-to-cloud connection.
All of this is good news for hosted VoIP implementations. With VoIP, you expect speed, quality and convenience, but none of these benefits are possible without a dynamic and responsive WAN. Fortunately, an SD-WAN provider will help you modernize your network so that your most important real-time apps can reliably draw upon an aggregated pool of bandwidth, with predictable performance regardless of the underlying transport in use.
Any discussion of SD-WAN can't go on long without mentioning VoIP, and for good reason: As we've seen, SD-WAN is like the plumbing infrastructure that allows for the "water" of VoIP to be delivered in line with user expectations.
Obtaining both solutions from the same provider ensures you have the best possible setup for performance, security and cost. Telesystem is a proven provider of SD-WAN, hosted VoIP, managed Wi-Fi and many other synergistic services. We'll help you find the right custom solution for your network requirements – reach out to us today, or check our network services page for more information!