There are a million reasons for businesses to improve their network bandwidth situation and only one real reason not to: It can be expensive. And, to be fair, that's a compelling motivation. The last time we checked, businesses still existed to make money, after all.
The problem is, the decision to stand pat can easily cost businesses on the other end. In the era of cloud technology, everyone needs an SD-WAN solution because they use more data — a fact that hits businesses harder than just about anyone, considering the need to serve their customers and provide their employees with the best tools. Even if the increased usage doesn't result in higher bills, a bogged-down network can lead to paralyzed workflows and irate customers, both of which equate to lost opportunities, decreased revenue, and increased costs.
To that end, network enhancement is the kind of must-do that only grows in importance as a business evolves and expands its reach. This is where SD-WAN can be particularly useful.
The Data Needs of Digital Communications
Digital communications products work well as an example here not because they're bandwidth-hungry — in reality, they're highly optimized — but because they're extremely prevalent. From placing a VoIP call to engaging in a video conference to sending rideshare drivers a message via the service's app, communication is a cornerstone of everything devices do. Accordingly, business networks must have instances of real-time communication active at any given time.
The key term here is real-time. Unlike a website, a phone call or video conference's data must come through in one precise sequence. When poor network bandwidth causes packets to come late or out of order, issues like jitter and lag occur, both of which can impact call quality.
Of course, real-time data comprises only a percentage of a business's bandwidth usage. Sensors, performance- and finance-monitoring systems, and countless other applications also contribute. In the end, this fact concerns nearly every category of data the organization transmits. Without the appropriate solutions in place, a given network has no way of telling which data is important, let alone which data is the most important. In this type of environment, the streaming TV series a staffer watches on lunch is every bit as important as an exec's video conference with a group of major shareholders.
An organization struggling to support communications over its existing network could see vastly improved voice and video quality without paying for more bandwidth.
How SD-WAN for UCaaS Can Help
Businesses have historically hedged the enhanced need for bandwidth by purchasing private circuits with stipulated uptime and voice and video quality requirements. Though safer than mass-market products in terms of uptime and quality, this move has financial pitfalls. It's considerably more expensive than public internet products, and the costs only scale as the amount of bandwidth used does.
A competent SD-WAN for UCaaS product can help with all these needs. By providing higher-quality digital communication while simultaneously requiring fewer performance guarantees from the network, the technology allows organizations to make more efficient use of their existing network. For instance, an organization struggling to support communications over its existing network could see vastly improved voice and video quality without paying for more bandwidth, while the company with a sudden data surplus could consider moving to a lower package.
At a high level, an ideal SD-WAN solution helps organizations in a few ways:
- Prioritization and per-packet prioritization: SD-WAN products can tell the difference between communications data streams and others, and then provide appropriate levels of network bandwidth depending on needs. Thus, the exec's call to shareholders and the staffer's TV break each get their appropriate amount of attention.
- Combined data streams: An SD-WAN solution "groups" all bandwidth sources serving a location into a single pipe and searches each to give real-time communications the best possible path. A business deploying a combination of private circuit and public broadband connections ensures they always get the most out of their available options by utilizing the technology.
- Smart failover: If a single data source goes out, the SD-WAN solution seamlessly moves real-time communications to the next best path — no more delays or dropped calls as employees manually move their communications from one source to the next.
The company paying for a costly private circuit could potentially get by on a public broadband connection and LTE failover, with no need for panic when one option or the other suffers a temporary outage. More, the technology allows businesses to save in other ways. By potentially eliminating the need for dedicated firewall and routing appliances, a company could further reduce its per-location startup and maintenance costs.
The point: SD-WAN greatly reduces bandwidth concerns related to real-time communications. Considering the average business's reliance on cloud-based voice and video conferencing — in all their different formats — the timing couldn't be better. Why struggle with an overloaded pipe when a better option's available?