At this point, there are a million reasons for your business to improve its network bandwidth situation and only one real reason not to: It's expensive. And, to be fair, that's a compelling reason. The last time we checked, businesses still existed to make money, after all.
The problem is, your decision to stand pat could very soon cause you to lose money on the other end. Everyone's using more data these days, and businesses are no exception. Even if your increased usage doesn't result in higher bills, the downtime that comes with a bogged-down network can manifest as increased costs and lost opportunities in countless ways. Dropped calls, paralyzed workflows, and irate customers are nothing to sneeze at.
To put it another way, now's the time to explore the possibility of enhancing your network. You can start by considering a few common bandwidth chewers and exploring some solutions to your growing data needs.
The Data Needs of Digital Communications
More businesses than ever are moving to cloud-based communications, and not just email. If your organization hasn't moved to this manner of voice and video conferencing, it's likely only a matter of time. Digital communications services offer too much utility, flexibility, and value to ignore, and that's before considering the business-enabling capabilities that solutions such as unified communications (UC) bring to the table.
However, advancement and innovation don't come without costs, or at least a need for change. Moving communications to cloud-based systems can mean putting significant demand on your network, and it goes beyond a simple need for more bandwidth. Even simple interactions such as phone calls require a robust, real-time stream of data. Without the right level of prioritization and preparation, most networks treat communications like any other data need, which can result in problematic outcomes such as brownouts and poor voice and video quality.
The Age of Cloud Everything
Further, the digital communications-bred need for increased network bandwidth is ultimately a symptom of larger business-world trends. These days, organizations everywhere are moving a growing number of tools, solutions, and processes to the cloud. As with any significant shift in business practice, this widespread migration comes with new needs to address and considerations to make.
First, let's look at the upsides. "Cloudification" means easier administration, increased access, more efficient workflows, and numerous other upsides that make continued cloud integration a leading goal for both large and small businesses. It enables and/or powers everything from single sign-on systems to work-from-home setups, makes enhanced mobility possible, and touches basic workflows and business-critical operations alike. Whether you're editing a document with a colleague in real-time or pitching your latest and greatest to your longstanding client, cloud technology undoubtedly plays an important role.
Now for the possible drawbacks. The backbone making all these wonderful things possible isn't the same as the old days, when internal networks provided the backbone for internal activity. Increased reliance on cloud tools means increased reliance on a connection to the outside world (such as your internet connection), even for "inside" work. Though many cloud-based solutions come with various backup mechanisms for this purpose, and though a smart incident response plan provides workplaces with alternative procedures, this means an outage could have the potential to disrupt workflows, however temporarily.
How SD-WAN for UCaaS Can Help
Of course, it also goes without saying that businesses, as a rule, tend to be risk-averse. If the cons of digital communications or cloud-hosted everything outweighed the pros, organizations wouldn't flock to both the way that they are.
Instead, businesses have historically hedged their bets against the enhanced need for bandwidth by purchasing private circuits with stipulated uptime and voice- and video-quality requirements. And though it's safer than the alternative in terms of uptime and quality, this move has financial pitfalls all its own. It's considerably more expensive than public internet products, and the costs only scale as the number of businesses connected to the circuit do.
A competent SD-WAN for UCaaS product can help with all these needs. By doing more with less — in other words, providing higher-quality digital communication while simultaneously requiring fewer performance guarantees from the network — the technology frees up organizations to make more efficient use of their existing network resources. 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, or off the private circuit altogether.
Prioritization and per-packet prioritization are key here. Smart SD-WAN for UCaaS solutions can tell the difference between communications data streams and others, then provide appropriate levels of network bandwidth depending on needs. This also aligns with the technology's focus on smart failover: It constantly searches all available connections for the best possible path, making the business's overall bandwidth use smarter and more efficient. The company paying in the high hundreds per month, per location for a 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.
And that's just the high-level view of UCaas and SD-WAN’s bandwidth saving capabilities. Private circuit is no longer the be-all and end-all reaction to ballooning bandwidth needs. Like most technological concerns businesses face, ignoring the problem only makes it harder to deal with when it becomes impossible to ignore. If you're staring down an inadequate network, it's time to roll up your sleeves and find a way to make the network match the need. Your customers, employees, and organization at large deserve it.
Is your network ready for an upgrade? Our SD-WAN solution is now available for small and mid-sized businesses using the Vonage Business Cloud.