What to Look for in an SD-WAN Solution for UCaaS: 4 Factors for Consideration

At its core, SD-WAN for UCaaS is all about quality and efficiency. The technology routes and prioritizes data over a business's data networks — including private circuits, commercial broadband lines, and even 4G LTE connections — to ensure better communication quality. For instance, a location "stuck" with a commercial broadband account may be able to migrate to cloud-based communication options with the efficiencies this exciting SD-WAN solution introduces, all without jitter or other telltale signs of ineffective use of bandwidth.

A woman using a telephone in an office.
An SD-WAN solution can help your business get the most out of cloud communications.

Further, though it may be a new technology, there are plenty of differentiators out there on the market. Because of this, taking the time to choose the correct combination of features is one of the smartest moves a company considering the technology can make. At a minimum, be on the lookout for the four following features:

1. Firewall and Encryption Services

In the business world, regulations often lead to the purchase of third-party firewall appliances, not to mention the added human efforts that come with managing these tools.

Thus, any service that provides protection at the application layer carries value all its own. The app-layer firewall provides administrators with a greater level of control over network protection activities, including the ability to directly authenticate internal users from the firewall itself.

A built-in app-level firewall also appeals to the interlinked benefits of cost, simplicity, and administrative efficiency. Having this capability out of the box could conceivably save the organization from purchasing and maintaining a separate firewall appliance, reducing costs (especially in growing organizations), and eliminating points of failure from the company's larger scheme. Meanwhile, having a single point of contact for routing, firewall, and communications questions and concerns reduces hassle from IT to accounting and beyond.

Many of the same high-level ideas apply to encryption. Whether it's mandated by law in your industry or simply a best practice, choosing a provider that encrypts your voice and video communications provides an inherent measure of simplicity and keeps sensitive data from reaching the wrong eyes or ears. That it's an added part of an SD-WAN solution that already provides so much is just icing on the cake.

2. Cost-Reduction and Data-Efficiency Capabilities

Video communication uses a tremendous amount of data and requires a degree of prioritization and specialized handling to perform well over a given network. Many businesses have moved their video and voice capabilities — along with countless other mission-critical apps and services — to the cloud. By using the cloud with SD-WAN technology, businesses get the best of both worlds: quality communications with fewer expenses.

A competent SD-WAN solution for UCaaS helps address this issue in numerous ways, solving more than a few secondary concerns in the process. This leads to the idea of data prioritization. Because real-time communications require preferential treatment on the network for the best possible results, the SD-WAN for UCaaS provider you choose should offer a product that does the sorting automatically. In other words, the employee watching a company YouTube video should not see better-quality bandwidth than the one engaged in a teleconference with a client.

Further, this prioritization should be far from a minor feature. If you're already holding voice and video telephony over a private circuit or third-party business broadband, there's a good chance it has a significant impact on your data usage, and thus, data costs. Choosing the right SD-WAN solution for UCaaS, then, can effect major savings per every location using IP communication. Even if you don't trim down your current package, the worst-case scenario — if you can truly call it "worst" — is vastly improved data efficiency. Upon implementing SD-WAN for UCaaS, the company could allocate bandwidth to other important causes without encumbering itself with higher data costs.

3. Real-Time Monitoring

Turning back to the topic of firewalls, they are a great example of SD-WAN for UCaaS's more-for-less value proposition. For example, if a company purchases a quality-of-service product, it gets a secondary feature with numerous benefits all its own — there's no longer a need to purchase separate firewall appliances at new locations.

It's the same story for SD-WAN for UCaaS products with built-in bandwidth monitoring. Companies using third-party broadband may have limited insight into the specifics of their usage without specialized tools or services. On the other hand, a capable SD-WAN solution brings numerous communication-quality benefits, plus the ability to monitor. Getting a better grasp on usage can enable the company to create and enforce better policy, improve efficiency, and generally gain improved insight into day-to-day broadband activity, all without the need for extra appliances — an "icing" feature that provides far too much value for a simple cake metaphor.

4. Single-Provider Accountability

Juggling communication providers across multiple geographical regions can be a monumental chore. For distributed organizations facing this challenge as a matter of course, even simple problems can become a tangled web of finger-pointing, false promises, and confusion so dense it gives even the most stalwart phone-jockey a panic attack every time the line jitters.

In other words, distributed organizations should always look for an SD-WAN for UCaaS provider with a broad selection of communication products and broad regional reach. This makes finding answers, solving problems, and identifying causes easier than you might have imagined possible. Billing questions, technical concerns, and numerous other interactions with your providers becomes a single point of contact with a singular entity — and if you've ever jumped on the not-my-fault circuit between two competing regional communications businesses, you know just how important that simplicity is.

Consider the difference simplicity, cost-effective quality, monitoring, and encryption could make for your business.

Do you want to learn more about what SD-WAN can do for your business communications? Connect with a Vonage Business representative.

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