Managed Over the Top (OTT) Explained

Managed OTT (over the top)

Reliable network connectivity is consistently at the top of the list of requirements for any IT professional. More and more companies are moving to hosted unified communications and other cloud services, and the performance of those services is highly dependent on the speed and quality of the Internet connection. There are many connectivity options out there, but the one that businesses are increasingly turning to is Over the Top (OTT).

What is OTT?

In an OTT set up, a business contracts for Internet services with their choice of provider, which is often the Internet connection they already had.  Then, they use a separate provider to deliver their cloud services over that broadband connection.  This is similar to “cutting the cord” for your home entertainment, where you use your existing cable provider for Internet access, then stream your movies or TV shows from an app instead of watching the cable provider’s content.

OTT provides you the flexibility of choosing your own Internet Service Provider (ISP) to meet your unique business requirements. It allows you to have more control over your network configuration and reduce costs, which can be especially beneficial for small to mid-sized businesses.

The QoS Quandary

Although OTT is a flexible and cost-effective solution, it may also come with some challenges that your business should be prepared to address.

If your voice service provider can’t control your Internet connection, it is unable to control the Quality of Service (QoS). QoS criteria give priority to specific types of network traffic (such as voice or video), specific applications, or even types of users (such as employees vs. guests). Using an OTT connection means your voice provider can’t guarantee QoS for voice traffic, which may hinder the real-time communication of a phone call. This can cause jitter and latency, both of which can impact audio quality:

  • Jitter is an inconsistent arrival of data between two endpoints. Because the information (voice) is divided into packets, each packet can travel by a different path from the sender to the receiver. When packets arrive at their intended destination in a different order than they were originally sent, the result is a call with poor or scrambled audio.
  • Latency is the time it takes a data packet to travel from point to point on the network. Each step your voice traffic takes through the network will add to its latency. High latency will cause an echo or unnatural delays in an audio conversation.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could use an OTT connection but still prioritize the voice traffic? You can…

OTT with Managed SD-WAN for Better Broadband

Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) enables businesses to build high-performance WANs using relatively low-cost and commercially available broadband Internet links.   For example, a business with a remote office may have to spend thousands of dollars in construction charges to get fiber to their location.  Instead, that business can use the existing cable Internet service from their existing ISP without fear of quality issues.  The SD-WAN network makes the most of these links by providing businesses with end-to-end application performance and availability.

Managed SD-WAN is a powerful solution for companies who use their own broadband.   SD-WAN manages your connection and ensures your voice and video have the right amount of bandwidth, without compromising QoS or continuity.   Let’s take a look at some key features:

  • Optimum network usage — Use the most optimum network at all times.  SD-WAN will select between available network connections, using the “best” transport for a given application.
  • Security — Encrypted connectivity secures traffic while it’s in transit across any connection.
  • Flexibility — Scale bandwidth up or down on a moment’s notice. Redistribute bandwidth to accommodate flash conditions or new applications. The SD-WAN controls the allocation of bandwidth, not the carrier. Therefore, you can ensure that critical applications such as VoIP receive the bandwidth they require when they need it.
  • Greatly reduced costs — Today, broadband Internet performance is often comparable to MPLS. In many cases, this eliminates the need for costly MPLS networks. Your Internet costs can be as much as 90 percent less!
  • Fast office moves or adds — Get a new office online in minutes, not the weeks and months that you’d have with MPLS or some Internet circuits.  Once installed, SD-WAN lets you perform moves, adds and changes in minutes.

A growing number of personal and business apps are eating through bandwidth at an unprecedented rate.  Protecting voice and video communications needs to be a priority, but it can present a major challenge for most network administrators.   Voice is the lifeline of any business and needs to have 100% availability and quality.  SD-WAN offers a simple, elegant solution that allocates network resources for all business-essential applications while also ensuring that your voice and video communications get the highest priority – and it does it all on the connection of your choice.

 

About the Author

Matt Mair is a Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at TPx.   His role includes marketing and communications for Managed SD-WAN, Unified Communications, and TPx Complete – an industry-first bundle of essential business services. Matt holds an MBA from Michigan State University’s Broad School of Business and resides in Los Angeles.