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.
In the midst of the hectic work days we all experience, it can be a challenge to stay ahead of ever-changing technology. It’s time to get inspired and see what’s coming down the pike. Here are a few interesting industry news items that you may have missed in the commotion.
Is 2018 going to be “the” year for WebRTC?
A panel at this week’s Enterprise Connect conference posed that exact question. If you’ve ever used voice or video communication in a social media app, or if you’ve used the guest join feature of UCx, then you’ve already experienced WebRTC in action. But where else could WebRTC be applied? How about in healthcare, for a remote doctor’s visit or therapy session? Or in education, to create a virtual classroom? Check out this article on No Jitter to get the full scoop.
SD-WAN and security go hand-in-hand
When SD-WAN first started to hit the streets, most companies only thought about it as a network connectivity option. Now that they’re more comfortable with what SD-WAN can do, they’re realizing that it’s not a security concern – in fact, it enhances their existing network security infrastructure. Network World has more details on this revelation.
Enabling digital transformation with mobility
“Digital transformation” is more than a trending buzzword: it’s happening everywhere. When your plumber or electrician walks in to your house carrying an iPad, or when you pull up a store’s app while you’re out shopping, you’re experiencing digital transformation. When done correctly, digital transformation makes it very easy for a customer to interact with you – and mobile devices are the key to this paradigm shift. Read more on SearchMobileComputing.
What emerging technology is most inspiring to you? Do you have any other favorites that we haven’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author
Stacey Kendall is a Product Marketing Manager at TPx Communications. Her role is focused on marketing for TPx’s suite of Communications & Collaboration offerings, including the UCx Hosted Unified Communications Service and SmartVoice SIP Trunking. Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a specialization in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She resides in the greater Boston area.
Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) are in high demand, and for good reason. The flexibility inherent in a cloud-delivered SD-WAN offers businesses multiple answers to their specific networking needs, including Over The Top (OTT), a hybrid of broadband IP VPN and MPLS, or a fully broadband IP VPN. While there is no one right answer for all, today many businesses choose a hybrid architecture because of their investment in an existing MPLS infrastructure or because they are looking for an additional layer of redundancy. Increasingly, though, businesses are choosing to eliminate their dependency on MPLS and move to a full SD-WAN solution.
SD-WAN lets you route your high-value traffic over your best connections and send the rest over lower-cost links layered with quality of service (QoS) controls. In other words, you can optimize bandwidth and decrease dependency on more expensive MPLS links.
Because of these cost advantages, SD-WAN adoption is on fire. IDC estimates that worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 70 percent through 2021. That’s not a typo – it’s growing at seventy percent. MPLS, on the other hand, will grow at about four percent over the same period.
The logic behind this meteoric adoption rate is a no-brainer: Since MPLS connections can cost hundreds of dollars a month per location, and SD-WAN can run over inexpensive broadband connections, why purchase a high-priced pipe for MPLS? Instead, use SD-WAN to put your critical, real-time data on the MPLS link and put the rest on low-cost broadband. The savings can go to the bottom line, or, better yet, create room in your budget for the cloud, software, security and other managed services your organization needs to compete in today’s marketplace. And since you now have two connections, you have an instant redundancy play.
For small and medium businesses (SMBs) with multiple locations, this all adds up to a game-changing marketplace equalizer. Each branch office can use whatever inexpensive connectivity transport is available in its market, while reaping the benefits of secure, cloud-based WAN connectivity capable of handling its bandwidth-intensive, critical applications.
TPx enables SMBs to leverage 4G LTE to deploy SD-WAN at locations where they have scant or unreliable wireline connectivity options. They can now quickly get those sites up and running faster without landline provisioning delays. (Remember, all SD-WAN solutions are not created equal.) SD-WAN offers SMBs utilizing virtual networks the WAN networking horsepower typically enjoyed by large enterprises, without breaking the bank or breaking a sweat.
SD-WAN’s benefits are compelling:
- SD-WAN routes traffic based on office location, time of day, service level measurements, system delays or any other desired performance threshold.
- “Intelligent routing” means that each location gets the best possible application performance, providing a fast and responsive user experience that increases employee productivity and operational efficiency.
- SD-WAN basically installs itself. You simply plug in an appliance (sometimes called an “edge device”) that’s preconfigured to connect to the company’s network. Then IT staff back at headquarters can easily configure the site’s firewall, security and other networking settings.
- By adding SD-WAN to a unified communications solution like UCx, you can improve call and video quality over your basic broadband connections.
- SD-WAN can automatically reroute Internet traffic and VoIP phone service using the Internet or network connection of another location, so there’s zero downtime.
The TPx team is helping companies of all sizes leverage SD-WAN for greater network efficiency and performance. Reach out to your TPx representative today to learn how SD-WAN can help your company.
About the Author
Matt Mair is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Managed Services. His role includes marketing and communications for TPx’s suite of managed IT offerings including Managed SD-WAN, LAN Monitoring, Office 365, Endpoints Management, Colocation and Server Backup solutions. Matt holds an MBA from Michigan State University’s Broad School of Business and resides in Los Angeles.
SD-WAN is all the rage, and there are good reasons for its rising popularity. SD-WAN is a game-changing technology that maximizes bandwidth resources at your headquarters, branch offices, or cloud sites by enabling quality of service (QoS) controls over the top of any WAN connection. All this said, SD-WAN solutions aren’t all the same. They use different platforms and deployment options and it’s important to do your homework before choosing the SD-WAN solution that’s right for your organization.
What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN, short for Software-Defined Wide Area Networking, employs a software-based controller that automates service management and implements policy-based routing over multiple connection types (e.g., MPLS, Internet, wireless, etc.).
SD-WAN essentially adds a layer of intelligence that provides real-time control and visibility over network and application performance. This, in turn, lets you boost your bandwidth with widely available, low-cost broadband by overcoming the security, reliability and performance challenges to using the Internet for critical business applications.
The many benefits of SD-WAN are readily acknowledged by industry analysts and CIOs alike. Indeed, research firm IDC found that half of U.S. enterprises were considering migrating to SD-WAN in the next two years.
What are your SD-WAN options?
If you’re thinking about moving to SD-WAN, you’re in good company. But when shopping for SD-WAN, make sure you understand the potential differences among solutions. Here are a few key questions you should ask, keeping your applications, staff capabilities and organizational preferences in mind:
Is it software or service?
At the highest level, there are two primary approaches to deploying SD-WAN. The first is to buy a software platform and implement it in your network environment. The second is to subscribe to a service-based solution, wherein the SD-WAN platform is delivered as a service by a managed service provider like TPx.
Is the solution managed?
A managed service provider typically offers engineering support for the initial SD-WAN deployment as well as ongoing monitoring and management. Some – like TPx – may even manage third-party network providers. In an unmanaged scenario, your organization deploys and manages its own SD-WAN technology and deals with phone-based carrier support.
Does it support over-the-top (OTT) deployments?
Many providers require at least one of their own network circuits to be used in the SD-WAN solution; others, like TPx, will deploy their SD-WAN solution on top of any Internet connection regardless of the provider.
What network continuity options are available?
Some providers offer continuity for Internet only or their own provided circuits. TPx provides active/active/active continuity for Internet, MPLS, Customer Provided circuit, all in active/active mode so you can utilize the bandwidth you’ve paid for. Additionally, TPx offers cost-effective 4G LTE.
Is it compatible with MPLS-based VPNs?
Some SD-WAN providers offer solutions that do not integrate with firewalls and thus are incompatible with MPLS-based VPNs. Other SD-WAN providers, like TPx, incorporate security (e.g., firewall, IPsec, encryption, etc.) and can enable a hybrid WAN by extending your MPLS VPN to remote locations over low-cost, high-bandwidth Internet connections.
Does the solution support WAN optimization?
Some platforms support WAN optimization natively, while others either don’t support it or require third-party integrations. TPx offers link aggregation, TCP optimization, forward error correction (FEC) and other optimization features that are critical to supporting real-time application performance.
Is it a capital or operational IT expenditure?
Some SD-WAN solutions require an upfront spend on software licenses and hardware. TPx offers a subscription-based service, with an easy upgrade path to any of its MSx Managed SD-WAN solutions once the Managed Service Router is installed on premises.
How experienced are the Engineering and Support teams?
Some providers are new to the SD-WAN game, but not TPx. TPx has been working closely with SD-WAN vendors – not their sales teams, but their engineers and developers – for almost two and a half years.
Armed with these questions, you can align your company’s objectives with the SD-WAN capabilities of a provider like TPx to improve the performance and cost-efficiency of your network.
About the Author
Jared Martin, Vice President of ITx Managed Services at TPx
Jared Martin has been in the Information Technology world for more than 20 years. He co-founded a managed services voice and Internet service provider in 2001 and grew the business to significant revenue. In 2008, that company was sold to Tel West Communications, which in turn was acquired by TPx in 2012. Jared has been a technology leader in driving change and adoption of new technologies, such as Software-Defined Wide Area Networking. He is always looking for new ways to use technologies that are outside of the box and to influence TPx to innovate and to be on the cutting edge. In 2016, Jared took charge of TPx’s new MSx line of business, formed as a result of the recent merger of TelePacific and DSCI. This brought Jared back to his roots of providing managed services and a consultative sales approach to customers.