Unified Communication & Collaboration (UCC) tools like Skype, Teams, Slack or RingCentral are excellent solutions to drive productivity. But as with all the applications that drive your business, UCC tools are only as good as the network they live on.
Most of the time when people are slow to adopt UC, the problem isn’t with the tools or the rollout. The problem is your network. Poor network performance causes bad user experience. And all the change management best practices in the world can’t overcome bad UX.
What do you mean, my network is the problem?
Hybrid transport networks (MPLS, public Internet, wireless) are being deployed to manage increasing bandwidth requirements. But the real challenge is to guarantee the performance of applications that matter to your business and drive revenue (id est, your UCC apps), instead of the ones that don’t serve the business (looking at you Facebook). In other words, you need to figure out a way to protect your important UCC traffic and limit or deprioritize unimportant traffic. You need a bouncer who lets the VIP flows skip the line and go straight to the front. You need a Disneyland Fast Pass for your UCC sessions.
Ok, getting carried away with analogies, but you get my point. Or if you don’t, consider these stats from a sample client report we pulled from our orchestrator:
On one single day:
- Twitter usage consumed the most bandwidth of any app, exceeding the second place winner (Microsoft Exchange) by 500%
- YouTube was #5 and Facebook was #10
- The BW consumed by a single YouTube user can be anywhere from 264M to 1.65G per hour
- Usage of Google Docs exceeded SharePoint by 10x, when Sharepoint was the corporate sanctioned file-share service
These stats may be surprising, but they’re not unique. So what ever is a conscientious network steward to do? Newsflash: You need session-level application visibility and control(AVC).
What is session-level application visibility and control (AVC)?
Lots of people define it in different ways, and lots of vendors claim they offer it, but (STAGE WHISPER) they really don’t. I’m not going to waste your time talking about them. At Infovista, we define AVC like this:
- It means you can see all the applications and traffic on your network, coming and going, down to the user and session
- It means you can control all the flows on your network, coming and going, down to the session
- You can set performance requirements for your different business applications and then make sure they never fall below those thresholds
- You can view and manage all traffic on the network from one single dashboard (the magical window into our cloud-based orchestrator)
That’s the 30,000 foot view. But how does it actually work? And how does it relate to UCC? So glad you asked.
The role of session-level application visibility and control (AVC) to ensure a high-quality communication experience
A great SD-WAN solution has to provide features that allow in-depth application visibility and control (AVC) of application usage and performance over the global network, delivering SLA-based application performance management. Application control lets you manage bandwidth and prioritize network traffic by automatically adjusting how traffic is routed based on real-time network conditions. This allows it to allocate resources to designated applications according to the exact application traffic demand. In this way AVC can guarantee critical application performance in the most complex and changing traffic situations.
Unfortunately, there are lots of SD-WAN solutions that aren’t that great. They offer basic application management that pre-allocates capacity in fixed size queues, without consideration to actual network conditions. When additional user sessions are added, the fixed queues create artificial congestion, even if capacity is available. The result? Application performance suffers and users start muttering four-letter words about your UCC programs.
A comprehensive end-to-end SD-WAN solution must offer dynamic QoS that guarantees the required bandwidth for each UCC session regardless of the underlying WAN transport. This is invaluable at times of last mile congestion. The solution should model each UCC application session separately - voice, video, screen share, etc. It is crucial for the solution to support a wide range of CODECS, each of which is treated as a separate application with distinct performance objectives on session bandwidth, latency, packet loss, and jitter. The dynamic application routing must have the intelligence to choose the WAN path that offers the performance required by the corresponding UC application. It has to be smart enough to say “hey, there’s jitter on MPLS, let’s send this executive’s Skype call over to the Internet link for a minute.”
Hey, there's jitter on MPLS, let's send this executive's Skype call over to the Internet link for a minute. No one will even notice.
Additionally, a solution that provides built-in WAN Optimization functionality eliminates redundancy of WAN traffic flows (like large file downloads) - drastically alleviating last mile congestion, so interactive session-level flows like peer-to-peer UC and multi-party voice and video collaboration stay unaffected. Additionally, each user session per business application is protected without impacting the next user, regardless of the applications mix and network conditions.
CIOs need solutions that provide in-depth knowledge of their entire application ecosystem (not just the UCC)
CIOs are responsible for driving IT performance and ROI for the complete application portfolio investment. ERP, unified communications, cloud applications, virtual desktops, social media, video, database transfers, IoT, and mobility are all critical applications that contribute to business efficiency. While it is critical to ensure performance and experience of unified communication applications, it must be managed in the context of the entire application suite deployed in the datacenter and cloud.
Deep application visibility and dynamic remediation capabilities must be embedded in your SD-WAN solution to deliver business efficiency and cost savings. Infovista’s Ipanema SD-WAN offers exceptional application visibility and control (AVC) that enables IT teams to reclaim the network and ensure the best quality application performance and experience.
See how you can protect and prioritize the applications that serve your business and drive revenue . Talk to one of our experts and get a hassle-free Free Trial.