Businesses are rapidly moving to the cloud for their communications and collaboration needs, especially when they want to deliver a consistent set of services to staff anywhere in the world without the hassles of maintaining a PBX of their own. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) strives to meet business needs for features and performance, but achieving a successful rollout means providing a network that delivers high availability, high performance, and the ability to proactively address conditions that can hurt cloud communications and collaboration.
Three options are key to re-architecting the WAN in the age of cloud: Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN), direct cloud connect, and WAN-Cloud Exchanges (WAN-CX). SD-WAN pools branch connectivity and intelligently manages traffic across all available links, increasing resilience and improving performance while reducing management costs. Direct cloud connect bypasses the Internet for communications with a specific cloud service provider by linking the enterprise WAN edge to the cloud provider’s edge directly. WAN-CX uses an exchange approach to direct connection: enterprises connect to an exchange, then spin up virtual links through that connection to any cloud service provider on the exchange.
Connecting enterprise networks to cloud service providers through direct connect, SD-WAN, or WAN exchange services offers the opportunity to guarantee high quality application service delivery as well as to reduce costs by leveraging lower-cost connectivity options, globally.
IT leaders should:
- Reevaluate their wide area network strategy in conjunction with their plans to adopt cloud application and platform services
- Consider the ability of SD-WAN to reduce operating costs, enable greater flexibility, and optimize cloud-based traffic flows
- Evaluate direct cloud connect offerings to join enterprise data networks with cloud-based services to provide predictable performance, resiliency, and end-to-end performance management for cloud-based applications, especially UCaaS
- Enable flexibility to leverage various SD-WAN approaches where it makes sense; avoid being locked into a single, global approach.