QoS in Networking: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Now more than ever, QoS in networking matters. With businesses moving a huge number of solutions and services to the cloud — many of which are highly dependent on accurate sequencing and bandwidth availability — QoS is one of the most important quality metrics and tech strategies an organization can focus on. While communication tools like VoIP and videoconferencing are designed to be less bandwidth-hungry than previous iterations, there's little doubt they still require more savvy and know-how than typical data usually does to successfully implement.

Quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) aren't just great holiday presents for an organization dependent on high-quality communication methods. They're the kind of gifts that keep on giving year-round. Here are a few QoS basics that can bring peace of mind throughout the new year and beyond:

Sequencing, Bandwidth, and QoS in Networking: A Holiday Story

Think about placing a VoIP or video call over a unified communications platform and how it differs from loading a webpage or streaming a video. You might not notice a small lag loading a news site or be upset about a moment of pixelated video in a one-way stream, but even minor hiccups during a call can cause garbled voices or dropped calls with real-time communications.

At a high level, this is largely due to a need for sequencing. A webpage or streaming video could almost be considered static — a page can be viewed after a delay, videos can be rewound once buffering is complete. The packets carrying a real-time conversation, however, must come in a specific order for everyone to get the same call quality. The same issues may befall a conversation during network congestion, since dumb pipe can't differentiate between sequence-sensitive packets and the rest of the information it's carrying.

Now think about the number of businesses relying on communications for core business functions and revenue generation, a group to which your organization may well belong. If you're the kind of company where a garbled connection or dropped customer call represents a minor disaster, the thought of bandwidth issues or other problems can have a serious impact on peace of mind.

The extreme uptick in cloud migration can be considered a force multiplier; the more services your company moves to the cloud, the larger the share of the pipe your operations take. As mentioned above, these factors are what make QoS and QoE such a beneficial gift for everyone in the organization, including employees, clients, and everyone else who relies on call quality.

Introducing SD-WAN for UCaaS

Sequence and bandwidth availability are important for real-time communications, a need which only grows along with a company's reliance on communication technologies. Historically, organizations would often utilize a sequence-smart WAN technology such as MPLS, or they might move to a larger broadband package. But these moves can grow quite costly, especially if they're spread across multiple locations.

But there's a better way. SD-WAN for unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), which optimizes networks for real-time communications, can take packets that may struggle in an increasingly cloud-dependent work environment and give them the priority they need to provide excellent QoS in networking.

Imagine: No more concerns about jitter, latency, or other call-ruining issues, all while granting your employees a gift that can both increase productivity and relieve anxiety around spotty connections.

The elevator pitch goes something like this: By adding a smart, mission-focused layer between critical calls and the network, organizations enjoy better call quality from the same pipe. A network that once struggled to manage a company's collaboration tools, VoIP system, and web browsing activity suddenly will have more than enough room, all thanks to SD-WAN's ability to find an optimal path for real-time communication packets.

It should be noted that SD-WAN for UCaaS can leverage multiple connections as a single unit. If you're running two business broadband lines and a backup 4G LTE connection, it can seamlessly switch packets between them, further ensuring the best treatment for your voice and video packets.

The result is an office that gets better QoS and QoE without needing to spend more on infrastructure to enable it. This can result in a huge savings, especially spread against multiple sites, but improving quality is where this technology truly shines.

Imagine: No more concerns about jitter, latency, or other call-ruining issues, all while granting your employees a gift that can both increase productivity and relieve anxiety around spotty connections.

The Hybrid Approach

It's worth noting that the emergence of SD-WAN for UCaaS does not invalidate the use of older, more established technologies such as MPLS. If anything, the two play quite nicely together.

This news is particularly appealing to companies that run hybrid networks, as certain functions are run over the MPLS circuit and others, such as web browsing and non-real-time cloud services, are run over public internet. A company with real-time solutions that don't involve communication could continue to keep them on MPLS while migrating the VoIP/video platform they use to the public internet backed by SD-WAN for UCaaS. The company could also group its WAN with its other connectivity options to give SD-WAN even more options from which to work.

The point? Though SD-WAN — and, by proxy, SD-WAN for UCaaS — is sometimes positioned against MPLS, there are several real-world applications where using them in tandem will be a winner. And that's before considering all the other financial and operational efficiencies a hybrid network can offer. So, if you're looking to give the office a gift your workers will be able to appreciate year-round, consider making it a combination of SD-WAN and MPLS technologies — with the increased number of services moving to the cloud, it's only a matter of time until this combination become a necessity.

Ready to make the leap to SD-WAN for UCaaS? Let Vonage Business help.

Evan Wade
Evan Wade Contributor

Evan Wade is an author and editor from Carmel, Indiana. As a veteran tech writer and lifelong tech enthusiast, he focuses his writing and research on communication, mobility and security. Alongside work with leading cloud technology providers and industry news sources, Evan has extensive sales and end-user marketing experience, giving him a unique view of the individual’s relationship with technology — and how organizations can realize huge benefits from it.


Contact a Vonage expert.

We'll get back to you shortly.