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WAN Governance and the Challenges of UC

October 29, 2012 - Article

By David White

Unified communications (UC) offers huge opportunities for the enterprise as a result of its ability to integrate real-time communication services such as instant messaging, presence information, telephony, video conferencing, data sharing, call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging.

The benefits of UC include improved productivity, easier collaboration, better customer satisfaction and, ultimately, higher profits through more efficient teamwork and competitive advantage.

But before enterprises can realize the benefits of UC, they must address three distinct challenges and WAN governance is the key to unlocking this potential.

Challenge 1: UC flows take various forms. A single UC user could generate many different flows, including data flows (presence, instant messaging, screen sharing, workflows, enterprise social media, business process integration, etc.), voice flows (one-to-one, conference) and video flows (single point or multipoint). And each of these flows has its own requirement in terms of resources and quality. In order to deliver the performance users expect, it is necessary to understand and match the specific characteristics of each application across the network.

Challenge 2: UC flows are resource greedy. While today’s enterprises typically provide an average network resource of 50-100KBps/user, a single voice channel alone could use up to 90KBps, while a video channel could use from 250KBps up to 2MBps (without speaking of telepresence). This results in UC applications impacting the performance of business traffic during peaks of high demand a situation that requires a dynamic control system that protects business applications, anytime.

Challenge 3: UC traffic is very distributed. Desktop-to-desktop video communication is encouraged as part of UC, and while users realize improved comfort and productivity, it places an enormous strain on interbranch WAN links.  This results from complex traffic situations that include UC controllers located on-premises or hosted in the cloud, voice and video conference flows concentrated on a central bridge, and external communications routed through a media gateway connected to the public network. The traditional static classes of services (CoS) are not able to match this complexity — and not controlling these dynamic and complex situations will put all business applications at risk.

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