“Can You Hear Me Now?” — SD-WAN for Reliable Voice Services

If you’ve been doing Wide Area Networking (WAN) for as long as I have you know that Voice is perhaps the least-forgiving application as it relates to outages. For example, say you have multiple circuits, and the primary circuit experiences a failure; traditional WAN routing will simply not fail over fast enough to keep a Voice call up, all while other, less sensitive data applications might barely blip. For most people in 2017, occasionally losing a call is not awful, and perhaps is even expected given the rise of cell phones and our general acceptance of poor-quality Voice calls. But nothing is worse than being on the phone for 20 minutes waiting on hold to discuss that insurance claim, dispute a credit card charge, or clarify a mortgage refinance question only to have the call drop.  If your business is dependent on great customer satisfaction, then superior call quality and eliminating dropped calls is truly the holy grail of networking.

We know how things work — the business invests in infrastructure and they expect it to deliver.  I’ve been in the situation where I’ve sold a customer a very expensive MPLS network and that same customer has either a secondary or backup network with a competitor which is equally expensive. The business expects the Network team to ensure that this failover works and works well, but traditional routing protocols simply cannot detect latency, packet loss or jitter brownouts fast enough for it to “save” the Voice call.  What’s a CIO or Network Engineer to do?  The answer is SD-WAN.

SD-WAN is the Answer to VoIP Call Stability

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of having a customer write an email to me and my company (including my CEO) thanking us.  The customer had experienced “5 events in the infrastructure” in a few days and their Silver Peak EdgeConnect SD-WAN appliances “protected the operation with no impact to our user community, where in the past the issues would have been immediately noticed due to the short comings of routing protocols.”  I’ve been thinking about printing and framing that email and hanging it on the wall of my office.  By the way, that same customer saved a bundle of money eliminating their secondary private network and replacing it with either broadband or dedicated internet circuits.

If this sounds good to you, an SD-WAN might be right for you too.  If you are considering an SD-WAN, or you already have an SD-WAN and your vendor cannot fail a voice call over so fast that the call does not drop, you owe it to yourself to consider a different SD-WAN vendor.