SD-WAN for UCaaS Voice and Video Calling (Video)


I’m at the Cloud Communications Alliance (CCA) winter meeting in Miami this week where SD-WAN is always a major topic. The CCA is a consortium of UCaaS, Voice and Video providers and the industry around them. At the meeting we’re executives and engineers with RingCentral, Altus, EvolveIP, Star2Star, Nextiva, Coredial and many more. 

Three Takeaways on SD-WAN for Voice and Video calling from the top UCaaS providers

What SD-WAN features are most critical for UCaaS and Video calling?

1. There’s no strong agreement about a minimum feature set for SD-WAN, but there are two key features required for the Voice and Video industry:

  • Packet loss concealment, usually as Forward Error Correction (FEC). This means you can lose a lot of the packets, but still recover the underlying data. It’s like the way RAID for hard drives can recover data if some of the drivers are damaged.
  • Fast failover across multiple network links. This might be done on a router with multiple concurrently active ethernet links. Or it might be, as Clark Peterson of RingCentral explained like the iPhone that can switchover from Wifi to Cellular data in under a second. 

When should SD-WAN be required?

2. Everybody agrees SD-WAN is good for voice quality. But many are arguing it’s a requirement to provide minimum acceptable voice quality across the Internet. If you’re scaling up a voice or video calling service, and the cost of SD-WAN is going down, why not include SD-WAN as a default expectation for each site where you have users?

Where are SD-WAN features appearing?

3. SD-WAN features are coming to endpoints and clients. Even in cases you don’t get SD-WAN in a router appliance, the industry is bringing some of the same features into the apps and client applications used. FEC is especially valuable here as it can make video calling functional in networks even where vanilla G.722 Voice vis RTP is degraded too much. 

Bonus takeaway from CCA Miami

4. Because SD-WAN is constantly sending data through various links, ISP paths, routers, switches, and ports, they can monitor and report a lot. In fact, SD-WAN can remove the need for a network-analytics product entirely. So the reporting capabilities of SD-WAN products can be especially crucial.