March 21, 2013

Why traditional WAN Optimization is not the right solution for Unified Communications

(Sponsor-Contributed Paper)

WAN optimization solutions mitigate the impact of low network bandwidth and high delays on application performance by using data compression, caching and protocol optimization. None of these techniques applies to UC. Voice and video codecs are already "self-optimized" and non-cacheable. Control protocols are already very efficient. Instant messaging and presence consume little bandwidth...

On the other hand, UC requires stable delay, low jitter and guaranteed bandwidth for very changing real time flows. Just have a look to the broad codec zoo in a Microsoft Lync environment:


Another example of non-compressible and dynamic flow is SVC (Scalable Video Coding), an open-standard extension to H.264. SCV allows systems to adapt to network conditions to enhance the resolution, frame rate and quality of video streams. Used by most of today's video conferencing devices like Polycom, SVC technology enables high-quality video collaboration meetings even if network conditions or client capabilities are limited.

Discrete solutions such as WAN optimization controllers (WOC) and application delivery controllers (ADC) are static in a dynamic environment, point-to point in a peer-to-peer situation, highly specialized in a very diverse world: they are not equipped to manage UC traffic.

Self-adapting in a dynamic environment, designed for any-to-any traffic, controlling the entire application portfolio, WAN Governance coupled to Autonomic Networking solutions provide enterprises with a direct connection between application performance and their business requirements. They recognize that a) UC is not one application but a suite of very different applications and b) that UC must peacefully co-exist with all other applications over the WAN. As a result, UC delivers the benefits promised:

  • UC get a perfect quality;
  • The performance of the other business critical applications is protected against resource intensive UC;
  • UC performance SLAs are managed over the network with clear KPIs presented in consolidated and detailed dashboards.



You're dead on.

The key to UC is the integration of all the various communication modalities, and I'm glad you recognize what's important in delivering a stellar user experience.

The need to manage end-user experience and businesss application perfomances continues to grow as demand for new usages like SaaS applications or Unified Communications increases-- and user demand for Internet, social media and video continues to grow rapidly. In addition, business expectations (mergers, aquisitions or cost savings constraints) or other new users needs like BYOD or mobility make application management an even greater challenge.

We've come a long way from the days when WAN traffic priority was set by the service provider as either "committed" or "uncommitted", and traffic management is exponentially more complex now that it was even three years ago!

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