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RingCentral, SD-WAN vendors team up to deliver UCaaS

SD-WAN services can improve the flow of cloud-based communications across the network. Now, one UCaaS vendor is looking to capitalize on the software-defined technology.

RingCentral Inc. said it will work with a group of SD-WAN vendors to deliver its portfolio of cloud-based unified communications services over their devices. RingCentral, based in Belmont, Calif., said products from VMware, CloudGenix, Riverbed, Cradlepoint, Windstream Enterprise and GTT Communications are designed to work with RingCentral services.

The alliance between RingCentral and the SD-WAN vendors aims to facilitate UCaaS network traffic, such as voice and video communications, for RingCentral customers. The certified partner program is not exclusive, meaning the SD-WAN vendors can engineer their products to work with other UCaaS providers as well. Additionally, SD-WAN vendors currently not in the certified program -- such as FatPipe -- can still integrate with RingCentral products.

The RingCentral SD-WAN program is not the first time a UCaaS company has joined forces with SD-WAN vendors. BroadSoft and Vonage, for instance, have partnered with SD-WAN vendors in the past. But the breadth of RingCentral's SD-WAN buffet is noteworthy, said John Burke, CIO and principal research analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

"It's a good move for RingCentral to have a bunch of different solutions it can push, along with a UCaaS arrangement," Burke said, adding that he expects other UCaaS vendors to pursue similar SD-WAN partnerships.

While other UCaaS companies have already partnered with SD-WAN services, Burke said RingCentral is not necessarily late to the SD-WAN party. Instead, he said, RingCentral is "arriving right when things are getting hot at the party."

Providing network resiliency

A few years ago, the SD-WAN market was just getting started and it was unclear which vendors would stake leadership positions. Before integrating with SD-WAN vendors, RingCentral waited to see how the SD-WAN market would shake out, said Curtis Peterson, senior vice president of cloud operations at RingCentral.

The natural affinity between UCaaS and SD-WAN is really strong.
John BurkeCIO and principal research analyst, Nemertes Research

As it devised its partner program, RingCentral outlined key criteria for SD-WAN vendors to meet. Some of the criteria included the following: 

  • Support multiple connections to a site and provide seamless switchover between failed circuits for voice calls, video calls and real-time collaboration.
  • Support quality-of-service enhancement.
  • Provide end users with visibility into what traffic travels in and out of their WAN ports.

As part of the integration, RingCentral application profiles have been built into the SD-WAN vendors' management interface.

"We've taken these vendors and put them through our technical labs to make sure they do what we need them to do to support RingCentral," Peterson said. "Through these partnerships, our configurations are prebuilt into the services and we know they will perform on key technical items."

SD-WAN on the rise

As enterprise branch network requirements accelerate, worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues are expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 69.6% and reach $8.05 billion in 2021, according to IDC estimates. The continued rise of cloud-based, software-as-a-service applications is one of the driving forces behind SD-WAN growth over the next five years, IDC said.

SD-WAN aids packet flow for cloud communications

UCaaS tools rely on the internet to provide communications services. Over the years, as internet connectivity improved, UCaaS tools became more viable. The emergence of SD-WAN has meant a new way for enterprises to connect their branch offices while ensuring that traffic flows uninterrupted -- an important consideration for UCaaS.

SD-WAN aggregates broadband, MPLS and LTE links into a virtual WAN and automatically allocates bandwidth as necessary to ensure packet delivery. The technology can shift latency-sensitive traffic to MPLS, or to a secondary internet path, if bandwidth on the primary path isn't sufficient.

SD-WAN has helped its users reduce outages and cut overhead, according to a recent Nemertes report, which estimated that outages have dropped by 95% while management costs have been cut in half.

"The natural affinity between UCaaS and SD-WAN is really strong," Burke said.

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