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5 steps to achieve UC network modernization for hybrid work

The shift to hybrid work is putting new demands on the unified communications network infrastructure. Split tunneling and an enterprise CDN are two ways to meet those needs.

The enterprise communications and collaboration landscape continues to evolve as organizations shift from remote to hybrid work and as video becomes a critical business technology. Indeed, 81% of companies polled in Metrigy's global "Workplace Collaboration: 2023-24" study of 440 organizations said they use video for all or most of their meetings, with 63% reporting they increased their use of video within the last year. What's more, nearly 38% of IT leaders now view video as a business-critical technology for which downtime or poor performance cannot be tolerated.

Video isn't just for conferencing. Most companies are increasing their use of webinars, video streaming and video sharing to improve employees' ability to communicate and collaborate. Video is a key part of the mix as the survey found employees increasingly split their time between home and office, with almost a third working both remotely and in the office, with 25% working full time at home and 37% full time in the office. And all these changes have created new demands on unified communications (UC) network infrastructure.

Modernize UC networks

Among our research participants, 40% said they have made investments in their networks to better support hybrid work and especially video.

Here are five network modernization tips to help you support current and future UC and collaboration needs:

  1. Ensure adequate Wi-Fi, both in the office and at home. Wi-Fi problems top the list of challenges IT leaders face as they support remote employees. Wi-Fi access is also becoming an issue for in-office workers as video demands grow. Focus on Wi-Fi demand and coverage to eliminate dead spots and to ensure adequate bandwidth to meet application requirements.
  2. Use split tunneling for remote employees, with adequate security. Split tunneling enables remote employees to connect to cloud-based services directly without having that traffic shuttled across a VPN to the enterprise data network. Successfully implementing split tunneling typically requires installing agents on remote computers to minimize threats of attack and to block access to unauthorized websites.
  3. Upgrade internet and WAN bandwidth. As employees return to the office, almost 30% of companies boosted their internet bandwidth in the last year and upgraded their WANs. Again, demand for video is often the biggest driver for network expansion. Consider technologies like software-defined WAN, which lay on top of network services, to provide enhanced security, reliability and application performance.
  4. Measure what matters. About 21% of companies said they invested in dedicated UC performance management platforms to provide visibility into end-to-end application performance and to identify potential network issues, ideally before they affect users. Evaluate performance management tools that either encompass network visibility or integrate with separate network management platforms. Also, look for tools that use AI to automatically adjust network settings to overcome congestion or outage issues.
  5. Consider an eCDN for streaming video. Enterprise content delivery networks (eCDNs) are gaining traction. About 62% of Metrigy's research participants reported using, or planning to deploy, an eCDN within their networks to manage one-to-many video streams -- for events, webinars and even software distribution -- more effectively. The result? Those using eCDNs see average WAN savings of 22% by reducing network load, according to our study.
Network modernization to support UC

UC and collaboration strategies are evolving to support hybrid work and so too must the underlying UC network services. To get the most value from your investments, deploy technologies that give employees the best voice and video performance possible, regardless of their location.

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