Enabling enterprise collaboration tools in the cloud with SD-WAN

This year has seen an unprecedented shift of workforce migrating to remote working. Yet the challenge for IT departments is to enable a homeworking experience that is no different than that of the office, complete with unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) tools. Cloud and software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) are key steps to enabling that.

This change of course has been driven by the ongoing COVID-19-enforced lockdowns, which have forced corporations to deploy working from home (WFH) solutions quickly, reliably and securely. But this sudden demand for millions of employees to access collaboration tools remotely has accelerated another “technology shift,” the enormous move to Internet connectivity. Internet-based collaboration tools such as video calling, instant messaging and other UC&C solutions have become the de facto to productive remote working, and the numbers are staggering: Microsoft Teams grew by 894%, and new entrant Zoom grew by 677%.

Enterprises are now under pressure to maintain this cultural shift to flexible homeworking, breaking down corporate policies regarding remote access to information and tools. We don't yet know what the future will bring, but it will almost certainly include greater, longer-term WFH, which will change the way enterprises look at connectivity. SD-WAN will be a significant part of that future.

The voice factor

Voice calling has thrived during the lockdown and continues to maintain strong demand for users to talk and be visible remotely. When the pandemic hit China, Webex reported a 2200% increase in voice traffic. Teams, Zoom and Webex are just some of many UC&C tools that have been leveraged for video and/or audio meetings.

The same trend can be seen outside of the workplace, too, with people leveraging chat apps to make personal video and voice calls to friends and family in huge numbers. Even group fitness classes, right from your own living room, have become the “new normal” in 2020.

Why is SD-WAN important?

Allowing a small percentage of staff to work from home is one thing, but enabling 50,000 workers to work from home is a different animal altogether. In the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, companies approached WFH on a piecemeal basis, which was not surprising. But as we move forward, we need a more permanent yet flexible fix that optimizes the WFH experience.

In terms of the network, enterprises need to ensure performance: this includes having control and visibility of resources to allocate them efficiently and enable remote working employees. Cloud transformation often means that enterprises want to access both public and private clouds, and the remote working imperative also necessitates both centralized management and self-management in the network. And it all needs to be underpinned by state-of-the-art security.

SD-WAN can also help you dramatically reduce downtime. When so many workers began working from home using Zoom or Teams or other UC&C suites, many companies experienced downtime because of heavy traffic on the network. SD-WAN provides the flexibility and control on resources to prioritize critical applications and, through quality of service, optimize the end users’ application experience.

Most UC&C applications operate from the cloud, and SD-WAN allows you to centrally orchestrate them more efficiently. With SD-WAN, you can orchestrate all your traffic up and down, from workplace to workplace, connecting your teams effectively wherever they are with a much higher quality of end-user experience.

Orange Business Services: a leader in SD-WAN and modern workplace can help you

Orange Business Services has implemented carrier-class peering on a global level to various cloud solutions like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Cisco Webex. In conjunction with our global voice capabilities, including SIP trunking and call collect, we can enable end users to call in and out from home and give them the functionality of a desk phone with the call quality and end-user experience that is comparable to the office.

One cloud doesn’t fit all? No problem! Many companies now have to adapt beyond the single corporate collaboration strategy to support varying business unit requirements and are left having to manage a mixture of cloud and on-premise collaboration solutions. With Orange SD-WAN flexibility combined with our Digital Voice experience, not only can we help you interoperate between these solutions, but we can also help you centrally and seamlessly orchestrate the switch of users between platforms without having to change phone numbers.

Resilience is another key element of SD-WAN. As a Tier 1 operator, Orange gives companies direct Internet access, a more reliable connectivity to support real-time applications. Orange has all the elements in-house to enable massive-scale collaboration on SD-WAN networks: end-to-end management, monitoring, cloud services, collaboration and global voice – all in one place.

To summarize, the Orange Business Services approach is to help enterprise customers optimize and enhance their organizations’ collaboration tools to enhance their workforces’ energy, productivity and efficiency. It centers on integrating digital workspace platforms like Microsoft Teams with video and voice requirements along with integrating social apps, too. It enables companies to operate as normal and stay productive wherever their workers may be in 2021.

For more information, download our infographic.

Stephane Minana

Stephane is a Unified Communications Solution Director covering solution positioning, business development and go-to-market strategies for the European theater. He has extensive knowledge of many facets of the IT industry through his experience working for consulting firms, vendors and IT and telecom service providers.

Stephane has been with Orange Business Services in Amsterdam since 2008 and has engaged in several service incubation and business development programs for security, consulting, enterprise application management, and in the last three years, unified communications.