byfelliott12-19-201611:17 AM - edited 12-23-201607:04 AM
These days it seems nearly impossible to escape the hype about Cloud Collaboration and Unified Communications (UC). Service providers, hosting companies, software vendors and resellers preach about cloud as the future of communications. Most of us use cloud services in one form or another, and many of us already use cloud UC over the public internet.
Some businesses are able to save money by using cloud-based UC, but it is not necessarily a fit for everyone. There are inherent risks that should be explored. In the world of ‘virtual’ everything, there is an alternative to centralizing all your services in the cloud – deploying new, virtualized services at the edge.
Difference between cloud and edge deployments
Cloud and Edge are vague terms and are subject to interpretation. People use the term ‘cloud’ to refer to services delivered from anything ranging from an appliance in a closet to large datacenters. With UC, what is different between cloud and edge deployments?
Edge Unified Communications consists of core software at the edge (see above diagram) of a larger network instead of a centralized (cloud) location. A service provider may offer managed services by delivering next-generation UC at the customer premise as an edge application. Another example would be a large enterprise with multiple branch locations, each with a dedicated on premise UC application.
Benefits of deploying UC at the edge rather than the cloud
In some environments, UC can be a better fit at the edge rather than cloud centralized for a number of reasons, such as:
Reliability: Upstream links fail due to both natural causes and human error. Outages can introduce painful interruptions to productivity and can impact business. Purchasing multiple links to the same ‘cloud’ core as a mitigation strategy can be expensive and adds burdensome complexity to your network.
Performance: For calls within the same LAN, many cloud solutions will send real-time voice traffic off-site and upstream adding unnecessary latency and jitter. Sending voice/video traffic across the public internet compounds this problem because QoS is typically ignored. Network congestion can result in choppy voice/video – which is unacceptable.
Bandwidth: Real-time voice and video requires a reliable allocation of bandwidth for every stream. Standards are established to compress voice and video, but many cloud providers do not support these – costing you more bandwidth and more money.
Cost: Whether starting from scratch, or rip-and-replace, upfront costs for centralized cloud deployments are significant (hardware, software, ongoing maintenance). This is especially painful in cases where scaling to large capacity is a requirement. Edge deployments have reduced upfront cost and offer a predictable, low-cost, incremental path forward as you grow.
A Solution that Works in Either Environment
Most software UC solutions are hard-coded for deployment either in the cloud, or at the edge – and generally are not well suited to both. That’s where REDCOM Sigma is different. REDCOM Sigma is a software-based Unified Communications suite offering voice, video, chat, presence with a unique ability to be either a cloud based or a customer edge UC VNF. When it comes to edge deployments, Sigma is a perfect fit with Brocade vCPE.
Brocade vCPE is a cost-effective, lightweight customer premise solution built around the Brocade Vyatta Network OS, an evolution of the industry-leading Brocade 5600 vRouter. The Vyatta Network OS allows for remote deployment of Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) without having to roll a truck.
Revenue for Carriers, Reduced Costs for Enterprises
Carriers can generate revenue by deploying Sigma and vCPE at the edge of their network at customer premise, replacing a cumbersome legacy PBX and hardware-based router, and implementing additional new VNFs such as Fortinet Firewall.
Enterprises can reduce their operating costs and upgrade from end-of-life legacy communications by deploying this solution at the edge, and all without the need of an expensive, risky centralized cloud solution.
Deployed Incrementally as Your Business Grows
With UC at the edge, local on-LAN calls are not dependent on upstream links -- saving bandwidth and improving performance and call quality. vCPE can be deployed incrementally as business grows, instead of an expensive mass rip-and-replace at a centralized ‘cloud’ location. Sigma’s many bandwidth-saving features (including compression) minimize your bandwidth expense and still maintain great call quality -- even HD. Added features such as VRRP, alternate trunking and dual registration can help mitigate potential infrastructure outages in a vCPE deployment -- plus you can integrate secondary outbound access locally without relying on employee cell phones during an upstream outage.
In conclusion, give some thought to deploying UC at the edge. If you already were planning on this – please reach out to us about Sigma + vCPE. If you haven’t thought about UC edge deployment until now, I hope you have some new food for thought. Please reach out to us to continue the conversation!
Bio: Fred is Manager of Business Development and Technical Alliances at REDCOM. Fred has worked in the technology sector for over 20 years and has held senior technical roles in Network Engineering and Sales Engineering, supporting customers in Enterprise, Carrier and Defense markets.