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How contact centers can benefit from SD-WANs

Andy Gottlieb, co-founder, Talari Networks | April 25, 2016
The single location contact/call center of years past would have had little need for Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology. But today’s call/contact centers for customer service, technical support, outgoing call banks and other use cases are almost always multi-location and usually global, and the right SD-WAN solution can improve reliability and the customer experience while lowering costs.

Where sufficient bandwidth is available, some SD-WAN implementations can provide still greater application reliability by replicating real-time traffic flows along a second path, suppressing duplicates at the receiving end, and so delivering essentially "perfect" sound and voice quality even in the face of failures or congestion on one of the WAN connections. Some SD-WAN solutions are even intelligent enough that they can be set to do such flow replication only when sufficient WAN bandwidth is available.

Further, the right SD-WAN technology for contact centers can allow more efficient use of existing WAN links. This is important given the reality that almost all contact center WANs have a mixture of voice and other real-time traffic together with interactive and more bulk traffic. The ability to use all WAN links at a call/contact center, in addition to the ability to safely use each link at higher sustained network utilization, can postpone indefinitely the need to buy expensive bandwidth upgrades.

Centralized management makes configuring an SD-WAN solution much simpler than constantly fiddling with router settings, or being at the mercy of separate MPLS providers. And the self-correcting nature of such smart SD-WAN solutions lowers OpEx costs and increases reliability still further, fixing network problems as they occur rather than simply reporting them.

Finally, contact center operators in particular need to ensure that they look for an SD-WAN solution that scales to the number of locations, and the thousands of simultaneous calls, they need to support.  The ability to provide reliability and application predictability typically requires per-packet forwarding decisions together with the ability to support thousands of flows, and several links per location, and so it is critical to find an SD-WAN vendor that can handle the load while providing this added level of reliability.

With an SD-WAN solution, contact center operators can get higher reliability and greater WAN utilization from existing MPLS links.  They can replace one of the MPLS connections with an Internet-based link without compromising on quality - indeed, providing higher reliability than existing approaches. And while few call/contact centers are likely to forgo a private WAN alternative entirely, the right SD-WAN solution can allow setting up some remote outposts, where MPLS might not be available at all, or only at prohibitive cost, using only multiple Internet connections.  And in all cases, such an SD-WAN solution can allow the contact center operator to cap their spending on those expensive MPLS connections while augmenting them with lower cost, high bandwidth Internet circuits. Given that the cost per bit of MPLS bandwidth is anywhere from 10x to 100x the cost of Internet bandwidth, the ability to have even a portion of a global contact center operation’s WAN needs handled with Internet connections rather than MPLS can result in substantial savings.


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