5 Ways to Prime Your Network for Distributed Workers, Part 1

The modern office doesn’t always end at the exit to a particular building or the boundaries of a corporate suite. Today’s employees may do some, most or even all of their work from other locations such as a company branch or remote office. Applications such as Unified Communications (UC) including Voice over IP, virtual desktop infrastructure and cloud-based enterprise resource planning tools make this new working arrangement possible by connecting people everywhere to the same data and communications platforms.

At the same time, the remote office can only thrive with the proper network infrastructure in place. Overall company responsiveness and productivity increasingly depend on wide area networks (WANs) and cloud access networks with the adaptability required by these real-time applications and distributed remote office workforces. Here are a few specific things to consider while updating your WAN for the evolving needs of remote employees.

1) Mitigate common UC and VoIP issues through packet duplication 
Communications tools like UC and VoIP provide richer experiences for distributed workers than legacy phone lines can offer. Teams can more effectively conference from anywhere, with the benefit of crystal-clear voice quality and real-time presence to support collaboration.

Still, a good UC and VoIP experience requires careful attention to detail, especially when it comes to the underlying WAN. Possible issues that can arise from a suboptimal implementation include:

  • Packet loss: Calls can be choppy and broken, plus call forwarding and hold features may not work as originally intended.
  • Latency: Latency greater than 150 milliseconds per round trip can cause awkward gaps and talkovers in VoIP calls.
  • Congestion: A large number of concurrent UC users will test any network without proper QoS and bandwidth capacity.

The network must be specifically designed to effectively mitigate all of these issues. Techniques such as packet replication can reduce latency and ensure fewer dropped packets, while masking the effects of delays and packet loss.  The ability for link aggregation within the WAN ensures apps get the bandwidth they need to meet the user’s SLAs.

“The network must be specifically designed to mitigate issues like congestion.”

2) Understand bandwidth and end-to-end quality of service requirements for VDI
Just as VoIP can run into problems with congestion, applications like VDI can also encounter performance issues that turn them into high-maintenance money pits. Traditional techniques for optimizing data center-to-branch office connections, such as compression, isn’t effective with real-time applications.

Bandwidth traffic consumption and QoS are what really need to be measured when optimizing any VDI solution. A solution could use these metrics to provide crucial information on WAN connections to remote/branch offices, while also devising the best possible path for traffic over aggregated links. The network would gather and apply real-time insights for superior connectivity.

Remote workers can benefit from tools like VoIP and video.Tools like UC, VoIP and video allow for easy collaboration.

More specifically, broadband connectivity can be utilized for traffic monitoring and QoS rather than Internet access for non business-critical applications. Such use of broadband is also a cost-effective alternative to dedicated, expensive WAN connections via links like MPLS by itself.

Stay tuned for the second part of this series. In it, we’ll look at the remaining three ways to prepare your network for distributed office workers.

Categories: Application Performance/Application Quality, IT Challenges, Network Reliability, Business Agility, Hybrid WAN

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