Connectivity – the danger of buying what you’re sold
We all know what happens when there’s a monopoly. Regardless of industry or product, consumers have limited – or no – choice, and end up paying whatever the suppliers in the monopoly dictate, writes Nick Johnson, the chief executive of Evolving Networks.
More than that, consumers aren’t necessarily getting the product, service, solution that is fit for their requirements. Instead, they’ll need to take what they’re offered. It’s not an evil conspiracy, it’s often just the way markets develop. And it’s always interesting when disruptors enter the same marketplace and do what their name suggests: disrupt.
In the IT and telecoms sector specifically, these upstarts are typically more agile, hugely focused on innovation and are able to offer the market better alternatives, either in terms of cost or functionality, or both. As a result, the established players in the market are challenged.
A case in point is the mis-selling of connectivity for VoIP; established enterprise carriers have been operating in a set way for several years, using the age-old fear, uncertainty and doubt principle to convince organisations they can’t possibly have a VoIP infrastructure with anything less than a leased line. This traditional view that VoIP will only work with a leased line was certainly valid – ten years ago. Now, however, with the emergence of better technology, better connectivity, and innovators in the market, there are other options. Multipath ethernet delivered via an uncontended, multi-VNO access network with seamless integration of software and monitoring means that VoIP works and the peddlers of leased lines are wrong saying it won’t.
This is especially important to consider as there is an increased push for VoIP in light of BT’s commitment to stop selling ISDN lines and public switched telephone network (PSTN) circuits by 2020, with the technology set to be switched off altogether by 2025.
Taking a step back, today’s business environment connectivity is critical; there’s simply no way around that. It is used to access applications and systems, unite staff and connect an increasingly mobile workforce. As a result, quality, speed and resilience are three non-negotiables.
VoIP’s main requirement is quality; communicating with colleagues, prospects and stakeholders is critical to business, which means they can’t afford lags, jags and inconsistent connectivity. A leased line is expensive, depending on location, and won’t necessarily offer the resilience and quality needed.
So, can quality and reliability be achieved without resorting to paying for a leased line? Why can’t VoIP work on multi-path ethernet (aggregated) connections like FTTC?
The answer to that question is simply: it can. VoIP works perfectly fine on multi-path connections. This is good news for businesses because taking this approach of using multiple lines means that both the issues of quality and resilience can be addressed. Multi-path aggregated connectivity delivers real benefits to organisations of all sizes, especially when it comes to VoIP. Aggregated lines can offer increased bandwidth and capacity, enhancing data throughput speeds and application performance, and built-in resilience.
The emergence of disruptive companies in the market, such as those that offer SD-WAN services, have changed the game. Not only are connections more resilient, but with the application of a software layer to connectivity they can offer additional services such as fault finding, continuous monitoring, and prioritisation of traffic; vital for high-performing VoIP. Of course, not every vendor gets this right – they may lay software over the top of connectivity, but they have no way to manage that inevitable disconnect between software and infrastructure layers. As a result, it’s critical to choose the right vendor.
Is a leased line a bad idea? Apart from the cost and the lack of resilience, consider the following example: Your business is using VoIP, delivered and supported by a leased line. There is a fault on the leased line and all connectivity to your organisation fails. You have no email, no access to cloud-based applications and, even worse, no phones. If your business was making use of an aggregated FTTC connection, you’d never need to worry about resilience. Due to the nature of the multi-path connection (the clue is in the name), there are numerous connections being bound together from different sources in a single virtual connection to deliver your connectivity. If one line from one provider fails, there is another one (or more) to pick up the slack and ensure the connectivity is uninterrupted.
Challenging the status quo is never easy. But it must be done to push the industry forward. Looking specifically at connectivity, it’s not enough to do the same things we’ve been doing for the past decade. The market has evolved, end-user and business requirements have shifted, and there needs to be new ways to tackle new challenges.