Reliable Over-the-Top Communications Require a Robust Cloud Architecture


Jive is excited to share this guest blogpost, written by Frost and Sullivan, about the bright future for UCaaS. Frost & Sullivan is a leading group of global industry analysts. They work to uncover market trends, highlight technological advancements, and award strong companies through their Best Practices Award.

Many businesses are now weighing the pros and cons of moving their communications solutions to the cloud. Some may still be wary about putting their business telephone lines in the hands of a cloud provider or may have trialled some cloud services and found the experience lacking. But it’s important to recognize that all unified communications as a service (UCaaS) offerings are not created equal.

Due diligence is necessary to ensure that calls from customers, suppliers, and partners always come through and do so with high quality. Choosing the right type of connectivity is a key consideration for businesses adopting cloud communications.

Two main options with subtle variations—private lines (e.g., T1/E1) and public broadband (e.g., cable, DSL)—are available and must be properly evaluated in each UCaaS deployment scenario.

A number of UCaaS offerings support over-the-top (OTT) connections, which enable communications devices, including the more traditional desk phone, desktop UC applications, and mobile UC apps, to traverse the public Internet to connect to cloud-based communications services, instead of using costly private connections. Many businesses looking to deploy cloud communications either have existing arrangements with broadband providers or wish to retain the flexibility to engage with an Internet provider of their choice. However, OTT services have often been derided by competing providers as being less reliable or of a lower quality compared to private connections. In reality, how a UCaaS platform is architected and deployed makes a bigger impact on performance and quality than how the service is ultimately delivered to the user.

The public Internet provides a more reliable foundation than is commonly believed. The global network was conceived and designed to work around failures. At any given moment, a portion of the Internet, be it a major backbone or a local service provider’s access network, has the potential to become unavailable. To account for outages, the standard protocols used to connect millions of online devices include provisions for alternate network routes in the event of failure of a preferred route. In other words, finding a way to connect users to services is an innate capability of the Internet Protocol (IP). In comparison, many dedicated wide area network (WAN) links or legacy telephone circuits are either up or down. Backup connections for these services are often costly and available as an optional premium service.

But the routing capabilities inherent in the public Internet only tell half the story with respect to real-time communications services from providers such as Jive Communications. Platforms delivering UCaaS services over the top must be built leveraging cloud technologies to ensure a high degree of quality and reliability. A true cloud architecture is designed with a completely different construct compared with traditional on-premises PBXs and unified communications platforms.

Traditional platforms are built around enterprise local and private WANs, and therefore designed with a baseline expectation about the quality of service (QoS) and availability of the network. These platforms always “trust” the underlying network—failover and redundancy are often limited to the installation of primary and secondary platforms on the same business network. This mindset has often been carried over into “uplifted” hosted communication architectures, where UC platforms designed for on-premises deployment are instead deployed in a provider’s data center and leveraged as the basis for hosted business telephony services or UCaaS.

A purely cloud-based communications platform, however, is designed to address the occasional challenges of the public Internet, and always assumes the worst-case scenarios in order to keep users connected. Cloud-based providers rarely deploy their platform in pairs (primary and backup), but rather use a multi-node approach. Each node in a cloud infrastructure operates off a shared set of configuration information and databases, so it knows about every user and device connected to the UCaaS service. A well-architected cloud infrastructure, such as Jive Communications’ EE, has many nodes deployed across a geographically distributed network. Users are connected to the node that is nearest to their physical location, which affords a number of benefits. In the event that one of the deployed nodes is not available, is congested or the public Internet simply makes it difficult to get to, users are redirected to the next closest node. Rather than being forced into a specific primary and secondary server as in the case of traditional platforms, users simply connect to another of the many other platforms deployed in the region.

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In addition, a cloud architecture is a boon for highly mobile UCaaS users. While office-bound users are likely to always connect to the same nearby node, mobile users will find that a cloud-based architecture and the ability to connect to a data center relatively close to their current physical location ensure more persistent, reliable and higher-quality access to their business communications.

Finally, unlike many on-premises PBX and UC platforms, cloud architectures are designed to be nearly infinitely scalable. Based on demand, a cloud UC provider can quickly spin up additional capacity in a given data center or deploy in new ones, allowing users to almost immediately take advantage of this new scale.

By leveraging cloud technologies in their architecture, UCaaS providers such as Jive Communications are proving that OTT services are not only capable of meeting the reliability and quality needed for business communications, but also offer capabilities that are difficult or costly to match with traditional services.

This article is by Frost & Sullivan