RingCentral Endorses Cato Networks Answering Key SD-WAN Reliability Questions

13 Feb 2019

Whenever I talk to telecom groups and organizations about running their critical apps across SD-WAN, at some point the tough question gets popped. It might come after a few drinks or slides (take your pick) but there’s usually this pause as they process the SD-WAN value prop and then they ask, “Yeah, Phil, SD-WAN sounds great and all, but what about resilience? Do you think SD-WAN’s got the uptime and predictability to replace legacy technologies, such as MPLS?”

It’s a great question and one that I think has just been answered in the marketplace for the toughest application around — Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).

Today, SD-WAN service provider Cato Networks announced that it has been certified by RingCentral as a connectivity partner. RingCentral, one of the largest UCaaS providers, has about 2 million endpoints operating and is very focused on assuring that the IP network infrastructure delivers a reasonable level of service. In fact, RingCentral requires their connectivity partners to achieve a Mean Opinion Score (MOS) level of 3.8 (on a scale of 1-5) to achieve certification.

Meeting those sorts of MOS levels can be challenging on the open Internet. While web browsing and enterprise apps can accommodate packet loss and latency, human oriented real-time communications have much more stringent requirements. For example, latency of more than 250 msecs will cause unwelcome interrupts and make the conversation difficult, while lost packets can significantly impact call quality. Meeting both the latency needs and recovering from lost packets is an ongoing challenge for VoIP deployments.

Cato, though, was able to deliver good to excellent voice quality, even when tested with significant networking issues. According to Curtis Peterson, senior vice president, cloud operations, RingCentral, “As part of our partner certification process, we tested Cato’s ability to deliver high-quality voice even under extremely poor network conditions. We found that Cato was able to accommodate more than 15 percent packet loss and still maintain a high-level of voice quality, which is a significant achievement in providing superior customer experience.”

The important point is that the Cato network is recovering from the packet loss in the network, not dependent on packet loss concealment software in the endpoint. Traditionally, VoIP solutions have depended on this masking to minimize that impact; combining both the packet recovery in the SD-WAN with end point concealment will guarantee much higher voice quality.

The key for SD-WAN to deliver quality real-time services, and really any quality application experience, is managing traffic flows to assure that the stringent timing and delivery requirements are met. Unlike other vendors running their own SD-WAN technology, Cato connects their SD-WAN device with their own global backbone, not the Internet. Numerous optimizations improve traffic delivery:

  • Minimizing latency by carrying cloud communications traffic across Cato’s optimized and managed global network, not the public Internet, directly into the same physical data centers shared with RingCentral.
  • Preventing congestion and last-mile packet loss that undermines voice quality with sophisticated upstream and downstream Quality of Service (QoS), traffic prioritization, and Policy-based Routing (PBR).
  • Compensating for brownouts and avoiding blackouts in the last mile with Active/Active Protection and Packet Loss Mitigation techniques.
  • Securing users and the corporate network against network-based attacks without the need for additional appliances or security services.

In addition, with 42 POPs across the globe, a Cato presence sits in close proximity to end-user locations as well as the UCaaS call control deployments. Global proximity is a key consideration in any SD-WAN procurement. Aligning the number and location of the SD-WAN vendor POPs with the locations and requirements for service of the deploying organization is a critical part of an SD-WAN deployment.

UCaaS and VoIP are particularly tough applications for networks to carry. If Cato’s SD-WAN can be certified as being good enough to deliver a great UCaaS experience by a market leader such as RingCentral, whose very business depends on customer satisfaction, it’s time to consider SD-WAN for any application.

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