Versa expands SD-Branch with unified communications services

Versa Networks, a vendor in the SD-WAN market, unveiled additions to its Versa Cloud IP Platform today, including embedded voice and video codec support to provide native mean opinion score (MOS)-based traffic engineering and reporting for unified communications (UC) services (voice and video).

An issue facing many SD-WAN solutions is they are only able to identify voice or video packets. What many solutions are not able to do is provide real-time feedback of an end user experience of a voice/video session captured by a MOS score define policies based on embedded MOS data. Consequently, SD-WAN solutions do not make informed decisions based on the quality of the end-user experience. Instead, they are based on the behavior of a set of transport circuits.

The additional features to Versa Cloud IP Platform are intended to address this issue with capabilities that recognize business-class voice and video traffic. The Versa Cloud IP Platform enables branch offices to have access to third-party virtual network functions. New capabilities to the platform include:

* The ability to create MOS-based voice and video traffic-steering policies to provide an optimal user experience across the WAN end-to-end.
* The ability to decode and encode voice and video traffic streams to further extrapolate additional information in real time based on embedded MOS data.
* Native real-time and historical reporting and analysis of voice and video quality based on MOS and codec type.
* Distribution and sharing of MOS metrics to all nodes within the SD-WAN to ensure end-to-end optimization based on the user’s voice and video experience.

“The announced enhancements bring the value of unified communications specific intelligence to Versa’s SD-WAN, moving beyond just the data connectivity benefits that most SD-WAN offerings provide to the market,” Rob McBride, head of product marketing at Versa Networks, told RCR Wireless News in an email exchange. “It strengthens Versa Cloud IP Platform SD-WAN capabilities to provide user experience oriented benefits across more workloads (i.e. application types) while other vendors are focused on purely the network connectivity experience.”

Versa said service providers benefit from the Versa Cloud IP Platform updates by delivering business-class voice and video services for unified communications as a service (UCaaS), strengthening their portfolios in return. By the same token, enterprises benefits from the voice and video updates to the Versa Cloud IP Platform, which reduce troubleshooting and tickets associated with voice and video.

Commenting on the challenges users ought to be aware of in setting up this kind of technology, McBride added: “Organizations need to understand that SD-WAN brings a new set of tools to design, deploy and operate the branch and WAN. They should be aware of potential skill gap challenges of understanding application-specific needs and mapping to application-driven policies within SD-WAN.”

Versa isn’t the only company to capitalize on UCaaS and SD-WAN services. This summer, for example, Windstream debuted an enhanced SD-WAN offering, which includes updates to its UCaaS portfolio. According to third-quarter earnings for Windstream, SD-WAN and UCaaS comprised 36% of total enterprise sales during the quarter.

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