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September 02, 2010

Security in Communications: ITEXPO West Speaker


By SIP Trunking Report Contributing Editor




Communications trends are exciting to watch and if you are a player in this field, a failure to anticipate the next wave could leave you out in the cold. In a recent TMC interview, Drew Bloczynski, Sr. Director of Engineering at Sipera Systems shared that the most significant trend in communications today is the merger of personal and business communications. When it comes to the one product or service the market needs the most, he noted compliance solutions that seamlessly fit into existing networks and apps are needed. As for who will win the smartphone/tablet wars, Bloczynski noted it may not matter to the one relying on the tool.


While social media has affected the way Bloczynski communicates with customers, he also acknowledged that we are sure to see wideband codec adoption prior to IPv6 adoption. As for mobile video chat or conferencing, Bloczynski pointed to its relevance, as well as potential data leakage. For wireless operating systems, he believes Android and iOS will dominate in social situations. As for whether or not wireless will replace wired in the enterprise, Bloczynski believes it depends upon the enterprise’s tolerance for security and control.


Sipera Systems has seen a significant impact on its business as a result of the growth of cloud-based services. As for net neutrality, the issue becomes grayer as the borderless world becomes missed with a policing perspective. The most overhyped technology, in Bloczynski’s opinion, is most audiophile or videophile technologies for home theaters. In his ITEXPO West session, Bloczynski will discuss the need to address security foundation for UC services. Attendees will take away the concept of defense-in-depth. As for his outrageous technology prediction, he sees SIP trunks becoming the dominate form of connecting to the PSTN. The full interview is provided below:


1.      What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?

The most significant trend today is the merger of personal and business communications. We’re seeing business communications conducted over personal smartphones. We’re seeing the merger of business and private lives on social networking sites. The key for enterprises is managing and securing business sensitive data and communications on devices and websites that the IT department has no control over. This is a significant social change and a significant challenge for enterprises and governments.

2.      What is the one product or service the market is most in need of?

Regulations in North America and Europe continue to impact enterprise security and compliance demands. When enterprises roll out new networks and applications, the key to implementing security is to build it in from the beginning. The same is true for compliance. What if new regulations appear after you have deployed the application? Compliance-oriented products and services that seamlessly fit into existing networks and applications are needed – especially when it comes to unified communications.

3.      When will unified communications go mainstream?

The usual response is it depends on what “unified communications” means. If we assume the definition focuses on real time modes of communications like voice, video, IM, and collaboration, then the mainstreaming of UC will occur when we remove the borders to those modes of interaction. We saw this trend play out with email years ago. Email within a single system is valuable, but when different email systems across our personal and business lives became borderless, email became prevalent.

4.      Who will win the smartphone wars? Tablet wars?

Like with the PC wars, the true winner may not matter to the person who relies on the tool. Also like the PC wars, the winner may be the platform with the highest number of useful applications.

5.      Has social media changed how you communicate with customers?

Yes and no. Certainly the medium of the message has changed with tools like Facebook and Twitter, but the message itself has changed little. Perhaps the message needs to be tweaked when using these new mediums to better address the needs of the people listening via those channels.

6.      Nearly every phone manufacturer is now incorporating support for wideband codecs.  Will we finally see widespread HD voice deployments in 2011?

It’s nice that enterprises have a choice in codecs – giving them more options to choose between the tradeoffs of bandwidth, processing, and quality. More codecs on end devices also decreases the need to have transcoders and SBCs in the network leading the industry to the borderless UC model. I am sure we will see wideband codec adoption prior to IPv6 adoption, but like IPv6, wideband codecs are a solution to a problem that has been addressed via other means.

7.      What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?

As evidenced in Apple’s Facetime commercials, there are certain emotional situations where mobile video conferencing allows for a greater, social interaction. I believe we will see its initial adoption in social situations where it adds value and with the Facetime Generation who feels comfortable sharing those personal moments. In the enterprise world, there is a lot of value in the office for video conferencing – but less value in the mobile space. I can already tell that Alice has joined the conference from the airport. Do I need to see people lining up at the gate too? From a security perspective, enterprises and governments have to be aware of this new channel of data leakage.

8.      Which wireless operating system (Android, iOS4, Microsoft, etc) will see the greatest success over the next three years?  Why?

In social situations, Android and iOS will continue to dominate. From an enterprise perspective, whatever platform gives the enterprise IT department the most control will probably be the favored platform. There are conflicts here as noted above – employees are mixing social and enterprise communications on a single device. Your next new hire may demand you support his phones. What are the security implications of that?

9.      Some have suggested wireless networking will soon replace wired networks in the enterprise.  Do you agree? Why or why not?

I believe it depends on the enterprise’s tolerance for security and control. They need to balance the flexibility and potential cost savings of a wireless infrastructure. The nice thing about the wired world is that I can pinpoint the location of a problematic endpoint – for instance someone may be running a sniffer and I can see that IP address A coming through switch B on port C is querying the DNS server for a reverse lookup at a high rate. By following the wire, I know where that computer is. Doing so in a wireless office is more difficult.

10. What impact has the growth of cloud-based services had on your business?

It is very significant. The number of hosted IP centrex providers has increased dramatically over the past seven years. These providers need to offer office-like experiences with their customers while also addressing encryption, NAT traversal, compliance reporting, and integration with other UC applications. These providers need to protect their own UC assets, as they cannot control what their customers have on their network.

11. What do you think of the net neutrality debate?

We see a borderless UC world and that vision requires equal access to public networks. From a policing perspective, the issue becomes grey. On one hand, one would be upset if SRTP traffic was rate limited because one did not purchase a “VoIP prioritization package” from the network provider. On the other hand, properly prioritizing UC traffic results in a better experience. Will large bandwidth consumers begin making their P2P traffic looks like UC traffic to take advantage of prioritization? Will people begin to implement darknets and point-to-point encryption to better prevent inspection and subsequent prioritization? I think we need to look at the health of service providers worldwide and see if unequal access and prioritization has increased their viability or if the lack of these speed bumps has decreased their viability.

12. What is the most overhyped technology in your opinion?

Most audiophile or videophile technologies for home theaters have been overhyped. Having endpoints (monitors, speakers, receivers, etc.) reproduce video and audio far above the quality of the source material or underlying technology seems to be the rage. We sometimes see this in unified communications. There is a big push for features, and we rarely see vendors or consumers properly address issues such as security and compliance.

13. You are speaking at ITEXPO West 2010.  What is your session about?

Sipera is participating in the “UC-04 Security and Unified Communications: What You Need to Know” panel discussion. We will be discussing the need to address the security foundation for your unified communications services, the latest attacks, and how regulatory compliance can be maintained when voice becomes another application on your network.

14. What will attendees take away from your session?

Attendees will take away the concept of defense-in-depth: network security is a given, but application and data security are also needed. Like with email (spam filtering), databases (application access control), and web access (proxies), UC also requires application-layer security and compliance enforcement.

15. Please make a bold technology prediction for 2011.

SIP trunks will become the dominant form of connecting to the PSTN for enterprises and enterprises begin interconnecting with each other at the SIP layer. This gets us closer to the borderless UC vision.

To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Don’t wait. Register now.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Beecher Tuttle