Session border controllers, or SBCs, are a vital part of delivering secure, interactive services like VoIP using IP networks. These devices, as the name suggest, sit at the network edge and deliver communications services (voice, video, multimedia sessions) across IP network borders. The humble SBC is often overlooked in discussion about VoIP, but it plays an integral role nonetheless.
SBCs are particularly useful in contact center environments, and this is where Acme Packet
, provider of Net-Net brand SBCs, puts much of its market focus. I caught up with James Slaby, director of enterprise contact center solutions marketing at Acme Packet, to get his perspective on the utility of SBCs and also his take on what’s currently going on in the communications technology industry.
Slaby will be at INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO West 2008 next month in Los Angeles, co-presenting the “VoIP Security Myths & Realities
” session on September 17. This session will focus on how to establish a VoIP security framework.
RT: What has been Acme Packet’s biggest achievement in 2008 so far?
JS: Extending our already big lead in the worldwide market for session border controllers (SBCs).
RT: What can we expect to see from Acme Packet during the next 12 months?
JS: Further expansion into the enterprise and contact center markets. These segments are finally starting to see the same issues that service providers did several years ago that drove them to deploy our SBCs. You’ll also see broader deployment among service providers of our multiservice security gateways for wireless and our session routing proxies.
RT: How do you see the communications market evolving?
JS: No surprises here: continued aggressive replacement of TDM services with IP; much greater use of IP trunking services (SIP trunks, mainly); continued evolution of contact centers to embrace IP telephony, and to a lesser extent, unified communications (UC); some real large-scale UC deployments; early adoption of mobile WiMAX services.
RT: What company made the biggest contribution to communications this year?
JS: I’ve really been pleased to see how Verizon Business and AT&T have aggressively been promoting SIP trunks; there’s such a clear, compelling ROI in that technology for large enterprises and contact centers. That’s big news in the narrow slice of the world I focus on, anyway.
RT: How has Google changed the communications technology industry?
JS: Google has decreased our reliance on industry analysts and professional market research firms, made broadband data on mobile handsets more valuable with location-aware services;, continued to demonstrate the value of cloud computing and put the fear of God in wireless handset makers with the Android project.
RT: How about Apple?
JS: Apple continues to demonstrate the importance of good user interface design as well as marketing that addresses the entire consumer experience.
RT: What mobile phone(s) do you use?
JS: RIM BlackBerry 8830 World Edition with Verizon Wireless (which has the best coverage in my native Boston) plus a GSM SIM for my overseas travel.
RT: Who will win in an Apple/RIM war?
JS: Apple faxes an uphill battle with corporate users, while RIM has a similar challenge in the consumer market. Personally speaking, I like being able to work one-handed on my BlackBerry, which seems much harder to do on iPhone. I think iPhone’s photo handling is pretty slick, but its exclusive with AT&T as wireless provider is a showstopper for me; I need Verizon’s coverage. Did I mention my wife’s a marketing director at RIM?
RT: What do you think the communications market might look like in five years?
JS: Fives years from now, the market will be rife with players that are only rumbling ominously now: Microsoft and Cisco in unified communications (UC), Google and Apple in the cloud computing space. If more handsets open up the way iPhone has to applications, then software developers will play a much bigger role.
RT: What will attendees learn about in your session at ITEXPO this September?
JS: What’s real and what’s overhyped in the world of VoIP and UC security threats.
RT: What type of attendees do you think should come to your session?
JS: InfoSec types, network architects, folks who worry about IP telephony and UC.
RT: Why should customers choose Acme Packet’s solutions?
JS: Great partners, for one; there’s a good chance some vendor you already like and rely on will sell you our technology and support it for you as part of their broader solution. And while it’s hard for a marketer to admit it, we’ve achieved dominance on the strength of our technology, not our clever messaging. Among SBC makers, we hold significant leads in security features, performance, and breadth of interworking capability.
RT: Please make one surprising prediction for 2009.
JS: President-Elect Obama will ask Bruce Schneier (one of my heroes in the security space) to head the Department of Homeland Security.
Mark your calendars for Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO will take place in Los Angeles, California, September 16-18, 2008, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Register now!
Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world’s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.