From the SIP Trunking Experts

February 01, 2012

It's Time for the Enterprise to Get on the Session Border Controller Train

By Juliana Kenny SIP Trunking Report Managing Editor

Enterprise networks are rapidly growing in several capacities, and on a global scale, yet most of them still do not seem to realize the urgency of implementing session border controllers. In a discussion surrounding the notion of how the proliferation of smart devices and mobile workforces is affecting the progress of the enterprise towards implementing SBCs, an esteemed group of panelists gathered at ITEXPO East 2012 today.

The session, titled “E-SBCs: Handling Users, Applications and Enterprise Networks” explored the current issues with security in regard to the expanding enterprise and the need for protecting voice and data. David Yedwab of Market Strategy & Analytics Partners, the moderator of the session, started off with the most basic of questions: Why do we need SBCs?

Yedwab noted, “The service providers protect their core networks, the enterprises need to protect their networks from all the bad stuff that could potentially come in from the Internet. [The SBC’s] purpose is to draw a secure boundary, protect assets, and to facilitate translation in the IP space.”

He then posed a question to the panelists: Why do we think enterprises have been as slow as they have in deploying session border controllers?

In response, Alan Percy, director of AudioCodes, said that he thinks the answer is education. “[Enterprises] haven’t figured it out yet – how vital the SBCs are for protecting against threats and ensuring interoperability.” Unfortunately, that failure to realize has resulted in slow adoption.

More than one issue needs to be adjusted in the SIP adoption process including the normalization of SIP signaling and control through authentication. Steve Johnson, president of Ingate Systems commented, “SIP trunking is still in its infancy. I don’t know if we have say it’s made the transition to that steep end of the hockey stick. I think it has to do with the adoption curve of these services in addition to education.”

Still other members of the panel emphasized that there are other complicating factors. “There are many moving costs,” chimed in Srinivas Mantripragada of RedShift Networks. “It’s about users, it’s about devices. There are a lot of different legacy deployment issues. Enterprises have to understand and take different viewpoints towards these use cases.”

So, if the enterprise moves past the research and education part of the problem, makes the decision to implement an SBC, what are the concerns with that migration? Yedwab asked, “What should enterprises be doing as they move away from TDM, and what should SBCs be doing about that?”

Jack Rynes, from Avaya, noted that, of course, every organization wants to have a smooth transition, but that the more important question is to ask, “What do you want to get from SIP?” If the enterprise wants ‘the end game of a true UC architecture’ then the initial plan will be different if the enterprise is looking to secure voice data for the moment.

“You have to start to put those plans in place and be able to create a smooth path,” he continued, noting that that plan might include video, etc. “There are a lot of elements. The SBC has to be the anchor point for applications in the future, but that’s up for the enterprise to solve.”

Then it seems to be a rather individual decision, doesn’t it? There does not appear to be a standard, or rather there is an “open standard,” as Rynes mentioned, which is purely oxymoronic. Percy took the question one step further by stressing that sometimes the decision to move to SIP can be tied directly to a decision to move to unified communications, which can affect the implementation of the SBC. He said that, often, enterprises “artificially tie these two decisions together,” which might result in the postponing of moving voice traffic or the wasting of time in making a UC decision.

So the enterprise needs to “step back and ask what is your application route” is, according to Percy. “Make it a separate decision when integrating the service provider plan.”

Otherwise you will ultimately delay the roll-out of a UC solution, a clear waste of productivity in the competitive world of the enterprise network.

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Juliana Kenny graduated from the University of Connecticut with a double degree in English and French. After managing a small company for two years, she joined TMC as a Web Editor for TMCnet. Juliana currently focuses on the call center and CRM industries, but she also writes about cloud telephony and network gear including softswitches.

Edited by Juliana Kenny