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September 02, 2009

SIPconnect Takes Center Stage at ITEXPO West 2009


By Michael Dinan SIP Trunking Report Editor



ITEXPO West 2009, Los Angeles – The need for interoperability and industry standards has emerged as a major theme here at ITEXPO West 2009 – a trend that likely is driven, in large part, by the rapid development of technologies in areas such as 4G wireless evolution and smart grids.

 
No trade association in IP communications is working harder to develop standards for relevant technologies than the SIP Forum, a professional group that’s received wide praise for its development, oversight and advocacy of SIPconnect – an industry-wide, standards-based approach to direct IP peering between SIP-enabled IP PBXs and VoIP service provider networks.
 
Today, during Ingate Systems’ “SIP Trunking Workshop” at the ITEXPO, officials from the SIP Forum – its president and managing director, Marc Robins, and director, Richard Shockey – will run the so-called “SIP Forum SIPconnect Compliance Workshop.”
 
The event will describe the Forum’s work and lay out the value proposition of SIPconnect itself, including the most recent technical recommendation.
 
TMCnet has spoken to a handful of SIP specialists over the past few weeks about SIPconnect and the need for standards.
 
An official with a Canada-based communications solutions provider told TMCnet in an interview that one major challenge of multi-vendor SIP deployments or deployments with SIP trunking service providers is the need for interoperability testing.
 
“Because SIP standards are still evolving, and in many cases existing standards are vague or open to interpretation, one cannot guarantee successful deployments without first testing for SIP compatibility,” said Laith Zalzalah, director of carrier and hosted solutions at Mitel, whose international headquarters are in Kanata, Ont. “SIPConnect attempts to address this challenge by providing a common reference point for vendors to achieve compliance. While this is a valuable step forward, it doesn’t completely remove the need for vendor and service-provider specific interop testing.”
 
That may be – but it’s impossible to imagine that communications providers could keep customers happy if calls and features didn’t work properly.
 
That’s a point that Sean Rivers, director of product marketing at Cary, N.C.-based business communications Bandwidth.com, made to TMCnet in an interview recently.
 
“Before the SIPconnect initiative we were never sure if all phone system features would work are we require, now we are able to begin the interoperation testing from a much better position,” Rivers said. “This has been an incredible help to us.”
 
Today’s workshop will include a step-by-step review of the SIPconnect Compliant Program application process, and lessons learned from actual SIPconnect deployments.
 
Other sessions taking place during today’s workshop include “Legacy PBX/PSTN and SIP Trunking,” and “SIP Trunking and Security” – a topic that Ingate Systems President Steven Johnson recently discussed with TMCnet in an interview.
 
As SIP trunking has proliferated, with more and more companies using the technology for their audio communications, questions about security have arisen.
 
As Johnson noted during our interview, SIP is built on Web standards, so in a way it’s built to be secure, but one of the things that companies are concerned about is how to ensure that when they open up their data infrastructure – maybe an “intranet” – to handle telephony, how do they know that something detrimental won’t happen to the rest of the network.
 
It’s a valid concern, and one that Johnson certainly plans to address during his session at ITEXPO. One of the ways to address it is with Ingate’s own SIP-aware firewall, which essentially ensures that there’s nothing malicious coming into a network or VPN by doing an inspection upon signaling.
 
Other methods include hiding open media ports beyond the firewall, Johnson said, and dynamically managing ports for the parsing and DPI of SIP signaling.
 
“So those together form a secure and robust environment against attacks,” he said.
 

Learn more about Ingate during the company’s sessions at ITEXPO West — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Drop in during Ingate’s sessions in room 502A of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Don’t wait. Register now!


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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan