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VoIP Gateways - The Barriers before IP Communications
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VoIP Gateways Featured Article

March 15, 2012
The Barriers before IP Communications

By Juliana Kenny, TMCnet Managing Editor

At the Acme Packet (News - Alert) University event on the Harvard campus in Boston today, thought leaders from the IP and voice world gathered to explore the challenges and future developments for the IP communications industry, with a focus on session border controller (SBC) technology. 

Kevin Klett, vice president of product management for Acme Packet started at the basics of the session border controller technology in a discussion titled “A New Network Element: Session Border Controllers.” He explored issues with the history of IP communications and what its developments have led service providers to require.

Deploying end-to-end IP communications comes with its own barriers including its inherently insecure nature, user identity schemes, the multiplicity of codecs, too many session protocol variants, and the requirement to control bandwidth and capacity.

Limitations of existing elements in controlling IP-based RTC include softswitches, signaling proxies, application servers, routers, and data firewalls. “Firewalls don’t dynamically adjust access control lists,” said Klett. “They are not suited for this problem.”

Interfering with session delivery will ultimately result in the decrease in the quality of the user experience, which is the opposite of everyone’s end goal. Klett emphasized that the difficulty truly lies in the potential loss of service from the provider. Loss of service results in more than just loss of revenue. It can mean customer defections, tarnished brand reputation and legal complications. “It’s about the actual network itself,” Klett said. It’s that “simple, it’s the deployment that is not simple.”

The session border controller performs some key functions that can overcome these critical barriers. Klett revealed that the SBC enables security and infrastructure protection by assuring access to only authorized users and traffic. Session management and control, he noted, “is the foundation of the SBC” and imperative for the network performance.

But where are SBCs required? According to Klett, lots of places. Fixed line providers, mobile service providers, and enterprises and contact centers all need SBCs. Coincidentally, we witnessed this exact discussion at ITEXPO (News - Alert) East 2012 in early February where industry leaders explored the notion of the enterprise deploying SBCs.

Before the sessions started, TMC’s (News - Alert) CEO Rich Tehrani talked with Acme Packet’s CEO, Andy Ory, who noted, “The idea today is to explain to the world how complicated the SBC space is - one part switch, security device and softswitch. These are separate disciplines in most companies - making it more complicated to build an SBC.” And the conversations at Acme Packet’s University today continue to explore these complications.

The University continues – stay tuned for more developments from the educational sessions.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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