August 17, 2009
Talking SIP Security and Cost-Savings with Ingate
By Michael Dinan
Session initiation protocol, or “SIP,” continues to capture the imagination of the IP communications industry and SIP trunking, in particular, is offering more and more companies of all sizes some benefits that aren’t available through traditional telephony communications methods or infrastructure, the president of Ingate Systems told TMCnet in an interview.
According to Steven Johnson (News - Alert) – whose company develops firewall technology and products that enable SIP communications for the enterprise while maintaining control and security at the network edge – the adoption rate of SIP is accelerating, in particular, because the technology’s return on investment is calculable.
“We have some evidence from one of our customers, who put up a multi-site call center application using SIP, and ripped out their entire telephony infrastructure, with new phones and Ingate’s work, and they were repaid on a $350,000 investment in less than nine months,” Johnson, pictured left, told TMCnet. “So the ROI is outstanding. These are examples from the ROI or financial point of view that are available and very compelling.”
Johnson – who is speaking during ITEXPO West 2009 in Los Angeles next month, in a pair of sessions titled “SIP Trunking and Security” and “The Enterprise Infrastructure” – also said that the flexibility that comes with SIP trunking is delivering more and more dynamic calling features to businesses.
“You can be anywhere and connect up a phone and receive calls as though you’re in the office,” said Johnson, whose company’s international headquarters are in Sweden and whose U.S. offices are in Hollis, N.H. “If you have a call center, you can disperse the call center, people can work from homes and there’s really no more bricks and mortar. It helps offices in multiple states and all of those offices get a local dial-tone.”
Generally speaking, SIP trunking is a service offered by Internet telephony service providers so that businesses can adopt VoIP using their Internet connection. That way, they can communicate with others who rely on the PSTN, since the enterprise IP-PBX (News - Alert) is connected to the service provider’s PSTN gateways over the Internet.
A major feature of SIP trunking is its scalability.
As Johnson noted in his interview with TMCnet, businesses can add by increments of one single SIP trunk at a time.
“So there’s some granular scalability,” Johnson said. “Think of what that can do for seasonal businesses, who can ramp up at peak times and then ramp down, and save money that way.”
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 (News - Alert). 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