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Unified Communications Magazine May 2008
Volume 1 / Number 6
Unified Communications Magazine
Peter Saint-Andre

SIP-Based Tools for Unified Communications

“Unified Communications” is more than just a buzz word, it’s the driving force behind all of our industry today. For over five years, M5T (www.m5t.com), the sister company of Mediatrix Telecom, has been at the forefront in the development and design of comprehensive, flexible, leading-edge, secure SIP-based software components and applications, to meet the changing needs of the global communications marketplace.

By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis

Samuel Guénette, General Manager of M5T, who has been responsible for the company’s operations direction and activities, sat down with Yours Truly to discuss SIP-based UC tools for developers.

RG: Have businesses accepted concepts like UC?

SG: It’s definitely the next logical step in communications. Adopting IP transforms the way staff works and communicates with each other — both in and out of the office. The world has become more mobile; the days of working behind a desk from 9 to 5 are gone. A train, a plane, a hotel and the home are the offices of today. Even so, many businesses lack a rigid timescale for upgrading and implementing new technologies like those related to UC — specific technologies only become important when there’s a measurable business value in how they can be used. Mobility is now a key factor in UC from a productivity and cost savings point of view and will likely help drive investments. That’s why it’s crucial for developers to create secure products that work together, integrating and simplifying business processes and increasing productivity for end users.

RG: M5T has been known as a leading SIP stack provider, has the company’s role changed much?

SG: Our core SIP stack remains an integral part of the M5T product line, and our SIP stack components are being integrated daily into a wide variety of communication devices. We have also branched out over the last few years into applications and enabling components for developers.

RG: What new tools has M5T introduced to developers to bring about the UC Revolution?

SG: M5T has recently released the M5T SIP Client Engine as a key development tool for developers seeking to easily integrate SIP-based functionalities into any type of next-gen communications device, from cell phones and WiFi phones to IP phones and PC soft phones. The Engine is a portable SIP signalling core that handles all signalling and media negotiation details to provide applications with a secured, ready-to-run communications core. It’s standards-based, developed in strict conformance with RFC 3261 and related IETF RFCs, thus ensuring interoperability with other compliant implementations.

The SIP Client Engine is provided as C++ source code which customers integrate and compile into their apps. Customer source code interfaces with the Engine via high-level C++ APIs that abstract all details involving SIP signalling and RTP media handling.

Our customers have reported a faster time-to-market along with enhanced stability and interoperability when using the M5T SIP Client Engine.

RG: Security and compliance issues are playing a more important role in communications today because of various legislations like HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley, etc. Does the M5T SIP Client Engine take this into account?

SG: Yes, the M5T SIP Client Engine can be augmented with optional security components, enabling secured interoperability with a wide range of devices.

Transport Layer Security, or TLS, is used to encrypt the SIP signaling and to authenticate other SIP endpoints. The media flow is transported using Secure RTP (SRTP), which uses the Advanced Encryption Standard — AES — to encrypt the data. The Engine supports different mechanisms to exchange the SRTP keys used to encrypt the media flow. The keys can be exchanged using the security description mechanism, which passes the keys un-encrypted through SDP. Another option is to use the Multimedia Internet Key Exchange protocol, which encrypts the SRTP keys within the SDP. One last option is the use of ZRTP, which exchanges the SRTP keys inband along with the media.

RG: Time is money — how has the M5T SIP Client Engine helped to accelerate the time to market for developers?

SG: Through the UA-SSP, the M5T SIP Client Engine provides high-level APIs enabling programmers to immediately get working on their applications without having to learn one or more protocols. To assist R&D Managers in minimizing the development cycle, the Engine implements a wealth of features, including call establishment, call transfer, call forward, hold, resume, visual message waiting indication, registration management, and so on. Moreover, optional components are available that provide advanced features such as NAT traversal and advanced security mechanisms.

The portable M5T SIP Client Engine can be reused across different projects, minimizing the learning curve and further decreasing time to market. Moreover, this reuse across projects ensures cross-product interoperability and enhanced stability due to bug fixes transiting from one project to another.

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