Ahead of the Curve: Sansay Leads the Pack on Virtualization, WebRTC

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  November 05, 2013

The term network functions virtualization has been getting a lot of attention lately as a way to help telcos save money and increase their ability to quickly introduce new services. But Sansay, which opened for business more than a decade ago, has designed everything it’s built to run on standard Intel (News - Alert) servers from day one and that helps it function in the NFV world.

Sansay offers what it says is thehighest performing VoIP session controller available in the market. It enables the delivery of hosted PBX (News - Alert) and SIP trunking services and is being used commercially on more than 350 service provider networks worldwide.

When Sansay was established, the company wanted to do signaling and media processing for telcos, but it sought out a new approach to make it competitive, said Max Sheng, COO and executive vice president of R&D. So Sansay (News - Alert) decided to leverage a standard server and OS. That positioned Sansay well for the important new move to virtualization, Sheng said, and it will enable customers to run the Sansay system on their existing VMware solutions.

“The design approach we used at the time was to make very efficient software in order to wring the most performance out of a commercial server. We had to use some pretty novel techniques to get the DB and media switching performance needed for the wholesale carrier market,” said Sheng. Those techniques are now being applied to the virtual machine deployments.

Being able to run the software on industry-standard servers means customers can benefit from Moore’s law. Indeed, software that Sansay wrote a decade ago can now run six times faster, and with no additional investment, as a result of improvements in Moore’s law, said CTO Jerry Ryner.

You don’t hear a whole lot from other NFV vendors about handling signaling vs. handling media in the cloud, added Ryner. That’s because signaling and media handling are two very different things, with different requirements. Putting a large amount of media in a virtual environment can be especially problematic without the right technology in place, he said. But Sansay uses technology that takes control of Intel cores and doesn’t need to run Linux on those cores, explained Ryner. As a result, it can get the level of performance, which once required proprietary hardware, from off-the-shelf hardware.

The company also has been doing a lot of work around route servers. In fact, Sansay executives said its query per second performance on this front is the highest in the industry. That’s important, particularly for large VoIP service providers switching wholesale traffic, explained Glen Gerhard, vice president of product management.

Gerhard said these service providers need to make very refined routing decisions with high volume traffic. To enable that, he said, Sansay off-boarded the route lookup functionality from its session border controller to the ROME HRS system. As a result, he added, Sansay can employ jurisdiction-based routing and process 15,000 calls per second with very large route tables. This kind of performance means Sansay has the horsepower to route all the calls for most customers in a single server.

“In order to keep the termination costs the lowest we can work with multiple consortium number pools within the route tables for direct user termination,” said Gerhard. This kind of large database is not feasible to reside on the SBC itself, but can be centralized within the route servers for high performance lookups. “This approach also lends itself to NFV deployments. In order to provide sufficient switching capacity within VMs it needs to scale horizontally. The ability to centralize the route management function reduces the management overhead as the customer dynamically creates new SBC instances.”

“Existing tier 1 vendors can’t touch our performance on this,” added Ryner. And, Ryner continued, Sansay doesn’t require telcos to invest in a pricey IMS core to get this kind of performance. “The IMS scalability is useful but comes with an expensive price tag (News - Alert). By simplifying the network architecture and supporting NFV with high performance solutions service providers can dramatically reduce their cost of operations.”

In addition to being a leader on the telco virtualization front, Sansay is also a first mover in the important new area of WebRTC.

WebRTC enables browser-to-browser phone or video calls, and without the need for a client download. This technology can also be used to enable other communications, like between a browser and a gaming network or a mobile network, for example. But while WebRTC is expected to break down the barriers to true unified communications, it also has some challenges, such as how to enable interoperability, interworking and secure communications between WebRTC and non-WebRTC solutions or between different WebRTC networks.

Sansay’s new WebSBC offers transcoding, decryption, security, and other functionality that WebRTC applications will require to move into the mainstream. It will eliminate the need for a TURN server or a SIP-to-web gateway. The Sansay solution also can do forking or recording of media streams which are important value-added functions for application developers. Sansay is able to capitalize on their previous efforts for media handling through standard servers to make the WebSBC highly scalable and reliable.

The WebSBC is an evolution of the company’s VSXi SBC, which more than 350 service providers worldwide currently rely on to maximize the performance, profitability and growth of their VoIP networks and services. The WebSBC is available now for evaluation in both service provider hosted and platform-as-a-service models.Sansay also recently introduced the Real-Time Application Developer, or RAPID, program. The effort aims to minimize the time to market for creating and deploying WebRTC applications for both service provider and enterprise markets. RAPID includes a Restful Web API for WebRTC media plane control and WebRTC-SIP interconnect, sample app articles and a developer Q&A forum. The RAPID program is available now at

"Sansay's experience with manageable large-scale application development will ease deployment efforts and deliver revenue generating applications for new business lines quickly," said Gerhard. “WebRTC is an important tool for app developers and the ability to provide these new apps reliably will determine who gains market share.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi