What is an Enterprise Session Border Controller?

Editorial Series, sponsored by AudioCodes, the Enterprise SBC Experts

What is an Enterprise Session Border Controller?

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  January 01, 2011

For years, session border controllers have been about the need for connectivity and security in service provider networks. More recently, however, enterprise networks have begun to closely resemble service provider networks, including their need for multivendor interoperability and security, creating a parallel market for Enterprise SBCs.

The E-SBC is a scaled down version of the traditional SBC, becoming the demarcation point between SIP or TDM service providers and enterprise networks and providing interoperability, security, and survivability, while allowing businesses the freedom to choose their service providers of choice.

In fact, because enterprises typically enter into multiple service provider and peering relationships, the interoperability provided by E-SBCs has become a much more critical element than ever. A service provider can, of course provide a gateway-type border element for connectivity to its own services but, in today’s environment, where enterprises are connecting to multiple providers, an enterprise-owned SBC provides increased flexibility and scalability in a single appliance.

Similarly, because E-SBCs allow simultaneous termination of services from multiple providers, enterprises are assured of redundancy and survivability in the event one provider experiences connectivity issues.

Finally, E-SBCs provide an initial layer of security at the network edge, which, as malicious attacks continue to increase in frequency, is likely to become a key factor in its increased adoption.

But, despite the attention historically given to security, interoperability has become the primary role of E-SBCs. By a significant margin, according to audience surveys in a recent AudioCodes (News - Alert) Webinar series, interoperability ranked highest by a large margin in importance among E-SBC features, followed by security and then survivability.

It’s a sign of the times, as multivendor environments are becoming increasingly common, as businesses are seeking out the best of breed solutions to build their customized communications environments. Even with industry standards in place, vendors develop their own proprietary flavors, increasing the likelihood that two standards-compliant systems are inherently incompatible without an E-SBC to negotiate between them.

AudioCodes, which has long been known for its gateway products, critical in connecting SIP applications to the PSTN, found its experience enabling interoperability between businesses and carriers using various flavors of SIP provided a natural extension into the E-SBC market. Its acquisition of Netrake, back in 2006, brought the necessary security experience to the company that laid the groundwork for its E-SBC product line.

Since then, AudioCodes has invested heavily in ensuring interoperability with numerous service providers, including attaining SIP Connect certification and, most recently, announcing interoperability with Verizon’s (News - Alert) SIP Trunking services. AudioCodes’ versatility in enabling multi-provider interoperability lies in its extensive experience with many flavors of SIP and a significant investment in its certification process. While service providers have the option to certify AudioCodes E-SBCs on their own, AudioCodes has also built its own certification lab, while also working closely with other, third-party test labs, resulting in its ability to enable connectivity between a wide range of equipment vendors and service providers.

AudioCodes initially launched its E-SBC line with its Mediant 800, 1000, and 3000 models, supporting 24, 150, and 1,000 sessions respectively, along with mediation and security capabilities. It has recently added to the line its Mediant 5000 (supporting up to 3,000 sessions) and Mediant 8000 (up to 8,000 sessions) products, creating a common product portfolio capable of serving the needs of the smallest enterprises to the largest.

While its entry into the E-SBC market was a natural migration from its gateway heritage, it has proven a strategically sound investment, as the market is seeing significant growth as enterprises continue to recognize the benefits of a product that offers more than connectivity to a single provider. AudioCodes believes the migration from gateways to E-SBCs is the future of the market.

Case Studies

ROI Networks

A California-based systems integrator, ROI Networks sought a cost-effective solution that would allow one of its multinational customers to reduce its exorbitant conferencing costs. The solution, integrating Skype Connect into the customer’s existing Avaya (News - Alert) communications system, allowed conferencing between the existing PBX and customers and employees around the world at affordable rates, while still allowing users to access PBX features, like directory dialing, messaging, and other custom applications.

Naturally, the customer had concerns about integrating Skype (News - Alert) into its corporate communications platform. But, thanks to access control and other security measure available with AudioCodes Mediant 1000 E-SBC, ROI Networks created a secure environment that would allow flexible communications while preventing hacking and other malicious attacks.

Triton Technologies

Looking to reduce its operating expenses, Triton Technologies deployed SIP trunks from two different carriers for its inbound and outbound traffic. In addition to meeting Triton’s varied needs for inbound and outbound calls, the combination allowed for redundancy as well as future flexibility, as needs and market dynamics change.

The challenge, however, was interfacing between the two SIP trunk providers and Triton’s existing SIP-based Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert) CIC platform. Triton had already deployed AudioCodes gateways for its PRI circuits, and felt comfortable deploying dual Mediant 1000 E-SBCs that would support both providers and ensure compatibility with its communications system.

Both case studies and more information on E-SBCs can be found on the Enterprise SBC channel on TMCnet, sponsored by AudioCodes.

Erik Linask is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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