SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Andrew Prokop
Andrew Prokop has been heavily involved in the world of communications since the early 1980s. He holds five United States...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Andrew Prokop | November 04, 2014 |

 
   

When the Session Border Controller Became the Toaster

When the Session Border Controller Became the Toaster I want SBC manufacturers to go on and on and impress me with more than simply how many sessions they support.

I want SBC manufacturers to go on and on and impress me with more than simply how many sessions they support.

Do you remember your first DVD player? I mostly do. I mean, I can't tell you the manufacturer, model number, or even what color it was, but I do remember the price, and it was a lot of money. With tax, it cost close to $500, and that's not the kind of cash I part with easily.

What do you think that my latest DVD player cost me? Would you believe nothing? My neighbor was throwing his out and since mine was having problems with skipping, I took it. His worked perfectly fine and it kept me from having to go to the store to buy a new one. Of course, that new one would have only cost me around $30, so I was mostly saving myself a drive to the nearby Best Buy.

So, something that was once worth $500 is now valued somewhere between zero and $30. What's up with that?

Commoditization is what's up. Once special, DVD players are now common, boring, and routine. The newer Blu-ray players have better pictures, amazing sound, and wireless access. Even better, I can forgo the external box and stream movies straight to my TV. In other words, the basic DVD player has become as interesting as a toaster. You put in a slice of bread and expect it to pop out all nice and brown.

The sad truth is that technology repeats this process of toasterization (I just invented that word) over and over again. You pay a ton of money for the best digital camera on the market and a short while later, something better comes along at half the price.

Secure SIP Communications
I also remember the first time I helped with the purchase, installation, and configuration of a session border controller (SBC). This was a few years ago when you either bought a big one from Acme Packet or a smaller one from Acme Packet -- and either way, you'd be paying a fortune. Even a small one was close to the price of a Lamborghini. Those babies weren't cheap, but if you wanted to secure your SIP trunks, you paid what you had to pay.

Ah, but that was then and this is now. Acme Packet is now Oracle and you can find plenty of competition out there. Off the top of my head, I can think of products from Avaya, AudioCodes, Genband, Sonus, Cisco, Edgewater Networks, Frafos, and Squire Technologies. Thankfully, all that competition has driven the price down for a reasonably sized SBC to that of a decently equipped Toyota.

While I don't have personal experience with every make and model out there, I've read most of the spec sheets and they all tout the same things -- session counts, encryption, decryption, wire speed, RFC 2833, network time protocol, and an enterprise management system.

In other words, you put in a slice of bread and it pops out all nice and brown.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking SBCs. In fact, I would never recommend opening up your network to external SIP traffic without an SBC on your network edge. That's like connecting to the Internet without a firewall -- which we all can agree would be very, very foolish.

It's just that when an SBC vendor brags about TLS (secure SIP signaling) or SRTP (secure media), I yawn. Big time. I know you do it. Everybody does TLS and SRTP, and you would have an extremely unimpressive product if you didn't do them, too.

Impress Me
What I want is something exciting. I want to know all the stuff your product does outside of what I already know that it has to do.

So, what are those exciting things? What makes my ears take notice and my heart start to race? (Yes, I carry my nerd membership card in my pocket.)

Let's start with licensing. Let's say that I buy a bunch of SBCs and I want to pool their licenses. This keeps me from having to "license up" every box for the worst-case scenario. I would much rather license up my enterprise and allow those licenses to flow to where they're needed.

And speaking of boxes -- get rid of them. I want a scalable, virtual product that doesn't short me on features. I'm putting the other aspects of my communications system into a virtual server farm, and I want to do the same with my SBCs.

Let's think new and different. I'm excited about WebRTC, and I want you to be just as excited. Not only do I want to run my WebRTC through an SBC for security and normalization, I want it to support the newer codecs such as Opus.

SIP trunks are cool, but if you really want to warm the cockles of my unified communications heart, tell me what you can do for remote SIP endpoints. Also, tell me how you support SIP endpoints that do more than SIP. How about those clients that use Web services and HTTP? Can I use them with your SBC?

As more and more people consider the cloud for their communications, I want to know how your SBC fits into that world. Can you work in a hybrid configuration where I have a lot of cloud and a little on-premises -- or vice versa?

Okay, I could go on and on like this. But better yet, I want the SBC manufacturers to go on and on and impress me with more than simply how many sessions they support.

C'mon. Make my heart race while you brown my bread. Is that too much to ask for?

Andrew Prokop writes about all things unified communications on his popular blog, SIP Adventures.





COMMENTS



August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.