SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Marty Parker
Marty Parker brings over three decades of experience in both computing solutions and communications technology. Marty has been a...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Marty Parker | October 13, 2015 |

 
   

Get to Know Your Gateways

Get to Know Your Gateways By doing so, you'll likely find new opportunities for your communications team -- as well as your enterprise.

By doing so, you'll likely find new opportunities for your communications team -- as well as your enterprise.

The architecture for enterprise communications continues to evolve, reflecting the evolution of the overall enterprise IT architecture. This should be a constant area of skills development and expertise enhancement for enterprise communications professionals -- from telecom managers to vendors, systems integrators, and consultants.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so if the communications team is not leading the conversation in a direction that resonates with the CIO and the top-level enterprise architect, then others will establish the communications architectures for the future, with unpredictable outcomes.

Session border controllers (SBCs) and gateways, installed as software stacks on communications hardware appliances, are at the center of this evolution. The hardware provides connectivity to a range of communications services -- trunks, lines, IP networks. The software orchestrates the hardware to handle signaling, media, routing, and more. SBC software can run on the same hardware/software platform and provide connectivity for SIP trunks, Ethernet, or other IP links.

Redefining Call Switching
Gateways are redefining the very meaning of voice call switching in the all-IP world. In addition, gateways have an increasingly important role to play in adoption of cloud-based communications, since they are part of the connectivity between cloud solutions and on-premises systems, networks, and devices. You can find gateways today from a number of well-qualified, PBX-independent vendors, such as Adtran, AudioCodes, Edgewater Networks, Oracle Communications, Phybridge, Sonus Networks, and others.

In the past, the PBX ruled call switching. All of the telephone numbers existed in (and often only in) the PBX. The dial plan, programmed into the PBX, contained all of the rules for routing internal and external calls.

Dial plan programming is arcane, with each PBX make and model having its own language and options. Historically, dial plans have been so difficult to create and maintain that, for manageability, telecom managers often had to standardize on a single brand of PBX throughout the organization. Vendors had used the requirement for a single call control plane to justify the monolithic architecture.

In an era of software and distributed network architectures, these PBX-centric concepts are obsolete. Most enterprises already have multiple call control planes, even though only a few of those may connect to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). When users on one call control plane (such as Salesforce.com Chatter) need to talk to another call control plane (such as Microsoft Skype for Business, ,Avaya Aura, or Cisco Unified Call Manager), they talk through Internet protocols such as SIP, SIP/SIMPLE, or XMPP.

Gateway State of the Art
Which brings us back to gateways. The current state of the art in enterprise gateways includes these functions:

  • Connectivity and Transcoding - Gateways are designed primarily for IP-based traffic, including SIP trunks, MPLS networks, and Ethernet backbone connections. However, they also provide modules for T1/E1 and analog lines. In most cases, these digital and analog adapters are more economical than PBX-brand gateways, and because the independent gateways don't require a user license per line enterprises often can see net savings by taking those lines off their PBXs. The gateways can also transcode media streams, as required -- say from G.729 used on carrier SIP trunks to G.711 used on the internal VoIP service.

  • Synchronized Directory - Almost all enterprise-class gateways now include a master directory of endpoint addresses that is downloadable and can stay in synch with Active Directory or other LDAP-based corporate directory. The synchronized record can include a number of user attributes, including the primary call control application that serves the user. In this way, an enterprise can manage user administration through directory services rather than on the PBXs. Note that the directory can include PSTN numbers, so users who are entirely mobile can have calls routed to their cellular phone numbers without needing any user license, let alone an advanced "mobility" license on the PBX.

  • Call Routing - Since the gateway has an on-board directory and processes the incoming and outgoing call traffic from the call control systems (PBXs, UC systems, etc.), it can make routing decisions. For example, if an enterprise has Avaya, Cisco, and Microsoft voice systems, the gateway can look up the called number for each incoming call, use SIP to set up the call with the right PBX, get the endpoint IP address, and route the media stream to that endpoint. For outgoing calls, each voice system sends calls for users who are not on that system to the gateway; the gateway then determines whether the call gets routed out to the PBX or set up and connected to one of the other two voice systems.

  • Threat Protection - Of course, most of the gateways have the option to add SBC software and provide the needed protection against malware and intruders for IP-based external links.

  • Communications Services - Increasingly, since the gateways sit in the call path for all external calls and are accessible to the enterprise voice systems, they are becoming platforms for application services. For example, WebRTC services increasingly are available options on enterprise gateways.

Many of the PBX vendors have their own versions of these same gateway functions. However, as usual, each vendor's solution is essentially a closed environment. PBX vendors, in other words, continue to focus on protecting themselves from competitive threats, rather than opening the services up to the industry for innovations. (I'm sure this will get some contrary posts, but that's what it looks like to us consultants and to our clients.)

By analogy to the software applications and IT architecture toward which communications technologies are evolving, the gateway roles are comparable to "enterprise message bus" software services and application middleware services. This is a proven model that has opened up significant opportunities and economies for applications; now communications architects will be well-served to follow this lead. SBC software can run on the same hardware/software platform for SIP trunks, Ethernet, or other IP connections.

So, get to know your gateways. You will likely find they open up many new opportunities for your enterprise and for your communications team.





COMMENTS




Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

January 24, 2018

Communications, collaboration, and contact center systems are all being delivered from the cloud, to more enterprises each year. With the cloud growing in strategic importance, the question is what

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
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.