Organisations need appropriate communications channels as defined by specific internal policies on privacy and access, but business owners also need to ensure that the array of communications occurring within their enterprise is secure.
This business dynamic is a real opportunity for the channel to offer greater value to its enterprise customers.
For example, take session border controllers (SBCs), the key to running reliable and secure communications networks. An SBC essentially controls each IP-based SIP or H.323 real-time communication session at the point traffic is handed from one network to another.
VoIP, like other IP applications, is carried over public networks and terminates on client devices. It therefore leaves companies potentially more vulnerable to security threats. SBCs control unified communications admissions at the border and can also often perform call-control functions.
SBCs "normalise" and "trans-code" the many SIP versions and codecs. A good SBC will act as the session traffic cop, keeping the communication highways safe and orderly, while ensuring those on the black list are kept out, including spammers and denial-of-service perpetrators.
They were once used mainly by service providers that had years of experience in their implementation. As VoIP traffic has become more common, SBCs have become an invaluable part of the enterprise network. They can hide network topologies as a security feature, save bandwidth by transcoding video streams, and direct calls.
What's more, as more enterprises adopt more unified communications but cannot afford to stop using legacy equipment altogether, SBCs can help overlay existing networks and enable interoperability of TDM and IP communications. Businesses can migrate at a pace to suit them.
Key features include high-availability protection against denial of service, end-to-end encryption, and black, white and grey lists. They should perform consistently regardless of the volume of VoIP traffic.
As more devices are connected to VoIP and other types of network session, the SBC must translate different media codecs flowing across the network on the fly. Also, when the WAN goes down, branch offices must remain running.
An embedded policy engine makes deployment simpler and faster, and reduces session latency so there is no extra management equipment needed. Larger customers may require more than one SBC that will need updating as policies change; networked SBCs can be updated automatically all at once from one location.
Enterprises may use two or more communications vendors, making interoperability a large task for both customer and channel partner. SBCs can help here.
Roger Jones is EMEA sales chief technology officer at Sonus
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