No Session Border Controller—What’s the Worst that Can Happen?

EWN_Logo_1SEP11By Rosa Lear, Director of Marketing, Edgewater Networks

 Whether you’re a VoIP service provider or an SMB decision-maker upgrading to IP communications, you’ve likely heard that SBCs are an important piece of the communications puzzle. In an effort to cut costs, you might think of how SBC functionality can be absorbed by other appliances. What’s the worst that can happen without SBCs?

Let’s look at the key functions of an SBC—security, interoperability, migration support, and performance monitoring—and see if you can truly get by without an SBC.

Securing VoIP with SBCs

One of the most important functions of SBCs is their ability to analyze VoIP traffic to ensure secure communications. But you might say, “wait a second, I have an application firewall for that.” What’s the worst that can happen if you let the firewall take over for communications security?

The problem with using a firewall in place of an SBC is that they only monitor SIP signaling, not the VoIP media packets. SBCs have back-to-back user agent (B2BUA) functionality that enables more effective VoIP service monitoring for greater security. But what’s the worst that can happen without them? Here are just a few problems that SBCs can mitigate:

  • Eavesdropping
  • Premium rate fraud
  • DDoS attacks
  • Topology leaks

Ensure Interoperability with SBCs

Traditional telephony and early deployments of VoIP solutions used the same codecs. However, the explosion of IP communications has led telcos, cable companies, OTT service providers and more to implement different codecs. With an SBC, you can ensure interoperability between codecs with normalization features. What’s the worst that can happen without SBC normalization?

Without normalization, purchasing new communications equipment and services can be almost impossible. SBC normalization ensures compatibility with backbone equipment in your network. Leaving SBCs out of your communications network would force you to completely replace legacy equipment instead of making the most of your previous investments.

Simplifying Migration with SBCs

It’s becoming more common for companies to implement third party services and solutions in their communications networks. SBCs help you ensure users are prepared to switch from their old solutions to your new ones. In the short-term, this might not seem like a big deal if customers are content with their communications systems. But what’s the worst thing that can happen in the long run?

Cloud services and applications are becoming integral pieces of the business world. Service providers are starting to shift toward more over the top (OTT) solutions. If you’re purchasing or delivering OTT telecom services, you need SBCs to ensure all users can migrate to the new solutions. Similar to interoperability, failure to ensure compatibility with SBCs could force you to replace an entire network of equipment.

Quality of Service Fails Without SBCs

Implementing the latest VoIP technology won’t mean much if call quality is poor. SBCs authorize packet transfer to ensure high quality voice and video connections. If you’re trying to avoid implementing SBCs, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

Have you ever experienced echoing, crackling or latency when using VoIP services? Bad packets plague all VoIP services, cause a poor user experience on calls and could even cost you your customers…but SBCs can solve these issues. Of all the problems that not using an SBC can cause, this could have the most drastic effect on your bottom line.

Plain and Simple, You Need SBCs

You may think that you can cut costs by not implementing SBCs, but without them your IP communications systems won’t work properly. Just ask yourself—is not using an SBC really worth it?

How have SBCs affected your VoIP solutions? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think would happen if you didn’t have SBCs supporting IP communications.

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