In The Spotlight: VoIP and Unified Communications Security – Visibility and Troubleshooting
Author: Dave Martin, Vice President, Product Management at Edgewater Networks
In the past couple weeks we’ve been discussing sacrificing security for cost savings with VoIP and unified communications. We’ve focused on resolving conflicts at the gateway and securing voice traffic and voice channels. Today, we will finish off with a focus on the importance of visibility into the end-to-end delivery of troubleshooting tools for critical voice and video traffic.
Challenges: Fraud prevention is just one reason that VoIP infrastructure requires a high degree of visibility. Security without visibility is, to a large extent, unverifiable. Therefore, secure IP-based communications must include the ability to monitor and manage calls and communication traffic. Additionally, enterprises need affordable managed services with service level agreements designed to ensure reliable, high-quality connections and communication experiences. The service provider, in this case, would require high levels of visibility of voice and video traffic as part of a comprehensive troubleshooting toolset.
Solution: Troubleshooting tools must provide visibility of the end-to-end delivery for critical voice and video traffic, and it makes sense for the visibility to also encompass the unique network performance, quality of service, traffic management and other voice-essential parameters that contribute to the availability of secure communications. Security cannot be introduced at the expense of performance when voice is already much more sensitive to packet loss, latency, jitter and network bandwidth compared to data traffic.
Are we there yet?
Not every VoIP solution or service provider builds in security that addresses the challenges we have touched on in these past few blogs. However, best-in-class enterprise session border controllers (ESBCs) are available today with integrated voice-aware security. Unlike early ESBCs, today’s highly integrated edge devices come in at price points that easily fit small businesses (5 or more employees) and that can affordably scale up to serve very large enterprises with 10,000 or more employees.
Service providers have been leading the adoption of these edge devices, recognizing their potential as a platform that reduces operating costs for VoIP infrastructure services. Built-in security has been a key differentiator among service providers and should be a key selection criterion for discerning enterprise customers that choose to purchase their own customer-premises VoIP equipment.
Besides security, leading ESBCs build in flexible connections with protocol-aware technology aligned with today’s networking, telecommunications and unified communications equipment. They perform protocol mediation to facilitate interoperability of voice and video devices. Voice and video quality are ensured with advanced traffic management, active VoIP line testing, passive call quality monitoring, and survivability features.
Businesses do not have to compromise quality, performance or flexible connectivity to obtain affordable security. IP communications can offer not only more affordable local and long-distance calling but also innovative features that offer a competitive advantage and improved customer service – without introducing vulnerabilities, privacy issues or compliance complications. Make some calls and check it out.