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Do you need session border controllers with an SD-WAN deployment?

As SD-WAN grows in popularity, enterprise SBCs still have their place on the network. Learn how the two technologies can work together to support and secure VoIP.

One mistake people make is assuming one technology completely replaces another. In the worlds of security, WAN and unified communications, the technologies are often intertwined. In the case of software-defined WAN deployments and session border controllers, or SBCs, the technologies are complementary.

With an SD-WAN deployment, IT still needs some control over who has access to the WAN and how. Many security officers like to stack products from multiple vendors to keep any threats from opening a hole in their systems.

Having SBCs with an SD-WAN deployment can help with problems related to network address translations. Using the two technologies together allows you to offload some functionality to another device that understands what you are trying to accomplish in setting up and tearing down conversations.

In the age of SD-WAN, SBCs still have their place. Just having a WAN connection by itself does not make voice over IP a breeze. Setup is still required. An SBC will set up and tear down calls to be transmitted over the SD-WAN connection and handle the signaling that happens over the connection. It can also redirect calls to other devices -- like music on hold, for instance.

Because voice calls are transmitted over the internet, the second level of setup helps secure the connections and helps with call quality. You can use one without the other, but I don't think an SD-WAN deployment is ready to fully replace circuits that use SBCs just yet. If network devices become ready to handle all of the same functionality, it will likely still be advantageous to allow them to coexist.

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