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Evaluating SBC vendors for cloud communications infrastructure

As more organizations move their communications infrastructure to the cloud, session border controllers must follow suit.

In 2016, nearly 40% of North American business users were using some form of IP telephony, such as SIP trunking, voice over IP and cloud unified communications, according to Frost & Sullivan, a market research firm based in San Antonio.

Organizations are also increasingly using third-party apps that incorporate VoIP and other cloud communications services. Session border controllers (SBCs) are at the heart of these services as they provide the interoperability to deliver voice networks at scale, while securing links between services and customers, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Michael Brandenburg.

“Cloud-ready SBCs are a strategic infrastructure investment,” he said in a recent webinar. “Picking the right one paves the way for the cloud-first communication opportunities that are coming to market.”

Brandenburg offered four considerations for organizations evaluating cloud-based SBC vendors.

1. Software independence. SBCs are no longer just hardware-based products, which creates flexibility for communications infrastructure and offers new cost structures and development cycles.

With a cloud-based product, SBC vendors can develop a common software product that can support multiple virtualized environments and optimize data center resources, he said. Cloud-based SBCs also shift costs from a traditional capex model to opex-based subscription licensing.

2. Cloud scale. Many organizations are using infrastructure-as-a-service platforms from Amazon Web Services and OpenStack for their cloud communications.

However, these platforms have specific architectural requirements that must be met before real-time communications can be deployed, Brandenburg said. SBC vendors must be able to handle diverse processing requirements while using minimal infrastructure resoures.

3. Advanced media handling. SBCs must handle a wide range of media types. Media codecs, for example, are constantly refined and updated, while new media formats are emerging on the market. SBC vendors must adapt to these changing media needs.

“When looking at SBC vendors, you need to understand their commitment to maintaining existing codecs and capabilities and their willingness to quickly embrace new codecs coming to the market,” Brandenburg said.

4. Analytics capabilities. Moving communications infrastructure to the cloud means SBCs must collect, monitor and analyze a wide range of data, particularly if SBCs are deployed in multiple locations. An SBC’s analytics platform must be as reliable and scalable as the SBC itself, Brandenburg said.

“Service providers have service-level agreements with customers and they’ve got to be able to measure that,” he said.