What’s An SBC and Why Do You Need One for Video and Unified Communications?


From a user’s perspective, the cloud is just some magical part of cyberspace, where we can now host our Video and UC solutions. In reality a service provider needs something a little more substantial to actually connect your calls over the internet.

Today’s service providers use a mix of specialized hardware, and software running on generic servers (the less sexy way of saying virtualized software), to host and support massive “cloud” deployments of communication tools and applications. One key element of this infrastructure is the Session Border Controller, or SBC. The quick video, shown above, gives a good description of the SBC’s key functions (Security, QoS, Interp, Policies), and how they are applied to traffic traversing the network.

As we add video to our UC toolkit, we need more support and power from nearly every corner of our communications universe. To learn more about how the growth of video is impacting service provider infrastructure, we spoke with Mykola Kornad, VP Cloud and Strategic Alliances at Sonus, who briefed us on recent developments with their line of SBC solutions.


Sonus has a full line of Microsoft Lync qualified SBCs and a global base of customers in nearly 100 countries. A few other notable facts about Sonus include:

  • Sonus is the fastest-growing SBC solution in the service provider market today
  • Sonus equipment carries more long-distance VoIP minutes than any other vendor
  • Four of the world’s five largest service providers rely on Sonus in their networks
  • Sonus enables more than 5,854 SIP sessions per second
  • Sonus has more than 100 patents and more than 200 pending
  • Sonus has more than 1,000 employees across North America, EMEA, APAC and CALA

A few months ago, we briefed with David Tipping, Sonus VP of SMB Business. He shared the GA release of their SBC 7000, which was unique in that it converged voice and video traffic on the same network, without the need for an MCU. David explained how their solutions have long scaled to support massive call volume, with large numbers of calls per second (think of contact centers). It makes sense that as we move into similar uses for video, Sonus would move to support it by adding video functionality to its existing SBC technology. With support for up to 150,000 sessions, the SBC 7000 is clearly designed for service provider or large enterprise environments.

“We are constantly driving innovation to make the communications experience of our customers rich and collaborative — helping enterprises and service providers reduce hardware expenses, simplify implementations and use fewer resources without sacrificing exceptional capability, scale or security.” – David Tipping

Today’s announcements follow Sonus and its momentum in providing the benefits of their SBC technology to today’s video enabled UC environments. While the details are a bit technical, the main takeaway is strong video UC support behind the scenes. In addition, the Sonus SBC line is now “BroadSoft Validated,” which means BroadSoft providers can comfortably use Sonus products to create, or expand, their UC infrastructure.

A big part of my discussion with Mykola focused on support for Lync. Mykola detailed how the Sonus SBC’s strength with SIP is being leveraged to accelerate Lync deployments. Server providers looking to support massive Lync environments could be well served by an SBC approach.

Mykola also explained how the flexibility of the Sonus solutions allow service providers to address unique challenges, such as customers requesting less typical interop support (for the geeks, imagine needing to transcode a legacy OCS call to H.263). Bottom line, if a customer is asking for it, a service provider can find a way to enable it, or tell the customer they are wrong.

Sonus is also making progress in the virtualization of their product line. Virtualization is particularly important for service providers at massive scale. Not only does it make it easy for them to add ports / connections at any time, it also allows them to “de-provision” servers at times of low traffic to save costs. No reason to rev the engines when we could be idling.

It may be hard for the typical user to visualize the value and importance of the SBC, since it is so far behind the scenes. But there is an expanding universe of small integrators and service providers now offering Lync, or other UC solutions. Today’s UC customer has to be sure they choose one that is prepared to meet the potential for these solutions to scale in today’s mobile enabled world. It isn’t about supporting 100 meeting rooms anymore, it is about supporting 10,000 workers. Ask your service provider how they are planning to manage that kind of growth.


About Author

David Maldow is the Founder & CEO of Let's Do Video and has been covering the visual collaboration industry, and related technologies, for over a decade. His background includes 5 years at Wainhouse Research, where he managed the Video Test Lab and evaluated many of the leading solutions at the time. David has authored hundreds of articles and thought pieces both at Telepresence Options, where he was managing partner for several years, as well as here at Let's Do Video. David often speaks at industry events and webinars as well as hosting the LDV Video Podcast.

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