It is fairly simple to determine whether or not a company needs a session border controller (SBC). The more reliant the business is on IP-based services (specifically Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP, trunking) for real-time communications, the more likely it requires an SBC. What isn’t so simple is deciding how best to implement the SBC. There are a number of options in that regard.
The Ins and Outs of SBCs
IP telephony services use SIP to manage connections, and many implementations are now moving to SIP trunking as they phase out legacy voice-only lines. This brings great new functionality to a business and allows employees to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate in powerful new ways – but it is also not something that traditional firewalls are designed to handle.
SBCs are designed to handle exactly the type of traffic created by SIP trunking, and are able to prevent denial of service attacks in addition to providing a number of other security features. SBCs also allow for interoperability between multiple types of networks and multiple implementations of the same protocols. An SBC ensures that all of the parts of a company’s communications system can talk to all of its other parts.
There are four common deployment options for an SBC:
- Self-managed, on premises hardware-based
- Self-managed, on premises software-based
- Third party managed, on premises (hardware or software)
- SBC-as-a-Service (SBCaaS)
Both of the self-managed options are suitable for businesses with the IT staff and expertise necessary to install, maintain, and manage the SBC. While an SBC isn’t generally the most complicated element of the network to manage, neither is it a “set-and-forget” situation where no further action is required once it’s up and running. The choice between a hardware- or software-based solution will depend on the prevailing trend in the business’s IT deployments. If a company is already virtualizing other elements of the network, it makes sense to go with a software-based solution. If not, hardware might be the best choice.
Third party managed, on premises solutions are most suitable for business that either don’t have the IT resources to set up and manage the SBC, or that would rather allocate those resources elsewhere. The choice between hardware or software again comes down to how the rest of the network is set up.
For companies that are comfortable with cloud-based, off-premises solutions – those who are already using universal communications solutions, for example – SBCaaS can make a lot of sense. In addition to the benefits gained by outsourcing hardware and maintenance to a third party, businesses gain the mobility and flexibility benefits of cloud-based services.
The right SBC solution comes down to the specific needs and circumstances of each company facing the decision. Contact us for more information on SBC solutions.