Session Border Control as a Service: Faster, More Secure and Dramatically Less Complex Enterprise Communications

Patrick Joggerst

Session Border Control as a Service

As businesses are increasingly moving to cloud-based unified communications (UC) for improved collaboration and productivity, they must also ensure that their networks and systems are as secure as possible from the growing threat of cyber-attacks. One proven method for protecting communications networks from IP-based attacks is to invest in session border controller (SBC) technology.

Most real-time IP applications are managed using session initiation protocol (SIP) to set up and tear down sessions. Any service provider or enterprise using SIP-based services needs an SBC, whether implemented as an appliance, virtually or as-a-Service. Why? Because firewalls are not built to deal with the real-time nature of SIP or IP-based traffic. However, SBCs are designed for real-time communications and are considered mission-critical to the prevention of malicious denial of service and distributed denial of service attacks, while supporting security features including topology hiding, encryption, NAT traversal and more.

Programmable Future Networks

Future Tech Session Border Control as a Service

As part of the fabric of programmable future networks, these security functions can be fine-tuned to become increasingly secure and more resilient, while also contributing to faster data transport and processing, leading to better quality of service.

In the past, businesses’ only option was to buy appliance-based SBCs that was deployed on-premises and had to be configured to ensure interoperability with the organization’s PBX or business communications systems in order to ensure security at the perimeter. But with every dollar being so precious in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, why not invest in a pay as you go software-based SBC offering rather than stacking up hardware on premises?

Investing in a cloud consumption model gives customers much greater flexibility, allowing them to turn up services faster. A cloud consumption model also make these services available on demand and in any location.

The advent of virtual SBCs running on commodity hardware is what makes SBCaaS offerings feasible for service providers. Benefits include faster deployment, higher utilization rates, ease of management and scalability, and lower overall operating costs.

Outsourcing management of an SBC to a managed service provider (MSP) is another great option for small and medium businesses, enterprises and other organizations. For years, companies have used outsourcing to relieve their IT staff of the day-to-day tasks, opting instead to have them focus on more strategic endeavors that can give the company a more competitive edge. SBCs are no different from email or any other application a company may outsource, although your MSP needs to be a real specialist in this instance.

MSPs are increasingly moving toward a virtual SBC model, where they handle management and service orchestration of the SBC remotely from their cloud environment. That eliminates costly, manual turn-up/turn-down processes and offers the ability to dynamically scale SBC resources as needed to meet traffic demands.

Verizon SBCaaS Case Study

A great example of how service providers are leveraging SBCaaS is Verizon. In 2018, Verizon announced a new SBCaaS offering as part of its Virtual Network Services to give its enterprise customers the ability to quickly deploy and dynamically scale SBC functionality, while cost-effectively protecting their networks from attacks and providing a high-quality communications experience.

Verizon’s Virtual Network Services SBCaaS offering gives its enterprise customers the advanced network and security features they need without having to invest in and deploy a dedicated SBC. The result is greater flexibility and cost control as their business needs evolve. The Verizon SBCaaS offering is a fully managed solution that can be deployed either standalone, or service-chained with other virtual network functions, in Verizon’s Hosted Network Service data centers. Individual virtual SBC instances that are created for each customer leveraging Verizon’s common cloud infrastructure allow customers to benefit from Verizon’s economies of scale.

This is just one important use case for SBCaaS, which can make all UC and UCaaS communications and collaborations applications more secure, more performant and more valuable.

With the UC marketplace expected to grow by double digit compound annual growth rate over the next several years and adoption rates expected to increase rapidly, it also means that companies will be forced to decide which SBC deployment models are best for them sooner rather than later. It is always good to have options – especially cost-effective options like SBCaaS, which can inevitably help make enterprise communications faster, more secure and less complex.

By Patrick Joggerst

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