When it comes to session border controller vendors, what qualities should I look for?
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Interoperability is the key consideration when evaluating session border controller (SBC) vendors. While some unified communications (UC) vendors, most notably Cisco Systems and more recently Siemens Enterprise Communications, offer their own SBC products, many UC vendors rely on third-party solutions. A check of a vendor's partner programs will direct UC managers to the SBC products that have been tested for interoperability with their platforms. Likewise, ensuring compatibility with the chosen SIP trunking service provider will avoid deployment issues.
Beyond interoperability, SBC vendors differentiate themselves with manageability, flexible deployment options and the ability to scale as high or as low as needed to meet a customer's needs. UC vendors that offer their own SBCs will integrate management of their SBCs with broader UC management, providing a single pane of glass for managing UC and SBC technology.
On the other end of the spectrum, many standalone vendors offer SBCs within their IP telephony gateways, enabling enterprises to have a single hardware appliance for both packet-based IP and legacy circuit-based trunks. Ultimately, however, the primary role of the session border controller is to provide a secure, high-quality media connection to the outside world, so a UC manager's evaluation process should include attention to the quality of service (QoS), stateful packet inspection, session encryption, and denial of service prevention capabilities of the SBC.
You can read my article on evaluating session border controllers, for more information.
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