In an interesting article on No Jitter – The Fine Art of Choosing the Right SBC – Andrew Prokop discusses what clients should look for when making a decision about which session border controller (SBC) to choose.

Here at SmartIPX we deploy Cataleya’s Orchid One Network Session and Application Manager, a highly advanced evolution of a session border controller (SBC), to support the growth of our Wholesale Voice Platform as a Service (vPaaS) offering.


We use Orchid One to deliver enhanced quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for our mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) and service provider customers around the globe. The Network Session and Application Manager gives us the ability to monitor QoS and QoE in real-time to maintain or enhance network performance.

Orchid One is specifically designed to enable the delivery of IP communications services and high-performance applications. It delivers full end-to-end QoS and QoE with visibility from the transport to applications layers, which is critical for the delivery of IPX-enabled networks. As a Network Session and Application Manager, Orchid One combines the functionality of a SBC with increased control, intelligence and real-time automation.

As SmartIPX Chief Executive Paul Tindley says: “This deployment reflects our commitment to delivering the highest quality services for our customers and proactively enhancing our network capabilities. Our managed services partners rely on us to deliver IP communications that are not just ‘best effort’ but industry–leading. By deploying Orchid One we are taking our service offering to a new level.”

Orchid One recently earned the Performance Verified Certification from Miercom. Test results concluded that it delivers the security and performance required by telecom service providers needing carrier grade high capacity and scale, while reducing network security costs.

For Prokop, the decision as to which SBC to choose is as individual as deciding which type of holiday you want to go on, from a lazing on the beach style to an all-out adventure hike through the mountains. But he says there are key elements to bear in mind no matter what your requirements.

OrchidBox from Cataleya

OrchidBox from Cataleya

He outlines:

Size Matters – Ask yourself what your enterprise’s requirements are today and what you expect them to be a year or two into the future. It doesn’t make financial sense to buy a 96 session SBC if you know you need 50 sessions today and 97 sessions next year.

Reliability – Look for high-availability configurations. This allows two SBCs to logically act as a single entity. One SBC actively processes SIP sessions while the other waits in standby mode. If the active SBC fails, the standby SBC immediately takes over, leaving the customer none the wiser.

Transcoding – Transcoding converts one codec into another. For example, G.729 may be fine for your contact center agents, but your voice mail system might require G.711. In that case, an SBC can be deployed to manage that conversion. It’s important to factor all this into your decision process.

Virtualisation – Real-time communications was slow to go virtual, but these days nearly every SBC manufacturer offers a virtual version of its product. It’s important to know that you may not get every feature (such as transcoding) in the virtual version, and the capacity may be significantly less than its appliance-based sister or brother. However, there are many situations where those differences aren’t important and a virtual SBC is the right choice.

Licensing – Different vendors license different aspects of their products, but it is safe to say that you will pay for every SIP session and most likely, all the bells and whistles that live outside rudimentary SBC functionality. For example, support for DTMF and RFC 2833/4733 come for free, but SIPREC (Session Initiation Protocol Recording) will cost you.

Reporting – You cannot determine the worth of something unless you can measure it. For some enterprises, the level of reporting that an SBC provides can be the make/break decision factor. Determine what you need and make sure that your needs are met before falling in love with an SBC.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) Trunks vs. SIP Users – In addition to supporting carrier SIP trunks, an SBC can also be used to extend the reach of your network with remote SIP endpoints. Unlike a VPN that opens up a tunnel into an enterprise’s LAN for everything on the remote device, an SBC works at an application level. This means that only SIP clients come into the corporate LAN and everything else (including viruses) stay out. The biggest concern here is that not all SIP clients are created equal. It is important that your SBC is able to handle these non-SIP protocols and call flows.

Security – SBCs play a very important role in keeping the bad guys out while allowing the good guys to do their jobs. Through deep packet inspection, anomaly detection, topology hiding, white lists, and black lists, SBCs protect an enterprise from denial of service (DoS) attacks, distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks, registration floods, spoofing, fuzzing, and a number of other malicious assaults. An SBC allows you to be proactive when it comes to security and communications privacy.

Miscellaneous Bells and Whistles – Last are the odds and ends concerns. Some of these, like JITC certification or SIPREC, may be the driving factors behind a purchase, while several fall into the nice-to-have category:

  • Lync survivability
  • JITC certification
  • IPV4 to IPV6 interworking
  • SIPREC and call forking
  • Network Time Protocol (NTP)
  • NAT and Firewall traversal
  • SIP adaptation
  • WebRTC gateway
  • TLS and SRTP encryption/decryption
  • SIP to H.323 interworking
  • TDM gateway
  • Debugging tools
  • Enterprise Management System (EMS)
  • Policy routing

Prokop concludes: “The important take-away is that you need to lead the discussion with your requirements and your environment. There are a lot of great SBCs out there to choose from, but like vacations, they are not all created equal. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa.”

As experts in cloud managed service delivery, SmartIPX provide 24*7 service and surveillance from our network operations centre (NOC) at the heart of London’s Docklands, while our network presence spans US, EU and Asia Pacific. Our voice Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Interconnect as a Service (IXaaS) leverage next generation networking options such as eSBC on demand.

Talk to us today about partnering for growth – we have decades of experience in quick and efficient delivery. We look forward to a conversation.

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