The session initial protocol (SIP) is taking off in a big way among enterprises, with more and more of them using it for applications ranging from softphones and enterprise voice to conferencing of various kinds, including audio, video and web. These same companies are catching on to the idea that a session border controller (SBC) is a crucial underpinning of those SIP-based services.
From where I’m sitting, those are the biggest findings from “2015 Unified Communications, SIP, and SBC Plans and Priorities,” a survey of some 150 companies by the analyst firm Webtorials and sponsored by Sonus Networks.
Webtorials is run by a pair of long-time industry analysts, Steven Taylor and Jim Metzler, who know of what they speak (and write). The survey is essentially a repeat of one they conducted 2 years ago, both of which targeted companies with 1,000 or more employees. That target audience certainly colors some of the responses.
For example, 72% of respondents say they’ve either partially or fully deployed UC solutions, up from 68% in the December 2012 survey. That is a relatively high rate of adoption, but as the survey says, “the community surveyed is known to have a high number of thought leaders and early adopters.”
But it’s the sections on SIP and SBCs where the findings really get interesting. Asked which UC functions they would be implementing using SIP now or in the future, respondents reported dramatically more interest than 2 years ago. At least 70% or more plan to use SIP to implement softphones, enterprise voice, audio and web conferencing. And 60% or more plan to use SIP for video conferencing (both desktop and room), instant messaging and unified messaging.
Many of these figures represent dramatic increases from the 2012 survey, with web conferencing taking the top prize with a 133% increase, from 30% to 70%. As the report says:
Rather than being viewed as mostly for voice and voice-related functions, SIP is now being viewed on both an absolute scale and a relative scale as a part of overall UC, and indeed as a part of an overall computing architecture.
Respondents also seem to recognize that if they’re using SIP, they should also be using an SBC. Some 56% of respondents are either quite or extremely familiar with the roles and capabilities of SBCs, up from 45% in the last survey. Another 28% are “kinda” familiar, which means a total of 84% of respondents have at least some idea of what an SBC is all about, which is a pretty good number. What’s more, the number of respondents who are “extremely familiar” with SBCs grew by 84% from the previous survey while the “kinda” and “not at all” familiar numbers dropped a combined 44%.
Why are SBCs important for SIP-enabled applications? Respondents have a good handle on that question, as well. The top reasons were to “secure endpoints and mobile devices” along with “network protection against malware/attacks,” which the report notes are “classic” reasons for employing an SBC – a point we’ve covered previously. But the respondents also noted that SBCs help ensure a high quality of service and “efficiently integrate business processes and applications” with UC. The latter gets to the role of SBCs in providing transcoding between equipment from different vendors, such as video codecs, and different implementations of SIP, another point we made in that previous post.
The summary to the report hits the nail on the head with respect to UC and SBCs:
Unified Communications continues to be on a roll, with a major shift toward UC solutions being implemented via SIP. In looking at the plans for implementing a wide variety of UC functions via SIP, there is a clear indication that Session Border Controllers will be the enabling technology that provides the necessary interoperability among diverse functions along with the requisite Operations, Administration and Management (OA&M) necessary for a secure, reliable, and highly functional network.
Click here to download a copy of the survey results and let us know in the comments below which results jump out at you.