Dialogic Blog

The True Future-Ready Session Border Controller

by Jonathan Knop

May 18, 2017 10:52:20 AM

future ready session border controller

Service providers of all types are experiencing significant challenges causing them to re-evaluate existing business models and look for more innovative ways to transform themselves both technically and commercially. 

Some of the challenges Service Providers are facing are:

  • Declining average revenue per subscriber (ARPU)
  • Competition from new cloud-based entrants
  • Constant change in technology

How are service providers trying to reverse this downward pressure on revenue?

They’re looking at opportunities from SIP trunking, IMS/VoLTE services, 4G roaming, and competitive IP and WebRTC-based, white labeled real-time communications services to transform their traditional minutes-based business model. They’re also moving from basic TDM-VoIP interconnect and termination services to an “all-IP” interconnection.

Why does the SBC matter?

The Session Border Controller (SBC) has evolved over the past several years to solve a diverse and complex set of challenges in securely and reliably interconnecting all types of IP-based real-time audio and video services.  As traditional high-scale mobile and fixed line voice networks have evolved to IP Multimedia System (IMS) networks, the SBC has become an essential network function providing connectivity, security, cost transparency, CAPEX conservation, deployment flexibility, and rapid time to market.

Why choose virtual SBCs over hardware SBCs?

Especially in this fiercely competitive and rapidly changing telecom world, deployment flexibility and rapid time to market are top priorities that hardware-based SBCs can’t provide. Not to mention that hardware SBCs are typically underutilized by 30-50% just to accommodate the occasional traffic spikes that can impact customer quality of experience (QoE).

The Wrong Virtual SBCs

As service providers migrate to virtualized infrastructure, virtual SBCs are expected to provide high quality performance and deterministic operational characteristics like its purpose-built alternative.  Mistakenly, many of today’s virtual SBCs are perpetuating past architectures used in purpose-built implementations to maintain performance and high QoE as well as to facilitate the porting to a virtualized environment with a minimum of code change. This attempt to maintain performance and high QoE and speed up porting to a virtualized environment has the reverse effect and can lead to potential inefficient use of vCPU resources.

Embracing an architecture that is not cloud native lessens the optimal transition from hardware appliance-based SBCs to virtualized SBCs and raises questions regarding the long-term viability of the business case of moving SBCs to cloud deployment models. Static resource pre-allocation models drive higher operational and capital costs and put the engineering and monitoring burden on the SBC operator. Simultaneously it creates the likelihood for significant resource under-utilization as traffic profiles and associated processing requirements vary over time across specific virtual SBC compute infrastructure. 

Next week, I’ll go over specifically what you need to consider in choosing the right virtual session border controller for your network application. Stay tuned.

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Topics: VoLTE/VoWifi & IMS, IPX, Signaling