Understanding Session Border Controllers (SBC)

A session border controller (SBC) is a security device used to regulate calls and communication over your session initiation protocol (SIP)-based VoIP networks. A “session” is essentially a two-way communication and data flow between two parties. This session is carried out within the “borders” of the user network and service provider. An SBC monitors, regulates, and “controls” this stream of data, providing added security within your enterprise network, with the goal of creating the healthiest and most efficient communication environment. 

Diagram of an SBC connecting two networks.

Maintaining a healthy network with SBCs

Features & Benefits

Session border controllers are essential in securing your VoIP system and have a number of functions: 

1. Security

“The costs of cyberattacks increased 52% to $1.1 million” – Radware’s 2018-2019 Global Application & Network Security Report 

Cybersecurity is becoming one of the most essential business functions to protect your assets. An SBC works in protecting against Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, toll fraud, and any malicious data packets. Other security features include topology hiding as well as call encryption and transcoding for an added layer of protection.

2. Quality of Service (QoS) 

A healthy network has minimal data packet loss or delay with a maintained QoS network policy. SBCs maintain and monitor network traffic, making sure resources are properly allocated. Reducing jitter, latency, and packet loss are all key in maintaining network performance. 

3. Connectivity 

SBCs allow SIP header and message manipulation for packet modification to handle interoperability between non-compatible devices. In addition to SIP manipulation, non-compatible devices are also able to communicate with an SBC through NAT traversal. 

4. Voice and video call support 

Essential to any successful company, quality voice and video call support will continue to foster a productive collaboration environment. Voice and call capabilities are the original pillars of communication.

It is critical for every enterprise network to maintain an SBC to ensure quality and prevent intentional or unintentional harm that could impact both productivity and security.

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About Unify Square

Unify Square’s software and services optimize and enhance the world’s largest collaboration and communication deployments, helping businesses manage and secure their meetings, chats & calls.

Our PowerSuite™ software creates a unified dashboard to surface actionable insights and help manage collaboration and communications platforms — optimizing and transforming performance health and user effectiveness.

How much more can an SBC do?

The next generation of SBCs saw the rise of virtual session border controllers (vSBCs), with the same features and benefits, now only software oriented. With IT applications slowly but surely moving to the cloud, SBCs are doing the same. With the same security, connectivity, QoS, and regulatory capabilities, vSBCs are increasingly scalable, flexible, and wireless. 

In addition to virtualized capabilities, Microsoft Office can connect SBCs to public switched telephone networks (PTSN) and then to the current Microsoft Phone System, allowing for direct routing functionalities. Direct routing allows you to connect your SIP trunk to the SBC, creating a seamless connection to Microsoft Teams, streamlining the integration process. With direct routing, Teams users can make and receive calls directly in the application through your service provider.

Diagram of Microsoft's direct routing.

Where does Unify Square come in?

Unify Square’s PowerSuite solution works in tandem with session border controllers to further enhance VoIP systems and workstream collaboration platforms. Our PowerSuite software monitors, measures, and troubleshoots voice and call quality to provide you with fast-track feedback, actionable insights, and end-to-end analytics. We continue to draw on SBC telecom solutions from various suppliers, including AudioCodes, Oracle, Ribbon, and AnyNode

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Featuring our Collaboration Security RightTrack™ program

With the introduction of collaboration to your communications stack, there are many additional considerations IT needs to keep in mind. With increased collaboration and visibility, it’s important to reduce risk of security exposures from employees and guests.

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