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SBCs - Key Part of the UC Ecosystem

by Blair Pleasant | This article was originally published on

Blair Pleasant
During a presentation I gave at the XChange Conference in Los Angeles this week, I encouraged the solution integrators and MSPs in the audience to embrace the UCC ecosystem. As I mentioned in a recent article, Microsoft Lync solutions require several elements other than Lync, including Session Border Controllers (SBCs), desk phones, headsets, video systems, contact center, and more. While most other UC vendors provide their own phones and contact center solutions, with the exception of Avaya and Cisco, most don't offer SBCs, which are important for providing interoperability, security, and more.

While there are about 20 SBC vendors, the ones getting the most attention in the UC world are Acme Packet (acquired by Oracle), AudioCodes, and Sonus. Another player that is more under the radar is Patton Electronics. Sonus has made a name for itself by providing educational and informative "Dummies" books, including Session Border Controllers for Dummies, WebRTC for Dummies, Lync Enterprise Voice for Dummies, and SIP Trunking for Dummies. These books are aimed at explaining how SIP-based communications environments can help companies save money and add capabilities.

According to Sonus' SBC for Dummies book, SBCs are devices designed to control the calls (or videoconferencing, or other media) coming in and out of an enterprise's or service provider's VoIP network, while also handling the signaling and media intermediation and translation required to make the VoIP service work smoothly all the time. An SBC controls a network by admitting (or not admitting) and then directing communications (called sessions) between two end devices on the network, like a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) call between two phones. Either the enterprise or the service provider can deploy the SBC. SBCs are the main driver behind interfacing with SIP trunking.

One of the key roles of an SBC is to protect the network and provide security by preventing Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks and toll fraud. They also monitor the network to provide reliable, high-quality service delivery through QoS capabilities and prioritizing voice traffic over other traffic types.

As more and more enterprises begin to deploy Microsoft Lync, SBCs play a crucial role in helping companies transition from legacy voice system to Lync, and can provide the connections between Lync and legacy PBXs.

While there are many players in the SBC space, including Oracle/Acme Packet, Genband, Ericsson, and others, the following highlights a recent meeting and discussion I had with one of the SBC vendors Patton primarily about their Microsoft Lync activities.


Patton has aggressively pursued, and achieved, certified interconnectivity with Microsoft's Lync Server 2013, as well as other UC offerings such as IBM Sametime. Patton's SBC are being used to integrate Lync with telephony systems and other telephony capabilities such as overhead paging, video monitoring, music on hold, etc. While Patton is not as well known in this space, it claims that it is making inroads into the Lync and UC world based on the lower price and TCO for its solutions.

As Art Rosenberg noted, Patton recently introduced the first business-class, cloud-based redirection service, which allows service providers and integrators to reduce setup and installation time. For maximum, reliable network operation, Patton offers bonding and load-balancing routers capable of dynamically combining and switching multiple VoIP network connections.

More to Come

Expect to see more announcements, especially at Enterprise Connect, as the SBC space continues to heat up.

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