SBC Interoperability: How Do I know if This Works with That?

October 4th, 2021

 

Growing up, I was the youngest member of my family, so I was not very fond of the game “Keep Away” that my older brothers liked to play. The idea of the game (it has a few different names) is that two people toss a ball back and forth while the third person stands in the middle and tries to intercept it. Being the youngest, and therefore the smallest, it often seemed like a futile game that wasn’t much fun. When it comes to telecom, the concept of interoperability can occasionally feel like a game of Keep Away. At the start, you think you have a plan to win but instead of deploying a new service and walking away, you find yourself stuck in the middle, spending all your time chasing the guys at each end of the connection, trying to get what you want.

At Ribbon we get what it’s like to be in the middle. As a Session Border Controller (SBC) vendor, Ribbon’s products are inherently placed in the middle of communications paths. Indeed, it’s important for our SBCs and Intelligent Edge devices to be there. Ribbon’s SBCs inspect traffic entering and leaving a network. That’s how we make sure bad actors are not using communications paths to infiltrate a network.

 

Adding Value to the Middle

In addition to security, a significant part of Ribbon’s value is in enabling interoperability. Again, being in the middle means we can add value. Ribbon SBCs can modify SIP headers, manipulate dial plans, and transcode media to mitigate incompatibility issues between service providers’ SIP trunks, PBX vendors (e.g., Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, etc.), and cloud UC or contact center vendors (UCaaS & CCaaS). Sometimes we help overcome shortcomings for a specific solution but more commonly we normalize traffic so multiple vendors’ solutions can more easily connect, without having to make significant configuration changes at each end. This normalization is why Microsoft Teams, Zoom Phone, Ring Central and other popular cloud services require an SBC for their BYOC or Direct Routing connectivity.

Given Ribbon’s role in the middle of communications networks, it is important that we regularly check ensure our SBCs and Intelligent Edge devices interoperate with a long list of telecom providers, UCaaS & CCaaS services as well as traditional PBX and contact center vendors. Suffice it to say we do a lot of testing. Thankfully, we often have a head start as our SBCs are used in many of the world’s largest telecom provider networks and many of the largest UCaaS and CCaaS provider networks. Many times, our enterprise SBCs are being connected to our core SBCs in a telecom network or in a UCaaS or CCaaS cloud.

 

Interoperability Guides

Recently, we made it SUPER EASY to see the results of our SBC testing. We’ve placed these details on a dedicated “Interoperability Guides” page.

The new page allows you to search by various parameters such as:

  • Platform
  • Deployment Type
  • Service Provider
  • Third Party Products (ATAs, gateways, other SBCs, recording products, etc.)
  • PBXs, Contact Centers and Cloud Services

The Interoperability Guide Page includes the last time the solution was tested as well as detailed documentation for the tests. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our partners and customers to integrate Ribbon SBCs with various global telecom providers (carriers), various products and cloud services. We want our partners and customers to get deployments right the first time and every time. In addition to saving avoidable frustration, it significantly reduces risks and more importantly saves precious capital by minimizing integration costs. Ribbon is providing pre-tested solution guides that identify and document any special requirements or settings so all elements inter-operate correctly.

Of course, the number of potential combinations grows every week. So, if you don’t see your combination of products, check back as we are regularly adding new solutions. You can also reach out to a Ribbon account team member and let them know what testing is important to you. We typically have a queue for end-to-end testing, but we are always open to reviewing new solutions and sometimes have informal results we can share immediately.

Hopefully, by leveraging our new Interoperability Guide Page you won’t ever have to play the game of Keep Away – the only one stuck in the middle will be one of our SBCs, right where it belongs. As for me, I grew up to be five inches taller than my brothers…so Keep Away is no longer an issue for me either.