Sonus Goes Virtual, with a Twist of Cloud

8 Oct 2013

We all know that virtualization and cloud are big for today's IT teams. A Brocade/Vanson-Bourne survey, completed in June 2013 showed that, on average, 50 percent of enterprise software is already deployed in a virtualized environment and in two years 55 percent of organizations will have more than 80 percent of their applications virtualized. In the data center, not only have the servers and storage been virtualized, but the networks and network services are also becoming virtual, accelerated by Software Defined Networking (SDN). In addition, cloud-based business models for delivering IT services are changing the industry. Per Gartner, in 12 months, 80 percent of organizations will be using Cloud services. The communications segment has joined with both VoIP PBX and UC vendors delivering virtualized versions of their software, and we've seen significant growth in cloud deployments. In fact, Infonetics forecasts that the combined business and residential VoIP services market will grow to $82.7 billion in 2017. One element of the market, Session Border Controllers (SBCs), have been slower to move toward virtualization primarily because the need for adequate real-time support has been an issue for software that is in the media path and security concerns persist in the virtualized environment.

Some of the SBC vendors have delivered initial virtualized versions of their products, but they were limited in their ability to scale to the needs of large cloud deployments and the feature sets. With the announcement of the SBC SWe virtualized SBC as part of the Sonus portfolio, Sonus has introduced a new level of virtualized capability and scale to the market. While Sonus was not the first to introduce a virtualized SBC, the Sonus SBC SWe was developed to be a complete SBC solution and to optimize the deployment in a virtualized or cloud delivery scenario. The goal was to deliver a fully featured solution optimized for the virtual environment with the scale and security expected in the SBC market.

One of the key advantages of virtualized software, both for enterprises and service providers, is the ability to run the software without deploying "foreign" hardware into the data center. Many organizations have found that standardizing on a hardware/virtualization environment versus application-specific hardware can significantly reduce costs, both through optimized utilization, as well as through economies of scale in operations, support, and management.

To develop the SBC SWe SBC product, Sonus leveraged its SBC 5000 code base, ensuring that both the appliance version and the virtualized versions have the same code base and feature set, as well as common user and management interfaces. This ensures that the SBC SWe product can seamlessly integrate and operate in networks with hardware-based Sonus infrastructure, and gives current Sonus customers an easy path to extend the footprint of their existing SBC solution into the virtual domain. The virtualized implementations of the network processing and DSP functions directly leverage Sonus' proven hardware-based firmware and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to deliver optimized performance in the software domain. Starting with a single Virtual Machine (VM) instance with as few as 25 sessions, the Sonus SBC SWe can be managed using virtualization tools. The SBC SWe can be expanded from the 25 sessions to virtually unlimited scale both in capacity and functionality including media interworking through expanded licenses and server resources. This compares favorably to Acme Packet at 1,000 sessions and AudioCodes at 4,000 sessions in a virtual machine instance. While both Acme Packets' and AudioCodes' virtualized solutions can be deployed using any hardware supported by VMware, the GENBAND solution is limited in deployment to GENBAND hardware.

The SBC market has become a competitive space with multiple dedicated vendors, as well as major vendors like Cisco and Avaya offering their own SBCs. Now that Acme Packet has become part of Oracle and is focusing on integrated solutions, the opportunity to define a new paradigm in large-scale virtualized SBCs seems to be an ideal opportunity for Sonus. While it is clear that other vendors will expand their virtualized SBC offers, for now Sonus appears to have taken a lead in this space by delivering a fully-featured, scalable solution.

I fully expect to see a number of announcements from all or most of the SBC vendors in the very near future in the virtualized space. The combination of dramatic data center movement to virtualization, the adoption of SIP trunking, the emergence of cloud communications services, the advent of VoLTE, and WebRTC all will increase the need for SBCs in enterprise, service providers, and Cloud services. With the SBC market growing at 20 percent per year, it is logical that a major part of that expansion will be in the virtualized domain. With the SBC SWe platform, Sonus has delivered a new watermark. It will be interesting to see how the market and other vendors respond.

This paper is sponsored by Sonus.


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