From established telco providers to newcomers in the market offering OTT services, service providers of all sizes today have been trying to decipher the idea of "as-a-service". Adding to the complexity is the fact that these service providers often use different terms when talking about the concept.
For instance, some providers are offering CaaS (communications as a service) while others are offering UCaaS (Unified Communications as a service). The difference is that CaaS includes only real-time voice or video, while UCaaS also includes presence, instant messaging (IM), collaboration and sometimes integration into existing applications (typically the Microsoft Office suite). The CaaS and UCaaS market is rapidly growing; every day there are new players entering the field with unique - yet common - approaches to their architecture and deployments.
Traditional service providers seem to be moving to a data center or private Cloud model - where they leverage existing co-location hubs or deploy their own private cloud - with virtual software on servers they own. OTT players tend to gravitate toward using an IaaS (infrastructure as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) Cloud. Examples of these services would include Amazon Elastic cloud, Microsoft Azure, HP cloud, or IBM cloud.
While there are benefits to both models, the most interesting commonality here is that both traditional and OTT providers recognize the value and importance of having Session Border Controllers (SBCs) in their UC architecture. SBCs provide secure access to SIP trunking, which enable service providers to simplify their network design, reduce costs and effectively deploy Unified Communications and other applications.
For traditional players, SBCs deliver security, interworking and topology hiding in a multi-network environment - all of which are critical to their networks. The OTT players hosted on the IaaS platforms see the need for interworking signaling and transcoding media as the top use cases for an SBC.
The next topic that commonly arises is how to deploy SBCs. There are two primary options: purchase an SBC appliance or use a virtual SBC. For OTT players hosting in a public Cloud, a virtual SBC is really the best route. On the other hand, traditional players have more flexibility to explore both models (virtual and appliance) depending on their infrastructures and cost-benefit analysis.
With the advent of Cloud 2.0, there is definitely a move to embed real-time communications capabilities in the form of an SBC into the Cloud, and the interesting thing is that it does not matter whether it is a private cloud, public cloud or traditional datacenter. The deployment, be it virtual or appliance, may be different but the need for an SBC seems to be there in every case.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.