Published: 06/11/2017
Author: By Greg Collins

Originally published in Unified Communications on November 6, 2017 

By Paula Bernier

Session border controllers used to be a topic of much discussion. And now, it seems, some folks are talking about them again.

Earlier on SBCs grabbed tech headlines because they were a new product category. (They are a way to secure VoIP networks, and normalize media flows and signaling at the network edge.)

Then some equipment companies began building SBC functionality into their other gear. So there were lots of press reports about that.

Oracle in 2013 shook up the SBC marketplace with its move to buy SBC leader Acme Packet for $1.7 billion. So SBC M&A and market consolidation became a hot topic at that time.

More recently, suppliers have been offering SBCs at virtual network functions. And just this week, tech reports have surfaced discussing how SBCs are an important part of a cloud-first strategy. “With a cloud-based product, SBC vendors can develop a common software product that can support multiple virtualized environments and optimize data center resources,” reported TechTarget, referring to webinar comments made by Frost & Sullivan analyst Michael Brandenburg.

According to Frost & Sullivan, last year nearly 40 percent of North American business users used cloud-based unified communication, IP telephony, SIP trunking, and/or VoIP.

“Service providers and enterprises have begun to migrate to a converged IP network and are seeking ways to unify their communications by seamlessly integrating voice, video, instant messaging, and collaboration while reducing costs,” Oracle writes in a July white paper. “Managing and integrating session-based communications effectively and securely is challenging, and the existing network elements have limitations. However, SBCs enable the delivery of secure, high-quality interactive communications across multiple IP networks….”

Data released last month by Exact Ventures indicates the enterprise and service provider SBC market as a whole in the second quarter of 2017 grew 4 percent sequentially to reach $297 million. The E-SBC market increased 10 percent year over year to $140 million, accounting for 47 percent of the market. The service provider SBC market, however, was down 1 percent due to weakness in the wireline segment, which fell 4 percent year over year to $40 million, the firm reports.

Exact Ventures expects the total SBC market, which last week grew 16 percent to reach a value of $1.2 billion, to reach $1.3 billion this year. That would represent 12 percent growth in the service provider SBC space and 15 percent growth on the enterprise SBC front, the firm says.

ADTRAN, AudioCodes Ltd, Avaya Inc., Cisco, Edgewater Networks, GENBAND, Ingate Systems AB, Metaswitch, Oracle Corporation, Patton Electronics Co., and Sonus Networks are among the companies that sell SBCs.