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Sonus Claims Virtual SBC Bragging Rights

Ray Le Maistre

Buoyed by its increasing traction in the session border controller (SBC) market, Sonus has come out fighting with the launch of a software version of its flagship SBC product, saying its main rivals aren't delivering true virtual versions of their core platforms.

The new product, due to become commercially available in November, is the SBC SWe (software edition), which the vendor claims is the only software SBC on the market that has all the features and scale of an equivalent hardware-based product.

That's a claim that will raise some eyebrows at SBC rivals Acme Packet (now part of Oracle), Dialogic Corp. (Nasdaq: DLGC), AudioCodes Ltd. (Nasdaq: AUDC), and Genband Inc. , among others: Dialogic, for instance, announced its own software-based virtual SBC only weeks ago, while the virtualization of Acme's portfolio was one of the reasons Oracle Corp. snapped up Acme Packet. (See Dialogic Virtualizes Its SBC, Metaswitch Goes Virtual With Its SBC, and Is Acme a Virtual Gain for Oracle?)

Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS) is adamant that it is the only vendor that has any sort of scale that's equivalent to a hardware-based SBC with a software-based product that can range from low resources to hundreds of thousands of sessions. "It's the same code base as our 5000 product line with the same performance," says David Tipping, vice president and general manager of Sonus's SBC business, who adds that the capacity of such virtualized functions can be ramped up by deploying clustered CPUs in the cloud, making it very flexible.

For Sonus, it's the ability to scale from low-density deployments of less than 800 sessions (which accounts for the majority of instances, according to the vendor) to much more dense deployments, all provisioned via a software download, that is the key selling point. "It's easier for customers to set up and scale, and it's easy to configure," claims the Sonus man. (I guess you might call that a Tipping point, or you may not.)

Sonus has made significant headway with its SBC business in the past year or so, and recently reported that its SBC-related second quarter revenues of $29 million were up by 52 percent compared with a year earlier. In 2012, Sonus grew its SBC market share to 19 percent, up by 7.3 percentage points from 2011, according to Infonetics Research.

Why this matters
Any company in the SBC market needs a virtual product to be credible, so this is a move Sonus needed to make.

The development of its virtual SBC is a positive one for Sonus, says Heavy Reading senior analyst Jim Hodges. "The session border controller and the functionality it supports is well suited to software-only implementations, and now Sonus has a product to better meet customer requirements," notes the analyst.

It's also something the market expects, as carriers and analysts alike have long identified core IP network elements as the most suitable for early network functions virtualization (NFV) deployments. (See Orange Has High Hopes for NFV.)

But comparing its own performance claims against the specification sheets of rival vendors, which is what Sonus has done to fuel its claims of enhanced capabilities, is like walking a tightrope. If the company can get an independent test facility to run multiple software SBCs through their paces and make a comparison, then that would make for an interesting set of statistics.

There's no doubt, though, that Sonus, which has been busy making friends of late, has some of its former swagger back and is looking to mix it up in the NFV market. That's going to make the virtual core market even more interesting.

For more

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
10/21/2013 | 3:31:36 PM
Re: vSBC
And a report on EANTC's NFV tests, including Metaswitch's virtual SBC, is coming to these pages shortly... 


And although we wil ask the question at that point as well, we may as well ask it here too: EANTC said it asked all SBC vendors to participate in the NFV test - where were al the other SBC vendors? Is Metaswitch he only one confident enough in its technical capabilities to feel it can expose itself to third party scrutiny?

Answers on the digital postcards above, please. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/21/2013 | 12:43:57 PM
Re: vSBC
Ray, we don't have vendor vs. vendor data to show, but...

Last week, EANTC's NFV showcase showed that we performed well when our virtualized SBC was put to the test:


Miercom says that, when running on standard servers, our software didn't buckle while withstanding a 15-hour DoS attack. 


So we don't need to claim bragging rights. We'll just keep putting the data out there.
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/10/2013 | 10:46:54 PM
Re: Claims
Agree with you - longevity in the software (SBC) space is key. Judging by this press release from late 2005, looks like Metaswitch has been at it almost as long. http://www.metaswitch.com/news/press-releases/2005/data-connection-dcl-and-metaswitch-report-record-30-revenue-growth-24th-con
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/10/2013 | 10:55:58 AM
Yeah, there are a bunch of folks out there that have been in this space and could make their own claims.  I believe Sansay, not a household name, has been producing software based SBCs since 2003 with all of the capabilities of hardware solutions and have outperformed most hardware solutions on CPS throughput and scalability.  Seems to me that Sonus has finally seen the advantage of the architecture Sansay pioneered.  Additionally, I was told at one time Acme Packet's salespeople criticized Sansay's forward thinking approach by claiming software solutions will never compare to hardware based SBCs. 

Everyone is singing a different tune now.  
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/10/2013 | 10:35:35 AM
Re: Re. Sonus Claims Virtual SBC Bragging Rights
I don't think all market share is up for debate here. What would be more interesting, relative to the virtualization claims, if we could measure what vendors were selected because they had the virtualization as part of their design. 

That'd be more telling relevant to this argument. If we're just going on SBC total market share, I think Oracle's always the name to beat.
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/10/2013 | 10:23:44 AM
Re: vSBC
Ray, independent lab assessments are often vendor sponsored, so..... The definitive validation of specific product capabilities will continue to take place the old fashioned way - in carrier lab trials.
User Rank: Moderator
10/10/2013 | 10:22:16 AM
Re: Re. Sonus Claims Virtual SBC Bragging Rights
Market share numbers have nothing to do with this article.  Nobody's vSBC is flying off any (virtual) shelves at this point.  The article was about incorrect technology claims.
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/10/2013 | 9:34:46 AM
Re: vSBC
re: "reminds me of 2005"

And if you'd bought Sonus shares then, about 40 percent of their value would be gone now.
User Rank: Blogger
10/10/2013 | 7:54:04 AM
Re: vSBC
Is there an independent comparison anywhere? That would be the acid test.

I look forward to hearing about the real world deployments from all parties -- I do like the way Sonus has come out swinging, though -- reminds me of 2005.

I suspect, as well, that I will be hearing more about all of this in Bad Homburg next week (that is just THE best place name).
User Rank: Blogger
10/10/2013 | 7:50:33 AM
Re: Headline correction
That's too long...
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