Carl Weinschenk spoke to Diane Myers of Infonetics Research. Over time, most telecommunication networks undergo at least two transformations. One is from legacy time-division multiplexing (TDM) to first-generation VoIP. The next is to more advanced networks based on the IP multimedia subsystem (IMS). After a down period, these transitions are helping the core VoIP networking gear market recover, says Myers, directing analyst for Service Provider VoIP and IMS on second-quarter reports she wrote, entitled "Service Provider VoIP Equipment and Subscribers" and "IMS Equipment and Subscribers." Myers tells IT Business Edge blogger Carl Weinschenk that session border controllers (SBCs) are leading the charge.
Weinschenk: The reports looked at IMS-the IP multimedia subsystem-and SBCs, which are session border controllers. Could you fill that in?
Myers: These are both reports we do on a quarterly basis. The first is our service provider VoIP equipment reports. We look at SBCs, soft switches, media gateways, media servers and voice application servers. The other report was for IMS equipment. In that, we look at a broad range of equipment, CSCFs [Call Session Control Function], the voice application servers and other pieces. With IMS, there are lots of acronyms. We grouped these together because these are the core pieces of equipment that go into place to build out IMS networks. We look at these because these are the main components being purchased to build and deliver voice over IP services. The softswitch is more of next-generation network standalone VoIP network. This is the equipment being purchased to build and deliver VoIP networks.
"Last year was really hard for vendors in this market. ...To see the market continuing to grow, and grow even faster than expected, that's a very positive sign. "
Weinschenk: What is the context of the report this year?
Myers: In 2009, voice over IP carrier equipment has a down year. It was definitely negative growth. In 2010, things are getting better. It is coming out of a down cycle, and we are seeing some positive activity. Typically the second quarter of a year is pretty good. An SBC has multiple functions and plays multiple roles. It can sit at the access edge of the network connected to a residence or a business. It can provide security and handle policies and do IP-to-IP interconnections. If voice stays IP and is not handed off to the legacy network, it can handle the traffic.
Weinschenk: That sounds like a lot.
Myers: The easiest way to think about it is that it helps to manage the sessions, a call. VoIP providers who want to manage sessions themselves use the SBC. SBCs right now are on fire. There is really strong demand for SBCs right now. It is really helping propel the carrier market into the positive area. We are now seeing a strong uptick driven in large part by SBCs. There is more VoIP traffic, and there are different types of VoIP. You may use SBCs for residential services, SIP trunking and others reasons. They are helping manage IP-to-IP traffic between operators. There is more VoIP traffic worldwide, and operators want to keep it VoIP as much as possible. It is the fastest-growing market right now.