At VoiceCon, I met with Seamus Hourihan VP Marketing & Product Management and Jim Slaby, Director, Enterprise & Contact Center Solutions Marketing from Burlington MA's Acme Packet. Both Seamus and Jim had worked together at Wellfleet and then Bay Networks in the mid-1990s.

With a commanding lead in the [[Session Border Controller]] market, where Acme Packet has 500 customers in more than 85 countries, the products support a wide range of applications spanning VoIP interconnects/peering for IP transit, PSTN origination and termination and ASP access and hosted business and residential IP communications, including IP centrex, voice over broadband, and 3G video telephony.

There has been a lot of concern about the methods for enabling VoIP service provider participation in the CALEA requirements for enabling law enforcement wiretapping, which of course is an obsolete term since there is no wire to tap. Using the SBC which processes all session requests between networks as well as processes all media streams across the boundaries, some or all sessions can be conveniently recorded at the network chokepoint, that is, at the SBC.

Acme Packet is the only publicly traded SBC-focused company, with $113 million in revenue ($31 million net income) in 2007. The 500 customers include major cablecos, mobile operators and fixed line carriers in America and around the world; channels include the major telecom vendors – Nortel, Alcatel-Lucent and others; and products scaled from 250 concurrent sessions to 64,000 concurrent sessions. The company is now focusing now on telephony segments where VoIP is only now reaching critical mass, that is enterprise contact centers and Microsoft OCS 2007 environments. 

Of course product for enterprise isn't the only point of investment. Hiring Jim, enterprise-focused engineering, business development, channel development and sales resources are key to sustaining growth in a well developed market like enterprise.

The role of the SBC in the Microsoft environment is to provide topology hiding, SIP session packet inspection which is required for DDoS, DoS and SPIT protection, and deliver reliable inter-company or inter-network VoIP service including support for encrypted services using SRTP for SIP media and TLS for SIP signaling.

Using a high density product line to address the concentration needs of enterprises works great for large, distributed organizations, but it really isn't enough to address the MidMarket or the small business. Here Acme Packet plans to use IPsec tunnels between the SBC in the corporate data center and the firewall in the branch office or client software on individual PCs or IP phones. The small business market will be addressed by the service provider customers and channels as they are well positioned to deliver SIP trunking services.

Seamus or Jim don't really see a need for a sub-50 session SBC product at this time.

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