A Look at Where SBC and e-SBC Stands and Where It's Headed

Where are SBC and e-SBC headedMoving to the Edge? Looking Ahead for the SBC and eSBC Market

Session Border Controllers (SBC) and Enterprise Session Border Controllers (eSBC) manage the communications and session flows in VoIP networks, allowing for efficient and smooth communications between VoIP networks within both the enterprise and the service provider networks. In my blog a few weeks ago, I described SBC and e-SBC at a high level. Today we will talk about the current market state and where it’s headed.

Since the creation of the Session Border Controller, the market for both has continued to increase, especially as the need for increased functionality builds within many enterprises, and a variety of service providers and cloud platforms continue to come online.

The Market Continues to Grow

According to market research firm Infonetics, the market for eSBCs continues to grow, with over $1.6 billion expected to be spent on SBCs and eSBCs market over the next several years. However, Infonetics expects the cloud-based PBX and Unified Communications market to expand to $12 billion in a few years. This suggests that the growth of the eSBC market may likewise increase as well, as new technologies develop, and enterprises utilize new services and multiple providers, as they come to market.

Market Leaders Begin to Emerge, but Questions Remain

Cisco is regarded by Infonetics and other research firms as a leading maker of SBCs. This is interesting, because Cisco has a specific strategy behind their SBC product development, especially as they move towards integration of the SBC into Cisco routers, which in turn carries implications for Cisco’s customers as well as the market in general.

However, the information does highlight the fact that, while Cisco is the leading manufacturer of SBCs, it doesn’t dominate the market just yet. In fact, the data seems to suggest what many suspect, namely that the market is still in flux as new providers and technologies appear, and the market is still split among a number of smaller makers of SBCs, as the market searches for providers that meet their needs.

Many Roads to the Same Destination

One way to look at the underlying issue behind the data is that the market for SBCs is still in development. This is because the VoIP and UC market itself is still evolving, as enterprises begin to embrace more than simple VoIP calls, and move towards technologies like multimedia communications, unified communications, and high-definition conference calls, among others.

This begs the question, ultimately, as to what the endgame for the SBC market will be. Will SBCs be integrated into routers, as Cisco and others have done, or remain as a separate device in order to retain vendor neutrality and potential performance? The answer to this question is still unclear, in part because the end state of the VoIP and UC market is still evolving.

Cisco Leads the Pack – For Now

Indeed, it should be noted that while Cisco is enjoying a market-leading position in the SBC market, trending information suggests that Cisco’s market share is in fact eroding, relative to other providers such as AudioCodes and Sonus.

In fact, from the second quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2014, AudioCodes’ market share more than doubled, and AudioCodes has continued to report strong financials through 2014. Likewise, Sonus also saw a strong increase in market share, while Oracle saw a marked decrease.

The Oracle market share decline is especially interesting, given that their market presence is based on their acquisition of Acme Packet, which has traditionally been a major player in the market. This, combined with the slight decrease in Cisco’s market share, may indicate that customers are open to a variety of solutions in providing SBC functionality, and aren’t necessarily sold on the ‘big-box’ approach offered by Cisco and Oracle.

The Emergence of ‘Other’

Another interesting feature of the Infonetics infographic is the large share of ‘other’, which is composed of a number of other SBC manufacturers such as InGate and Edgewater. This suggests that the SBC market is still ‘in play’, and that there may not be any one truly dominant player in the space as yet.

So, it remains to be seen where the market will end up, or even if it will end up with any one dominant player at the helm, or standard approach. What we can say is that the market is still evolving, and likely will for some time.

Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc. 

Mushroom Networks is the provider of SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN) and NFV solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.



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