By John Malone, President and CEO, Eastern Management Group
Session border controllers (SBC) are serious business. A good one will perform many critical network functions and last for years. Install the wrong one, however, and your company’s security – and network – could be at risk. So what’s the right SBC brand for customers?
The Eastern Management Group recently learned from more than 3,000 IT manager customers which SBC they would recommend to a friend. The global annual study surveyed small, midmarket and enterprise businesses across 22 vertical markets, in seven world regions. Nineteen SBC vendors, which today account for the majority of all SBC purchases, were evaluated by customers on 10 customer satisfaction measurements.
The survey results discussed in this post are taken from our new report, “2018 Session Border Controller Customer Satisfaction.”
Businesses connecting their infrastructure to a SIP trunk, or VoIP connection, require an SBC for security, SIP interoperability, media transcoding, and intelligent session control. Often, according to SBC provider Sangoma, a business might forget the importance of an SBC when switching from a legacy phone system to VoIP and simply use their existing firewall for protection — and make a huge mistake! A typical firewall can only protect the data network, and as soon as the customer opens it up to the internet (to connect the VoIP services), the entire network is exposed. Another pitfall of using the existing firewall, instead of an SBC, is that phone calls may not connect, or there may be audio issues. An SBC automatically does the call translations for the customer, with the built-in interoperability features, and also translates the audio with built-in transcoding capabilities.
According to our research, published in the “2018-2024 SIP Global Market 7-Year Forecast and Analysis” report, enterprises in all world regions use SBCs today; besides the 18% of businesses in the U.S., this includes 19% in Canada, and more than 20% in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, MEA, LATAM, and APAC. Businesses in the U.S. are the largest buyers of SBCs.
Worldwide demand for SBCs is growing at 7.6% year-over-year in 2019. SBC shipments will continue gaining ground over the coming years, reaching 8% annually by 2024, according to Eastern Management Group models. (Note: The accelerating growth rate gets a boost from technologies like contact centers and cloud). By way of comparison, business spending on all IT is up 4.3% year over year in 2019, about half the growth rate of SBCs.
Often in our satisfaction surveys (for example, IP PBXs, SIP trunks, VoIP phones, server virtualization), customers’ top recommendations go to vendors with exceptional cradle-to-grave indices such as support and contact-center experience (customer satisfaction measurements); in other words, caring for the customer over the product life cycle.
SBCs are different. Session border controllers are a customer’s network armor; security is job one. For this reason, customers are likely to recommend to a friend those providers that have demonstrated excellence in technology and product, reliability and installation (customer satisfaction measurements). These measurements go to the root of SBC functionality.
Recommend-to-a-friend is one of the 10 customer satisfaction measurements in the customer satisfaction survey. To the Eastern Management Group – and the customers surveyed – it’s the most important to prospective SBC customers.
In our study, each of the leading recommend-to-a-friend providers scored well in …
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