May 14, 2010

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The introduction of SIP brings the challenge of protecting the network from an untrusted network, and the opportunity to manage the routing of calls to a degree not possible with traditional telephony. This installment of our continuing Knowledge Base will review how an Ingate Enterprise Session Border Controller (E-SBC) can address both the challenges and opportunities.


Unified Communications Provides Lifeline to Doctors in Haiti


We often talk of SIP trunking as providing a stepping stone to full Unified Communications (UC) capability. Recently Ingate, working with Business Mobility Systems (BMS), had an opportunity to showcase how powerful UC can be, and how quickly it can be implemented, by providing a solution for a group of doctors rushing to aid the victims of the Haiti earthquakes a few months ago.

But first, what is UC? In it’s most general terms UC is the ability to unify all of your communications – cell phone, hard phone, PSTN access, softphone, videophone – and integrate into one solution. The ultimate goal is to have everyone reachable anywhere, anytime, through the means that’s best for them. The underlying technology is SIP unifying all of these different connection points.

In Haiti, the recent earthquake had destroyed much of the traditional telephony infrastructure. Wireline telephony was down. Many cellular towers collapsed leaving everyone in Haiti further isolated and making communications for rescuers rushing to the scene difficult if not impossible. Victims were unable to connect with family and friends on the island or elsewhere in the world.

Fixed Mobile Convergence/UC solutions provider BMS, supported by solutions from Ingate, provided a group of American doctors who had flown in to Haiti with an end-to-end FMC/UC setup to enable VoIP, texting capability and Internet access. The solution needed to work with the GSM packet network and with any Wi-Fi networks available to establish voice communications wherever the doctors found themselves.

The doctors were given Nokia E-71 smartphones equipped with the bMC client, the Hosted Business Mobility 1 Service. An Ingate SIParator was installed at the edge of BMS’ network in Michigan to provide far-end NAT traversal, which made it possible for the VoIP calls to “go through” or be completed.

The medical team was able to get set up almost immediately as soon as they reached Haiti, making calls and texting colleagues back in the U.S. “With this solution our doctors were able to reach anywhere in the world quickly and easily, to get consults, facilitate treatment, order supplies ‘on the fly’ and also help victims report back to families,” said Dr. Troy Silvernale, who led the medical team. “Within minutes of hitting the ground in Haiti we were up and running. Being able to set up so quickly literally saved lives.”

The solution addressed chief issues with deploying UC, one being interoperability between the many SIP vendors adding their “flavor” of SIP to the overall solution. Ingate Firewalls and SIParators resolve interoperability by normalizing the SIP signaling between all the different SIP-based components (the PBX, the SIP trunk service, etc.). Additionally, Ingate’s advanced routing capabilities can help overcome most any far-end NAT traversal scenario. This was key to the Haiti deployment, where the on-site medical crews would face difficult – and changing – communications hurdles.

Ingate also secures the SIP traffic, ensuring that the Haiti doctors would be able to communicate with patients’ families, doctors etc. in confidence, regardless of whether they used voice, IM, text etc.

When we talk about Unified Communications, it is far too easy to get lost in complicated rhetoric and technical terms. With the SIP protocol, these kinds of deployments – even using equipment from a variety of vendors –enable fast deployments. In the case of Haiti, this kind of speed was critical.



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