An Integration Case Study with Skype Connect™
ROI Networks is a systems integrator based in Southern California focused on communication solutions - serving small, medium and large enterprises. As an Avaya and AudioCodes Gold partner, ROI Networks has built a practice centered on blending equipment, software, services and support in a way that leverages organizations' existing investments, while improving the flow of communication throughout the organization. This strategy utilizes standards-based, open, best-in-breed and heterogeneous solutions as opposed to proprietary and closed solutions offered in the marketplace. This has proven to reduce total cost of ownership, improve network performance and reduce the dependency on any single manufacturer required to design, deliver and support these networks.
ROI Networks Case Study Interview at ITEXPO West 2010
Connecting Avaya to Skype Connect using AudioCodes E-SBC
ROI Networks faced a unique challenge when one of their long-time multi-national customers in the semiconductor industry asked them to address their incredibly costly conferencing expenses. The company already owned an Avaya SIP Enablement Server (SES) and Meeting Exchange systems, which enabled in-house conferencing, but their field sales and customers around the world still incurred significant costs to dial into the Meeting Exchange system via traditional PSTN-based or mobile telephones.
To address these costs, ROI networks suggested to their customer that they would investigate whether Skype Connect™ could be integrated into their existing Avaya communications system. Skype Connect allows businesses to use their existing PBX or IP-PBX systems to communicate with the millions of Skype users around the world at very affordable rates. Skype Connect also allows businesses to have local telephone access numbers in 25 major countries. For ROI Network's customer, adding Skype access to their Avaya Meeting Exchange system would allow traveling employees and key customers to collaborate with virtually every employee within the company and their customers without incurring expensive telephone charges. Skype integration with their Avaya SES would also allow their employees and customers to access future capabilities including name-directory dialing, messaging and custom business applications.
While the cost savings were a significant driver, there was concern about security and the possibility of the end-customer being "hacked" via the Internet. The solution ROI Networks designed would also need to provide security and admission control, requiring SIP protocol protection at Layer 4 – which is not provided by traditional network firewalls. It was clear to the engineers at ROI Networks that the integration would require a session border controller (SBC) to provide sufficient security.
However, the cost of a Session Border Controller would be a significant hurdle – any capital expenditures for equipment would need a very fast return-on-investment. After a quick survey of the Session Border Controller market, the carrier-class SBCs were far too expensive for this integration.
To solve the challenges involved in integrating Skype Connect and Avaya SES, ROI Networks chose the AudioCodes Mediant 1000 MSBG with Enterprise Session Border Controller (E-SBC) features. The Mediant 1000 MSBG provides both a WAN interface and LAN interface, allowing for IP-to-IP configurations. The WAN interface was used to connect with Skype Connect via the Internet, while the LAN interface was used to connect to the Avaya SES. In this configuration, the Mediant 1000 MSBG acted as a back-to-back user agent, resolving interoperability issues between Skype and Avaya versions of SIP.
Using access control and other security features within the E-SBC of the Mediant 1000 MSBG, ROI Network engineers were able to establish a set of security policies that will prevent hackers or other malicious behavior from reaching the Avaya SES system. This resolved the end-customers concerns about security and potential disruption to their business operations.
The system is currently active, handling important business conference calls on a daily basis. The reports are that the voice quality is superior, far exceeding expectations. Customers enjoy having the option of using either a local in-country access number or a Skype ID that they can used from their PC or Smartphone.
Most importantly, the cost reductions in access charges will result in a $15,000/month savings in conferencing access charges, resulting in a return-on-investment of just a few weeks.
Due to the high quality of sound and popularity of collaboration with Meeting Exchange, ROI Networks already has initiated a phase II program with their customer to:
- Double the capacity of both the conferencing and access equipment
- Enable a dial-by-name directory application
- Add local access numbers in additional countries