Reap the Benefits of Virtual eSBCs and Cloud-based Orchestration

By Biju Oommen  |  October 15, 2020

For enterprises and service providers that use Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP) and IP communications infrastructure, deploying virtualized and centrally managed enterprise Session Border Controllers (eSBCs) can drive optimal business results – especially when combined with cloud-based orchestration in a public or private cloud. Such virtualization reduces capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX). Because a virtual CPE can be remotely provisioned, managed, and monitored from the cloud, it offers increased business agility and productivity.

eSBCs play a key role in securely enabling SIP communications while ironing out protocol interoperability concerns. They can address various challenges related to SIP interoperability, security, and VoIP service quality. eSBC software can normalize the subtle yet numerous variations among different SIP flavors, as well as mismatched codecs and other interoperability challenges.

A virtualized eSBC operates as a virtualized network function (VNF) within the network functions virtualization (NFV) architecture. For today’s agile-deployment scenarios – in private and public clouds – we now have virtualized SBCs that run as VNFs on such hypervisors as ESXi, VirtualBox, Xen, KVM, Hyper-V, and others, as well as commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers.  Call-handling capacity is determined by which computing resources and which virtual environment are chosen. 

As we embrace virtualization and move to the cloud, we accrue such benefits such as-lower CapEx  and OpEx  along with a more flexible  and scalable network architecture.  

Now, let us look intently at a detailed use case for a virtual eSBC.

For this exercise, we have selected an IP session border controller that is virtualized and running on-premises, while being fully orchestrated from the cloud. Specifically, we’re using the virtual SmartNode (vSN) eSBC together with the Patton Cloud, both from Patton Electronics Co. (refer to Fig. A). 

For the ensuing discussion, we requisitioned Patton’s virtual SmartNode together with the Patton Cloud network edge orchestration solution. We downloaded, installed and ran the eSBC software on our existing COTS server without deploying any additional hardware.
   

Fig.A: Patton Cloud-Devices-Virtual SmartNode (vSN) Session Border Controller-Interfaces view

Functional Testing

The test setup consisted of Patton’s Virtual SmartNode (vSN) running software version Trinity 3.18.0-20082 on the Oracle VM VirtualBox hypervisor version 6.1.12, together with the following devices and systems (refer to Fig. B): 

  • Public SIP trunk services/UCaaS
  • Grandstream Networks GXV3370 IP video phone main software release version 1.0.3.9
  • Microchip Technology PDS-408G Digital Ceiling PoE switch-software release version 1.13 for network connectivity and PoE delivery
  • Grandstream Networks GWN7630LR outdoor long-range 802.11 ac Wave-2 Wi-Fi access point running software version 1.0.15.20
  • Grandstream Networks GRP2614 carrier-grade IP phone main software release version 1.0.5.15
  • Grandstream Networks WP820 Wi-Fi phone main software release version 1.0.7.7
  • Grandstream Networks DP752 DECT (News - Alert) VoIP base station main software release version 1.0.13.8, with a DP730 DECT IP phone and a DP722 DECT IP phone
  • Grandstream Networks Wave main software release version 1.0.3.34 on a smart phone running Android version:7.1.1


 

Fig.B: Functional and interoperability testing of Patton networks Virtual SmartNode (vSN) eSBC

 

As our first procedure, we did the following:

  • Ran/clicked on the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager application,
  • Started the machine-setup wizard,
  • Entered a VM name,
  • Selected Linux and the version ( other Linux 64-bit),
  • Reserved 1GB on the Memory size panel,
  • Clicked on use an existing virtual hard disk file button and selected the appropriate VDI file (which we had previously downloaded  vSN_3.17.1.vdi )   a pre-installed image, and
  • Created the VM.

We then changed the network settings of the network interface to bridged mode for the created VM so that we could reach the vSN from outside the host OS. Next, we started the just-created vSN VM and a new window with the console output of the running vSN instance displayed. We logged into the console of the vSN for the initial management and provisioning:  assigning static IP address, enabling SSH access, etc. The VM running vSN must lease the appropriate licenses from the Patton Cloud to get access to such functional features as:  Virtual SmartNode instance (to operate the vSN), SIP session, SIP registrar, IP packet routing, etc.

The Patton vSN eSBC was installed on-premises on the Oracle VM VirtualBox hypervisor. However, we on-boarded it to the Patton cloud to reap the benefits of a centralized single-portal interface that permits full monitoring, maintenance and reporting from the cloud.  This on-boarding required a few steps on the vSN eSBC, including ensuring that the modem’s client is running, the clock is accurate, the correct organization key is configured/installed, and it is reachable via Internet to the server nodems.patton.io.

The vSN now showed up in our Patton Cloud Orga­nization to lease the required licenses for  our test vSN eSBC instance (refer Fig. C & Fig. D ).


 

Fig.C: Patton Cloud-Devices-Virtual SmartNode (vSN) Session Border Controller-Devices view

 


 

Fig.D: Patton Cloud-Devices-Virtual SmartNode (vSN) Session Border Controller-Status view

In this setup, PoE and network connectivity were delivered by Microchip Technology’s PDS-408G Digital Ceiling PoE switch. Wi-Fi connectivity was provided by the Grandstream Networks GWN7630LR outdoor long-range 802.11 ac Wave-2 Wi-Fi access point.

Before the actual testing, we registered the SIP end points directly with the SIP trunk provider (without the vSN eSBC) to validate that the SIP trunk was working satisfactorily for both inbound/outbound call traffic. Using Patton cloud, we updated the  vSN eSBC  to Patton’s latest software release: Trinity 3.18.0-20082 (refer Fig. E).


 

Fig.E: Patton Cloud- Devices-Virtual SmartNode (vSN) Session Border Controller-Info view

 

We set about creating the relevant configuration for the vSN eSBC and the SIP endpoints. We configured the Patton vSN eSBC with the appropriate values for our functional testing, such as:  IP parameters under Context IP, DNS, Context SIP Gateway (News - Alert), call routing and SIP interfaces, Context CS Switch, codecs (g729, g711ulaw, g711alaw), outbound registration SIP server, SIP VoIP Connection with protocols UDP (News - Alert)  and TCP (ports 5060 and 5062), location service. etc. We ensured that the telnet server, SSH-server, Web server, DNS server and relay DNS Client services, NTP (with the correct clock offset) were running.

It is significant to note that the Patton vSN eSBC took just about 13 seconds to boot up.

The Grandstream Networks DP752 DECT VoIP base station, Grandstream Networks WP820 Wi-Fi phone, Grandstream Networks GXV3370 IP video phone, Grandstream Networks Wave on a smart phone running Android and Grandstream Networks GRP2614 were configured with:  SIP credentials, codecs, and SIP port. Then we pointed them to the Patton vSN eSBC. All of them, on-premises, registered successfully with the vSN eSBC as it provided them with SIP registrar services.  We were able to successfully place inbound/outbound calls from the above-mentioned devices  through the vSN eSBC. (refer Fig.F). 

Outcome

Based on our ability to run real-time voice  traffic  through the Patton SmartNode Virtual Enterprise Session Border Controller, which provided SIP registrar services and access to the SIP trunk/UCaaS in the cloud, our functional testing was successful.


 

Fig.F: Patton Cloud- Devices-Virtual SmartNode (vSN) Session Border Controller-Health view

 

As part of this test setup and exercise, we also examined the usefulness of the Patton Cloud portal. The centralized cloud management platform, the Patton Cloud served as a dynamic resource licensing  repository, provided us with real-time data, status/alerts and report information on the vSN eSBC, spanning across geographic locations without any management server hardware or applications on-premises. We could access the Patton cloud from anywhere and could now orchestrate and fully manage our Patton Virtual SmartNode (vSN) eSBC  from anywhere by just using a browser. All the presented performance and operational data helped immensely with our capacity planning, aided in trouble shooting and optimization of SIP voice services.

Conclusion

In summary, thanks to Patton’s cloud-powered Virtual SmartNode (vSN) Session Border Controller,  we were able to effortlessly configure and interconnect our test SIP stations to the SIP cloud telephony systems and trunk services. Patton Cloud, an easy to use portal, adds immense value to the Patton vSN enterprise Session Border Controller. The Patton Virtual SmartNode (vSN) can provide  SBC functionality for service providers and enterprises that deliver voice services for contact centers, unified communications and hosted business communication  services in public or private clouds. However, it is imperative to carry out a pilot deployment for certification and interoperability before an actual roll out.

vSN Product Features – Patton’s Virtual SmartNode (vSN) supports such features as:

  • Call Routing & Services – SIP Registrar, Least Cost Routing, Number blocking, Regular expression number manipulation, Regular expression number matching, Short-Dialing, SIP Back-to-Back User Agent, Distribution-Groups and Hunt-Groups, Seamless call failover, Call load distribution.
  • Voice Signaling – SIP over IPv4 & IPv6, DTMF in-band, out-of-band, Overlap or en-bloc dialing, SIP call transfer, redirect, SIPv2 & SIPv2 over TLS, G.711m/A-law, G.729, 729a, 729ab (8 kbps), iLBC at 13.33 & 15.2 kbps, G.722, Transparent Clear channel, G.726 (16 ,24, 32, 40 Kbps), G.723.1 (6.4 kbps).
  • Security – SIP back-to-back User Agent, SIP trusted peer, DoS detection & prevention, TLS, Open VPN / IPSec / L2TP.
  • Management – Web Wizard, Changeable MAC address, Web/HTTPs, CLI with Telnet and SSH access, Secure Auto-Provisioning with built in root CA (News - Alert), TR-069, TFTP, HTTP, HTTPS-firmware upgrade, configuration upload/download, etc.
  • Dynamic resource licensing (leased/floated for specific deployments) – the virtual machine running vSN can lease licenses from the Patton Cloud to enable features and/or provide access to features and functions.
  • System Requirements – For each virtual-machine (VM) instance, the Patton vSN  requires, at minimum: CPU/RAM-64-bit x86 architecture (single core or more), minimum of 1 GB,HDD-1GB and at least one (virtual) Ethernet adapter.
  • Pre-installed virtual SmartNode images – as bootable virtual HDD in different formats such as VHD, VDI, VMDK, etc.  are suitable for different hypervisors in various virtual­ization infrastructure such as VirtualBox, VMware, KVM, Hyper-V etc. are available. The same image upgrade procedures used for physical devices are applicable.
  • IP Networking/Quality of Service – Routing Protocol support GRE,VRRP, BGP, RIPv1&v2, IPv4 & IPv6 DHCP Client & Server, Policy, Packet and packet length Based Routing, IPv4 & IPv6 Dual Stack, Network Address and Port translation (NAT/NAPT), Traffic Management, shaping policing, IEEE 802.1p, IEEE 802.1Q, 4096 VLANs (Tag insertion/deletion),TOS, DiffServ Labeling.

You can access more information about the Patton vSN here:




Edited by Erik Linask