SIP traffic fuels need for security, performance tools

SIP traffic fuels need for security, performance tools

Growing interest in SIP-enabled communications -- from VOIP to SIP-based collaboration apps such as Microsoft's LCS (Live Communications Server) 2005 -- has sparked the need to better secure SIP traffic.

SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is a signalling protocol used to establish connectivity between two session end points.

"Probably one of the biggest security challenges with SIP is that it is highly extensible by design, which enables vendors to implement proprietary extensions to the protocol," said Victoria Fodale, research analyst at In-Stat. "This makes it very difficult to test all permutations of SIP messages."

Covergence will provide its answer to the SIP security question at Gartner Symposium/ITExpo next week by unveiling Eclipse, a Linux-based appliance that manages the connectivity and performance of SIP services and apps.

Acting as both perimeter and internal defense system, Eclipse secures access to SIP apps and SIP-enabled PBXes and phones, making it a natural fit in VOIP security plans. Beyond VOIP, it can apply security policies to SIP traffic, monitor network capacity, and log and record application traffic to comply with industry regulations.

"We're providing not just security but management, interoperability and control; we are providing a consolidation of all the elements one needs to be able to deploy SIP networks very broadly," said Covergence CEO Bob O'Neil.

Because Eclipse monitors SIP packets directly, it will enable interoperability between SIP-based systems from multiple vendors, which is especially useful for collaboration. For example, Eclipse can serve as a connection between LCS 2005 and Lotus Sametime because both have SIP roots.

Also making news in SIP connectivity is CommuniGate Systems, which next week will roll out Version 5.0 of its SIP-based integrated messaging, collaboration, and VOIP system, called CommuniGate Pro.

Version 5.0 integrates voice applications into the product's existing SIP infrastructure, said Thom O'Connor, director of product architecture at CommuniGate Systems.

"We've now integrated voice applications into the server itself. We see it as a single solution for voice connectivity, voice mail, IVR [interactive voice response], call centers, [with] a built-in conference server," O'Connor said.

A new SIP Farm feature, designed to boost uptime and reliability, allows all-active clustering of CommuniGate SIP nodes with the ability to add nodes to expand capacity.

Also new are SIP work-around features for configuring run-time work-arounds for nonstandard SIP SoftSwitches and clients.

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