Unified Communications Featured Article

Extending Security to the Mobile Enterprise: Interview with Sipera Exec

August 31, 2011

It has become fairly obvious that today's enterprise employees rely more on smartphones, tablets and UC applications than they do their work phone or office computer. The ever-increasing adoption rates of these next-generation communication technologies, along with the advent of the mobile or virtual worker, has made security a bit of a moving target for many IT teams.

The evolving landscape of enterprise security will be one of the major topics of conversation at ITEXPO West 2011, which kicks off on Sept. 13 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

To get the creative juices flowing, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani spent part of this week interviewing some of the IT security experts that will be speaking and exhibiting at the conference.

He recently caught up with Adam Boone, VP of Marketing & Product Line Management at Sipera Systems, a provider of UC security appliances and scalable session border controllers (SBCs) with SIP trunk security.

Boone says that enterprise security managers are stuck in a precarious position. They need to provide interoperability and trouble-free usage for UC apps and SIP trunks, while also ensuring that the systems meet stringent security and compliance guidelines.

This is where Sipera’s UC-Sec and E-SBC security solutions can be of help, Boone stresses. He says that Sipera's portfolio of solutions is designed to allow clients to adopt highly flexible, low-cost communications applications, all the while maintaining strict compliance and security standards, even when the apps are cloud-based.

Boone added that Sipera's security solutions are particularly useful for companies with virtual workforces and those that employ workers who blend the line between business and personal computer.

Sipera will be on hand at ITEXPO West 2011, camped out at booth 408 talking about their SBCs. The company's executives will also be taking part in two panel discussions: "The Next Generation of Voice Security" and "Enterprise SBCs: Extending Beyond Interoperability."

Tehrani's complete interview with Boone is below.

How has your market segment evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those changes?

Over the past year, enterprise security managers have struggled to keep up with the adoption of SIP trunks and Unified Communications applications, and the trend of using personal smartphones and tablets for work. Beyond just establishing interoperability and trouble-free usage, enterprise IT managers now know that each of these changes in business communications has significant security and compliance implications. The good news is that the best practices for securing UC, SIP trunks, smartphones and these varied applications are becoming clear. Security managers now have access to comprehensive UC security solutions that can provide end-to-end protection and extend enterprise security and compliance polices to every end point and user, even over untrusted networks.

What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business?

The next disruptive force in enterprise technology is consumerization - the use of personal smartphones, tablets, and communications applications in the enterprise. Authorized or not, staff are using these devices to access company email, databases, and applications at the office and on the road. This leaves enterprises struggling to secure and support these devices, which has increased interest in, and adoption of, Sipera’s UC-Sec and E-SBC security solutions. 

A related disruptive force in business communications is the adoption of cloud-based business communications, in which the actual applications utilized by employees to communicate with their devices are hosted by a third party somewhere on the Internet or elsewhere. These have strong security implications that enterprises must evaluate very carefully, especially if employees handle sensitive client information, healthcare patient data, student data, financial data or other information that must be protected.

How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?

The arrival of cloud-based business communications means that a new form of application is being introduced into the enterprise communications infrastructure, but one that is not fully in control of the enterprise IT staff or the security department. This has fueled demand for Sipera’s products because we provide best-in-class security functionality for the application layer. 

Our customers can adopt highly flexible, low-cost communications applications, including those based in the cloud, while maintaining a clear and enforceable security posture that safeguards proprietary and protected information. 

What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?

Over the past year, the most common customer request was for an inexpensive, easy to deploy session border controller (SBC) for enterprise SIP trunk termination and protection. Sipera addressed this last spring by introducing the Sipera E-SBC, which delivers the features required by enterprises adopting SIP trunks, while dramatically streamlining the installation and simplifying maintenance when compared to legacy SBCs. 

How is the continued growth of social media changing service and product development strategies?

Social media use goes hand in hand with the use of personal smartphones and tablets in the enterprise, by staffs who want to be “always on,” while blurring the separation of business and personal computing.

This has led to increased interest in Sipera’s UC security solutions because our products provide unique functionality that enables an IT manager to enforce policies at the application layer. For example, one of our customers found that employees were communicating sensitive corporate data with an online third-party application. Using our solution, the customer’s IT and compliance teams were able to enforce policies to prevent that application from being used, while offering a corporate-hosted version that was in the company’s control. So everybody won. The employees were allowed to use a type of flexible and useful application, and the IT and security staffs were able to control, monitor and secure it.

As businesses continue their move toward virtual workforces, how are you meeting the need for increased mobility? What barriers are keeping others from adopting mobile strategies?

Literally thousands of remote users, teleworkers, virtual office workers, and mobile workforce staffers and others are communicating now with Sipera’s solutions safeguarding their communications.   Virtual workforces and increased computing mobility present considerable enterprise security challenges, often because the communications utilize untrusted networks such as the Internet to provide low-cost and flexible application connectivity. 

This is particularly true for financial services firms, healthcare providers, credit card processors and other businesses that must comply with privacy and security mandates to protect proprietary or sensitive information. Sipera’s solutions provide end-to-end control and security over all these communications with remote or mobile workers, enabling teleworker programs to proceed without posing security risks or violating compliance rules. We have multiple successful teleworker and distributed call center implementations around the world, working in conjunction with our partners Avaya, Cisco, McAfee, RSA and ZOOM and others.

What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?

Our team is looking forward to spending time with companies that want to adopt SIP trunks, VoIP and Unified Communications, and want to do so in a secure, compliant and controlled way. Without a doubt, SIP trunk adoption and Unified Communications adoption have hit a major spike and so the security and control implications of SIP trunk termination and end-to-end security enforcement have become important topics for all enterprises to consider as well.

Who should visit your booth at ITEXPO and why?

Any company considering adopting SIP trunks who wants to learn about Sipera’s very low cost, highly flexible and secure enterprise Session Border Controller should stop by booth 408 for more details. 

Visitors also will learn about best-in-class security and compliance of VoIP and other Unified Communications. Additionally Sipera is holding a Happy Hour for attendees at Booth 408 on Wednesday, Sep. 14, at 3 p.m. 

Lastly, Sipera is participating in two panel discussions - “The Next Generation of Voice Security” and “Enterprise SBCs: Extending Beyond Interoperability.” Attendees interested in either topic, SBCs, or UC should visit the Sipera booth.

SIPERA is a GOLD sponsor of ITEXPO West 2011. To be held Sept. 13-15 in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Sipera in booth #408. Don’t wait. Register now.   Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… follow us on Twitter.

Beecher Tuttle is a unified communications contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves