Last week, Ingate Systems and Multi-Tech Systems announced a strategic alliance to help enterprises extend SIP-based VoIP deployments to their branch offices. Ingate provides firewall solutions that enable SIP-based communication without sacrificing security, and Multi-Tech manufactures VoIP gateways and other networking products.
Multi-Tech’s branch office solution is the MultiVOIP SS Survivable SIP Gateway and Server. “We allow an enterprise to take their SIP-based PBX and extend it into the small branch offices, so they have the same feature set that they would have if they were sitting at the corporate headquarters,” says Dan Nelson, Multi-Tech’s Director of Sales.
The MultiVOIP SS, Nelson says, has three key strengths – conversion of analog to IP for fax machines, PSTN trunking for 911, and survivability. “If that LAN link was to go down, our box will take control of those IP phones and keep that office up and running during the LAN outage – and when the LAN comes back up, we hand it off to the central site,” he says.
For enterprise deployments, Nelson says, survivability and reliability are key. “To do voice over IP well, a lot of planning is involved,” he says. “Taking care of the wide area network is important, as well as addressing how you handle branch offices and how you handle survivability, in that there is downtime in an IP world.”
Ensuring that kind of reliability, Nelson says, requires partnerships with companies like Ingate, which provide other key pieces of the VoIP puzzle – while a gateway like the MultiVOIP SS is only one part of any VoIP system, he says, it often gets the blame if other key parts aren’t working.
“If there are problems with the way the network is constructed, it’s going to affect voice quality, which ultimately gets blamed on the devices that are doing the voice over IP, even though it may be totally related to the network,” Nelson says. “These partnerships are important for that reason, to make sure that companies understand all the aspects of trying to put together a VoIP solution.”
And so what Ingate brings to the partnership, Nelson says, is a unique firewall – one that solves the usual NAT/firewall traversal issues inherent in SIP communications by working with, not against, VoIP. “It’s an intelligent firewall that takes care of prioritization or bandwidth reservation for voice over IP traffic, and handles the reality of SIP and port opening,” he says.
Ingate’s Firewalls and SIParators (which enable SIP traversal in existing firewalls) focus on providing control over the flow of SIP traffic, enabling dynamic control of the opening and closing of ports as needed. “We have a SIP proxy and SIP registrar on the firewall itself,” says Ingate CEO Ollie Westerberg. “That’s relatively unique – most of our competitors do not have that – and it gives us a greater depth of functionality and flexibility.”
Like Nelson, Westerberg says the partnership helps strengthen both companies’ offerings. “All of us – Multi-Tech and Ingate included – have only a component or components to a total voice solution for the end user,” he says. “So we’re cooperating with a number of people who bring other pieces of the puzzle to the table.”
For both companies, this alliance is about helping enterprises provide full VoIP functionality in their branch offices. “The MultiVOIP SS gateway brings reliable distributed IP telephony to the small branch office,” says Ingate President Steven Johnson. “When used in conjunction with an Ingate Firewall or SIParator, the joint solution enables the enterprise to gain the productivity benefits of a converged network without fear of compromising the integrity of the enterprise LAN.”