Cisco Unified Border Element
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The evolution of unified communications and collaboration services over the past few years has delivered dramatic improvements in employee productivity for enterprise and commercial businesses and will continue as voice, video, and mobile services continue to grow as pervasive elements of integrated collaboration solutions. However, these enhancements will be available only for organizations deploying end-to-end real-time IP communications for both inter- and intracompany voice and video services based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). As such, these companies will require a transition of their service provider network interconnect from time-division multiplexing (TDM) circuits to SIP trunking.
To accomplish this transition, the session border controller (SBC) has become a critical network component for scaling and securing unified communications networks. The SBC network component enables expansion of real-time voice and video services for end-to-end IP connectivity through service provider SIP trunk services, or through a secure SIP session over the Internet to support direct connectivity between two enterprise networks.
The Cisco SBC, Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE), provides the SBC feature set to support the transition to SIP trunking by enabling Cisco or third-party call control to connect to and interoperate with service provider SIP trunk services. Cisco Unified Border Element terminates and re-originates both signaling (H.323 and SIP) and media streams (Real-Time Transport Protocol [RTP] and Real-Time Control Protocol [RTCP]) to provide secure border interconnection services between IP networks. Using CUBE, Cisco customers can save on their current network services, simplify their network architectures, and position their networks for ongoing enhancements in collaboration services.
As an integrated Cisco IOS Software application, the Cisco Unified Border Element runs on a broad range of Cisco router platforms, including the Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) (Cisco 800, 2900, and 3900 Series as well as the Cisco 4451-X ISR) and the Cisco ASR 1000 Series Aggregation Services Routers. The breadth of Cisco router platforms that support the CUBE feature license means that CUBE provides unsurpassed price/performance scalability as compared to any other enterprise SBCs available. This scalability translates into network design flexibility for enterprise and commercial businesses, and operational efficiencies and breadth of serviceable market for service providers that include CUBE as part of their SIP trunk managed or hosted services.
Cisco Unified Border Element performs the following functions between the enterprise and service provider networks:
- Session control: The capability to offer flexible trunk routing, Call Admission Control (quality of service [QoS]), and resiliency and call accounting for the SIP sessions processed by the SBC
- Interworking: The capability to interconnect different signaling methods and media encoding variants for both voice and video sessions
- Demarcation: The capability to act as a distinct demarcation point between two networks for address and port translation and to facilitate troubleshooting
- Security: The capability to intelligently allow or disallow real-time traffic between networks, and to encrypt the real-time traffic as appropriate for the application
Features and Benefits:
The Cisco Unified Border Element supports protocols such as H.323 and SIP for both voice and video.
|Protocols||H.323 and SIP|
|Protocol and signal interworking||
|Signaling transport mode||
|Dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF)||
|Call Routing/Dialing Options||
|Call Admission Control (CAC)||
|OPTIONS SIP message support||
|IP Routing feature||
|Network Address Translation (NAT) traversal||
|Authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA)||AAA with RADIUS|
|Voice media applications||
|API||WEB-based API compatible with Web Service Description Language (WSDL) development tools to support call monitoring and control, call-detail records (CDRs), and serviceability attribute interaction with external application; specifically designed for voice-policy applications|
|Lawful intercept**||Provision of replicated packets to third-party mediation device|
|Remote Phone Proxy Sessions||Termination of SIP-TLS and SRTP with registration pass-through to allow SIP-based endpoints, including Cisco Unified IP Phone 7900, 8900, and 9900 models and Jabber Voice Client, to connect from remote sites through the Internet without requiring IPsec VPN to Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Business Edition, or Cisco HCS. (Not included with NANOCUBE license).|
|Line-side Back to Back UA NANOCUBE Sessions||Termination of Cisco Shared Port Adapter (SPA) and other third-party SIP endpoints with registration pass-through and survivability for use with 3rd party hosted call control SP services.|
|Inter-Cluster Lookup Service (ILS) routing||Support for ILS routing to complement ILS dial-plan exchange between Cisco Unified Communications Manager clusters or to simplify call-routing complexity between multiple clusters|
|Protocols||H.323 and SIP|
|Cisco endpoints supported||Cisco Unified Video Advantage (UVA) and Cisco TelePresence endpoints|
|Rich media||Simultaneous support for data, audio, and video|
|Signaling interworking||SIP delayed-offer to SIP early-offer calls|
|QoS||DSCP markings to prioritize video streams as they traverse the network|
|Data support||T.120 data collaboration flow-around only|
|Camera control||Far-end camera control (FECC)|
|Manageability and serviceability||
** Requires digital signal processors (DSPs) and is available only on the Cisco ISR 2900 series, Cisco ISR 3900, and 3900E Series, Cisco 4451-X, and ASR 100X series.
Cisco Unified Border Element fulfills the role of a general-purpose SBC providing extensive features in the various categories defined previously. However, the ultimate objective of CUBE is to solve business problems. To that end, CUBE has been designed to participate as a critical element in a variety of network solutions, as follows:
- Flexible SIP interconnect: Because of the broad range of Cisco routers that can be used as the platform for CUBE, you have the greatest flexibility available in how you design your SIP trunk network based on centralized, distributed, or hybrid (combination of centralized and distributed) architectures. This flexibility will be invaluable as collaboration use cases, such as conferencing, video, and mobility, evolve to place increased demands on the enterprise network. Many service providers have recognized their customers' need to adapt their SIP trunk architecture as their collaboration services evolve and now offer multilocation SIP trunk pooling services. CUBE provides unsurpassed price/performance flexibility of an SBC available to take advantage of these service offerings.
- Simplified TDM-SIP migrations: For most enterprises, the transition from TDM trunk services to SIP trunk services requires careful planning, because this transition must be achieved while maintaining a functional voice network. This planning involves, among other things, addressing the service provider requirement for number portability and the IT requirement for dial-plan revisions. CUBE can simplify this transition, particularly for Cisco customers who already use the Cisco TDM Gateway on the Cisco Integrated Services Routers Generation 2 (Cisco ISR G2) routers. These same ISR G2 routers can be easily upgraded - without requiring any additional hardware - to support the CUBE feature license, and can concurrently support SIP trunking and TDM trunking. As a result, the enterprise can transition its voice network to SIP trunking while retaining the existing TDM gateway functions. As the enterprise develops familiarity and confidence in SIP trunking, the TDM Gateway function can be phased out, or retained as a high-availability redundant network strategy.
- Remote gateway for hosted call-control services: Many service providers offer hosted call-control services to their small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers based on cloud-based private-branch-exchange (PBX) software, such as Broadsoft. Using the NANOCUBE licensing (refer to the "CUBE Licensing Options" section later in this document), Cisco 800 Series ISRs can be included as part of these hosted call-control services to perform gateway functions at the customer premises, such as registration pass-through, voice-quality metrics, and 911 preemption.
- Telepresence, voice, and video business-to-business interconnect: Cisco Unified Border Element provides secure connectivity for Cisco TelePresence deployments, either on a point-to-point basis over the Internet between two private enterprise networks or from a private enterprise network to a telepresence service provider.
- Voice and video recording: CUBE supports voice-recording solutions by providing various mechanisms to invoke media forking on a per-call basis. One method, which is SIP-based and is derived from the SIPREC standardization, sends a forked SIP invite to the target recording application server, which can either accept or reject the call. An alternative method is an HTTP-based application programming interface (API) that allows the recording server to instruct CUBE to perform the media forking, and can toggle the media forking through the duration of an active call.
- Remote phone proxy registration: Cisco Unified Border Element allows remote Cisco phones (including Cisco Unified IP Phone 7000, 8000, and 9000 Series models) to establish a secure application layer connection for both signaling (SIP-Transport Layer Security [TLS]) and media (Secure RTP [SRTP]) through the Internet, and then perform a proxy registration of these phones with Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Business Edition, or Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (Cisco HCS). A variant of these CUBE features allows a modification of this use case to allow the Cisco phones to register with a hosted cloud-based call-control service.
- Call-center and interactive-voice-response (IVR) solutions: Cisco Unified Border Element provides numerous features to enhance deployment as part of an enterprise call center environment. For example, it supports midcall codec renegotiation, with either internal transcoding or external endpoints. CUBE also supports SIP-based Call Progress Analysis for outbound call center solutions, and runs concurrently on the ISR G2 with the Cisco IOS Software-based VoiceXML client to support IVR integration.
- Voice policy: Cisco Unified Border Element, as part of its complete SBC security function, supports policy-led evaluation of phone calls. This capability is becoming increasingly critical as incidents of telephony denial of service (TDoS) become more and more prevalent, evidenced by the formal public warnings of such attacks being given by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CUBE enables highly flexible and granular voice-policy solutions to identify specific patterns of calling activity from either internal users (employees) or external callers and take appropriate action when those patterns occur, including call termination, call redirection, and call recording. This voice pattern recognition helps ensure the full capacity of the enterprise voice network is used to support the business as intended.
CUBE can be licensed according to the following three different licensing options:
- Standard CUBE Licensing: Standard licensing is used for CUBE licensing with all modular Cisco ISR G2 (ISR 2900 and 3900 Series) and ASR 100X platforms to deliver the full range of CUBE functions, but without high availability. This license is per-session, and a session is defined as a two-way call through CUBE regardless of the number of media sessions involved in that call (that is, a video call with 4 media lines or sessions or an audio call with 2 media lines or sessions).
- Redundant CUBE Licensing: Redundant licensing is used for CUBE with all modular Cisco ISR G2 (ISR 2900 and ISR 3900 Series) and ASR 100X platforms to deliver the full range of CUBE functions, including high availability with call preservation between an active and standby CUBE. This licensing option also allows for license transfer between two geographically distributed CUBE platforms, as in the scenario of a dual data center deployment strategy, where CUBE service redundancy without call preservation is satisfactory.
- NANOCUBE Licensing: NANOCUBE licensing is only used for Cisco 800 Series ISR and Cisco Service Provider Integrated Access Device (SP-IAD) platforms, typically as part of a service provider hosted service with cloud-based call control. This licensing option also supports other CUBE features, except to the extent such features require additional hardware platform support, such as DSP's for transcoding.
Router Platform Support:
The Cisco Unified Border Element is developed as a component within Cisco IOS Software and runs on the following Cisco router platforms:
- Cisco 800 Series ISRs (Cisco 880 Series and Cisco 892F models)
- Cisco Service Provider Integrated Access Device (SP-IAD)
- Cisco 2900 Series ISRs (Cisco 2901, 2911, 2921, and 2951)
- Cisco 3900 Series ISRs (Cisco 3925 and 3945)
- Cisco 3900E Series ISRs (Cisco 3925E and 3945E)
- Cisco 2900 Series ISRs (Cisco 2901, 2911, 2921, and 2951)
- Cisco 4451-X ISR
- Cisco ASR 1000 Series Routers (Cisco ASR 1001, ASR 1002, ASR 1004, and ASR 1006)
A minimum of 64 MB of flash memory and 256 MB of DRAM is required, and a minimum of one Fast Ethernet port for an external interface is required.
The Cisco Unified Border Element may require additional hardware for connectivity to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and WAN and for transcoding capabilities. If connected to the IP network through a WAN connection, the CUBE supports all the WAN connectivity methods and interface cards that the underlying router platform supports.
Note: For transcoding, additional DSPs are required.
Table shows platform memory specifications to support Cisco Unified Border Element. In this table, the maximum capacities for each of the SIP session types are shown. CUBE supports three session types, as follow:
- SIP Trunk Session - SIP trunk registration and connectivity to Service Provider
- Phone Proxy Session - Secure remote phone registration to CUCM
- NANOCUBE Session - Allows for SIP endpoint access to hosted 3rd party call control
|Product Specifications and Session Capacities|
|Router Platform with Latest CUBE Versions||Flash Memory||DRAM||Maximum SIP Trunk Sessions**||Maximum Phone Proxy Sessions**||Maximum NANOCUBE Sessions**|
|Cisco 881 ISR*
Cisco 886V ISR*
Cisco 887V ISR*
|Fixed configuration||Fixed configuration||15||Not Supported||15|
|Cisco 888E ISR*
Cisco 888 ISR*
|Fixed configuration||Fixed configuration||25||Not Supported||25|
|Cisco 892F ISR*||Fixed configuration||Fixed configuration||50||Not Supported||50|
|SPIAD2901-8FXS/K9*||256 MB||512 MB||80||Not Supported||100|
|256 MB||512 MB||100||Not Supported||125|
|Cisco 2901 ISR||256 MB||512 MB||100||50||-|
|Cisco 2911 ISR||256 MB||512 MB||200||100||-|
|Cisco 2921 ISR||256 MB||512 MB||400||250||-|
|Cisco 2951 ISR||256 MB||512 MB||600||400||-|
|Cisco 3925 ISR||256 MB||1 GB||800||500||-|
|Cisco 3945 ISR||256 MB||1 GB||950||500||-|
|Cisco 3925E ISR||256 MB||1 GB||2,100||1,400||-|
|Cisco 3945E ISR||256 MB||1 GB||2,500||1,500||-|
|Cisco 4451-X ISR||4 GB||1 GB||4,000||3,000||-|
|Cisco ASR 1001||Refer to data sheet||8 GB||10,000||3,600||-|
|Cisco ASR 1002-X||Refer to data sheet||16 GB||10,000||3,600||-|
|Cisco ASR 1004 and ASR 1006||Refer to data sheet||16 GB||16,000||6,000||-|
* These Router platforms support NANOCUBE licensing (see Licensing Section).
** Maximum sessions assumes that only the specified session is configured.Simultaneous use of other CUBE session types will reduce session maximums one for one.
Download the Cisco Unified Border Element Datasheet (PDF).
- Pricing and product availability subject to change without notice.