Microsoft and Cisco: we’ll have ICE with that

The tech giants are supporting ICE as a means of facilitating VoIP

Microsoft and Cisco Systems have teamed up to support a protocol for communicating across network address translators (NATs) that they believe will hasten the adoption of VoIP for enterprises.

The two technology giants say they will work together to add Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) methodology to Microsoft software. ICE is a proposed industry standard for a framework that would allow VoIP traffic to be exchanged between devices on NATs-enabled networks and devices outside those networks.

NATs protect networks by allowing only connections that originate inside a network to be completed on internal network servers. This means outside clients cannot gain access to networks. While this protects a network from unwanted intrusions, it also blocks VoIP calls coming from outside the network from connecting to devices inside the network.

NATs, then, are a major stumbling block to allowing enterprises to utilise VoIP for their network users, says Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president for the Office Real-Time Collaboration Group at Microsoft. Microsoft and Cisco are encouraging partners to use ICE so that devices making VoIP calls are interoperable across networks protected by NATs, he says.

ICE combines a variety of network access protocols, including Simple Traversal of UDP through NAT; Traversal Using Relay NAT, and Realm Specific IP, to determine how devices on the network are connecting so that a VoIP call can find its way through NATs, according to information about ICE on the Internet Engineering Task Force’s (IETF’s) website.

The IETF, which oversees some internet standards, created ICE.

The IETF is holding a meeting in Vancouver where its Multiparty Multimedia Session Control working group, which oversees the ICE standard, is expected to meet to discuss and possibly finalise the ICE protocol.

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