WebRTC - It's Everywhere, and Not Visible at All


WebRTC - It's Everywhere, and Not Visible at All

By Phil Edholm, President & Founder, PKE Consulting  |  January 21, 2016

The reality of WebRTC is that its success will, to a great degree, be totally hidden. Much as the browser hides HTML and the associated technology; while they are incredibly valuable, they are just part of the framework to most users. In the end, the webification of communications will result in the technology being hidden, resulting in an explosion of use.

This was certainly true in 2015. The year that just concluded saw Cisco (News - Alert), Unify, and BroadSoft make major announcements of new strategic paths for their product lines based on WebRTC and the open web model. It also saw companies like Citrix (News - Alert) use WebRTC to open up GoToMeeting for attendees without a download. In fact, more and more events and activities are being implemented using WebRTC. Lifesize announced a major extension to its cloud video offer based on WebRTC. And CafeX has been having great success in enabling video and other advanced customer interactions using WebRTC for a range of customers.

But there is no “Running on WebRTC” label on any of these products, so most users do not fully understand the nature of the change. The web model is already beginning in the communications space. Increasingly we are joining a meeting or a conference using only the browser, without download. But more importantly, we are joining those events using a user experience defined by the event, not a client we choose or that was provided by our company. This is the core of the transformation of communications from the client server model of the telephony age to the web model of the web communications age. The experience is no longer defined by the client, but rather by the server managing that event.

To date, most of the applications have either been for invited meetings or inbound communications for companies. The one area in which we have yet to see a dramatic offer is a capability to provide an inbound portal to manage each employee’s communications from the web. Masergy has announced a service that integrates WebRTC to the users in their cloud, but this is still lacking some of the features (personal page, authentication, etc.). However, it is clear that WebRTC is silently exploding in the market. 2016 will be the year where the web model for communications takes over.

Beyond traditional communications using WebRTC, the next big change is embedding WebRTC-based communications into general web apps. Facebook (News - Alert) has led this charge with efforts on Messenger that are WebRTC based. In 2016, a wide range of web apps will realize that they need to include real-time capabilities (voice, video, text) in their apps to maintain or extend differentiation. And each user experience will reflect the application, not a generic interface like a phone.

Understanding how to implement these real-time web solutions is going to be a major focus in 2016. While WebRTC is, at the core a relatively simple set of JavaScript code and APIs, to deliver a quality user experience in real time is much more challenging. There are a wide range of companies that are building the business model of delivering solutions that enable and accelerate real-time communications in web applications. It is no longer about the WebRTC protocols and APIs; it is about the full range of capabilities, from servers, transport, media service, security, etc. that must be considered when rolling out a major new capability.

For all of these reasons, the WebRTC Conference and Expo is changing to the Real Time Web Solutions Conference and Expo. The past three years focus by the premier WebRTC event has helped push us to this point, but the future is not WebRTC alone, it is the full range of components, capabilities, and services required to deliver dependable quality on the web. While users may not understand the underlying protocols and complexity, they will very rapidly expect performance and quality. The fact that you did not have to do a download will not assuage the negative reaction if the user cannot be heard or understand. Over the next three years the pace of transformation to the Real Time Web will only accelerate. The technology will be hidden, but the transformation will be huge. The Real Time Web Solutions Conference is positioned to be the event where the organizations can become informed and knowledgeable about how to manage the web communications transformation and where they can meet the partners that will help them deliver the Real Time Web value for their users and themselves.

Phil Edholm (News - Alert) is with PKE Consulting LLC (www.pkeconsulting.com).

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere
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