|By Vishal Brown||
|May 13, 2014 09:45 AM EDT||
We've been tracking the progress of WebRTC (real-time communication) since the API standard was first announced by Google two years ago, and in that time we've seen lots of predictions and promises about how this standard is going to disrupt the UC world. To make sense of these myriad views, it's important to understand two other business trends, namely BYOD (bring your own device) and the growing remote workforce. BYOD may conjure up images of employees bringing their devices to work, but it's important to recognize that more and more work is happening outside the four walls of the business office. Although business owners want to accommodate employees' needs to work remotely and their desires to use their own smartphones and tablets to access email and other business applications, the need for secure and reliable voice and video communications remains imperative. Now more than ever, businesses need to collaborate with remote workers to achieve their business objectives. With these trends and business needs in mind, we can begin to see where WebRTC will have its greatest impact.
Following are two distinguishing characteristics about WebRTC that make it appealing to businesses that rely on remote voice and video communication with their employees and/or clients:
- It's inherently secure. Unlike traditional security applications that often require users to "accept" and install updates manually, many of the leading browsers automate that step. So, the next time you launch your favorite browser, you're opening the latest version of the browser - including all the latest bug fixes - without any extra steps on your part. As such, WebRTC being browser based supports only SRTP (secure real-time transport protocol) by default, which uses encryption and authentication to minimize the risk of denial of service attacks. The main premise for this decision is the fact that a call is private at all times, not an option that someone should have to select.
- It promotes stronger session authentication. Traditional video communications environments rely on third-party relay media servers to manage sessions in order to traverse firewalls. WebRTC establishes a peer-to-peer reliable session even through NAT's (Network Address Translation), therefore eliminating the need for third-party communications servers. This has traditionally been a problem for SIP-based VoIP systems.
While businesses are able to adopt traditional proprietary UC technologies that enable secure and reliable communications from within their video conferencing rooms, extending these capabilities to remote workers is where traditional business technologies fall short. Through its use of open standards, WebRTC has the potential to extend the features and benefits of traditional (i.e., proprietary) voice and video communication solutions to a much wider audience.
I was encouraged from the feedback I heard recently at the Enterprise Connect trade show, which included a well-attended WebRTC "Conference Within a Conference." Discussions around WebRTC did not focus on its cost, video quality, or speed, but rather on the transformative impact WebRTC could have on customer service, remote worker support, and B2B and B2C applications. Although this standard is still a little ways away from being ready for primetime, I'm encouraged by the fact that those most interested in adopting it are focusing on what WebRTC is going to be most helpful for, which is driving the traditional UC experience beyond the four walls of the enterprise. For more information and insights on WebRTC, be sure to check out our free white paper titled, "3 Things You Need to Know About WebRTC."
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
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