The Stars Are Aligning for WebRTC

Convergence Corner

The Stars Are Aligning for WebRTC

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  September 03, 2013

WebRTC Conference & Expo this summer had its share of superstars, from “The Human Highlight Film” Dominique Wilkins to All-star third baseman Chipper Jones, and of course a global representation during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. But, at the Atlanta confab in June, the stars were from a different industry, as more than 700 members of the tech developer community convened to discuss the hottest communications topic today, WebRTC.

Why is it so hot? Simply, WebRTC has the power to connect via voice or video (as well as content sharing) any web-enabled endpoint and, through WebRTC support from gateway and SBC vendors, extending those communications to any communications endpoint in the world. In other words, WebRTC will connect any device to any device.

The conference sessions were nothing short of successful, judging by the SRO crowds and a phenomenon that happens rarely at tradeshows – attendees did not get up from their seats between sessions, which means they were there to learn and understand how WebRTC will impact them and what they need to know to fully leverage WebRTC. 

However, there did seem to be a shortage of questions from the audience (with the exception of Crossfire Media’s Carl Ford (News - Alert), who always finds a way to fire up a panel).  To me, that is a sign of WebRTC’s infancy. 

Most developers are only starting to learn about WebRTC – they will have questions once they actually begin building. This event was largely about education. But, it was also about displaying that WebRTC is ready for prime time. TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) asked a panel if this technology really is ready. 

Two days of demos connecting voice and video calls via WebRTC to both web- and SIP-enabled endpoints say it is. Want to try it out for yourself? Apidaze has set up a site where you can do just that:

Speaking of Apidaze, Philippe Sultan, co-founder and CTO of the company, in Atlanta said that the functionality the various vendors and developers were showing isn’t unique to WebRTC. This won’t be a shock to WebRTC insiders, but it may cause some questions from others as to why there is so much interest around a technology that isn’t going to deliver new features.

The answer is actually very simple: more than a billion mobile users (and more than three billion in four years), in addition to desktop-based connected devices. The very fact that a WebRTC session can enable communication between anyone with a web browser means instant access to, well, anyone with Internet access.

So, the issue isn’t new features – it is first making WebRTC a stable, reliable option and then making it easy for developers to implement.

The demos at WebRTC Expo are evidence the technology is ready for prime time, and companies like Apidaze are doing their share to make its integration into websites and existing infrastructures easy. Apidaze does it through its JS API that simplifies the development process and allows developers to quickly become part of the WebRTC community.

“The idea is we provide the ability to build voice and SMS and WebRTC apps,” explained Sultan. “We provide the DID numbers and full SIP domains and have complete control over calls made to their numbers.”

Sultan and co-founder Luis Borges Quina are longtime telecom industry veterans and understand what a good enterprise system needs. Their point is that anything you can have in an enterprise system is feasible with WebRTC and they will continue to focus on the enterprise scenario, including the contact center, which Sultan sees as a great opportunity for WebRTC. But they will also set sights on the telco market, which is a massive target for all WebRTC vendors.

Are they on the right track? The announcement that it has brought on new president and CEO Richard Lalande is certainly seems to indicate so. Lalande is the co-founder of SFR (News - Alert), France’s second-largest telco. His knowledge of and success in the telecom space meshes well with Sultan’s expectations for the future of WebRTC in general, and Apidaze specifically.

There’s much education still needed and standards to be ratified, but with or without standards, WebRTC is coming. Announcements earlier this year from Google (News - Alert) and Mozilla in support of WebRTC were a major step forward and, while there is debate over whether Microsoft’s support is needed, there is no question that it would be a benefit. Until then, companies will continue to also provide a Flash interface.

And if you missed any part of the conversation in Atlanta, I welcome you to review our coverage of the event at WebRTC World, and be sure to mark your calendars now for Nov. 19-21, when we’ll gather again at WebRTC Expo, this time in Santa Clara, Calif.

Edited by Alisen Downey