The Webification of Communications

WebRTC to WebComm

The Webification of Communications

By Phil Edholm, President & Founder, PKE Consulting  |  May 12, 2014

This is a new column that will track developments in WebRTC, but more importantly the webification of communications. WebRTC is a new communications standard and implementation, started by Google (News - Alert), that is picking up huge momentum in the industry. 

WebRTC takes the components of a typical VoIP media engine into a browser or any other peer endpoint with a simple API that a web server can control. The base technology has been open sourced by Google and is based on the company’s purchase of Global IP Solutions, a company that provided the same technology to most of the large VoIP companies (Avaya, Cisco (News - Alert), Nortel, etc.). The thing that is really exciting about WebRTC is that, in addition to enabling a website to enabling two peer endpoints begin a rich media session (voice, video, data, etc.) with a relatively simple set of instructions, WebRTC is the initial technology showing the change coming in the industry, the webification of communications.

With WebRTC any website can host a communications event for two peers.  While today those peers involve typical browser devices running Chrome, Firefox or Opera, the future could see this happen on virtually any devices. A typical peer-to-peer session involves both peer nodes of the same server. What is interesting is to contrast this with a trapezoid model enabled by the WebRTC standard in which each peer is represented by a separate server and the servers negotiate between them on behalf of the peers.

Today, virtually all communications today requires that I have a server that represents me outbound when I want to communicate with someone else. While we often call these service providers or Peas, the function is the same. Not only do they represent me for someone trying to reach me, they also represent me when I want to reach out. Contrast this to the web of information where I am not represented when I go to a website; I go directly to that site and have a one-on-one event interaction with that site. The beauty of the web that was created by the CERN team and Tim Berners-Lee was that it enables us to find the resource where we need information and go directly there for a connection. Google (or Bing or Yahoo or any other search engine) gives me a path to the location of the information I seek, but Google does not take me there, it sends me there and is not part of the furthered interactions.

The webification of communications is not a single technology, but rather a transformation of the basics of communications. Instead of having a single server that manages all of my communications, the webification process will free me to interact directly with millions of web servers to manage a succession of independent communications events, each tuned to the specific needs and requirements of the event, not an arbitrary vendor paradigm. Just as we all have hundreds of different web information experiences monthly, each web communications experience can be defined by the suite hosting the event.

For existing service providers, moving beyond a model of outbound representation to new models of better inbound services and new capabilities like personal agents, adaptive intelligence availability, and other services will be critical. For enterprise vendors, new technologies like representation portals and new customer interaction services will define the new horizons. For both end users and companies, understanding and using this transformation will be critical as well.

In this column we will try to move beyond the technology to how the webification of communications is emerging, illustrating the new applications and capabilities that are coming into the market, and the technologists who are creating the innovations that will fuel the transformation.  We will identify the companies that are driving the transformation: the service providers, the enterprise technology vendors, and new entrants creating disruptive change.  Finally, we will talk to the individuals who are driving the change through their leadership and innovation. As with all disruptive transformations, the webification of communications promises to be a bumpy ride, with peaks of transformed value and user experience as well as valleys of frustration and challenge, but as with all great changes, the ride will be interesting and the results will astound us all.  I look forward to having you along for the ride.

Phil Edholm (News - Alert) is the president and founder of PKE Consulting LLC ( and
works with INTERNET TELEPHONY parent company TMC (News - Alert) to stage the WebRTC Conference & Expo, which will be held next time from June 17 to 19 in Atlanta.

Edited by Maurice Nagle