Development and Delivery of a Real-Time Web Solution

Real-Time Web Solutions Supplement

Development and Delivery of a Real-Time Web Solution

By Phil Edholm, President & Founder, PKE Consulting  |  August 10, 2016

Delivering solutions in the traditional telephony world was a fairly easy concept. Very few people would start out to develop their own PBX (News - Alert) from scratch. However, the new real-time web technologies like WebRTC, combined with the simplicity and power of JavaScript programming and the new features and capabilities of both HTML5 and native mobile operating systems have opened the door to developers creating a complete real-time solution from scratch. As I have worked over the last couple of years with clients and others in the real-time web space, I constantly hear that all it takes are two developers and a weekend to build the next killer app. The story of went viral early, about how three interns built a real-time videoconferencing app on WebRTC in two weeks.

However, the reality of succeeding in using real time to add value to an applications or create a new paradigm has proven to be much more challenging. Any organization planning to use real-time web capabilities will change the relationship of the user to the applications or solutions that are being real time enabled. In other words, real time becomes a key component of the value proposition of the solution. The flip side is that the overall application or solution is now evaluated on the quality, availability, and ease of use of the real-time component. An application can be dramatically enhanced by adding real time, but, if the real time component fails, it can reflect on the entire app.

For example, Facebook partnered with Skype (News - Alert) for a real-time component while investing in building Facebook Messenger. While this started with text, it has evolved to video and even pure audio. This evolution and the move from Skype to Facebook (News - Alert) Messenger is a reflection of extensive investment in the development of a complete real-time web solution from Facebook. Clearly, Facebook saw the requirement that a real-time service has to be rock solid so Facebook users would see it as an alternative to Skype or other real-time options.

For companies starting the process to deliver a real-time web application, whether augmenting an existing app or creating the new blue ocean application that is only possible with real time, there is a range of options. On one end, there are numerous examples of open source code that can be used as the basis for a solution. These include JavaScript, media servers, TURN servers, mobile code, and more. On the far extreme there is a range of complete solutions that enable adding real time by simply posting a link on a page with all of the process managed by a provider of a platform solution. In between there are a range of options from a complete framework platform to pre-configured components like media servers and SBCs.

A company’s decision process is driven by a number of factors:

  • One is the skill set of staff and their ability to take on the real-time component effectively. Does the team have the skills to meet the required operation and availability levels that must be achieved to succeed in the value of real time?
  • Another is the impact of human capital use. Is doing real time the best use of staff time? While an internal development may seem fast, an organization should consider potential alternative uses of these resources.
  • Build vs. buy financial tradeoffs should also be considered. What is the cost to build the complete solution vs. the buy cost? A critical part of the decision process is clearly defining all that is required.
  • Whether to go with a core element or an add-in should also be weighed. The level to which real time is critical to the overall success of the application/business proposition is another way to evaluate the required level of customization vs. using open available alternatives.
  • Organizations should also calculate ongoing operational costs. Most real-time implementations have to be available 24/7, driving higher support costs than many simple web apps. Whether to manage this internally or to rely on an external partner can be a major part of the decision process.

The point is that understanding and evaluating the options is critical. While a framework may have cost based on usage, it eliminates much if not all of the upfront investment in human and financial capital. Using available components can reduce both time to market and investment to market as well as decrease risk.

Clearly, the only way to choose the right option for your real-time web development and deployment is to understand the options and contrast them with the needs of your solution, your organization, and your users. A great place to get the knowledge, meet the vendors and understand what others have done is the Real Time Web Solutions Conference Aug. 2 through 4 in New York City.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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