Dave Stein and Chris Vitek

Dave Stein and Chris Vitek | July 16, 2013 |


A WebRTC Primer

A WebRTC Primer In the weeks ahead, two consultants will square off to debate the significance of WebRTC for the enterprise. But first, a mini-tutorial, to lay the groundwork.

In the weeks ahead, two consultants will square off to debate the significance of WebRTC for the enterprise. But first, a mini-tutorial, to lay the groundwork.

This is the first in an ongoing series of articles about WebRTC. Chris Vitek and David Stein are two industry veteran analysts/consultants who will debate various aspects of WebRTC and what it might mean for enterprises.

Chris has been an early proponent of WebRTC and sees huge potential for the technology in Contact Center,, consumer and other applications. Dave, on the other hand, is a bit of a cynic as to how ubiquitous WebRTC will become (see his post, "WebRTC: Who Really Cares?"

Both Chris and Dave are members of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants, and their debate will be part of a new feature on No Jitter, "STC Perspective," in which different members of the STC will discuss critical topics in enterprise communications.

So over the next several weeks, we'll be doing a point/counter-point series on WebRTC to provide both sides of the debate. We look forward to all of your comments.

This first article, however, isn't a debate; it is a primer as to what WebRTC is (and is not), intended as a level-set for the debate.

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications) is an effort, started by Google, to build a standard-based, real-time Media Engine into all of the available browsers. Since 2002, Global IP Solutions (GIPS) developed software media engines for the likes of Nortel (Avaya), WebEx (Cisco), Yahoo and IBM to support their PC-based telephony applications and other VoIP devices.

In 2010, Google purchased GIPS for $68.2M. In 2011, using the technology it acquired in the acquisition, Google created an open source version of GIPS software called WebRTC and built it into its Chrome Web browser. This became the basis of the WebRTC movement and standards activities.

With WebRTC functions built into a browser, a Web service can now instruct the browser to use local resources to make a real-time voice or video connection to another WebRTC device or to a WebRTC media server, using SRTP (Secure Real-time Transport Protocol). With a HTML5- and WebRTC-enabled Browser, a soft client is now just HTML pages passed from the server, displayed as the visual and functional interface.

Signaling and protocol standards are coming from the IETF, and the APIs for Web app developers are coming from W3C. The next step at the IETF is approval of the RFC next month.

Today, WebRTC-enabled browsers are generally available from Google (Chrome) and Mozilla (Firefox) So far, Microsoft has an alternative approach and Apple is in stealth mode.

So, we have the start of something...a standard supported by some vendors but not all (so is that really a standard?). Upcoming articles will discuss WebRTC in the contexts of mobile, security, market dynamics and what it means for your enterprise.

As you can imagine, there are a number of topics that come to mind; please let us know if you would like us to add some others to the list we're starting with:

* Market Dynamics
* Security, Now and in the future
* Integration or replacement
* Technology

Dave Stein is principal of Stein Technology Group, an independent consultancy based in Orange County, CA. Chris Vitek is president at WebRTC Strategies, based in Baltimore.

The Society of Telecommunications Consultants is an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.


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