How Symphony Is Validating Ubiquity of IP Messaging, WebRTC

Yes. We've got another unicorn that is relying on WebRTC (and IP messaging). This time, it's Symphony, a specialized team messaging provider.

Symphony, which has been working for more than half a year now to raise additional funds, last week announced that it received $63 million at a $1 billion valuation.

For me, however, the story is less the funding or the success that Symphony is having, but the fact that it uses a cloud-delivery model. And that it is doing so for one of the most heavily regulated, traditional industries -- financial markets.

On face value, Symphony isn't much different than a baby Slack. Or maybe another Slack wannabe. But there is huge difference, and that difference is in the type of customers to which Symphony caters.

We can assume that many of Symphony's investors are also its customers (or at least potential customers). Among investors are BNP Paribas, Natixis, Societe Generale, UBS, Merus Capital, and a consortium of 14 of the world's largest investment banks and money managers, including Bank of America, BlackRock, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and J.P. Morgan.

In a way, this can be seen as the biggest vote of confidence in cloud-based services, which, at the end of the day, is what Symphony is.

Now, the Symphony platform has three main offerings:

  1. IP messaging -- This boils down to people sharing "stuff," be it text, images, or any other rich content, with one another. In the case of Symphony, this "stuff" may include financial data feeds
  2. Voice and video calling -- This is done using WebRTC, and in support of group calling
  3. Data retention -- Whatever a user sends passes through the Symphony servers and is maintained in a secure fashion, encrypted. On the higher tiers, Symphony encrypts and stores the data in a way that prohibits access to the data, even for itself, without the customer's private encryption key

With all the hacks that have been happening this year, especially with this month's WannaCry ransomware scare (more here if you are interested), it is both a wonder and an obvious move to go for cloud services here.

The interactions we have within the enterprise are important. They need to remain secure. And while this may seem counterintuitive, migrating them to the cloud, and virtualizing the whole technology stack on which they sit on top, is the best thing we can do for them.

Why?

Because the cloud is dynamic and it updates faster than any on-premises installation can. This means it is more robust in the face of security threats -- they're mitigated faster and the solution can quickly proliferate throughout the installed base.

IP messaging and WebRTC are here to stay.

Strike that out.

IP messaging and WebRTC are here to grow. And the vote of confidence that the financial industry has on Symphony's technology is testament to the fact that it is also a solid solution for building secured communications.

For me it just goes to show that we will find these technologies everywhere from now on. Resistance is futile.