The Real-time Web: "Losing Gracefully"
Enterprise managers may try to control WebRTC-based communications. But they'll fail, says one EC panelist
Given the enormous popularity of the Enterprise Connect WebRTC conference-within-a-conference on Monday, our followup Wednesday plenary session on "The Real-time Web" was perfectly timed--and we even got the right people: Cullen Jennings of Cisco and Jan Linden of Google, the two leading technical gurus driving the IETF standardization work for WebRTC; and Irwin Lazar of Nemertes Research and Brent Kelly of Constellation Research, the industry analysts/consultants who put together the Monday WebRTC program here. Just for fun, we threw in a lawyer, too. (Does that sound like the start of one of those lawyer jokes?)
The lawyer, Hank Levine of Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby (LB3 Law), negotiates enterprise procurements of carrier services, and also represents users in regulatory proceedings, and I'm going to focus here on his input to the session. His role was both to represent the enterprise customer and give a sense of how the trends around public IP multimedia networks may affect the regulatory environment.
Hank actually set an important context for the session early on, when he compared the impact of WebRTC-enabled browsers (and their harbinger, Skype), to that of BYOD: "We always fight the last war," he said, predicting that enterprise managers would try to control WebRTC and similar multimedia-Web clients. "We always lose, but we try to lose gracefully."
To give a sense of how new, yet how fast-emerging WebRTC is for the enterprise, Hank Levine said he had his first planning meeting with a client on this technology, just eight weeks ago, with a financial services client--but he predicted, "I'm gonna have 10 more" such meetings this year, as awareness of WebRTC grows.
From the regulatory side, Hank actually predicted that the legacy PSTN would move very slowly and gradually toward being retired--a goal that AT&T is trying to push much faster than just about anyone else seems to want to accommodate. Levine also noted that the mechanism that funds Universal Service, which is based only on PSTN billings, would be seriously affected by the continued move toward Web-based real time communications.
The technical meat of the session was provided by our four other panelists, and covered a range of issues from management to interoperability--all of which are topics we'll provide you with more detail on as we review the conference in the weeks ahead. One thing is for sure: The Real-time Web is coming, and enterprise managers and decision-makers need to start planning for it now.