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SIP Trunking, WebRTC: A Good Match

SIP trunking and WebRTC are promising communications technologies each in their own right. Marry the two, and things can get really interesting.

On its own, after all, WebRTC is just an endpoint, as Art Schoeller, principal analyst with Forrester Group, pointed out during an Enterprise Connect/No Jitter webinar held earlier this week and viewable on demand now. What's really needed is an infrastructure to which WebRTC can "talk." The SIP signaling infrastructure serves that purpose well, he said. WebRTC traffic coming into and out of, say, the contact center or other parts of the organization, SIP trunks provide ingress and egress.


Similarly, Schoeller said, SIP trunking isn't just about replacing PRI circuits to reduce network spending -- although that's been a primary initial driver. It's also about enabling a rethink of how a company handles communications, especially when considered in conjunction with WebRTC and, as is the case when using a cloud SIP trunking platform such as offered by webinar sponsor Twilio, public Internet capacity.

During yesterday's webinar -- "What's Stopping the Adoption of SIP Trunking?" -- Schoeller asked attendees to consider a scenario in which a multinational organization teams with an overseas manufacturing partner to meet a need for increased production capacity. The project involves employees at an engineering design firm and the people on the ground at the factory, all of whom need the ability to communicate during the three months allotted to planning, building, testing, and deploying the production run.

If you were this company's communications manager, Schoeller asked rhetorically, would you put in a PBX for that team and deploy a UC system on site for consistency with other locations? "Um, well, you know, probably not. [You'd] just have them phone in, and send emails, and maybe have them go somewhere else for collaboration."

That might be the typical response, but Schoeller suggested instead thinking about communications in the context of the primary software in use for the project -- an enterprise resource planning application for managing costs and project management software. "Think about embedding communications inside the applications that they use -- both inside the enterprise and the engineers -- spin up the capacity with flexible SIP trunking for that period of time that you need the communications, and then once ... you don't need capacity, spin it down," he said.

"UC disappearing inside the application that people use is a very important component of what WebRTC provides here as a possibility," Schoeller added. "In browsers ... you will have voice and video communications, a media processing engine, an API that makes use of Web pages to guide the user experience, a standardized mechanism for security of voice and video traffic, ... and standardized codecs, so you can broaden the base of where communications gets deployed and utilized."

Ari Sigal, product marketing manager at Twilio, described another cloud SIP trunking platform/WebRTC use case that seemed to resonate with attendees -- that being, business continuity. With a cloud SIP trunking platform, for example, a company could replicate on-premises call flows in the cloud for seamless failover should the PBX be unavailable. "You can have an exact replica of the IVR that would normally play on your PBX and have that instead delivered via the cloud and have the exact same caller experience," Sigal said. Then, with WebRTC, agents can handle the calls either from a Web or mobile app, he added.

Note, this scenario doesn't require that agents download any business continuity software to get started. "Agents can literally just load a Web page on their browsers and be ready to start communicating," Sigal said. "And if they are in an office that loses local connectivity, they can still use wireless."

In a quick poll taken during the webinar, one third of respondents selected business continuity with WebRTC as the most interesting value add to their SIP trunking deployment, as shown below.

This level of interest, Schoeller commented, "shows that there's a broader level of understanding [of WebRTC] than I realized, in terms of what kind of applications, and what kind of impact it will be able to have, as far as providing those business continuity use cases."

Indeed -- and that applies to its acceptance among large enterprises and in the types of applications associated with it, Sigal added. "WebRTC has come a long way since we starting working with it in 2012."

The takeaway for enterprise communications managers? Look beyond basic connectivity when picking a SIP trunking provider. As Sigal said, "At the end of the day, all SIP trunking providers are fundamentally connecting you out to the PSTN, but the mechanisms and features -- and pricing -- are different among them."

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