Waves - Communications Webification

Things I Picked Up at WebRTC World East 2014

[Post is better viewed on the blog Website]

Last week was a busy one at WebRTC World in Atlanta with several parallel tracks, demos, keynote sessions and many discussions with long-time friends from the industry and some new friends I made at this event.

And here lies my (expected) problem. I’m mainly still seeing the same people I used to meet at the SIP events 10+ years ago, and not enough new faces. We were shown some customer examples by TokBox and a live demo of an easyRTC customer but this wasn’t enough. As an industry, we haven’t yet managed to open WebRTC to the general public of the web developers.  Could it be that WebRTC World is an event more tailored for VoIP experts? Tsahi and Chris are taking a stab at this challenge next week together with Google at the KrankyGeek show that will follow Google I/O.

With all the hype around WebRTC these past couple of years many many are now disappointed as they don’t see the growth happening at the “expected” pace. In the conference’s welcome notes, Phil Edholm addressed this issue nicely presenting WebRTC in the context of Geoffrey Moore’s theory for the Technology Adoption Lifecycle. 

The Chasm - Technology Adoption Lifecycle

Clearly, WebRTC will proliferate only once it is commonly used by web developers. Usage by the existing VoIP communication industry alone will not bring the communications capabilities enabled by WebRTC to the applications and scenarios we envision today. WebRTC, as Phil presented, is driving the communication webification wave. By the end of this decade, the way in which we communicate will change. We just need patience for this technology to take off.

Waves - Communications Webification

 

Keynotes

Google, Serge Lachapelle

The presentation by Serge covered 2 main topics. He started with the story of how WebRTC came to life. From a gap identified by the Chrome team, “Human Communication is not possible in browsers”, to the decision to acquire GIPS and the official announcement of WebRTC. There were 2 big challenges any company looking to launch communications services would run into – building and binding together the voice and video technology and overcoming all legal and royalty issues related to them. Since Serge had already 10 years of experience in breaking down those walls, he knew that they must be solved for the general public of developers and innovators in order to make this successful. Hence, the decision to acquire a leading media engine vendor and invest significant money and efforts into solving the patents tangle.

The technology challenges led nicely to the second part of his presentation that talked about upcoming (expected very soon) releases where a lot of focus has been put, among other things, on quality,  WebRTC over wireless networks, faster connection time and better adaptation to network changes. This is, of course, a short list. We will need to see the release notes of the upcoming Chrome 36 & 37.

In an earlier event in London, Serge spoke about the priority being given to solving WebRTC for mobile. I would have liked to hear in-depth details on that part of the picture. More might come to light next week when Serge covers this topic at the KrankyGeek Show where he will talk about Mobile WebRTC. I will not be there but will surely keep an eye on that half day event.

 

Microsoft, Bernard Aboba

This was an interesting technical presentation. It started with the directive of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for Mobile First, Cloud First continuing with the requirements for achieving high quality real-time communications on mobile. The presentation also covered the area of ORCA and how it will be adopted in WebRTC.

Bernard mentioned that the various Microsoft products such as IE, Lync, Skype, Yammer and others are all independent regarding their decision relating to WebRTC adoption. With Microsoft increasing their transparency about their IE plans through their IE platform status website (a place to see what the Dev team is working on) and the IE Developer Channel (where pre-beta versions of IE can be found), I hope we will soon learn more about Microsoft’s plans for WebRTC.

 

Avaya, Gary Barnett

There were several keynotes by vendors but I’m mentioning this one as it looks like Avaya is right on the money with their current plans for WebRTC in the scope of their Collaboration Environment engine given the company’s market position, customers and DNA. Different from other communications vendors who are trying to copy what others have already done and follow the footsteps of the API platform service providers, Avaya is using WebRTC to enhance their current offering.

In his presentation, Gary talked about how WebRTC plugs-in to Collaboration Environment and makes use of existing capabilities such as speech analytics with the addition of web content brought to the service of the Contact Center agent and manager.

The presentation was given only in the context of Collaboration Environment and the Contact Center segment. There are of course, other products and services such a communications vendor can launch by utilizing WebRTC but no information was given in this regard.

 

TalkBox, Ian Small

As usual, Ian gave a great presentation seasoned with good live demos. On this occasion and at his previous keynote at WebRTC West in Santa Clara, Ian put a lot of focus on media processing capabilities. These are complex things to do but bandwidth adaptation, dominant speaker detection and dynamic layout changing were done by video companies many years ago. The nice thing about what TokBox does is that it makes all this accessible to the web world in a complete and comprehensive solution. They could have just bought all these media processing capabilities from a 3rd party and used them.

 

AudioCodes at WebRTC World Atlanta

In a previous post I talked about the Open vs. Island types of WebRTC deployments; AudioCodes, falls into the “Open” category as an enabler of communication across VoIP networks and vendors in high quality. As such we presented the SBC with WebRTC interface including support for DTLS and other goodies as well as the Opus enabled IP Phone. From this perspective AudioCodes is well differentiated from other comparable vendors who demonstrated products that are more in the GW category. The key differences AudioCodes presented were as follows:

  • Adding WebRTC to the SBC rather than as an external box
  • Opting for Opus all the way instead of G.711 or mandatory transcoding on the GW
  • Taken together, this means a more efficient, lower cost, higher quality solution

In addition to our booth, both Alan Percy and I took part in a total of 8 sessions:

Were you in Atlanta last week? I’m looking forward to hearing your take on this event in the comments section below.

You weren’t there and want more insight as to what took place in the above sessions or others? Feel free to drop us a note in the comments section below or to contact us directly.

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