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My WebRTC III Conference & Expo experience … “Drinking from a Firehose”

Here are my thoughts having spent three days, Nov 19-21 in Santa Clara at the WebRTC event.

As a Panelist – we had a great, highly interactive session discussing the merits of WebRTC in enterprise use cases – visionary and expansive just like our session’s title “Gaming and Beyond”.

We explored how WebRTC (with HTML5) will be a part of the ecosystem of technologies that will likely enable new apps that leverage the browser to deliver real-time communications. These are nascent, yet powerful technologies destined in my opinion – to service the “Internet of Everything (IoE)” – encompassing both the “Internet of Things (IoT)” and Machine to Machine (M2M).

Imagine standing at your finicky refrigerator (or expensive major appliance) – with a WebRTC browser capable of peer-to-peer communications with the manufacturer’s rep or service arm – using the data channel for transmitting diagnostic information (M2M & IoT), while you hold a video/audio session with the technician (IoE over WebRTC). Prior to the video/audio session – the service provider’s contact center has transparently routed the call, gathered the appropriate info and escalated you to the proper technician. Ensuring the vendor can accurately troubleshoot the problem, dispatch the tech with the correct part (if necessary) and respond to you – in a better window than the dreaded “someone will be out there between 8-12 or 1-5pm, next Tues. the 8th”. Finally, this makes the extended maintenance plan worth the money!

In a more dramatic scenario, envision a healthcare practitioner on vacation when his recently released, critical care patient is suddenly re-admitted to a hospital with a life threatening emergency. The doctor is located on his 4G LTE smart phone or tablet and using a WebRTC enabled browser via video is placed into consultancy with the attending ER physician. Simultaneously, vitals are transmitted over the data channel and the ER physician is guided in a tailored, specifically prescribed treatment plan for this patient.

In my role of Customer Advocate (UCC Sales Executive) – I sat and listened to some of the most progressive companies in the ICT space. We heard from Google, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Oracle and others – all of which described WebRTC not as the cure-all for next-gen unified comm. & collaboration, but certainly a part of their product/service roadmap.

The smaller players had interesting offerings and commentaries as well – some SMB focused, a few delivering a customer experience app like CafeX Communications and the infrastructure providers – one being AudioCodes who have media gateways and session border controllers which are necessary to connect WebRTC enabled devices with the legacy VOIP connections using the Opus voice codec.

Genband’s SPiDR WebRTC gateway is an interesting approach as well – targeting network operators – they claim “…SPiDR empowers network operators to deliver competitive applications over the Internet and unlocks new revenue potential from their existing wireless and fixed communication assets. SPiDR sits at the edge of the network and provides open, web-centric APIs that allow application developers to leverage the rich communications services of the telecommunications network – including voice, video, presence, shared address book, call history, instant messaging, and collaboration. “

” I was particularly struck by my visit with PubNub according to their website “PubNub set out in 2009 to develop a real-time network to make it easier for developers to build, deploy and scale real-time apps. The PubNub Real-Time Network takes care of the connections, global infrastructure and key building blocks for real-time interactivity … they manage 3 million real-time messages per second and 100 million devices per month, support over 50 SDKs for mobile, browser, desktop and server. And are globally scaled, with 11 data centers, 4 regions, ~200 server nodes and 99.999% SLAs.”

Thanks to Doron Sherman, VP of Business Development @ PubNub – I felt like I went to school on networking all over again. Now that’s a purpose-built, real-time network and I didn’t even know it was necessary!

Lastly, separate from the conference – I paid a visit on Eric Yuan, CEO & Founder of ZOOM Video Communications, his bio reads “… Corporate Vice President of Engineering at Cisco, where he was responsible for Cisco’s collaboration software development one of the founding engineers and Vice President of Engineering at WebEx, Eric was the heart and soul of the WebEx product from 1997 to 2011”.

We had a great visit and he shared their vision of cloud video communications – enough to get me very excited and to probably make the incumbent Video Conferencing players very nervous.

Incredibly, “Zoom Video Communications offers the #1 Cloud Video Conferencing Experience that unifies HD video conferencing, mobility and web meetings together as a free cloud service.” Their “Unified Meeting Experience platform offers the first available mobile-screen sharing and an innovative hybrid cloud service, and works across desktop, tablet, mobile and room systems. It is available for Mac, Windows, IOS, Android, and H.323/SIP room systems.”

All that without WebRTC … can you say ZOOM is highly disruptive!  

Summary: All in all – the WebRTC III Conference & Expo was outstanding.

The corporate/enterprise offerings are emerging and visionary approaches abound, being delivered from small to large companies. Even the SMB space will find offerings to fit their budget and expectations.

Any company considering a new implementation of UCC should consider how they will service the demand that WebRTC will bring – especially to the mobile BYOD users.

Before rolling out VoIP in a remote office, factory or work from home user scenario – it would be a wise choice to review how WebRTC will impact the cost benefit analysis.

Contact Centers will likely be using WebRTC in some fashion to reap the benefits of lower cost and better customer satisfaction, when compared with the traditional IP-based services.

Legacy users of room based, converged video/voice stacks would do well to explore WebRTC before adding new telepresence/HD video end points or IP video phones.

Service providers/Network operators will need to consider partnering with some of these WebRTC compatible infrastructure companies to ensure they can quickly monetize the opportunities that HTML5 with WebRTC will bring.


About mpmonroe1

Michael P. Monroe is an independent, cloud & premise based Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) consultant with over twenty years of global sales, business development, management and marketing experience leading, developing and contributing to Information Technology and Telecom companies ranging in size from Global 1000, Fortune 500, INC.500 to start-ups.


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