With the availability of a standard real-time communications (RTC) client everywhere, it becomes more difficult to demand users to download and install a proprietary client in order to participate in a conference call or use a business application. So business solution providers are under increasing pressure to support WebRTC clients.
Beyond that, the availability of WebRTC opens doors for new functionality, broadens the potential audience for the application, frees software vendors from royalties and license fees, and can be used to improve user experience.
But WebRTC is architected and designed primarily for decentralized, flat topologies with minimum structured signaling and where media streams travel peer-to-peer without being processed in a server.
Many business applications have different requirements. They are usually deployed in a centralized topology, with the media streams being processed in a server so that multiple types of endpoint clients can be supported.
Those differences in design assumptions create a series of challenges when we attempt to support WebRTC clients in a traditional business application.
Interoperability and Standards
While consumers can switch tools overnight, business systems need to support a gradual transition and the co-existence of different sets of technologies.
There is a large installed base of SIP phones, soft-phones, video conferencing equipment, etc. that will remain in use for the foreseeable future. WebRTC is just one more technology in the mix that is not intended to replace some of the existing components.
WebRTC standards are still evolving and there are still some uncertainties related to video codecs and critical mass adoption.
Performance and Scalability
WebRTC is designed to minimize the need for user intervention, so client implementations today seek to autonomously adjust the parameters of the call to adapt to available bandwidth in a best-effort basis.
In a business application, performance requirements are typically more stringent, so the application also need to monitor the connections to take corrective action or at least warn the administrator when call quality degrades.
Another key question is related to scalability. Is the mesh topology adopted by consumer-oriented tools the right answer? Or the requirement to support a large number of users will dictate an MCU-based solution that can scale further?
Lessons Learned: Successfully Supporting WebRTC in Business Application
Daitan Group has collaborated with several software vendors over the past two years and pioneered the implementation of WebRTC in business applications.
We found more challenges than one would expect. Interestingly, while WebRTC design assumptions are geared towards consumers, most of the proven WebRTC use cases we have seen so far were in business applications.
To find what were the lessons learned in the process, please download the Daitan Paper: “Successfully Supporting WebRTC in Business Applications”.