WebRTC World Feature Article

December 27, 2012

Will WebRTC be the Go-To Technology for Video Interoperability?

Technology improvements to enhance real-time communications are hot topics as of late, especially given the progress WebRTC has made in the market. The concept is getting significant attention in the development world and the media, especially given that Google Chrome now supports it, enabling the cloud-based browser to become a native and universal client to support real-time communications.

Firefox plans to be on board soon and Microsoft has plans to add WebRTC to Internet Explorer at some point, although commitment is still sketchy. According to this UC Strategies report, the viability of this technology is still up for debate. While many believe the enhancements it can bring will revolutionize the industry, bringing gradual improvements and new functionality; others believe it is simply a non-event.

For the enterprise, a number of UC clients may make the shift to HTML5 pages. Solutions such as Digium’s Switchboard and Siemens Enterprise’s Openscape already rely on a Web client, meaning WebRTC would deliver only incremental capabilities. It’s not yet clear how client products will respond to WebRTC and so far, Cisco isn’t talking.

From a development standpoint, WebRTC is positioned as the key to making video interoperable. There are significant benefits to having a universal client. The challenge that some have yet to address is that WebRTC must be supported by servers and MCUs, or a complementary device must be available to bridge the gap.

Vidtel, for instance, recently made available a native WebRTC gateway to connect the enabled browser to infrastructure products. The company produces a service to connect disparate video systems, which could negate the inherent benefits of WebRTC when considered alone. Plus, it removes the simple benefit of an icon to allow click-to-chat. It sounds like a silly preference, but users want the icon to click on – it makes sense.

From a video perspective, WebRTC offers significant promise and the potential in the technology is getting a lot of attention. After all, as TMC’s Erik Linask highlighted in this piece, WebRTC is not focused on new features or functionality. Instead, it’s all about streamlining the communications channels we already use. What could we accomplish if communicating were as simple as clicking on a URL in the browser and everyone shared the same experience?

Video is certainly gaining in the market, claiming its post as a dominate communications technology for a number of reasons. The challenge, however, has always been the interoperability of systems. Will WebRTC be the ultimate solution or will users navigate more toward gateways like those offered by Vidtel? With Google already on board, the fate of the technology may already be sealed. 

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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