WebRTC Expert Feature

June 28, 2013

WebRTC Conference & Expo Week in Review

Atlanta, Georgia has had its share of superstars, from “The Human Highlight Film” Dominique Wilkins to All-star third baseman Chipper Jones, and of course a global representation during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.  But, this week, the stars were from a different industry, as more than 700 members of the tech developer community convened to discuss the hottest communications topic today, WebRTC.

Why is it so hot?  Simply, WebRTC has the power to connect via voice or video (as well as content sharing) any Web-enabled endpoint and, through WebRTC support from gateway and SBC vendors, extending those communications to any communications endpoint in the world.  In other words, WebRTC will connect any device to any device.

First off, the conference sessions were nothing short of successful, judging by the SRO crowds and a phenomenon that happens rarely at tradeshows – attendees did not get up from their seats between sessions, which means they were there to learn and understand how WebRTC will impact them and what they need to know to fully leverage WebRTC.

However, there did seem to be a shortage of questions from the audience (save @alwaysoncarl, who always finds a way to fire up a panel).  To me, that is a sign of WebRTC’s infancy, but also the real excitement around WebRTC.  Most developers are only starting to learn about WebRTC – they will have questions once they actually begin building.  This week was largely about education.

But, it was also about displaying that WebRTC is ready for prime time.  @rtehrani asked a panel on the keynote state if it really is ready.  Two days of demos connecting voice and video calls via WebRTC to both Web- and SIP-enabled endpoints say it is.  Want to try it out for yourself?  Apidaze has set up a site where you can do just that:  http://www.webr.tc/.

What the demos and activity at the exhibitor booths showed is that WebRTC is not only real, but that incumbent tech vendors have to take note and accept WebRTC as part of the future of communications.  The likely scenario for some will be acquiring one or more of the companies that showed their working WebRTC integration this week.

As an incumbent telecom vendor, Digium took to the stage to quickly refute “the big lie,” as @dduffett calls it, that Asterisk is just an open source PBX.  In fact, it introduced WebRTC in Asterisk 11 last year, and demoed Duffett’s recipe for a free WebRTC demo running it over a Raspberry Pi, promising even more WebRTC “stuff” to come with Asterisk 12 next year.

On the flip side, representing the Web side of the equation, Ian Small, TokBox CEO discussed the promise of WebRTC, with the caveat that it has to be easy for both developers and end users.  Paula Bernier noted that, “according to Small, the whole idea of launching a commercial-scale video app is pretty complex, and the last thing we all need is more complexity in our lives. So TokBox is working to make WebRTC easy for developers and enterprises/users. For the group at WebRTC Conference & Expo this week, it’s about the technology. For others, however, we need to try to make the technology go away.  ‘When it’s that easy, that’s when we will have made WebRTC the fabric of the online world,’ Small said.”


 Ian Small’s Keynote at WebRTC Expo

And of course, this week wasn’t without its own All-Stars, as winners of WebRTC Expo awards were presented on the morning of the last day of the event just prior to Google’s keynote. 

In fact, Google’s presence was felt throughout the event, as nearly every demo leveraged its Chrome browser, and it was mentioned in every breakout that Chrome and Firefox are leading the WebRTC charge.  Jan Linden discussed the evolution of WebRTC at a workshop in Atlanta.

After a week of education and discussion, two things are abundantly clear:

1.       WebRTC is ready for use (and being leveraged already)
2.       There is much still to be done in terms of education, standards, implementation and use cases

If you missed any part of the conversation in Atlanta, follow it all on WebRTC World, and be sure to mark your calendars now for November 19-21, when WebRTC Expo will be in Santa Clara, California to continue the discussion on the promise and challenges of WebRTC.  I expect the demo theater will present many more live use cases, rather than mock-ups, if you will.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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